Kumaoni language

Native to India, Nepal
Region Kumaon, Uttarakhand, Darchula district and Baitadi District
Ethnicity Kumauni People
Native speakers
2.4 million (1998 survey)[1]
Official census results conflate some speakers with Hindi.[2]
Devanagari script
Śāradā script (historical)
Takri alphabet (historical)
Official status
Official language in
Uttarakhand (  India)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 kfy
Glottolog kuma1273[3]

The Kumaoni language (कुमाँऊनी भाषा (Devanagari)) is a Central Pahari language.

Kumaoni is spoken by over 2,360,000 (1998) people of Indian states of Uttarakhand - Almora, Nainital, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar, Champawat, Rudrapur (Udhamsingh Nagar) districts; Assam; Bihar; Delhi; Madhya Pradesh; Maharashtra and Punjab, besides being spoken in some regions of Himachal Pradesh.[4]

The Central Pahari languages include, Kumaoni and Garhwali (spoken in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand). Kumaoni, like Garhwali, has many regional dialects spoken in different places in Uttarakhand. Amongst its dialects, the Central Kumauni is spoken in Almora and northern Nainital, Northeastern Kumauni is in Pithoragarh, Southeastern Kumauni is in Southeastern Nainital, Western Kumauni is west of Almora and Nainital.[5]

Almost all people who can speak and understand Kumaoni can also speak and understand Hindi, the official language of India. However, due to a number of reasons, Kumaoni is one of the languages which is shrinking very rapidly. UNESCO’s Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger designates Kumaoni as language in the unsafe category and which requires consistent conservation efforts.[6]

Dialects of Kumaon region

In all, there are 20 dialects spoken in the Kumaon region, including, Johari, Majh Kumaiya, Danpuriya, Askoti, Sirali, Soryali, Chaugarkhyali, Kumaiya, Gangola, Khasparjia, Phaldakoti, Pachhai, and Rauchaubhaisi[7]"Uttarakhand Worldwide". Dialects of Uttarakhand. Retrieved 3 September 2010. 

Dialects of Kumaoni Language

Note: Baitada Dialect and Askoti Dialect are almost similar dialect.

Scholars also consider the heavy influence of Kumaoni on the Palpa language.

Spoken in Upper Reaches of Kumaon Himalayas.


Being part of the Indo-Aryan dialect continuum Kumauni shares its grammar with other Indo-Aryan languages especially Nepali, Hindi, Rajasthani languages, Kashmiri and Gujarati. It shares much of its grammar with the other languages of the Central Pahari like Garhwali and Jaunsari. The peculiarities of grammar in Kumaoni and other Central Pahari languages exist due to the influence of the now extinct language of the Khasas, the first inhabitants of the region. In Kumauni the verb substantive is formed from the root ach, as in both Rajasthani and Kashmiri. In Rajasthani its present tense, being derived from the Sanskrit present rcchami, I go, does not change for gender. But in Pahari and Kashmiri it must be derived from the rare Sanskrit particle *rcchitas, gone, for in these languages it is a participial tense and does change according to the gender of the subject. Thus, in the singular we have: - Here we have a relic of the old Khasa language, which, as has been said, seems to have been related to Kashmiri. Other relics of Khasa, again agreeing with north-western India, are the tendency to shorten long vowels, the practice of epenthesis, or the modification of a vowel by the one which follows in the next syllable, and the frequent occurrence of disaspiration. Thus, Khas siknu, Kumauni sikhno, but Hindi sikhna, to learn; Kumauni yeso, plural yasa, of this kind.

Language Comparison
  Khas-kura Kumauni Kashmiri
  Masc Fem Masc Fem Masc Fem
I am chu chu chic chu thus ches
You are chas ches chai chi chukh chekh
He is cha che ch chi chuh cheh

Verb Conjugation

Conjugation of the verb Lekh (लेख) to write, in all three tenses in Kumaoni.

