Yamphu is a less documented language spoken by an indigenous nationality called ‘Yamphu Rai’ inhabiting mainly in the hilly region of Sankhuwasava and Dhankuta districts in eastern Nepal. Besides, there are also living Yamphu in the areas like Num, Pawakhola, Devitar, Barhavise, Malta, Walung, Mangtewa, Khandbari municipality of Sankhuwasava district. Yamphu people are also in Ilam, Sunsari, Morang, Jhapa and other districts, and abroad as well.
The ancestral homeland (or the origin) of Yamphu is considered as the Hedangna area of Sankhuwasava District. Among 25 different Kirat speech communities of the Rai group, Yamphu (639-3: ybi) belongs to the eastern Kirati group of the east Himalayish sub-branch of the Tibeto-Burman branch under the Sino-Tibetan family.
Almost all rituals and cultural practices of the Yamphu community are closed to Limbu rather than the Rai community. Yamphu are in day-to-day contact with other Kirati people of Rai group in the respective areas like Lohorung [lbr], Kulung [kle], Mewahang [emg], Khaling [klr], Chamling [rab], etc. spoken in the surrounding of the Yamphu speaking area. Yamphu is an ethnonym and a loconym referring to both the Yamphu community and the language they speak.
The census report 2011 shows the total population of Yamphu is 9,208 of which 4,766 (i.e., 51.76%) are female and the remaining 4,442 (i.e., 48.24%) are male. Eppele et al. (2012: 97) mention that Yamphu is closely related to Lohorung and Mewahang. Analyzing recent data, Rai (2018) shows 74% lexical similarity of Yamphu with Lohorung. Yamphu organization claims the estimation of more than hundred thousand Yamphu from home and abroad. Toba, Toba, and Rai (2005) state that Yamphu speakers are bilingual in Nepali [npi] and gradually shifting to this lingua franca.
The main causes of extinction of the Yamphu language are the direct influence of Nepali as the language of instruction in formal education, interlanguage group marriage, lack of awareness, lack of strict policy formation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In order to preserve, promote and develop their mother tongue and rituals, Yamphu community has established an organization named ‘Yamphu Kirat Society’ and they are working actively for the welfare of their society.