B. K. Rana

Linguistic Society of Nepal

email: bk_rana@hotmail.com


New Materials on Kusunda Language


( Presented to the Fourth Round Table International Conference on Ethnogenesis of South and Central Asia, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA.  May 11 - 13, 2002 )



General Background

 The Himalayan kingdom of Nepal is extremely rich and complex in cultural as well as linguistic diversity. The diversity as such is mainly because there live diverse ethnic groups of peoples since thousands of years, each of which has its own distinct language and culture. Kusunda is one of the ethnic groups of peoples whose language and culture are believed precious to the students of ethnology.

Kusundas are also known as one of the indigenous peoples of Nepal. They feel embarrassed having an introduction as the Kusundas. Therefore, they seem to have shifted to other languages and cultures apparently leaving an impression of their extinction. Their tribal name is myahq -  ‘king of forests’. Before presenting anything about the Kusundas, I must extend my profound gratitude to Dr. Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard, without whose constant guidance and encouragement for almost two years through electronic mediums, my presence to this prestigious conference would have been impossible. Meanwhile, I should also sincerely thank Professor Harold Fleming and Paul Whitehouse whose inspiring letters prompted me to continue my research on the Kusundas. Paul Whitehouse's article in Mother Tongue (1997) was also something new and important to me. And, his comments on my article in Janajati  (2001) also inspired me to further work on the Kusundas.

I must also quote here then British Resident Representative to Nepal, Brian H. Hodgson's lines on Kusundas as "they were generally supposed to be autochthones, or primitive inhabitants of the country, were near to what is usually called the state of nature as anything in human shape can well be, deemed very precious by all the real students of ethnology.  Their origin, condition and character are, in truth, ethnic facts of high value, as proving how tribes may be dislocated and deteriorated during the great transitional eras of society" (Hodgson 1857). This information is brief and sketchy but it has always induced me to go into Kusunda studies. Kusunda research is not yet completely accomplished. It will take sometime more and therefore, we are optimistic that our Kusunda informants will live long so that we will become able to reasonably finish with our studies on them. It is our sincere hope that the concerned authorities will also do something meaningful from their part to preserve Kusundas in the Himalayas.

Kusunda has also been cited as a dead language. My research data on Kusunda do not support this claim. It is a fact that Kusunda has quite a few speakers, who have shifted to other language groups, causing language attrition owing to marriage, migration and other soci-economic changes the societies have undergone. Under these circumstances, it may well be surmised that Kusunda is on the verge of extinction and may die out with the death of its remaining living speakers. It is, therefore, high time to document and analyze this language before it is lost into oblivion.

Kusunda Ethnicity and Population

Kusundas are also called Banarajas - Kings of the forests, because they used to live in the forests, called themselves *myahak[1] had a kind of taxation system over Rautes[2]. Kusundas were Kings and Rautes were their subjects. Generally Rautes run away if they happen to see a Kusunda from a distance. This can be noticed even today along the Raute track in the Surkhet district of Midwest Nepal. Kusundas had  a foraging society.  But, the case is different now; there is no left Kusunda who gathers and hunts in the wild.  I have found 7 Kusundas, in the central and mid-western hills of Nepal, whom I believe ethnically pure by origin and two of them are younger females married to Chhetris, another ethnic group in the country.  There are few other Kusundas of mixed origin; including them the Kusunda population in Nepal will not exceed fifty in total[3].

I believe, both 'Banaraja' and 'Kusunda' are names given to the 'myahq peoples' (Kusundas) by other communities. Kusundas are also said to be the offspring of 'Kusha'  - Rama's second son born from 'kusha grass' in Valmiki’s Cottage. This story is well depicted in The Ramayana. Chepangs[4] also believe they are the offspring of Sita's first son Lohari or Lava who is also very famous in the Ramayana. Lohari and Kushari were two sons of Sita. The Kusundas  believe that they are offspring of Kushari  - Kusha. Later Lohari and Kushari became rivals. Then the Kusundas and Chepangs began to live  separately. Some of the Chepang cognates have some similarity with that of Kusunda's. Both Kusunda and Chepangs are found in the hills of Nepal.

