he Hyolmo are a Tibetic ethnic group who live in the Himalayan zone north and north-east from Kathmandu to the south of the Helambu mountains. The Helambu area is the central area of the traditional Yolmo population. This mainly falls into the Nuwakot and Sindhupalchok districts of the Bagmati zone as well as the Rasuwa district. There are also populations of Yolmo speakers in Lamjung, Ramechhap (where they are known as Kagate) and Ilam. This page gives a brief summary of research on Hyolmo and a bibliography of work relating to Hyolmo and the related Kagate group.
In the 1980s Hyolmo speakers began using the name 'Helambu Sherpa' to align themselves with the more prestigious Sherpa people of the Solukhumbu District. This name is still used to refer to Hyolmo speakers, and their language, including for the ISO 639-3 language codes. Today, speakers are actually less likely to refer to themselves as 'Sherpa' and instead use the term 'Yolmo'.
There is an on-going discussion amongst Yolmo people as to how to spell 'Yolmo' in Latin script. Some speakers prefer 'Yolmo' while others prefer 'Hyolmo' or 'Yholmo.' The presence of the 'h' in the name is to indicate that the word is spoken with low tone. Researchers including Desjarlais and Clarke both use 'Yolmo' while the Nepal Aadibasi Janajati Mahasang (Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities) uses 'Hyolmo', and for this reason the standard on this page is also Hyolmo.
It is believed by some that the name Helambu is named after potatoes and raddishes. In the Hyolmo language Hey means Potato and in Yolmo lahbu is radish. This etymology is now considered spurious, 'Helambu' is a Nepali derivation from the original 'Yolmo language'.
Yolmo people speak a language of the Central Bodic or Tibetan language group of the Tibeto-Burman languages language family. Although it has a high level of lexical similarity to Sherpa (61% lexical similarity) and Standard Tibetan (66% lexical similarity), there is enough difference for it to be considered a language in its own right. Within Tibeto-Burman, it is often classed within a group that also includes Kagate and Kyirong. This group is comprised of several dialects according to Tournadre: Kyirong (Lende), Kagate, Tsum, Langtang and Yolmo (Helambu Sherpa). There is an extensive dictionary of Yolmo by Hari, A.M. and Chhegu Lama from 2004 as well as a shorter grammatical description (Hari 2010). According to Tournadre et al. (2009:22):
"Yolmo is another Tibetic language spoken in Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot districts. It is often referred to as “Helambu Sherpa” by the Nepalese people. However, as demonstrated by Anna Maria Hari (2004: 699), Yolmo is closely related to Kagate, and is not a Sherpa dialect."
There is very little in the way of descriptive work on Kyirong, save for a grammar by Brigitte Huber (2005) that also includes historical annotations. Hildebrandt and Perry (2011) note that the Gyalsumdo language variety spoken in the Manage district of Nepal shows strong similarities to Kyirong, as well as Nubri, and would therefore likely be classed in the "Kyirong-Kagate" group.
Bibliography of Hyolmo
Below is a bibliography of work on Hyolmo people and language listed by first author. The papers are in English, unless otherwise stated. There are also articles about Kagate people and language. Please add any other resources you are aware of. Where possible, links to the original publication will be added, however many older words are difficult to come by.
Bishop, Naomi H.
- (1989). "From zomo to yak: Change in a Sherpa village." Human Ecology 17(2): 177-204.
- (1993). "Circular migration and families: A Yolmo Sherpa example." South Asia Bulletin 13(1 & 2): 59-66.
- (1997). Himalayan herders. Watertown, MA: Documentary Educational Resources. with John Melville Bishop (Writers).
- (1998). Himalayan herders. Fort Worth; London: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
Clarke, Graham E.
- (1980). The temple and kinship amongst a Buddhist people of the Himalaya. University of Oxford, Oxford.
- (1980). "A Helambu History." Journal of the Nepal Research Centre 4: 1-38.
- (1980). "Lama and Tamang in Yolmo." Tibetan Studies in honor of Hugh Richardson. M. Aris and A. S. S. Kyi (eds). Warminster, Aris and Phillips: 79-86.
- (1983). "The great and little traditions in the study of Yolmo, Nepal." Contributions on Tibetan language, history and culture. E. Steinkellner and H. Tauscher (eds). Vienna, Arbeitskreis fuèr Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, University of Vienna: 21-37.
