Participants at the event organised by the Language Commission in Birendranagar, Surkhet. Picture credit: The Kathmandu Post

Khas language, the source of the modern Nepali language, is on the verge of the extinction in Karnali province. Of the 1.4 million populations in the province, only 18 people speak Khas language, according to a report prepared by the Language Commission, The Kathmandu Post reports.

Nepali-speaking communities including Chhetris, Bahuns, Thakuris, Dasnamis and Dalits have their origins in Khas language. Fifty-five languages are spoken in Karnali, and Khas is the 33rd most-spoken language in the province.

At a recent programme held in Surkhet, Labadev Awasthi, the chairperson of the commission, said Khas language was at risk of becoming extinct. “Only a few people speak Khas language these days which is unfortunate,” he said.

He warned that several native indigenous languages could suffer a similar fate as Khas language if their speakers do not actively persevere to preserve and promote them.

“It is only a matter of few generations, many of us will forever forget our ancestral tongues if we do not make effort to learn and speak them,” Awasthi added. Province Minister for Social Development Dal Rawal assured that the government would form a mechanism to preserve the native indigenous languages of Karnali. Girija Sharma, secretary at the ministry, said the province government was doing the homework from its side to preserve the language and culture of the province.

Besides Khas, the other languages whose speakers are becoming increasingly rare in Karnali are Surel, Tajpuriya, Sanskrit, Panjabi, Hayu, Pahari, Meche, Jirel, Kumal, Dhimal, Rajasthi and Bangla. Nepali and Magar are the most common languages spoken in the province.

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