Kusunda Language

Kusunda culture is nonexistent now. But, there is their language which, I believe, originated in the Sino-Tibetan area;  or it could be an earlier language in this area. However, a number of eminent linguists have written to me explaining that some of the present Kusunda cognates might be Tibeto-Burman borrowings. If it is to be believed, then Kusunda will be a ‘barren’ language without its own cognates for objects such as: *ing (sun), *ngsa (fish), *uyu (blood),  *gepan (language), *un (trail), *langhai (village), *suta (thread), *mucha (banana), *kakchi (crab), *tu (snake), etc. So, it is a matter of thorough research. Robert Shafer (1954) was the first scholar to notice Kusunda as a language isolate. Professor H. Fleming as well as most other linguists also believe that this is a language isolate. Yet, it may also be argued that Indo-European, Tibeto-Burman as well as other languages also shared with Kusunda. It is a matter of serious study as to what is the genesis of Kusunda language in the Himalayas. The Kusunda people, their language and culture are very important to both linguists and anthropologists alike. Recently the Kusundas have undergone a drastic change in their life style, as the result of which they have completely forgotten their own ulture and tradition.  Still, fortunately there is the language 'living' at the moment. This language has not yet been well studied for we have obtained only limited data so far.

Additionally, the SIL Ethnologue's mentioning of the death of the Kusunda language has also dispirited linguists to find other Kusunda speakers and study the language. Under the auspices of His Majesty's Government of Nepal, I could go for some research and find a few Kusundas who can speak the language fluently.  A month ago, I have been informed again that there is yet another male Kusunda who can also speak the language. I hope to see him soon. Therefore, there are still ample opportunities for everyone of us to study the language and understand its importance.

Hodgson - Grierson Data


When talking of the Kusundas we happen to remember Hodgson. Having lived in Nepal for a long time in the early nineteenth century, Hodgson had been very fortunate to go into studies on languages, literatures and religions of Nepal and Tibet. He was much fascinated by ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity of the Himalayan region. His works on these areas are always great. But, as concern Kusundas he could not personally meet with them and has so admitted "During a long residence in Nepal, I never could gain the least access to the Kusundas, though aided by all the authority of the Durbar." (Hodgson 1957). In those days, Nepal was experiencing certain political changes    the Rana Regime was recently installed and lasted for 104 years; under them, there were no educational and other sorts of developments. It is therefore understandable that Hodgson’s assistants were people from other communities. It is also possible that those assistants were not even from the speakers’ neighbouring community and had very little knowledge of Kusunda as well as of Tibeto-Burman languages in Nepal. Needless to say therefore, some of the Kusunda data obtained that way now require verification.


Grierson drew on Hodgson’s vocabulary for the Linguistic Survey of India in 1909. Later scholars also have drawn from the latter's work. These data have to be independently verified again. Below is a  comparative listing of Hodgson data, drawn from the  Linguistic Survey of India:



            New    Data

      Hodgson data










































Reinhard-Toba Data:


John Reinhard and Sueyoshi Toba also worked on Kusunda some 32 years ago. Their data are the primary data recorded by Reinhard from the field, which were later analyzed by Toba in Kathmandu. But, the latter had not been able to see and speak with the Kusundas in person.  Both of them were non-native researchers. I have found a number redundant data in Reinhard-Toba lists, nevertheless, it is a scientifically accomplished work. Reinhard has honestly admitted "this (Kusunda analysis) unfortunately was based on very little data, is incomplete and contains several errors; significant variants obtained from different informants have been listed. Several of these terms could not be checked and therefore the list should not be considered definitive" Reinhard (1976). Therefore, there are also some inevitable redundancies.


Similarities with Other Languages

Having found some sorts of similarities with a few indigenous languages of the Tibeto-Burman family, I therefore believe that Kusunda originated in the Sino-Tibetan area. Kusunda *mahi (water buffalo) and *mai  (mother) are similar to Central Magar mahi and mai, with the same meanings; cf. also Sanskrit mahisha. Kusunda mai is quite close to Sanskrit *maataa meaning 'mother'. Some other Tibeto-Burman linguistic communities also have 'mai' for mother. In the same manner Kusunda and Magar say suta for 'thread' and its Prakrit is sutta and in Sanskrit  it is suutra.

I have already mentioned above that some linguists differ with my view on the origin of Kusunda. They believe that Kusunda is a language isolate – not sharing recent common origin with any languages. But my recent findings confirm that Kusunda has noticeable affinities with a number of indigenous languages spoken across northern belt of Nepal. Therefore, it is possible that this language originated in the Sino-Tibetan area and other major language families also shared with it. Below are some sample cognates.