- (1985). "Hierarchy, status and social history in Nepal." Contexts and Levels: Anthropological essays on hierarchy. R. H. Barnes, D. De Coppet and R. J. Parkin (eds). Oxford, JASO Occasional Papers, 4(1): 193-210.
- (1990). "Ideas of merit (Bsod-nams), virtue (Dge-ba), blessing (byin-rlabs) and material prosperity (rten-'brel) in Highland Nepal." Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 21(2): 165-184.
- (1991). "Nara (na-rang) in Yolmo: A social history of hell in Helambu." Festschrift fuer Geza Uray. M. T. Much (ed.). Vienna, Arbeitskreis fuer Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, University of Vienna: 41-62.
- (1995). Blood and territory as idioms of national identity in Himalayan states. Kailash, 17(3-4): 89-131.
- (2004). "Il rito sciamanico Sherpa (Helambu, Nepal)." in G.B. Sychenko et al. (eds) Music and ritual, pp. 228-239. Novosibirsk: NGK. [in Italian]
- (1989). "Healing through images: The medical flight and healing geography of Nepali Shamans." Ethos 17(3): 289-307.
- (1989). "Sadness, soul loss and healing among the Yolmo Sherpa." Himalaya, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies: 9(2): 1-4.
- (1991). "Dreams, divination and Yolmo ways of knowing." Dreaming 1: 211-224.
- (1991). "Poetic transformations of Yolmo sadness." Culture, medicine and psychiatry 15: 387-420.
- (1992). "Yolmo aesthetics of body, health and "soul loss"." Social Science and Medicine 34(10): 1105-1117.
- (1992). Body and emotion : the aesthetics of illness and healing in the Nepal Himalayas. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.
- (2000). "Echoes of a Yolmo Buddhist's life, in death." Cultural Anthropology 15(2): 260-293.
- (2002). "'So: Ragged woman'": The aesthetics and ethics of skilled action among Nepal's Yolmo Buddhists. Ethnography 3(2): 149-175.
- (2003). Sensory biographies: lives and deaths among Nepal's Yolmo Buddhists. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- (2014). "Liberation upon hearing: Voice, morality, and death in a Buddhist world." Ethos 42(1): 101–118.
- (1997). "A “Hidden Land” in the Tibetan-Nepalese Borderlands." In Alexander W. Macdonald (ed.) Mandala and Landscape, pp. 335-364. New Dehli: D.K. Printworld.
- (1997). "The lands are like a wiped golden basin”: The Sixth Zhva-dmar-pa’s Journey to Nepal. In S. Karmay and P. Sagant (eds) Les habitants du Toit du monde, pp. 125-138. Nanterre: Société d’ethnologie.
- (2004). “The Story of How bla-ma Karma Chos-bzang Came to Yol-mo”: A Family Document from Nepal. In Shoun Hino and Toshihiro Wada (eds) Three Mountains and Seven Rivers, p. 581-600. New Dehli: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
- (2007). "A Forgotten Incarnation Lineage: The Yol-mo-ba Sprul-skus (16th to 18th Centuries)". In Ramon Prats (ed.) The Pandita and the Siddha: Tibetan Studies in Honour of E. Gene Smith, p. 25-49. Dharamsala: Amnye Machen Institute.
- (2010). "Lamjung Yolmo: a dialect of Yolmo, also known as Helambu Sherpa." Nepalese Linguistics 25: 34-41. [PDF]
- (2011). Lamjung Yolmo-Nepali-English dictionary. Melbourne, Custom Book Centre; The University of Melbourne. [PDF]
- (2011). "Reported speech in Lamjung Yolmo." Nepalese Linguistics, 26: 25-35. [PDF]
- (2013). Lamjung Yolmo copulas in use: Evidentiality, reported speech and questions. PhD thesis, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne.
- (2013). "Notes on the relationship between Yolmo and Kagate." Himalayan Linguistics 12(2), 1-27. [PDF]
- (2014). "Similar languages, different dictionaries: A discussion of the Lamjung Yolmo and Kagate dictionary projects." In G. Zuckermann, J. Miller & J. Morley (eds.), Endangered Words, Signs of Revival. Adelaide: AustraLex. [PDF]
- (2014). Evidentiality in Lamjung Yolmo. Journal of the South East Asian Linguistics Society 7:76-96. [PDF]
- (2015). "Language documentation and division: Bridging the digital divide." Digital Studies. [HTML]
- (2015). "The reported speech evidential particle in Lamjung Yolmo." Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 38(2): 292–318. [pre-publication PDF]
- (2015). "Tone and intonation: A case study in two Tibetic languages." Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Phonetic Sciences. With Teo, A., L. Gawne and M. Baese-Berk. [PDF]
- (2016). A sketch grammar of Lamjung Yolmo. Canberra: Asia Pacific Linguistics.
