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Nepali 

nepali
Swagatam – Welcome

Nepali, a member of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family, is a macrolanguage spoken by 12,300,000 in Nepal (2011 census), 2,870,000 In India (2001 census), and 156,000 in Bhutan. The worldwide population of Nepali speakers is estimated at 15,360,100. The language is also called Eastern Pahadi, Gorkhali, Gurkhali, Khaskura, Nepalese, and Parbate.

Status
  • Nepal
    Nepali is the national language of Nepal. Most of the country’s population speaks Nepali as a 1st language, and many speakers of Nepal’s 122 other languages speak it as a 2nd language.
  • India
    Nepali is the official language of Sikkim, an Indian state in the Himalayas, and in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal.

 

Dialects

Ethnologue lists 12 dialects of Nepali, not all of which are mutually intelligible.

Acchami Dialekhi
Baitadeli Darhulai
Bajhangi Gandakeli
Bajurali Humli
Bheri Purbeli
Dadelhuri Soradi

Structure

Sound system

The sound system of Nepali shares many features with other Indo-Aryan languages.

Vowels
Nepali has 6 oral vowel phonemes, i.e., sounds that make a difference in word meaning. Most of them have nasal counterparts. There is also a number of diphthongs.

Close
i
u
Mid
e
ə
o
Open
a
  • /i/ = ea in peat
  • /e/ = e in pet
  • /ə/ = a in ago
  • /a/ = a in bar
  • /u/ = oo in too
  • /o/ = o in token

 

Consonants
The consonant system of Nepali is typical of IndoAryan languages. The language permits few consonant clusters.

Stops unaspirated voiceless  p
t
ʈ
 k
aspirated voiceless
ʈʰ
unaspirated voiced  b  d
ɖ
 g
aspirated voiced
ɖʰ
Fricatives voiceless  s
ʃ
ɦ
Affricates unaspirated voiceless
aspirated voiceless
tʃʰ
unaspirated voiced
aspirated voiced
dʒʰ
Nasals
..ɳ
ɲ
ŋ
Laterals
.ɭ
Flap or trill
ɽ
Approximant
ʋ
 j
  • There is a contrast between aspirated and unaspirated stops and affricates, including voiced ones, e.g., p—pʰ, t—tʰ, k—kʰ, b—bʰ, d—dʰ, g—gʰ, tʃ—tʃʰ, dʒ —dʒʰ. Aspirated consonants are produced with a strong puff of air.
  • There is a contrast between apical and retroflex consonants, e.g., /t/ – /ʈ/, /d/ – /ɖ/, /n/ – /ɳ/, /r/ – /ɽ/. Apical consonants are produced with the tip of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth, whereas retroflex consonants are produced with the tongue curled, so that its underside comes in contact with the roof of the mouth.
  • /ʃ/ = sh in shop
  • /tʃ/ = ch in chop
  • /dʒ/ = j in job
  • /ɲ/ = ny in canyon
  • /ŋ/ =first n in song
  • /ɭ/ has no equivalent in English
  • /ʋ/ is realized as /w/ or /v/.
  • /j/ = y in yet

 

Grammar

Nepali grammar shares many of its features with the grammars of other Indo-Aryan languages. Like all these languages, Nepali is agglutinative, i.e., it adds suffixes to roots to build words and to express grammatical relations. It also uses inflections for marking certain grammatical categories.

Nouns 
Nepali nouns have the following major characteristics.

  • There are two numbers: singular and plural. Plural is marked by a plural marker which is not used if plurality is clear from the context.
  • There is a gender distinction, particularly for animate nouns.
  • There are two cases: nominative and oblique.
  • There is a strong system of classifiers, or counters, which are used when nouns are counted.
  • There is a well-developed system of honorifics.

 

Adjectives

There are declinable and indeclinable adjectives. Declinable adjectives are marked for agreement with the noun they modify, whereas indeclinable adjectives do not change their form.

 Pronouns

  • Nepali pronouns have three persons. Third-person pronouns are subdivided into proximal and distal. Proximal pronouns indicate someone who is nearby or present. Distal  pronouns indicate someone who is distant or absent.
  • Pronouns do not distinguish gender.
  • Nepali has an elaborate system of pronouns, expressing various levels of politeness, depending on the gender, number, distance, and status of the referent.
3rd person pronouns
2nd person pronouns
Low grade Person is not present or is of low status. used to address small children, animals and pejoratively
Middle grade Person is a woman. used to address people who are youngr or of lower status than the speaker
High grade Person is present or is of high status. used to address people who are older or of higher status than the speaker

There is an additional form for extremely formal situations. There is also a polite form of address.