1.     one

KUSUNDA: kasti; TIBETO-BURMAN: kat (Central Magar)

2.    blood

KUSUNDA: uyu ; TIBETO-BURMAN : chyuhui (Baram), uyu (Chepang), hayu (Dura)

3.    trail

KUSUNDA: ung; TIBETO-BURMAN: ungma (Baram)

4.    fish

KUSUNDA: ngsa ; TIBETO-BURMAN: ngyasya (Western Magar), ngya (Chepang), dishya (Central Magar), dishya (Dura)

5.    fire

KUSUNDA:  za ; TIBETO-BURMAN: chhawo > warm/hot (Tibetan)

6.   language

KUSUNDA: gepan ; TIBETO-BURMAN: ge+pang (Western Magar > ge = we/our, pang = language), ke-gepa (Tibetan: meaning 'you cry aloud').

7.  banana

KUSUNDA: mucha ; TIBETO-BURMAN: mocha (Central Magar); moje, (Tamang), muja (Dura), mach (Gurung); also in Dravidian (Tulu mote etc.)  

8.  water buffalo

KUSUNDA: mahi; TIBETO-BURMAN: mahi (Central Magar), mai/maikha (Dura), mai (Gurung); cf. Skt. mahisha

9.   village

KUSUNDA: langhai; TIBETO-BURMAN: langha (Central Magar)

10.    sun

KUSUNDA:  in/ing, TIBETO-BURMAN: nin/nim (Nymba), nima (Tibetan), nyam (Chepang)

11.  bread

KUSUNDA: mangmi; TIBETO-BURMAN: mangmi (Bhote)

12.   mother

KUSUNDA: mai; TIBETO-BURMAN: mai (Central Magar/Western Magar), INDO-EUROPEAN: maataa  (Sanskrit)

13.   forest

KUSUNDA: gelang : SINO-TIBETAN: bling

14. thread

KUSUNDA : suta: SINO-TIBETAN : suta (Central Magar) ; INDO-EUROPEAN : sutta  ( Pali/Prakrit); suutra (Sanskrit)

15. crab

KUSUNDA: kakchi SINO-TIBETAN: khakre (Tamang)

16. snake

KUSUNDA: tu; SINO-TIBETAN: du (Bhote); pu (Kulung Rai)

17. egg

KUSUNDA: gwa; SINO-TIBETAN: wa-kun (Chepang); wadi (Kulung Rai)

18. monkey

KUSUNDA: guinyau (CN), haku (MWN);  SINO-TIBETAN : laku (Dura)

19. nose


20. Leg

KUSUNDA: yen/yeng SINO-TIBETAN: lung (Kulung Rai)

21. Louse

KUUNDA: kee SINO-TIBETAN: see (Kulung Rai)

22. goat

KUSUNDA: miza (CN), azaki (MWN), INDO-EUROPEAN: aja  (Sanskrit)

The list above shows that Kusunda has some kind of relationship with other languages across Nepal. Therefore, this sort of relationship should not be taken as borrowings only. It is also a matter of deep study as to who borrowed from whom? Below I give  some further explanation of the language:

(a)        There is prominence of nasal 'h' sound in Kusunda language and one of the striking characteristics of Tibeto-Burman languages is that they have nasal 'h' prominently occurring in all distributions; for example, ngsa  ‘fish’, ngyangdi  ‘woman’, dimtang  ‘beer’, langhai ‘village’, ung  ‘trail’, gelang  ‘forest’, ing ‘sun’, mangmi ‘bread’, sijang ‘beer’, etc. The Santhal language beloging to the Austro-Asiatic Munda family has 'yeh' prominently occurring in its major word classes.

(b)        For ‘fish’ the Kusundas say ngsa' [h+sa], the Magars of the Karnali area say *ngya+sya, the Chepangs ngya or nga, the Barams nanga and the Magars of the Gandaki area [di+sya]. These segments [h+sa], [nga+sya] and [di+sya] have the same meaning and the formation of these words are also distinctly similar. The Kusunda [h+sa] has *n of nur or ngr for water and *sa for meat. Fish is ‘meat from water’. Therefore *ngsa is a Tibeto-Burman word.