- (2016) My name is Maya Lama/Syuba/Hyolmo: Negotiating identity in Hyolmo diaspora communities. European Bulletin of Himalayan Research 47: 40-68.
- (2016) Questions and answers in Lamjung Yolmo Questions and answers in Lamjung Yolmo. Journal of Pragmatics 101: 31-53.
- (2017) Syuba (Kagate). Language Documentation and Description 13: 65-93.
- (2017) BOLD documentation of the Langtang language (Rasuwa). Nepalese Linguistics 32: 33-39. With Kvicalova, R, and R. Slade.
- (2018) An introduction to the Syuba (Kagate) online collection. Language Documentation & Conservation 12: 204-234.
Goldstein, Melvyn C.
- (1975). "Preliminary notes on marriage and kinship among the Sherpas of Helambu." Contributions to Nepalese studies 2(1): 57-69.
- (1980). "Growing old in Helambu: Aging, migration and family structure among Sherpas." Contributions to Nepalese studies 8(1): 41-56. with Cynthia M. Beall.
- (1983). "High altitude hypoxia, culture, and human fecundity/fertility: A comparative study." American Anthropologist 85(1): 28-49. with Paljor Tsarong & Cynthia M. Beall.
Grierson, George Abraham.
- (1909/1966). Linguistic survey of India (2d ed.). Delhi: M. Banarsidass. [for mention of Kagate only]
Hári, Anna Mária
- (2000). Good news, the New Testament in Helambu Sherpa. Kathmandu: Samdan Publishers.
- (2004). Dictionary Yolhmo-Nepali-English. Kathmandu: Central Department of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University. with Chhegu Lama.
- (2010). Yohlmo Sketch Grammar. Kathmandu: Ekta books.
- (2011). An Investigation of the relationship between the Kyirong, Yòlmo, and Standard Spoken Tibetan speech varieties. Masters thesis, Payap University, Chiang Mai.
- (1978). "Speaker orientation in Syuwa (Kagate)." In J. E. Grimes (ed.), Papers on discourse. Kathmandu: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 50: 19-24
- (1976). Kagate phonemic summary. Kathmandu: Summer Institute of Linguistics Institute of Nepal and Asian Studies. with Anna Maria Hari.
- (n.d.). Kagate-English-German-Nepali dictionary.
Mitchell, Jessica R.
- (2013). Sociolinguistic survey of Kagate: Language vitality and community desires. Kathmandu: Central Department of Linguistics Tribhuvan University, Nepal and SIL International. with Stephanie R. Eichentopf.
- (2004). "Shyab-ru: Round dance-Songs of the Sherpa-Yolmo of Nepal." in G.B. Sychenko et al. (eds) Music and ritual, pp. 269-285. Novosibirsk: NGK. With G.B. Sychenko. [in Russian]
- (2005). "Adaptation and identity of Yolmo." Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology 9, 91-119.
- (2014). "Redacting Sacred Landscape in Nepal: The Vicissitudes of Yolmo’s Tiger Cave Lion Fortress." in Benjamin Bogin and Andrew Quintman (eds) Highland Passages: Himalayan Studies in Honor of Hubert Decleer, pp. 69-95. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
- (2006). "Discourse and practice of Janajt-building: Creative (dis)junctions with local communities among the people from Yolmo." Studies in Nepali History and Society 11(2): 355-388.
- (2007). "I Don't Mind Being Born a Woman the status and agency of women in Yolmo Nepal."Social Dynamics in Northern South Asia, Vol. 1: Nepalis Inside and Outside Nepal. H. Ishii, D. N. Gellner & K. Nawa (eds). New Dehli: Manohar, 191-222
- (2007). "「私は行かないといった」ネパール・ヨルモ女性の結婚をめぐる語りにみる主体性 ['I said I wouldn’t go’: Exploring agency in the narratives of marriage by women from Yolmo, Nepal]" 東洋文化研究所紀要 152: 472-424(137-185). [In Japanese]
- (2007). "Crossing 'capture' out: On the marginality of the capture marriage tactics in Yolmo, Nepal." 帝京社会学第 20: 71-100.