Present tense

Kumaoni Transliteration English
मैं लेखनू main lekhnu I write
तू लेख छे tu lekh chhe you write
उ लिखनो U likhno he writes
Kumaoni Transliteration English
हम लेखनु hum lekhnu we write
तुम लेख छो tum lekh chho you write
ऊँ लेखन छन un lekhan chhan they write

Past tense

Kumaoni Transliteration English
मेल लिखौ maile lekho I wrote
त्वील लिखौ tveel lekho you wrote
वील लिखौ veel lekho he wrote
Kumaoni Transliteration English
हमुल लेखौ humul lekho we wrote
तुमुल लेखौ tumule lekho you wrote
उनुले लेखौ unule lekho they wrote

Future tense

Kumaoni Transliteration English
मैं लिखूंलो main lekhulo I will write
तू लेखले tum lekhle you will write
उ लेखल u lekhal he will write
Kumaoni Transliteration English
हम लेखुंला hum lekhula we will write
तुम लेखला tum lekhla you will write
ऊँ लेखल un lekhal they will write

Example short phrases

Words/phrases Transliteration Meaning
जै देव Jai Dev Hello (lit. praise the lord) Formal.
नमस्कार Namaskar. Hello/Hi
कस हेरे छे? Kas hare chhe? How are you? Informal
कस हेरो छा? Kas haro cha How are you? Formal
भल हेरो Bhal hero I am fine
काँ जाण छा? kaa jaan chha? Where are you going
होए Hoye. Yes.
ना Nā. No.
कतु? Kadu? How much?/How many?
काँ? Kaa? Where?
कसिक? Kasik? How?
कैक? Kaik? Whose?
को? Ko? Who?
के? Ke? What?
के हेगो? Ke hego. What happened?
तुमऱ नौ के छ? Tumar nau ke che? What is your name?

Kumaoni literature

Kumaoni language has had many noteworthy writers, prominent among them are

Efforts to Bring Garhwali Kumaoni as Raj Basha

Recently there is private member bill 12-07-2010 - Garhwali Kumauni Raj Bhasha presented by Local MP Satpal Maharaj from Uttarakhand.

Media and art



Kumaoni theatre which developed through its 'Ramleela' plays,[17] later evolved into a modern theatre form with the efforts of theatre stalwarts like Mohan Upreti and Dinesh Pandey, and groups like 'Parvatiya Kala Kendra' (started by Mohan Upreti) and 'Parvatiya Lok Kala Manch'. "Ankhar" of Lucknow did a very good work in the field of kumaoni theater. Ankhar played a number of kumauni plays like "mee yo gayun, mee yo satkyun" writer Nand Kumar Upreti, "Punturi" by Charu Chandra Pandey, "Motor Road" by Govind Ballabh Pant, "Labh Ribhadi" writer Nand Kumar Upreti, "Kagare Aag' by Himanshu Joshi, Kumauni translation Naveeen Joshi and कुमाउनी नाटक-जैल थै, वील पै @ https://navinjoshi1.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/jail-thai-weel-pai.pdf etc.

Folk music

Folk song genres include ceremonial mandals, martial panwaras and melancholy khuded, thadya and jhoda.

Musical instruments used in Kumaon music include the dhol, damoun, turri, ransingha, dholki, daur, thali, bhankora and masakbhaja. Tabla and harmonium are also used, but to a lesser extent.

The Music and its development have seen various phases of growth and have undergone lots of transformation during the course of time.

Some prominent singers are:

In the early 90's songs on the turning life style mainly on the one who are heading towards town being made in which meri kumau ki gaadi, hit meri punjaban billo uttarakhand pahara, bwaari tamaaku pija etc. criticize the changing attitude in kumaoni society, the songs of mohan manral straight away criticize of the changing mindset of metropolitan kumaoni society running away from their roots.


Further reading

See also

Kumaoni language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator


  1. Kumaoni at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Kumaoni". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. "Nepal Language". Southasianmedia.net. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  4. "Kumaoni. A language of India". Ethnologue. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  5. "UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger". UNESCO. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  6. "Pahari Shabdkosh". Retrieved 3 September 2010. Kumaoni Language 'G.A. Grierson', Dialects of Kumaon at paharishabdkosh.
  7. "Uttarakhand Worldwide". Dialects of Uttarakhand. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  8. 1 2 "?". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  9. Prof. Sher Singh Bisht. "The goal of mankind is knowledge". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  10. "कुमाउनी समग्र". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  11. Kumaoni Cinema Archived 11 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Pahari Shabdkosh.
  12. First Kumaoni Film Bollywood Sargam.
  13. The Times of India Teri Saun, 10 May 2003.
  14. Film set in 1994 Uttarakhand Movement Nandadevi Campaign.
  15. Maduhli Kumaoni Films at uttarakhandandbeyond.
  16. Indian Traditions Theatre at iloveindia.
  17. "Teri launches Kumaon Vani community radio service". One India. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  18. Dr. Shailesh Upreti (23 Feb 2011). "First e Radio of Uttarakhand". official. bedupako. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
  19. "?". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
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