(c)        Concerning numerals in Kusunda there is 'kasti' for '1' and 'pigo' for '4'. In the Magar language of Central Nepal these are 'kat' and 'buli' respectively. In the Baram language 4 is called 'bi'. The Kusunda ‘pigo’, Baram ‘bi’ and Magar ‘buli’ have bilabial similarities. In Kusunda, counting does not exceed five: kasti for 1, dukhu for 2, dahat for 3, pigo for 4 and pangang-jang for 5. The case is very similar to the Magar language: Magars have 'kat' for 1, 'nish' for 2, 'song' for 3, ‘buli’ for 4, ' bang’ for 5.

Complex Pronominalization

Kusunda is a complex language. The problem lies in its pronominalization. The Hodgson-Grierson and Reinhard-Toba data, which most later day linguists have utilized have to be reanalyzed. Comparatively, the Reinhard-Toba data seem to have been obtained more scientifically than Hodgson- Grierson's. But the former's data have  also been found to contain some flaws. My informants have given me comparatively different data. Therefore, we should also check other sources, along with these two, before we draw any conclusion. I understand that the Kusundas have a habit of answering someone's question just in one word or two, which is a most common feature in other languages of  the Tibeto-Burman family. We do not find formal expressions in Tibeto-Burman languages. They are just spoken in one or two words. The same can be traced out in the Kusunda language also. For example :














My stomach = chii chimat

Your stomach = nii nimat

His stomach = gidi gimat


I have been able to record some Kusunda sample sentences few months ago. These sentences are collected from two female Kusunda speakers of the Rolpa and Dang districts, in mid-west Nepal. One of the speakers' daughter, who is married to a Chettri, also can speak the language. While at home, mother and daughter converse in Kusunda language.  I found Kusundas have a habit of speaking only one word or short phrases when speaking to others.




I eat rice

chi kadi gaman / kadi tamdi

I go home

chi woha / wohi tagai

I come home

chi waha / wohi tugun

He eats rice

git kadi gaman

You eat rice

nu kaji naman

(You) come here

taba aaga 

(I) drink  water

tang chongdi

I go along this way

taun chahan

I live at home

wohi sahan

             I live in(side) the home

aawa sahan

It rained

tang ugun (tãun)

It rained yesterday

pene tang ugun

The sun rose

ing ugi

A hard sun !

ing haap !


Comparative Study of Kusunda with the Magar Language of the Karnali Area[5]


Both the Kusunda and the Magar languages of the Karnali area have distinct similarities; however, we can find a number of Kusunda cognates that are similar to other Tibeto-Burman languages like Shauka, Baram, Chepang, Tamang, Thaksya, Bhote, Bhujel etc. The Magars of the Karnali area call the languages of others’, including Nepali, the state language of Nepal, 'rangpang' and call their own language 'gepang'.  Kusundas also  call their own language 'gepang'. Both 'gepangs' have striking syntactic similarities:


Kusunda  Gepan

             Western Magar Gepang

chi kadi gaman

(I rice eat)

nga yai/kang jyonga

(I rice eat)

git kadi gaman

(He rice eats)

wola yai/kang jyowa

(He rice eats)

nu kadi naman

(You rice eat)

nanga yai/kang jyona

(You rice eat)


In the Kusunda sentences given above there are pronominalized verbal prefixes, and in Western Magar sentences we can see pronominalized verbal suffixes. Have prefixes and suffixes different functions in the process of word formation?  Below I give a few more pronominalized sentences and phrases from the Magar language of the Karnali area in Kusunda  structure:


Western Magar Gepang


nga  ri  ngawoje

I water drink.

nang  ri  nawoje

You water drink

ge  ri  gewoje

We water drink

nga  ngalijjya

I (here) am

nang  nalijjya

You (there) are

ge  gelijjya

We (here) are

nga  ngado

I (it) do

nang  nado

You (it) do

Ge  gedo

We (it) do.


The above examples indicate that Kusunda is not a language isolate.  It is quite similar to the Kham Magar language of the Karnali area, which shows that Kusunda has some sort of affinity with  Tibeto-Burman.  Unfortunately, Hodgson-Grierson and Reinhard-Toba do not seem to have made any effort to compare Kusunda with other Tibeto-Burman languages found in Nepal. Had they been able to study the Western Magar language, they would have categorized Kusunda as having originated in the Sino-Tibetan area.


