Nepal mesmerizes visitors thanks to its high mountains and its traditional culture. The 11 years long civil war made almost forgotten a country which was once considered the paradise of hippies and adventurers desiring new sensations. The tourists are more and more numerous, coming back to this enclave region between China and India. Despite the proximity of these two giants with a great culture, Nepal nevertheless retains its unique and inspiring character. The language is an important aspect, as it is part of the Indo-Aryan ones and it has no relation with the Tibetan or with other Asian languages. The Nepalese is very similar to the Hindi and it can be easily understood by the speakers of Hindi. The Nepalese are really proud of their language and very happy to meet Westerners who want to learn it.
Because of the lack of a method to learn Nepalese, we conceived this book and recordings. We hope they could allow nice meetings between the tourists and the Nepalese speakers, and we are in the same time waiting for comments about what can be improved in subsequent editions.
By following the various lessons of this method and by completing the suggested exercises, you will be able to transform your holiday to Nepal in an extraordinary moment, while discovering a beautiful and rich culture. Your knowledge of Nepalese will also be appreciated during your meetings, even if they are in a small village of Himalaya or in the Thamel quarter, very well known by the visitors of Kathmandu.
To help the comprehension and to make clear some specific notions, some comparative elements are attached, using examples from other languages. Actually, the ones who are interested to learn a language as exotic as the Nepalese usually know other foreign languages. The method of this eBook is accessible to all and it doesn’t pretend to meet the requirements of linguists or grammarians. It wants to be practical and it is designed for the general public
We can only wish you to have a good study, practice and a nice journey to the heart of the Nepalese culture.
Nepali is not only the language of Nepal but is also one of the 22 official languages of India and it is a significant part of the Indo Aryan segment of the family of Indo European languages. This language is one that has been incorporated in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India (spoken in the northeastern region). This language also has a deep influence on Sikkim, a state in India and Darjeeling, a district of West Bengal. Nepali has now been declared the official language of Darjeeling and the people of Assam and Uttaranchal also speak it on a large basis. The Nepali language is also known as Gurkhali that means “the language of the Gurkhas” of Nepal. The history of Nepali is very rich and has come into existence from the Indo Aryans who were primarily settlers that grew rice. Its oldest name was Khaskura.
Nepali is also considered to be one of the most predominately spoken languages of the Pahari languages. This group of languages is one that is spoken widely by the people who belong to the lower regions of the Himalayan range. This region comprises of the areas that spread through the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. There is also an influence of this language in some of the areas of Bhutan and certain regions of Burma. Nepali also developed a very close association with the other languages that were predominant in Tibet and Burma. It has a very significant relationship with the Hindi language too and at times it is considered to be mutually intelligent to the above language to a certain extent. There are differences as well and it is considered to be more conservative with the derivations of the Sanskrit language and some of the English and Persian words rather than Hindi-Urdu.
The history of this language dates back to some 500 years ago. It was during this time that the settlers called the Khas migrated to the East. They had reached the lower valleys in the Gandaki Basin. They chose this area as they regarded it to be ideal for the cultivation of rice. It is said that one of their extended families had settled in a small place that was between Kathmandu and Pokhara called Gorkha. In the year 1700, the Gurungs, the Magars and other hilly tribes came together as an army under Prithvi Narayan Shah. This army went on to conquer many small principalities that were located in the foothills of the Himalayan ranges.
The above expansion that was particularly towards the northern, the western and the southern regions had brought the increasing state into conflict with the Chinese and British. This gave rise to wars that contracted the territory roughly to the present Nepal that we know today. Both the countries China and Britain recognized the value of the buffer state and they did not make any further attempts to reduce the territory of Nepal any further. With the passage of time Nepal became a center of political initiation and became a significant area that went beyond the Kathmandu Valley. Gorkhali is also known as the language of Gurkha that later became known as Nepali.
One of the most famous and notable achievements of Prithvi Narayan was the conquest of the Kathmandu that was a predominantly urban area that was located on the eastern region of the Gandaki Basin. At that particular time the area was called Nepal and after this conquest Prithvi Narayan made Kathmandu the new capital. It was from here that he and his heirs extended their territory eastwards towards the Koshi basin that was located to the North of the Tibetan Plateau south into the plains of North India and to the west across the Bheri/Karnali basin and beyond.
After some time the Gorkha had replaced the original homeland of the Khas and this area became their political and military headquarters. The language Khashura became Gorkhali which meant the language of the Gorkhas. After Nepal became a major center of politics the language Gorkhali was renamed Nepali. There was a copper plate inscription that dates back to 1280 B.S and this is the historical evidence of the Krachalya Kings’s victory over the Kedar land of Gadawal in order to make the Sija’s regime. After the inscription of the above was studied sources revealed that Nepali language came into existence in Gorkha and Gadawal. Records of the linguist of that period Balkrishna Pokharel suggest that the language was used in the Kirat era till 1382 B.S. This was indicated in a Maithali book by Simrangaud King Harisingh Dev “Pandit Jyotirishwor’ called Barnaratnakar.
