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The language that does not know the word 'No'

The language that does not know the word 'No'

It is the Kusunda language of Nepal. It is not well known and has a number of characteristics, among them the fact that there is neither "Yes" nor "No" in the dictionary.

The Kusunda are a small indigenous group now distributed in western Nepal. Their language, also called Kusunda, is unique. It is believed by linguists to be unrelated to any other language in the world. Researchers are still not sure where it originated.

According to the latest census data of Nepal in 2011, there are 273 Kusunda speaking citizens left. Only one woman, 48-year-old Kamala Khatri speaks it fluently.

The language that does not know the word 'No'
Kamala Khatri

The Kusunda are very marginalized and poor within Nepali society. Today, most live in the Dang district of western Nepal, a sleepy region of forested plains and hills shrouded in mist.

For the Kusunda people, losing their language means losing their connection to their past and their identity.

Madhav Pokharel, professor of linguistics at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, has overseen the documentation of the Kusunda language for the past 15 years. He explains that some studies have tried to link it to other isolated languages, such as Burushaski from northern Pakistan and Nihali from India. But no one has been able to find any strong connection.

Currently, linguists believe that Kusunda comes from an ancient aboriginal language spoken throughout the Himalayan regions.

The peculiarity of the language is the fact that there is no way to negate a sentence. In fact, the language has few words that mean anything negative.

If someone wants to say they don't want tea, they have to find the way and synonyms to show that they are full for example.

Kusunda also has no words for absolute directions, such as left or right, and uses relative phrases such as 'on this side' and 'on that side'.