Comparison with Kulung Rai Language

            The  eastern part of Nepal is primarily inhabited by the Rai and Limbu ethnic groups. These peoples speak their own languages belonging to the Tibeto-Burman family. Kulung Rai is also a pronominalized language. Below I give a few words and sentences of Kulung Rai  language:




Kulung Rai Words

I = kong

he = nako

we = keika

kaska = we two

snake = pu

waas =  play

sun = namchhoba

stone = lung

egg = wadi

leg = lung

water = kaw

tree = seechho


Kulung  Rai Counting

one = ibum

two = nichi

three = supchi

four = lichi

five = ngachi

a person = ilpo

two persons = nipppo

three persons = suppo

four persons = lippo

five persons = ngapo


Kulung Rai Sentences

I eat rice = konga ja choyo

He eats rice = nskosa ja choyo

We eat rice = keika ja chyaeka

We (two) eat rice = kaska nippo ja chaichuka

We (two) play = kaska was laichika

We (many) paly = Keika lai laiyaka


Additionally, some linguists have attempted to categorize Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in the Himalayan belt as the Tibeto-Himalayan sub-branch of Sino-Tibetan, which consists of pronominalized Himalayan languages belonging to the Other Mongoloid and non-pronominalized Himalayan Languages belonging to the Kirats (Risely et al. 1931/1975). If we follow them the Kusunda falls in Other Mongoloid pronominalized language group. But, this interpretation has not been acclaimed by all. The Santhal language belongs to the Austro-Asiatic Munda family. It also has pronomilization but this is different from that of the Kusunda language. The following  phrases and sentences  can be taken as an example (Please refer to Annex 2 also).




uni dakay  jama

He eats rice

aam dakang jama

You eat rice

aale dakale jama

We eat rice

ing daing nyuya

I drink water

ale menak liya

We are




General Conclusion

One of the most powerful functions of a language is that of a repository of the culture and worldview of its speakers. Its grammar and lexicon store the shared experiences of past generations, and a language is the channel by which these images, emotions, knowledge and beliefs are transmitted to the next. A language does not just transmit messages; it decorates them aesthetically, and so facilitates their reception and retention. In the preceding paragraphs I have explained how important the Kusunda language is for serious studies. Kusunda appears to have external relationships with a number of indigenous peoples’ languages spoken across the world – from Alaska of North America to South and Central Africa, Europe, Asia and New Zealand. (See Annex 3).

I believe Kusunda, as one of the ancient languages, could also be a reliable tool for understanding the prehistory of early peoples in South Asia.  It is therefore very high time that the Kusundas should be preserved in an equitable manner. The Kusundas should not be deprived of their human rights. Following what has already been said in the declaration of the rights of persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/135 of 18 December 1992, His Majesty's Government of Nepal has been very keen to implement an integrated community development programme for the indigenous peoples, including  the Kusundas, who are living in different parts of the country.  

Since, the Kusundas are in a state of impoverishment, they urgently require genuine support from among governmental as well as non-governmental organizations that are working for the all-round development of the peoples of Nepal. By bringing the Kusundas together in one place and encouraging  them to communicate among themselves in their own language,  Kusunda language can be stabilized. There are some other Kusundas, of mixed origin, who also wish to learn this language and seek our support. Additionally, in order to preserve other Himalayan languages, we should undertake a further Linguistic Survey of Nepal, employing professionals especially from among those of the speakers' own communities, so that we might be able to fully understand the Kusunda and other languages in the Himalayas.






Annex: 1 

Kusunda Vocabulary[6] :


Old record

New record

English Equivalent


             amokh (MWN)



archa (MWN)



bai (MWN)



nangdighichi (MWN)







young man


usindi (MWN)

young woman


dhaiya (MWN)

Old man


gheche (MWN)





guinayu (CN)

haku (MWN)



garhu (MWN)



puhut (MWN)



yakkau (MWN)



khangu (MWN)



nongba (MWN)












manenu (MWN)

Many people


kugjangnu (MWN)

Few people












ajaki (MWN)






sising (MWN)



kadida (CN)




Rice (cooked)


paiti (CN)



suta (CN/MWN)



abokh (CN)




             Female sex organ



             Male sex organ











             gigzi (CN)/dazzi (MWN)



pungar (CN)




Mustard oil















Arrow head




















pai (CN)