Postpositions

Nepali uses a number of postpositions which have case-like functions. They take the form of affixes attached to an entire phrase, rather than a single noun, e.g., possessive, ergative in the past tense, instrumental, and one which marks the accusative of animate nouns, etc. There are other postpositions that perform the function of prepositions.

Verbs
Nepali verbs have the following major characteristics:

Verbs agree with their subjects in number, gender, status and person.
Verbs occur in the following forms: root, imperfect stem, perfect stem, and infinitive. The stems agree with nouns in gender and number.
There are three persons: 1st, 2nd, 2nd honorific, 3rd.
There are two numbers: singular and plural.
There are three tenses: present, past, future.
There are two aspects: imperfective and perfective.
There are three moods: indicative, imperative, optative.
There are two voices: active and passive.

Word order

The normal word order in Nepali is Subject – Object – Verb.

Vocabulary

The basic vocabulary of Nepali is Sanskrit in origin, but over the years the language has also borrowed words from other languages. Nepali is more conservative than other Indo-Aryan languages, borrowing fewer words from other languages and using more words derived from Sanskrit. While written Nepali is mostly influenced by Sanskrit, spoken Nepali has many loanwords from neighboring Tibeto-Burmese languages.

Below are a few words and basic phrases in Nepali.

Hello Namastē
Goodbye Bidā’i
Thank you Dhan’yavāda
Please Kr̥payā
Yes
No Hoēna
Man Manisā
Woman Mahilā

Below are Nepali numerals in transliteration.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
ek
dui
tin
char
pānch
cha
sāt
āt
nau
das

 

 

Writing

Nepali was first used in writing during the 12th century AD.  It is written with the Devanagari alphabet, which developed from the Brāhmi script in the 11th century AD.

Take a look at Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Nepali in the Devanagari script.

धारा १
सबै व्यक्ति हरू जन्मजात स्वतन्त्र हुन ती सबैको समान अधिकार र महत्व छ। निजहरूमा विचार शक्ति र सद्धिचार भएकोले निजहरूले आपसमा भातृत्वको भावना बाट व्यवहार गर्नु पर्छ।
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Difficulty

Language Difficulty
questionHow difficult is it to learn Nepali?
There is no data on the difficulty of for speakers of English.

32 Responses to Nepali

  1. bishnu

    मातृभाषामा शिक्षा

    माताको दूध शिशुलाई शिक्षा मातृभाषामा,

    प्रभाव पर्छ सृस्‍टिलाई प्रकाशको गतिमा।…. यी माथिका हरफ मेघालय शिलोंगका नेपालीभाषी पुस्तक ब्यबसायी श्री बिष्णु गौतमले बिगत ५ वर्ष देखि जोड तोडका साथ प्रचार प्रसार गर्दै आएका छन् । उनले प्रकाशन गरेका पुस्तक, बिजक, लेटर प्याड, पुस्तक सुची जताततै यी हरफ देख्न पाइन्छ । नेपाली, अंग्रेजी, खासी र बंगाली भाषामा लेखिएका यी हरफले मातृभाषाको शक्तिले सृष्टिको रक्षा र यस सुन्दर बहुरंगी विश्व-बाटिकालाइ द्रुत गतिमा सुमुन्नत बनाउन टेवा मिल्ने संदेश दिन्छ ।.

