Bhutan is linguistically rich with over nineteen dialects spoken in the country. The national language is Dzongkha, the native language of the Ngalops of Western Bhutan. The two other major languages are the Tshanglakha and the Lhotshamkha. Tshanglakha is the native language of the Tshanglas of eastern Bhutan while Lhotshamkha is spoken by the southern Bhutanese of Nepali origin. English is also commonly spoken as it is the official language of instruction in many schools.
Dzongkha literally means the language spoken in the Dzongs (fortresses) that are the administrative and religious centres of the Districts. Knowing some useful phrases in Dzongkha can be useful in connecting with the local people and when trekking in the remote parts of Bhutan.
Hello (formal) Kuzu zangpo la
Hello (informal) Kuzu zangpo
Nice to meet you Nga choe da chebay sem ga yi
How are you? Gaday bay Zhui?
I’m fine. Legshom (Layshom) or Legshom bay rang yoey (full)
What is your name? Chhoe gi ming ga chi mo?
My name is _____ Nga gi ming _____ in
Where are you from? Chhoe gatey lay mo?
I am from _____ Nga _____ lay in
Thank you Kadrin chhe la
Good luck or best wishes Tashi delek
See you later! (informal) Shu lay log jay gae! Or Tama che gae
See you tomorrow Naba che gae
Where are you? Chhoe gatey mo?
How much? Gadem chi mo?
Yes Een or Las (Formal)
Sorry Tsip maza or Gom mathrae
Let’s go! Jogay!
May I please have _____ Nga lu __ Zhu gay may
No, thank you Me zhu la
I am hungry Toh key che
It is delicious Zhim bay
What is this? Ani gha chi mo?
My (possession) Nga gi (pronounced gee)
I am from ______ Nga ______ ley ein
You Chhoe (pronounced cho-eh-ay)
Us Nga cha
Tourist or Foreigner Chillip
Don’t like Meen gai
Cool! Leg shom du
Bitter Khag tae
Butter tea Su Jaa
Chilli and cheese Ema Datsi
Alcoholic Beverage Changg
Local Drink Ara
Numbers Dzongkha has the same numeral system as the Tibetan. It works like the Hindu–Arabic numeral system, so 2012 = ༢༠༡༢.
100 Jaa chi
200 Nyin jaa
300 Sum jaa
500 Ngab jaa
1000 Tongta chi