Language Snapshots

Naawa (Sankhuwasabha, Nepal) - Language Snapshot


  • Mark Condra


Naawa is a Tibeto-Burman language with Bodish language features that is spoken in five villages in the north-eastern Sankhuwasabha district of Nepal and two villages in the Shigatse region of southern China. While the Naawa people have long perceived themselves as culturally and linguistically distinct from other regionally dominant groups, such as, Lhomi and Tibetan, it was not officially recognized by the Nepali government as a distinct language group until 2020 at the recommendation of the national language commission (Khabarhub 2020). At this time, Naawa has no descriptive grammar and only brief accounts of the language community are available. Increased transportation, expanding internationalization, changing demographics, and other forces of globalization are contributing to Naawa migration outside of their natal villages. While the language vitality of Naawa is considered vigorous according to both Eberhard, Simons & Fenning (2021) and Hammarström et al. (2020), their small population makes them particularly vulnerable to becoming an endangered language in the globalizing world. Therefore, language documentation and description of the Naawa language will be a valuable asset to the ongoing vitality of the language for years to come. 


  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 20
  • Page/Article: 54-63
  • DOI: 10.25894/ldd33
  • Published on 30 Jun 2021