The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha. While Dzongkha uses the same ’Ucen script as Tibetan – and the two languages are closely related – Dzongkha is sufficiently different that Tibetans cannot understand it. In the monastic schools Choekey, the classical Tibetan language, is taught.

In eastern Bhutan most people speak Sharchop (meaning ‘language of the east’), which is totally different from Dzongkha. In the south, most people speak Nepali.

As a result of the isolation of many parts of the country, a number of languages other than Dzongkha and Sharchop survive. Some are so different that people from different parts of the country can’t understand each other. Bumthangkha is a language of the Bumthang region. Other tongues are Khengkha from Zhamgang, Kurtoep from Lhuentshe, Mangdep from Trongsa and Dzala from Trashi Yangtse.