    जन्मेपछि सम्बाद गर्न सिकेको पहिलो भाषा नै मानिसको मातृभाषा हो । संसारमा ज्ञान, सोच र कल्पनाको बहुरंगी विविधता कायम राख्न पनि मातृभाषालाइ बचाईराख्न र विकास गर्न जरुरि छ । मातृभाषामा दिइने शिक्षाले सम्बन्धित भाषा त्यसको लिपि, जातीय संस्कार र संस्कृतिको विकास तथा समाजमा उत्प्रेरणा र चेतनाको अभिवृद्धि हुन्छ । यदि कुनै भाषा लोप भएर गयो भने त्यस जतिको संस्कृति पनि लोप भएर जान्छ । संस्कृतिक सम्वृद्धिमा सबैभन्दा ठूलो योगदान भाषाको नै हुन्छ । मातृभाषामा दिइने अभिव्यक्ति सबैभन्दा परिपूर्ण र सहज हुन्छ । यदि मातृभाषा सम्पन्न भयनन भने संसारमा धेरै कारोबार हुने सम्पर्क भाषाको अवस्था पनि खोक्रो हुन जानेछ । ससाना हजारौ मातृभाषाका कारणले नै संसारका सम्पर्क भाषा सम्पन्न र हराभरा भएका हुन् । यदि कारोबारी भाषामा लिप्त भएर मातृभाषाको लोप भयो भने ज्ञान बिज्ञानको संसार उराठिलो मरुभूमि जस्तो बन्ने छ । त्यसैले शिक्षा मातृभाषामै हुनु पर्छ । मातृभाषा मानिसको मौलिक ज्ञान, शिप सृजनाको खजाना हो । यस्तो महत्वपूर्ण खजानाको रक्षामा ध्यान नदिएर क्षणिक लाभको निम्ति कारोबारमा चलेका भाषामा मात्र लिप्त हुनु समाजको भविस्य माथि गरेको बेइमानी र बाल अधिकारको हनन हो ।.

    प्रसिद्ध साहित्यकार रवीन्द्रनाथ टैगोरले भनेका छन्, ‘मातृभाषामा शिक्षा पाउनु मानिसको जन्मसिद्ध अधिकार हो । हामी जसरी आमाको कोखमा जन्मेका हौं त्यसैगरी मातृभाषा पनि हाम्रो कोख हो । यी दुवै आमा हाम्रालागि सधैं सजीव र अपरिहार्य छन् ।’ उनले मातृभाषाको महत्त्वलाई बुझे र बुझाउने कोसिस गरे । प्रसिद्ध राजनीतिज्ञ नेलसन मण्डेलाले भनेका छन्- इफ यू स्पिक टु अ म्यान इन अ ल्याङ्वेज ही अन्डरस्ट्यान्डस, इट गोज् टु हिज माइन्ड बट इफ यू स्पिक इन हिज ल्याङ्वेज इट गोज टु हिज हर्ट । यदि कसैसँग उसले बुझ्ने भाषामा कुरा गर्नुभयो भने त्यो कुरा उसको दिमागमा मात्र पुग्छ । यदि उसको मातृभाषामा भन्नुभयो भने मुटुसम्म पुग्छ । मण्डेलाले मातृभाषाको द्रुत असरलाई प्रस्ट्याए ।.

    संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघको अध्ययनअनुसार यतिबेला कारोबारमा नचलेका करिब ५३०० मातृभाषा संकटमा परेका छन् । शिक्षामा मातृभाषाको महत्त्वलाई नजरअन्दाज गरेर अबको शिक्षानीति बनाइयो भने सामाजिक र राष्ट्रिय मात्र होइन मानव जातिकै अस्तित्व संकटमा आउन सक्ने स्थिति बन्नेछ । संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघमा सन् १९९९ बाट यस मुद्दाले स्थान पाइसकेको छ । अब यसलाई संसारभरि उपयुक्त कार्यान्वयनको खाँचो छ ।.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    सर्व शिक्षा मातृभाषामा नहुनु सुक्षम गतिमा दास हुनु हो |

     
    • Irene Thompson

      Unfortunately, we cannot read Arabic. Please submit your comment in English.

       
      • Galvin Nerth

        I believe that is actually Marathi, not Arabic…

         
        • Irene Thompson

          Thank you for your comment. We will check it out.

           
      • Galvin Nerth

        Also, beyond the fact it is not Arabic, it is a mumble jumble of some mythology I think…

         
        • kiran

          it is nepali

           
      • theabroma

        Dear Irene,

        Your ignorance has permitted a frightening display of your prejudices. That is not Arabic script by any stretch of the imagination; it is Devangari, which is used to write Nepali – which this article explains. It is also used to write Punjabi and Hindi, among other languages in the Indo-Aryan family. And, perhaps you might want to learn Nepali, so you can read and appreciate the commenter’s post?

