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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Language

 



Nepal’s official language in Nepali, written in the Devnagri script, the script same as for Hindi. Both Nepali and Hindi get their script from Sanskrit of the Indo-Aryan family of language.  However, there are more than 30 other languages spoken as mother-tongues in different parts of the country, and as well there are many regional dialects.

The major languages spoken in Nepal are Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Tharu (Dagaura/Rana), Tamang, Newar, Magar, Awadhi, & others.  Maithili is spoken in the eastern Terai region, Bhojpuri in the mid-Terai region, Tharu both in the east and west Terai, Newari in the capital Kathmandu region, and Tamang & Magar among the hill people of Nepal.

Nepali, Maithili, and Bhojpuri belong to the Indo-European family. The mother tongues of the Tibeto-Nepalese groups, including Newari, belong predominantly to the Tibeto-Burman family. The Pahari, whose mother tongue is Nepali, is the largest ethnic group. If the Maithili and Bhojpuri speaking populations of the Terai were included, more than 75 percent of the population belongs to the Indo-Nepalese ethnic group. Only three other ethnic groups--the Tamang, the Tharu, and the Newar--approached or slightly exceeded the one-half million population mark.

English may be called the second language in Nepal, much of the schooling in the urban areas are conducted in English medium. As well many in the travel and tourism industry speak German, Spanish, Japanese, French and Italian.  Hindi is also understood in major towns, and spoken as a link language in the Terai.

Nepali is also spoken and understood in Bhutan and some north eastern parts of India. The influence of Nepali language in India is seen in the state of Sikkim, where Nepali has been declared the official language. The language is also known as Gorkhali or Gurkhali, which means "language of Nepali Gorkhas". The oldest term to describe this language is "Khaskura", which came from the rice growing Indo-Aryan settlers known as Khas.

It is considered that some 500 years back, the Khas settlers migrated towards the east in the lower valleys of the Gandaki basin. This place was well suited for rice cultivation.  Around the year 1700, an army of Gurungs, Magars and other tribesmen came together under Prithvi Narayan. They set out to conquer other petty settlements in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Gorkha replaced the former homeland of the Khas as the military and political headquarters. Thus, the language came to be known as Gorkhali.

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