Sherpa Language

Technically, Sherpa (Sharwa) is a separate language, not a dialect of Tibetan. However, this distinction is the products of separatist politics as well as linguistic analysis:

Sharwa is rarely written, but literate Sharwa who function skillfully in several cultures might express Sharwa sounds equally well by writing with Devanagari, U-Chan, or Roman characters.

Because SHERPA (Sharwa) languagedeveloped in relative isolation from its eastern Tibetan roots, SHERPA pronunciation & meaning can differ considerably from the speech & word meaning of Tibetan groups who live just across the high Himalayan passes. Somewhat similar to the way New England American English preserves the pronunciations of the old English districts from which the settlers came, Sherpa preserves some ancient Kham sound patterns and usages. One noted lama has said that contemporary SHERPA pronunciation reminds him of the polite speech of 17thcentury Lhasa.

Sherpas often apply unique Sharwa pronunciations and meanings to Tibetan words, so that it can be tricky to have colloquial Tibetan speakers and Sharwa speakers understand each other's meanings in conversation.

Sherpas living closer to the Tibetan border naturally speak and understand more Tibetan dialects than Sherpas living in India or Nepal's southern districts.