         
        • theabroma

          That would be Devnagari. Fingers got away from me!

           
        • Irene Thompson

          Thank you for your suggestion.

           
      • Sarita

        haha…that’s hilarious! You post such a long article on this language with so many words and phrases from the language in its own script and you have no idea at all about its script (in fact you confuse it with Arabic….Arabic and Devanagari script are completely different!)

         
        • Irene Thompson

          Thank you for your comment.

           
        • Irene Thompson

          Do you have a constructive suggestion on how to fix the mistakes?

           
      • Sameer Kumar

        It is Nepali. Do not err about the script.

        The Devanagari script is used for Nepali, Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi, many languages closely related to these three, and some other languages. The Perso-Arabic script is used for Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Kashmiri, and many other languages.

         
        • Irene Thompson

          I don’t quite understand what you are trying to say. Our Nepali page states “Nepali was first used in writing during the 12th century AD. It is written with the Devanagari alphabet, which developed from the Brāhmi script in the 11th century AD.”

           
  2. bishnu

    माताको दूध शिशुलाई शिक्षा मातृभाषामा,

    प्रभाव पर्छ सृस्‍टिलाई प्रकाशको गतिमा।…. यी माथिका हरफ मेघालय शिलोंगका नेपालीभाषी पुस्तक ब्यबसायी श्री बिष्णु गौतमले बिगत ५ वर्ष देखि जोड तोडका साथ प्रचार प्रसार गर्दै आएका छन् । उनले प्रकाशन गरेका पुस्तक, बिजक, लेटर प्याड, पुस्तक सुची जताततै यी हरफ देख्न पाइन्छ । नेपाली, अंग्रेजी, खासी र बंगाली भाषामा लेखिएका यी हरफले मातृभाषाको शक्तिले सृष्टिको रक्षा र यस सुन्दर बहुरंगी विश्व-बाटिकालाइ द्रुत गतिमा सुमुन्नत बनाउन टेवा मिल्ने संदेश दिन्छ ।.

    जन्मेपछि सम्बाद गर्न सिकेको पहिलो भाषा नै मानिसको मातृभाषा हो । संसारमा ज्ञान, सोच र कल्पनाको बहुरंगी विविधता कायम राख्न पनि मातृभाषालाइ बचाईराख्न र विकास गर्न जरुरि छ । मातृभाषामा दिइने शिक्षाले सम्बन्धित भाषा त्यसको लिपि, जातीय संस्कार र संस्कृतिको विकास तथा समाजमा उत्प्रेरणा र चेतनाको अभिवृद्धि हुन्छ । यदि कुनै भाषा लोप भएर गयो भने त्यस जतिको संस्कृति पनि लोप भएर जान्छ । संस्कृतिक सम्वृद्धिमा सबैभन्दा ठूलो योगदान भाषाको नै हुन्छ । मातृभाषामा दिइने अभिव्यक्ति सबैभन्दा परिपूर्ण र सहज हुन्छ । यदि मातृभाषा सम्पन्न भयनन भने संसारमा धेरै कारोबार हुने सम्पर्क भाषाको अवस्था पनि खोक्रो हुन जानेछ । ससाना हजारौ मातृभाषाका कारणले नै संसारका सम्पर्क भाषा सम्पन्न र हराभरा भएका हुन् । यदि कारोबारी भाषामा लिप्त भएर मातृभाषाको लोप भयो भने ज्ञान बिज्ञानको संसार उराठिलो मरुभूमि जस्तो बन्ने छ । त्यसैले शिक्षा मातृभाषामै हुनु पर्छ । मातृभाषा मानिसको मौलिक ज्ञान, शिप सृजनाको खजाना हो । यस्तो महत्वपूर्ण खजानाको रक्षामा ध्यान नदिएर क्षणिक लाभको निम्ति कारोबारमा चलेका भाषामा मात्र लिप्त हुनु समाजको भविस्य माथि गरेको बेइमानी र बाल अधिकारको हनन हो ।.

