Based on Linguistic Survey of India report on Sikkim
The population of Sikkim comprises of the following major linguistic groups:
2. Bhotia (The Bhutia people migrated from Tibet in seventeenth century and in different phases from time to time which includes other subgroups of Bhutias like Chumbipa, Dopthapa, Dukpa, Kagatey, Sherpa, Tibetan, Tromopa,
There are other linguistic communities like Gurung, Sunwar, Mangari, Newar, Rai etc. and other plainsmen who have migrated here from other states of India.
According to the first official Census conducted in Sikkim in 1891 the population of Sikkim was constituted by Lepcha, Bhutia, Limbu, Gurung, Murmi, and Rai(Jimdar), Khambu, Kami, Brahman, Mangar, Chhettri, Newar and Darzi. In the independent India, too, upto Census of 1971 the Nepali (63.97 percent), the Lepcha (10.63 percent) and the Bhotia (11.23 percent) constituted the main population of Sikkim which was 85.83 percent of the total population of Sikkim.
After the merger of Sikkim with India in 1975 there was an influx of population in Sikkim from other parts of the country resulting in a rise in population of Sikkim. (Singh: SIKKIM: 1993, pp 4-5.)
After the year of 1995, the year that Democratic Government of Sikkim came into existence, the latest census data published on Sikkim is that of 2001 Census. According to 2001 Census the total population of the state is 540,851 out of which 288,484 are male and 252,367 are female constituting 0.05 % of the total population of India. Total population of India is 1,028,737,436. (Census of India 2001 : Primary Census Abstract).
According to the present composition of Sikkim the numerically the six major
languages of the State are Nepali, Bhotia, Hindi, Lepcha, Limbu and Sherpa. Owing to the over-whelming presence of Nepalese, being the first populous community in Sikkim, the Nepali is found as a lingua franca in the state.
Among these Bhotia, Lepcha, Limbu and Sherpa are the Tibeto-Burman languages whereas Nepali and Hindi belong to Indo-Aryan family. Except Hindi the other languages are the official languages in the State and
are taught in school as subject. English is the medium of instruction in the State.
However, being the language of administration, education, intergroup communication and being spoken by the majority of population of Sikkim as a mother tongue and as a second language by other population, Nepali may be considered as the superposed variety for almost all the languages. And thereby Nepali is under the process of gaining the status of language of power and prestige. And Hindi, also, is gradually becoming popular
language as a medium of intergroup communication.
THE LINGUISTIC COMPOSITION OF SIKKIM
The dichotomy of language and mother tongue in Indian Census is co-terminus. Language is inclusive of its variant mother tongues and Mother Tongue is exclusive. As per the latest Census publication of 2001 out of the total rationalised and classified 1635 mother tongues at all India level, 92 Mother Tongues of speakers strength of 10000 and above have been returned from the state of Sikkim. Thus the linguistic composition of Sikkim state comprises 76 main languages out of which the first 15 major languages in descending order are presented below along with the percentage to the total population of Sikkim.
The district wise distributions of the above 15 languages of Sikkim are as follows:
Out of the 540,851 total population of Sikkim in 2001 a number of 530,617
speakers (total of the above mentioned 15 language returns) constitute more than 98% of the total population of Sikkim. The remaining 10,234 speakers returned by other 66 languages (out of the 76 languages of Sikkim) constituting less than 2% of the population of Sikkim.