Mango seed






Large tree





amba (MWN)






















Words for family relations:


Old Data                                             New Data                                            English Equivalent









bai (MWN)



bhaya (MWN)

Younger brother


nyakham (MWN)

Maternal uncle


             nangbi (MWN)

Maternal aunt



Great uncle


mizarni (MWN)

Great aunt



Middle uncle



Middle aunt



Younger uncle



Younger aunt



Youngest uncle


            makanchhi (MWN)

Youngest aunt


Parts of the Body


ipi  = head

ipi = hair (CN)

gee = hair (MWN)

inang = eye

inau = nose

aata = mouth

nabi = arm

amokh = hand

hanki = neck

yan/yang = foot

okchi = chest

ambu = breast

idu = liver

gepo = flesh

gu = bone

             konji = male sex organ

             myau = vagina(CN)

uyu = blood

imat = stomach




chi = I

nu = you

git/gina = he,

chiyi = my (HG)

niyi  = thy (H&G)

             gida = he, she, it (HG)


go = tagai

went = dagai

come = aaga

eat = taman

give = itanan

bite = kamaji

aganan = (he) makes

chaanaan = (I) go

eat = gaman

Nyawan = to collect (RT)




Name of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, etc.


mayhaq = tiger           

             kauli = tiger

aagai = dog

mahi = water buffalo

guinyau = monkey (CN)

haku = monkey (MWN)

samtak = squirrel

nikhumba = ox/cow (CN)

nongba = ox/cow  (MWN)

             amba =  an animal living in trees

Yangut = mongoose (CN)

tap = jungle fowl

miaa = lion?  (R & T )

tu = snake

kee = louse

             pui = a kind of amphibian


*NB: CN > Central Nepal, MWN > Midwest Nepal, HG > Hodgson and Grierson, RT > Reinhard and Toba




Annex:  2


Santhal words and sentences


Santhal is a Munda language belonging to the Austro-Asiatic language;  it is spoken by the Santhals living  in the eastern lowlands (Terai) of  Nepal. They have even developed a script of their own. This is also a pronominalized language. Below I give some Santhal words and sentences from my recent survey:


sengel = fire

da = water

hawai = air

buru = mountain

tandi = plain

bir = forest

sahan = firewood

tasat = grass

gada = river

             daka = rice (cooked)

hudu = paddy

dul = pour

ha:d = man

manmi = man

aihad = woman

babahad = father

dahar = trail

du (la) = pulses

dal = beat

             nydachado = moon

             seingchando =  sun

eipil = star

rimil = cloud

dhiri = stone

sherma = sky

seta = dog

hadam = oldman

sagad = bull cart

rabang = cold

reyang = cool

lal = hot

hamal = heavy

hasa = soil

haku = fish

shaska= happy

odab= house

             parkam= siesta bed

sadag  = ditch

khandriya= deep

sadag= stream

sakam = leaf

            dar = branch of tree

rehed = root

jandra = maize

         aadag = green vegetable

ub = hair

chadi= forehead

medh= eye

mu = nose

lutur = ear

         tanka = back of the neck

hadg = neck

kadam = chest

ti = hand

katub = finger

rama = nail

             diya = backbone ?

lag = stomach

buka = navel

danda= waist




 iyng = I

aam = you/thou

aale = we

uni = he/she/it

eygnya = my

uniya = his/her

aaleya = our

aama = your

unkuwa = their

unku = they

unkin = your (two)



Days of the week


singemaha = Sunday

atemaha = Monday

balemaha = Tuesday

sagunmaha= Wednesday

sardimaha= Thursday

jarunmaha = Friday

nyuhumaha = Saturday

             yamha = week

         maha = day

seta = morning

tikin = noon

          singad = afternoon

ayub = evening

ngida = night

         talangida = mid night

sim rag =  dwan

nyuhum = dusk

         basiym=breakfast time


samang = east

pachhe = west

konye = north

yetm = south

sehet = towards (direction)

note =  towards (here)

hante = towards (there)

latar = downwards


chitan = above

latar = below



Some Sentences




darire chedyn ab aakana

There is a bird on the tree.

unku okare menak kuwa ?

Where are they?

chet uni dakai jama ?

Did he eat rice ?

uni jajam kanai ?

