Languages of Magar
The aboriginal stock of Nepal is undoubtedly Mongolian—Indigenous Nationalities. Magar is one of them. They speak Tibeto-Burman dialect. Magars speak Pang (known as Kham) in Mid-Western region, Tarali or Kaike in Dolpa district of North-Western region, and Dhut mostly in the West and Central part of Nepal. All these mother tongues belong to Tibeto-Burman family. The population of mother tongue speakers is 3.39% of the total population of Nepal (2001 census). Other remaining Magars speak Khas, and Nepali. Magar language stands at the seventh rank in Nepal in terms of the large number of population speaking their mother tongue. The Magar tongue speaking population in 1952/54, 1991, and 2001 were 273780, 430264, and 770116 respectively. The study of the trend in mother tongue retention shows that Magar language retention rate has increased from 32.1% in 1991 to 47.7% in 2001 census.
Please find below the comments received from experts on language.
Magar: In the 2001 census, 1,622,421 people claimed to be Magars, while 770,116 claimed the language as their mother tongue. Less has been done to standardize and promote Magar than any of the other languages considered in this study. This no doubt is in large part a reflection of the fact that a considerable percentage of those now considered ethnic Magars do not speak Magar as well as the fact that those who do may speak dia-lects which are very different and not fully mutually intelligible.12
It should be noted that until quite recently many non-Magars have claimed Ma-gar status. These groups, which include the Chantyal, Kham, Kaike, Kusunda, Raute, and Raji ethnic groups, were all too small or remote to be classified in the Muluki Ain of 1854, the national legal code which classified Nepalis according to a single caste hierar-chy. These groups claimed to be Magars because Magars were officially classified as ‘clean’ [in the Hindu sense] and ‘unenslavable’, and because the British were interested in hiring Magars for their Gurkha regiments. These people had license to call themselves Magars because until recently there was little sense of a larger Magar ethnicity and hence no core Magar community which could challenge these claims.13 The fact that these people had their own languages whose relationships to Magar is not obvious to non-linguists [and non-existent in the case of Kusunda] apparently did not affect their claims, though their distinct languages were important later for claims to separate eth-nic identities.
The Nepal Magar association conducts meetings in the national language Nepali, and the Magar Studies Center website14 is entirely in English. There has been very little publication in Magar and the ethnic organization has not broached the subjects of or-thography and standardization to any significant extent. https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/noonan/www/LundPaper.text.pdf
Dear Dr. Yadavji,
Namaskar. As per our telephone talk, I am sending you this piece of work of James F. Fisher who conducted this study during 1971-72. According to his studies it is confirmed that-1) Kaike language is an indigenous language, 2) It is a Magar language, and 3) It is on the verge of extinction from the world because it is not spoken in any part of the world except in Sahatara village.
I was lucky to get Mr. Dhana Bahadur Budha Magar—the District Committee Chairman—over the phone. I talked to him. According to him only 2000 people of five Wada of Sahatara Village Development Committee speak Kaike language. These Wadas are Wada 6, 7 of Tupa village, Wada number 8, 9 of Sahatara village, and 5 Wada of Tarakot village. I have requested him to see me in Kathmandu during his visit. As this language is in dangerous list, it becomes pertinent to protect this language by professional’s intervention. Developing a Dictionary of Kaike-Nepali-English language is also one such action.
I hope this will help you to extend the study further for protection and promotion. Thanks.
Dr. Govind Prasad Thapa,
Allen W Thrasher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
George van Driem, Languages of the Himalayas, Brill, 2001 (Handbuch der Orientalistik, Section 2. India. vol. 10), v. 2, p. 780, has this to say (I have rendered his standard transliteration into Harvard-Kyoto):
“Before the 1990 revolution, a rare Magar periodical entitled LaGghalI [sic: it should be LAGghalI- AT] appeared irregularly. In the atmosphere of political fervour prevailing in the years following the Nepalese revolution of 1990, various booklets were published which made fantastic claims. One such claim [identified BrAhmI script as of Magar origin]. Another claim was that the Magars are related to the Magyars or Hungarians, a fact which is argued solely on the basis of the similarity of the name, e.g. BuDA Magar (VS2053b). The latter claim must, however, be seen as just a recent episode in a long tradition of pseudo-scholarly publications attempting to relate the Magyars with any and every distant group. [Uxbond 1928 used this as part of a theory linking with Magyars with the Mundas and as far afield as the Maoris.]