    प्रसिद्ध साहित्यकार रवीन्द्रनाथ टैगोरले भनेका छन्, ‘मातृभाषामा शिक्षा पाउनु मानिसको जन्मसिद्ध अधिकार हो । हामी जसरी आमाको कोखमा जन्मेका हौं त्यसैगरी मातृभाषा पनि हाम्रो कोख हो । यी दुवै आमा हाम्रालागि सधैं सजीव र अपरिहार्य छन् ।’ उनले मातृभाषाको महत्त्वलाई बुझे र बुझाउने कोसिस गरे । प्रसिद्ध राजनीतिज्ञ नेलसन मण्डेलाले भनेका छन्- इफ यू स्पिक टु अ म्यान इन अ ल्याङ्वेज ही अन्डरस्ट्यान्डस, इट गोज् टु हिज माइन्ड बट इफ यू स्पिक इन हिज ल्याङ्वेज इट गोज टु हिज हर्ट । यदि कसैसँग उसले बुझ्ने भाषामा कुरा गर्नुभयो भने त्यो कुरा उसको दिमागमा मात्र पुग्छ । यदि उसको मातृभाषामा भन्नुभयो भने मुटुसम्म पुग्छ । मण्डेलाले मातृभाषाको द्रुत असरलाई प्रस्ट्याए ।.

    संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघको अध्ययनअनुसार यतिबेला कारोबारमा नचलेका करिब ५३०० मातृभाषा संकटमा परेका छन् । शिक्षामा मातृभाषाको महत्त्वलाई नजरअन्दाज गरेर अबको शिक्षानीति बनाइयो भने सामाजिक र राष्ट्रिय मात्र होइन मानव जातिकै अस्तित्व संकटमा आउन सक्ने स्थिति बन्नेछ । संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघमा सन् १९९९ बाट यस मुद्दाले स्थान पाइसकेको छ । अब यसलाई संसारभरि उपयुक्त कार्यान्वयनको खाँचो छ ।.
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    सर्व शिक्षा मातृभाषामा नहुनु सुक्षम गतिमा दास हुनु हो |

    बग्ने पानी पुग्दैन वर्षा नै चाईन्छ, सुसम्पन्न समाज बनाउन सर्व मातृभाषा मा शिक्षा चाईन्छ

     
  3. Parker

    Your site is about World languages and still you cannot differentiate a Devnagari sctipt to Arabic!

     
  4. Parker

    Your response to jibber jabber in the first comment was “Unfortunately, we cannot read Arabic. Please submit your comment in English.” The script used in the jibber jabber is Devnagri – the script of Sanskrit.

     
  5. Graham Howe

    As the above article is about Nepali, it is astonishing that (a) you seem surprised to receive comments actually in Nepali and that (b) you did not recognise that that was the language the comment was in. Comparison with your quotation of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Nepali might have given you a bit of a clue. It is, however, true that this script – the Devanagari alphabet – is also used to write Hindi and Marathi.

     
    • Irene Thompson

      We get comments in some 100 languages. You will have to be tolerant of our obviosly(in your mind) of our unpaid three-member staff to be able to read them. My editorial experience tells me that all journals reserve the right to choose to conduct their business in a particular language.

       
      • theabroma

        Then, Irene, may I suggest that you and your overworked staff at least fact check or learn to differentiate among the scripts used for at least the more widely spoken languages in this highly globalized world? Snottiness AND defense of ignorance make a very bitter pill.

         
        • Irene Thompson

          We will do our best. Thank you for your advice.

           
  6. nepali guy

    Vocabulary section some are incorrect

    Incorrect : No Kunai, कुनै
    correction: No hoēna, होईन

    you can refer to
    https://github.com/foss-np/np-l10n-glossary/blob/dev/en2np/main.tra

     
  7. Ruby

    Thank-you for this information it really helped me in my school assignment.
    Info is fab 🙂 very happy.

     
  8. diwani kamatoden

    It is a form of devanagari scripts!nice.I can decode them and re write in roman letters but will take time.I cannot understand nepali though there are fragments of Tagalog words.

     
  9. Alfie Reynolds

    Wow, could you guys cut some slack to the writers of this website? This website is a great resource acting as a well presented and informative online encyclopaedia for world languages. I for one find it incredibly interesting and useful. There are thousands of different languages out there so therefore unsurprisingly one person is not going to be able to understand all that may be posted. Great job here Irene.

     
  10. Lorenza Venturi

    Very interesting article! One question: is the staff really unpaid? If so, it is really unfair..

     
    • Irene Thompson

      Yes. We are all volunteers for what we think is a good cause.

       

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