He is eating

aaleku menak leya

We are ( many)

aaliya menakliya

We are two

ing dakayn  jama

I eat rice




Annex: 3


The External Relationships of Kusunda with other Languages[7]


1.  'man'

KUSUNDA :  hu/hiyu 'man' — Ainu – ainu, niyu (person)  INDO-PACIFIC :  [Timor-Alar] Makasai anu, Bunak en 'man'; NA-DENE : Tlingit na 'tribe' 'people', SUMERIAN : na 'person' ni-ta, ni-tah 'man' INDO-EUROPEAN : *ner 'man, male', ALTAIC* nairL 'man person', KADU : Miri huri,  NIGER-CONGO : Mande nu, Kpelle nu  'man', Bambara nyi, Nalu nyie, Mossi ni, Kasele onyi, Adele (e) ni, Yoruba ni, Likpe ni etc.

2.   'belly'

KUSUNDA :  imat, tamat 'belly'; AMERIND *mat; TASMAN [W,SE] lomati (na); NA-DENE; Athabaskan *wt 'belly'; Eyak wt 'vomit', BURUSHASKI- wat 'body, self

3.  'egg'

KUSUNDA : goa, gwa 'egg'; ANDAMAN: Onge gwagane 'turtle egg'; SINO-TIBETAN :  *Qo(w)H 'egg' Tibetan s-go-na 'egg(s)'; NA-DENE: Haidaqaw 'bird egg'

4.  'water'


KUSUNDA : tah 'water' : NA-DENE : Haida tah 'sea water', Eyak tah 'waves', Galice ta- water (in compounds); Chipewyan ta- Narajo ta'- 'water'


5.  'fire'


KUSUNDA : dza, za 'fire', Sino-Tibetan tsha 'hot', SUMERIAN : i-zi 'fire, ALTAIC *asa to ignite, Gilyak t'a, KHOISAN Hiechware joaa, INDO-PACIFIC Moni usa 'fire' DENE-CAUCASIC : Basque su, Caucasic ts'ayi 'fire', NILO-SAHARAN, Lendu kazz 'fire' NIGER CONGO : Bambara, Dyula, Mano, Vai ta.


6.  'house'


KUSUNDA :  wohi 'house', INDO-PACIFIC [SNG] Hiwi aba, Sesa pei 'village', Jelmek ebi; NIGER-CONGO: Tschi O-fi; O-fi-e 'home', Nyangbo ke-pi 'home, house', Bamana pu-ye


7.  'thunder, lightning'


KUSUNDA: khila; ANDAMAN: Bale kuru:dLke 'thunder' AUSTRIC: Indonesian *kilat 'lightning', kilap 'glitter'







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[1] 'Myahak' is tribal name for Kusundas. Note that the Gurungs have 'Tamus',  Shaukas 'Rongs' and Limbus – 'Yakthungs' as their tribal names.


[2] The Raute are another ethnic group that live in the jungles of West Nepal even today; they speak Khamchi  - a Tibeto-Burman language and they have clan names just as the Kusundas. Their females are not free and are treated differently than in the Kusunda community.

[3] Kusundas and Rautes have been found taking 'Thakuri' surnames such as Sen, Singh, Saha, Malla etc., mainly to uphold their social status. If only a few of them are  'Upgraded Kusundas' then the Kusunda population would increase reasonably; for, the Thakuri population in the last national population census (1991) was 1.62 % of the total 18,491,097. When addressed abusively Thakuris are also called  'Kusundas' by other peoples. The present Shah King dynasty belongs to the Thakuri community. In the coat of arms there is a picture of a hunter with a bow and arrow in his hands. The Kusundas have the word  ‘tut’ and  ‘mui’ for  bow and arrow respectively.

[4]  Chepangs are another ethnic group in the central hills of Nepal. Hodgson had found them ' few degrees above than the Kusundas' . Nevertheless, few of them can still be found in caves they are doing better in recent years.

[5] Known as Kham Magar language

[6]. Some of the words in the list have been recorded quite recently. This language seems to have 'eastern’ and ‘western' dialects. For example: ‘blood’ in Kusunda is uyu, and  ‘monkey’ is guinyau. But, recent data differ as my informants say lapa and haku respectively.


[7] These are few of the selected examples drawn from Paul Whitehouse's work for showing the external relationships of Kusunda language and its importance for studying prehistory of the South Asian peoples. I have copied them from the writer's article in Mother Tongue (1997).