Parts in square brackets are my summary.
BuDa Magar, HarSa BahAdur. VS BhAdra 2053b (AD 1996). Magar jAti ra unkA sAmAjik saMskAr. Kathmandu: ZrImatI PuSpAvatI BuDA Magar.
Uxbond, F.A. 1938 Munda-Magyar-Maori, an INdian link bertween the antipodes: new tracks of Hungarian origins. London, Luzac and Co.
Van Driem considers Magar a Bodic language within the Tibeto-Burma, which further subdivision within the Bodic not yet clear. However, he uses the term Magaric to include Magar and Kham.
Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian
Southern Asia Section
Library of Congress
Jefferson Building 150
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4810
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of Congress.
B.K. Rana replies
Magar language is a TB language. The central Magar and Kham Magar languages are different. The Kaike Magar language is even different.
‘Langhali’ [not LAGghalI] is a Central Magar Language term meaning ‘villager or neighbour’ [Langha > village with prefix ali> of or belonging to]. It means of the village.
We have been able to found a voluntary social organization in New York – Langhali Association USA. last year.
I myself is a Magar and hence ‘Langhali’ also.. There are lot more other books that you have cited. Does one have to accept whatever an otsiders write ?
As far as I understand, the Magars [Langhalis] have never claimed that Magyars are their ancestors. But a team of the Magyars of Hungary have visited in early 90s in search of their ancestors.
In search for his ancestors, a Hungarian researcher, Alexander Choma De Korus [?], while en route via Lhasha of Tibet to Mongolia, died in Darjeeling in 1842. There is a memorial tablet erected in honor of him in Darjeeling – one of the team members had written in a faxed message to me also.
Another Hungarian scholar Gyula Laszlo [The Magyars: Their Life and Civilization 1996] has ruled out any nearness between Magars and Magyars.
Both Dor Bahadur Bista Fatalism and Development  and F. B. Hamilton An Account of the Kingdom of Nepal  write Magars and the current Shah kings are of same origin.
We also believe in it as both the Shah Kings and Magars share exactly same cultures eve today. The priests in the kings guardian deity are always a Magar. There are lots of stuff on Magars and others in Brian Hodgsons Essays on the Language, Literature and Religion of Nepal and Tibet .
Perceval Landons Nepal , Michael Oppitzs research article – The Wild Boar and the Plough: Origin Stories of the Northern Magars in Kailash . Eden Vansittart has written profoundly on Magars in his The Gurkhas . Recently, John Whelpton has also written in his book King Soldiers & Priests in Nepalese Politics and the Rise of Jung Bahadur [1830-1857] published in 1991.
The northern Magars are subdivided into Buda, Gharti, Pun and Roka. Some writers have written the Huns invaded Nepal and they became Pun.
There are lot to write here.
