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The Ladakhi language, more generally called Western Archaic Tibetan when the Balti and Burig or Purig or Purki dialects are included, is the predominant language in the Ladakhmarker and Baltistan regions of the Jammu and Kashmirmarker state of Indiamarker. Ladakhi is closely related to Tibetan, and the Ladakhi people share cultural similarities with Tibetans, including Tibetan Buddhism. There is disagreement as to whether they should be considered distinct languages, but Ladakhi and Central Tibetan are not mutually intelligible, though they share a written form dating back to Old Tibetan. Ladakhi has approximately 200,000 speakers in India, and perhaps 12,000 speakers in the Tibet region of Chinamarker, mostly in the Changthang region. Ladakhi has several dialects, Ladakhi proper (also called Lehskat after the capital of Ladakh, Lehmarker, where it is spoken); Shamskat, spoken to the northwest of Leh; Stotskat, spoken to the southeast in the Indus valley; and Nubra, spoken in the north. The varieties spoken in Upper Ladakh and Zangskar have many features of Ladakhi and many other features of western dialects of Central Tibetan.

Most dialects of Ladakhi lack tone, but Stotskat and Upper Ladakhi are tonal like Central Tibetan.

Written Ladakhi is most often romanised using modified Wylie transliteration, with a th denoting an aspirated dental t, for example.


Ladakhi is usually written using Tibetan script. The phenomenon of diglossia is very much present in Ladakhi, with Ladakhi being much closer in pronunciation to written Tibetan than most other Tibetan dialects. Ladakhis pronounce many of the prefix, suffix and head letters that are silent in Amdo, Kham, Ü-Tsang or Lhasamarker Tibetan. This tendency is more pronounced to the west of Leh, and on the Pakistani side of the Line of Controlmarker, in Baltistan, all the prefix letters are pronounced. For example, a Tibetan would pronounce sta 'axe' as [ta], but a Ladakhi would say [sta]. While a Tibetan would pronounce ’bras 'rice' as [dre], Ladakhis say [dras], and the Kargilpa (Burig) say [bras].

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