Skip Navigation Links

Language Documentation

Dhimal Documentation

Language and Geography
Dhimal is a Tibeto-Burman language. It is spoken in India and Nepal. In India it is mainly spoken in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. It is spoken in three villages of Naxalbari. Dhimal speakers mainly speak Dhimal, Rajbanshi, Bengali and Hindi. Some of them can even speak Santali, Sadri and Nepali. They work mainly as farmers and government contractors. Females work in Anganbari centres.

Dhimal speakers have Rajbanshi and Bengali neighbours. Many words can be seen to be borrowed in Dhimal from Rajbanshi, Bengali and Hindi with minor phonological changes like Beard- d̪arih (same in Bengali and Hindi), Finger- aŋuli (aŋul in Bengali), Palm-t̪ala (t̪alu in Bengali). Bengali script is used to write the language.

The language has lost many of its lexical items like body parts and numbers. Bengali numbers are used for counting. However it has retained its structural features. Like, the language has honorific morpheme /su/. Its absence marks the verb as non-honorific. Following examples show the contrast between honorific and non-honorific marking.
1. um ca
rice eat
Eat rice. (-HON)
2. um ca su
rice eat HON
Eat rice. (+HON)
Dhimal, unlike Bengali, has different verbs for eating and drinking. The verb, ‘to eat’ is /ca/ (e.g. 2) while the verb ‘to drink’ is /am/.
3. gora am su
alcohol drink (+HON)
Drink alcohol (Hariya).
Tradition and Religion
Dhimal celebrate village festival called Pat Puja. They also celebrate Hindu festivals like Diwali and Dussehra. The person who performs the rituals is called Dhami. Dhimal people claim they are followers of Natural religion which means they mainly worship Nature, because Nature provides them their food and shelter. In their festivals all the members of the community, including children, drink the locally prepared alcohol called Gora or Iu.

The traditional dress of Dhimal is called Patanighat which is made in the combination of red and black. The place where these dresses are made is called Gharelu. Dhimal women wear jewelries called Satia (nose pin), Tisi (neck chain) and Bahi (bangles).
Work in Progress
At present, Dhimal dictionary is being prepared in SPPEL. This dictionary other than Dhimal head words also contains meaning in English and the regional language, marking of parts of speech, semantic domain, sound file, picture file and example sentence in Dhimal and its meaning in English. Soon the work of grammar writing will also start. Now the phonological analysis is under progress.
Transcribed word pet̪ani
Gloss Traditional dress for females
Regional script (Bangali) পেতানি
  Traditional dress for females
Transcribed word beɟan
Gloss Woman
Regional script (Bangali) বেজান
Transcribed word pʰui
Gloss Hand
Regional script (Bangali) ফুই
Transcribed word t̪ʰa:
Gloss House
Regional script (Bangali) থা
Transcribed word siŋ
Gloss Tree
Regional script (Bangali) সিং
Transcribed word nunu
Gloss Child
Regional script (Bangali) নুনু
View Photo gallery