B. K. Rana
Winter Hill, Massachusetts
United States of America
Tel: 617 233 0158
On Prachin Magar Ra Akkha Lipi
I’m sorry that i could not response you in time due to my busy engagement on current circumtanses in Nepal. I’m still fully convinced that the so called BRAHMA LIPI is not of Aryans as they claim. According to Buddhist text the oldest script of this continent is clearly named AKHARIKA which means ” Varna Mala” in Magar language. No other languages, axcept magar , can claim ” RIKAA ” as script. The word RIKAA means Script or Alphabet in classical magar language.It was the first invention of Magar ancesters that pervaded through out the Indian continent. that is why it was and is called BRAHMA-the universal not BRAHMIN as claimed by BRAHMINS of Aryan stock. This RIKAA was copied by Tamil, Gujtarati, Bengali, GURUMUKHI, BURMA, Thailand and Sombhota of Tibbet etc and they edited it according to their phonotics. If we accept it of BRAHMIN ARYAN why it is not found in SINDHU Valley,the first civilisation place of ARYAN ( though i am not convince about it ). DO we find it in KHAJURA,HADAPPA and MOHEJODORA in west Pakistan, the most ancient places of ARYANS ? So the claim about this Akharika by Aryan or Others are like ” tala parepani khutta ta maathi chha ”
Mongpa Zhedi <email@example.com>
Email circulated by BK Rana on 9 Mar 2005, 2.52 AM; how ancient is Magar language?
How do you feel about it ?.
Thanks and Namaste,
That was not Dr. Thrasher’s comment. He jsut passed it to us. I understand Dr. Allen W. Thrasher is Senior Reference Librarian /Southern Asia Section Asian Division at Library of Congress, in Washington DC.
Have you ever heard of George van Driem ? He was for some time in Nepal also. Prof. Ballabha Mani Dahal used to tell me about his works. Sadly, our linguists/scholars, mostly of Tribhuvan University, cite western schoalrs’ works easily without any cross checking. I personally can’t accept such intellectual tradition.
In fact George van Driem commented on your work [ Prachin Magar ra Akkha Lipi] even not mentioning your name. He has mentioned Dr. Harsha B. Budha’s name there.
I wonder if van Driem had been able to to go through the works [ Treatise on Buddhism] of Subarnakar Rana Magar [1000 AD] and Ganga Rana Magar [1069 AD] .
MSThapa Magar <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Namaste. I appreciate your exercises to go in more depth about the history of Magar but my earlier email was in response to Mr. Allen W Thrasher who used the words ” fantastic claim ” . I have strong objection about the words he used. He has right to differ and refute but must come academically not satiring and humiliating the openion of other persons. He must learn to respect the view of other researchers.
M.S. Thapa Magar
“B. K. Rana” <email@example.com> wrote:
I am confused whether your comment is directed to me or not. I also do not have command over ‘classical Magar language’.I think you have published a book/booklet on classical Magar language also. But I do know Magar language both Kham and East&Central Magar language and little Kaike also. Kaike mostly sounds Bhote or Tibetan.
Please check below how George van Driem, a noted linguist in his , “Languages of the Himalayas”,has commented on Akkha script you developed:
“Before the 1990 revolution, a rare Magar periodical entitled LaGghalI [sic: it should be LAGghalI- AT] appeared irregularly. In the atmosphere of political fervour prevailing in the years following the Nepalese revolution of 1990, various booklets were published which made fantastic claims. One such claim [identified BrAhmI script as of Magar origin]. Another claim was that the Magars are related to the Magyars or Hungarians, a fact which is argued solely on the basis of the similarity of the name, e.g. BuDA Magar (VS2053b). The latter claim must, however, be seen as just a recent episode in a long tradition of pseudo-scholarly publications attempting to relate the Magyars with any and every distant group. [Uxbond 1928 used this as part of a theory linking with Magyars with the Mundas and as far afield as the Maoris.]”
I was just writing on the paper ‘LANGHALI’ which used to come from Kathmandiu until few years ago and a recently founded ‘Langhali Association USA’ I was just discussing in plain romanization, not using any diacritic or IPA symbol [phonetic transcription]. Additionally, diacritics vary from a writer to another.
I don’t know whether you have received my another email in whcih I have cited you on Magar ‘na+di’ for Sanskrit ‘na+di’. Your contribution to classical Magar language and culture is great, it is always commendable.
MSThapa Magar <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
It is weird to see a comment from a person who has no command in classical Magar language. Though they pose themself as a linguist but cannot differentiate between LAcghali and Langhali.Such a megalomania person must take attention before satiring and humiliating other persons.