Beyond the dzong -- Bhutan's Failing National Language

Here's a fascinating article about the Bhutanese government's attempts to make Dzongkha, the national language, more widely used in the country. Some real insights here for those interesting in knowing more about the background to the Bhutanese-Nepali Refugee situation.

Beyond the dzong: "Inevitably, such a relatively recent induction of a national language has thrown up challenges to the full gamut of Bhutanese society. After all, Dzongkha is the mother tongue for only one ethnic group – the Ngalong, the traditional ruling group, which makes up around a fifth of the population – and is one of nearly two dozen languages spoken in the country, with Nepali and English being by far the most widely understood. The law, however, has little room for such nuances. According to official discussion that took place in the National Assembly in mid-June, potentially embarrassing inconsistencies have been arising during the simple process of naming new official institutions, due to the fact that these bodies are typically named in English before being translated into Dzongkha. Recently, for instance, the president of a new medical institute was being officially referred to by a word (sidzin) that in fact means the president of a country. According to one Dzongkha expert quoted in the local press, such problems ‘would not arise if the bills were drafted first in the national language’."

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