Ladakhi Language Primer

This is the first and more important lesson:



Jullay (joo-LAY) is the “aloha” of Ladakh: hello, goodbye, thank you, nice weather we’re having, is that your yak?, etc.  (OK, maybe not the last two…)

Ladakhi, also called Western Archaic Tibetan or Bhoti, is only spoken by 200,000 speakers in India & 12,000 speakers in Tibet. It is very similar to Tibetan and uses the same written script.

This is a brief lesson in some Ladakhi words and phrases that we have found helpful during our Ladakh tours. It is not necessary to speak Ladakh when you visit this high-altitude desert, but it sure it appreciated and elicits those beautiful Ladakhi smiles.  We’ve spelled the English side out as phonetically as possible.

For those of you seeing a more grammatical approach, please check out this resource.


Thanks (informal)Jullay
Very respectful hello (only to a monk)Chatsel jullay
(formal) thank youToook jay shay
Add to end of sentence/response to show respect(lay)
How are you?Khamzang inalay?
I am wellKhamzang (lay)
Are you fine?Neerang tik?
What is your name?Neerang mingla chee in lay?
Where are you from?Neerang ka nay in lay?
My name is ___________Gneeya mingla ____________
YesKasa (lay)
NoMann (lay)
OK / FineDeegk (lay)
I understandGnya hago (lay)
I don't understandGnya hamago (lay)
May I take your photo?Naksha gabna diga lay?
Where are you going?Neerang karu skyoad-at lay?
I am going aroundNgya kora chet
I'm walking to _________Dool tay chen _________
I'm going to LehNga Leh a kora chet
How much is this?Eebowa zrin sam in lay?
How do you call this in Ladakhi?Ee chelok ming la chee inoklay?
Please say in EnglishKonyay chee mola rak lay
Practiceyang jang chess
What did he say?Chee lo?
You are a good teacherGergan gela dook lay
He/she is a good teacherkho ma gerrgan ghella doook
He/she is funnyKho ma tarrshen duuk
I like Ladakhi foodNga Ladakhi kardzi ma szimpo tsor ra rrak
I am full (or, I have eaten)Dok so zeus
_______ tastes good_________ ma szimpo
Boiled waterchu kol
Butter teacha kantay
Milk teacha ngarmo
It's hot (about food/drink)Santay
Leh water is not goodLeh chus szimpo mer rak
Do you have __________?________ yo ta lay?
Yes (have)yoat/yote
No (don't have)met
I like Ladakhi people very muchLadakhi meeyoon ma gyala tsor rarak
He/she is a good personKho ma ghella duuk
I'm happySkeepo rrak
This/that is my favoritemangsten gyala tsor rarrak
I like __________ very much________ ma demo tsor rarak
I like the sound (sounds good)Ma nyanpo tsor rra
Do you like?Kerang see la tatpo yote
Please (insisting, though politely)Joo joo
Please eatDoan lay
Please drinkToong lay
please sitzyooks lay
Please go (ex: going through a doorway)Schyoad lay
Be carefulShangchoos
Slowly, slowlyGoolay, goolay
Very niceMa demo doogk lay
Nice smileGodna demo dooglay
Weather is hotNamla tonmo rrak
it is hot outsidetsapa rak lay
Weather is coldNamla tangmo rrak
5sheenga (or nga)
There are many peopleMee mong po
See you in _____ (month)Nga _____ (month, in English is fine) nang jallaen
I will see you next yearNga nangmo loktay jallaen
Sleep wellZhim cha nang go
Again & again I hope to see youYang yang ja lay mo lem
I Love YouNga Rang Ngs Thada Rak
Puja (prayer ceremony)Tsok
Monks house/quartersTashok



Lauren’s Ladakhi cheat sheet on her first visit to Thiksey. Writing the list on a piece of paper also works.