The language was unknown beyond its immediate area until 1990, and is now the edge of extinction. George van Driem described 'Olekha as a remnant of the primordial population of the Black Mountains before the southward expansion of the ancient East Bodish tribes. More recently, Gwendolyn Hyslop, with the agreement of van Driem, has suggested that the 'Olekha is an isolated Tibeto-Burman language heavily influenced by East Bodish.
The distantly related Tshangla language language of eastern Bhutan, also called "Monpa" and predating Dzongkha, also belongs to the Tibeto-Burman languages. While 'Olekha is most closely related to the Bumthang language, both being East Bodish languages, Tshangla and related languages form a sister branch not to the East Bodish group, but to its parent Bodish branch. Thus the ambiguous term "Monpa" risks separating languages that should be grouped together, while grouping languages together that are quite separate.
↑van Driem, George (2001). Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. Brill. p. 915 et seq..
↑Andvik, Erik E. (2009). A Grammar of Tshangla. Tibetan Studies Library. 10. Brill. pp. 4–7. ISBN9004178279.
Namgyel, Singye. The Language Web of Bhutan. Thimphu: KMT.
van Driem, George L; Karma Tshering of Gaselô (collab) (1998). Dzongkha. Languages of the Greater Himalayan Region. Leiden: Research School CNWS, School of Asian, African, and Amerindian Studies. ISBN905789002X.
van Driem, George (2001). Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region: Containing an Introduction to the Symbiotic Theory of Language. Brill. ISBN9004120629.
van Driem, George (2007). "Endangered Languages of Bhutan and Sikkim: East Bodish Languages". In Moseley, Christopher. Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages. Routledge. p. 295. ISBN070071197X.