- (2008). "‘We women have to get married off’: Obedience, accomodation, and resistance in the narrative of a Yolmo woman from Nepal." Studies in Nepali History and Society 13(2): 265–296.
- (2009). "彼女との長い会話 あるネパール女性のライフ・ストーリー (pt. 1)[A long conversation with Ngima: the life story of a woman from Yolmo, Nepal (pt. 1)]." 帝京社会学第 22: 69-104. [In Japanese]
- (2010). "彼女との長い会話 あるネパール女性のライフ・ストーリー" (pt. 2)[A long conversation with Ngima: the life story of a woman from Yolmo, Nepal (pt. 2)]. 帝京社会学第 23: 171-240. [In Japanese]
- (2012). "Excavating the Imagination: Dreaming and reverie among Yolmo-Nepali Buddhists in New York City." Masters Thesis. Los Angeles: University of California. [Digital repository with PDF]
- (2009). "In the place, where angels live (Musical ethnographic expedition in Nepal, 2007, part 1)." in Siberian ethnological expedition: Comparative research of the process of transformation of intonational cultures of Siberia and Nepal, pp. 104-125. Novosibirsk: NGK. [in Russian]
- (2012). "Hyolmo of Nepal: Ritual, myth, music." in Pax Sonoris N. With A.V. Zolotukhina. [In Russian]
- (2008). "Il sacro diffuso. Religione e pratica sciamanica presso l'etnia himalayana degli Yolmo." Scritture di Storia 5: 7-32. [in Italian]
- (2011). "Shamanic Traditions and Music among the Yolmos of Nepal." Musikè International Journal of Ethnomusicological Studies 5, III(1): 81-93.
- (2013). "Between a rock and a hard place: Himalayanencounters with human and other-than-human opponents." Shamanism and violence: Power, repression and suffering in indigenous religious conflict. D. Riboli & D. Torri (eds.). Abingdon: Ashgate.
- (forthcoming). Il Lama e il Bombo. Sciamanismo e Buddhismo tra gli Hyolmo del Nepal. Rome: Sapienza. [In Italian]
- (2011). "Rural ritual and secular traditions in the urban context: Music of Hyolmo (Kathmandu, Nepal)." in Musical urban culture as an artistic and social problem: Proceedings of the Scientific Conference (April, 2011), pp. 67-74. Novosibirsk: NGK. With G.B. Sychenko. [in Russian]
- (2012). "Ritual Phurdok (pur-pa puja) and its musical features." in Music and time 1:32-36. [In Russian]
- Hari, Anna Maria (2004). Yohlmo - Nepali - English dictionary. Kathmandu: Central Dept. of Linguistics, Tribhnvan University.
- Gawne, Lauren (2011). Lamjung Yolmo - Nepali - English Dictionary. Melbourne: Custom Book Centre, The University of Melbourne. ISBN 978-1-921775-69-7. https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/240606.
- Thokar, Rajendra (2009). "Linguistic fieldwork in Jhapa and Ilam districts". Paper presented at the Linguistics Society of Nepal Annual Conference, Kathmandu, Nepal.
- Clarke, G. E. (1980). M. Aris and A. S. S. Kyi. ed. Tibetan Studies in honor of Hugh Richardson. Warminster: Aris and Phillips. pp. 79.
- Lewis, M. Paul. "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition". http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=scp. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- Desjarlais, Robert (2003). Sensory biographies : lives and deaths among Nepal's Yolmo Buddhists. California: University of California Press. pp. 12.
- "Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities". Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities. 2014. http://www.nefin.org.np/list/Geographical-Categorization/5/93/21. Retrieved 24/11/2014.
- Clarke, Graham E. (1980). "A Helambu History". Journal of the Nepal Research Centre 4: 1–38.
- Clarke, Graham E. (1980). M. Aris and A. S. S. Kyi. ed. Lama and Tamang in Yolmo. Warminster: Aris and Phillips. pp. 79–86.
- Hari, Anne Marie (2010). Yolmo Grammar Sketch. Kathmandu: Ekta Books. pp. 1.
- Hari, Anne Marie (2010). Yolmo Sketch Grammar. Kathmandu: Ekta Books.
- Tournadre, Nicolas (2005). "L'aire linguistique tibétaine et ses divers dialectes". Lalies, 25, 7-59..