There were records in this book that stated that many hundred years ago before the unification of Nepal kings and rulers of nations depended on the Nepali language for communication. There are also many evidences that this language was once used as a primary source of communication and correspondence. Kings used the language for writing treaties sending letters and agreements. There were many kings that also used the language for the purpose of inter state usage. Prithvi Narayan Shah during the unification process that spanned to baise, Limbuwan, Khumbhuhang, Chaubise and Apungi resorted to Nepali whenever they had to speak with the monarchs of the other states. It was in this manner that the Nepali language occupied the prime spot as the communication languages in inter-caste communication.
There were also many archives that indicated that Prithvi Narayan Shah before Nepal was united has used the Nepali language when speaking with the King of Kantipur called Laxminarsingh Malla and his son called Pratap Malla. There are also many other evidences that suggest that the kings Jagat Prakash Malla, Bhupatendra Malla, Bhaskar Malla, Pratap Malla and Jayaprakash Malla had used the language in all official correspondence. Prior to this the language was used by the smaller states but the credit to its propagation is given to Prithvi Narayan Shah during the unification campaign.
It was the historian Nayaraj Panta has mentioned many evidences to indicate that the Nepali language was the main language that was used as a correspondence during the reign of the Malla. He mentions that there is a stone inscription located in the Bishwonath Temple that was built by Bhim Malla written in the Nepali language. This means that the language was in use and very much prominent much before the efforts of Prithvi Narayan Shah. This stone inscription is one that dates way back to the Newari calendar year of 761 during the time of Laxminarsingh Malla that is located in a Dabali that is in Kathmandu. This means that the Nepali language has a rich history and was used on a very large scale by the people in the region.
Nepal is an area that is rich in terms of language and this is the reason why it also boosts a diverse collection of notable literature. It was in the later half of the 19th century that Sundarananda Bara had written the Adhyatma Ramayana in Nepali. Bhanubhakta is famous for composing another version of the epic Ramayana in Nepali. There is also a popular collection of folk stories that are known as Birsikka in the language. It was in the recent past that there was a an version of The Holy Bible that was written in Nepali. The language also boosts of laureates like Poudyal, Devkota and Sama that have contributed to a large extent to Nepali literature. The language is now written in the Devanagari script and it is a language that is simply understood by Urdu and Hindi speakers.
The Nepali language is not only spoken in Nepal but is also a prominent language that is spoken in India (North-Eastern part) and Bhutan. The Nepali language is one that traces its origins to the families of Indo- European, the Indo Aryan, the Pahari , the Eastern Pahari and the Indo Iranian languages of the world. The main script that is used to write the language is the Devanagri script.
The records of the first book that was written in the Nepali language dates back to the year 1518 AD and its name was Tantrajkyan. The first song in the Nepali language was composed in the year 1523 to 1550 AD. This song was called the Walangata Simule Swambaraya in the area of Pranmol Mila. The First one act play in the language was performed in the year 1633 AD and it was by the Sidhhinarasingha called the Ekadahi Brata. The records of the earliest drama were produced by Jagat Prakash Malla that is known as Mooldev Shashidev in Nepali.
As mentioned above Nepali is a language that is written in the Devanagari script like Hindi and Sanskrit. The history of the language also has some records of using the Takri script as well. This is used in the western region of Nepal, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Another old script that is also known to Nepal is the Bhujimol script along with the Ranjana script. The above literature that flourished in Nepal took place in a very short period of about 100 years in the nineteenth century. The contribution of the three laureates Pudyal, Sama and Devkota helped to take the level of the language to the same level of the other languages of the world.
There is about one third of the population of Nepal that speaks the language as their mother tongue.
There are approximately over 17 million speakers that speak the language across the world and according to the 2001 Census there are about 11 million that stay in Nepal. Today Nepali as a language is traditionally spoken in the hilly regions of Nepal and all South Himalaya. The main area where this language is spoken is Pahad that is located in the western part of the country. The language is now used on a wide scale and it is used in the government too. It is the local language of the growing population in the country and it is also exclusively used in the courts of the country.
In Bhutan it has been estimated that the number of people who are speaking Nepali are about 35 percent of the population that also includes the number of the displaced refugees of Nepal. The estimates of the ethnic population speaking the language are about 30 to 40%. This figure constitutes a large majority in the South. In India there are also a large number of the people that speak in the language. It has been estimated that there are over 500,000 people who speak the language in the Sikkim and Darjeeling regions of the nation. There are other speakers of the language in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. The estimated number of Nepali speakers in Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling are about 1,400,000. In the North Eastern region of India that includes the seven states of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura. Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh there are millions of people that speak in the Nepali language. There are a significant number of people who speak Nepali settled in the metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Visakhapatnam. There are about 20 million people who speak Nepali as their mother tongue and this figure was recorded in the year 2006.
Thus, from the above it is evident that Nepali is one of the most popular and ancient languages of the world. It is widely spoken and respected by Nepalis not only in the country of Nepal but also in other places where they are settled. The language is one that has a rich culture and it also has a traditional history as well!
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