Newar / Nepal Bhasa language

Not to be confused with Nepali language.
Nepal Bhasa
नेपाल भाषा
Native to Nepal
Ethnicity Newa people
Native speakers Template:Sigfig million  (2011 census)Template:Infobox language/ref
Language family
Early forms
Writing system Devanagari, formerly various Nepal alphabets
Official status
Official language in    Nepal
Sikkim Sikkim
Regulated by Nepal Bhasa Academy
Nepal Bhasa Parishad
Language codes
ISO 639-2 new
ISO 639-3 Either:
nwx – Middle Newar
Linguist List Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
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This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Nepal Bhasa (नेपाल भाषा, Nēpāl bhāṣā), also known as Newāh Bhāy, is one of the major languages of Nepal. It was Nepal's administrative and day-to-day language from the 14th to the late 18th centuries. Nepal Bhasa is spoken today as a mother tongue by the Newars, the indigenous inhabitants of Nepal Mandala, which consists of the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding regions.

Outside Nepal, Nepal Bhasa is also spoken in India, particularly in Sikkim where it is one of the 11 official languages.[1]

Nepal Bhasa is classified as a Tibeto-Burman language, but it has been greatly influenced by Indo-Aryan languages.

The name

The earliest occurrences of the name Nepal Bhasa can be found in the manuscripts Narad Sanhita, dated 1380 AD, and Amarkosh, dated 1389 AD.[2][3] Since then, the name has been used widely on inscriptions, manuscripts, documents and books.

In the 1920s, the name of the language known as Khas Kura,[4] Gorkhali or Parbatiya[5] was changed to Nepali,[6] and Nepal Bhasa began to be officially referred to as Newari while the Newars continued using the original term. Similarly, the term Gorkhali in the former national anthem entitled "Shreeman Gambhir" was changed to Nepali in 1951.[7]

On 8 September 1995, following years of lobbying to use the standard name, the government decided that the name Nepal Bhasa should be used instead of Newari.[8] However, the decision was not implemented, and on 13 November 1998, the Minister of Information and Communication issued another directive to use the name Nepal Bhasa instead of Newari language.[9] However, the Central Bureau of Statistics has not been doing so.[10]

Geographic distribution

Nepal Bhasa is spoken by over a million people in Nepal according to the 2001 census.

With an increase in emigration, various bodies and societies of Nepal Bhasa-speaking people have emerged in countries like the US, the UK, Australia and Japan.

History and development

Nepal Bhasa words appeared in Sanskrit inscriptions in the Kathmandu Valley for the first time in the fifth century. The words are names of places, taxes and merchandise indicating that it already existed as a spoken language during the Licchavi period (approximately 400-750 AD).[14]

Inscriptions in Nepal Bhasa emerged from the 12th century, the palm-leaf manuscript from Uku Bahah being the first example.[15] By the 14th century, Nepal Bhasa had become an administrative language as shown by the official proclamations and public notices written in it. The first books, manuals, histories and dictionaries also appeared during this time. The Gopalarajavamsavali, a history of Nepal, appeared in 1389 AD.[16]

Nepal Bhasa developed from the 14th to the late 18th centuries as the court and state language of Nepal.[6] It was the definite language of stone and copper plate inscriptions, royal decrees, chronicles, Hindu and Buddhist manuscripts, official documents, journals, title deeds, correspondence and creative writing. Records of the life-cycle ceremonies of Malla royalty and the materials used were written in Nepal Bhasa.[17]

The period 1505-1847 AD was a golden age for Nepal Bhasa literature. Poetry, stories, epics and dramas were produced in great numbers during this time which is known as the Classical Period.

Outside Nepal Mandala

Inscriptions written in Nepal Bhasa occur across Nepal Mandala and outside.

In Gorkha, the Bhairav Temple at Pokharithok Bazaar contains an inscription dated Nepal Sambat 704 (1584 AD). The Palanchowk Bhagawati Temple situated to the east of Kathmandu contains an inscription recording a land donation dated Nepal Sambat 861 (1741 AD).[18]

In Bhojpur in east Nepal, an inscription at the Bidyadhari Ajima Temple dated Nepal Sambat 1011 (1891 AD) records the donation of a door and tympanum. The Bindhyabasini Temple in Bandipur in west Nepal contains an inscription dated Nepal Sambat 950 (1830 AD) about the donation of a tympanum.[19]

Outside Nepal, Nepal Bhasa has been used in Tibet. Official documents and inscriptions recording votive offerings made by Newar traders have been found in Lhasa.[20] A copper plate dated Nepal Sambat 781 (1661 AD) recording the donation of a tympanum is installed at the shrine of Chhwaskamini Ajima (Tibetan: Palden Lhamo) in the Jokhang Temple.[21]

Ancient era

Nepal Bhasa can be classified into the old and new eras. Although there is no specific demarcation between the two, the period 1846-1941 AD during the Rana regime is taken as the dividing period between the two.[22]

An example of the language of the ancient period is provided by the following line from the palm-leaf manuscript from Uku Bahah which dates from 1114 AD. It is a general discussion of business transactions.

छीन ढाको तृसंघष परिभोग। छु पुलेंग कीत्य बिपार वस्त्र बिवु मिखा तिवु मदुगुन छु सात दुगुनव ल्है
chīna ḍhākō tr̥saṃghaṣa paribhōga, chu pulēṃga kītya bipāra vastra bivu mikhā tivu maduguna chu sāta dugunava lhai

Medieval era

The language flourished as an administrative and literary language during the medieval period.[6] Noted royal writers include Mahindra Malla, Siddhi Narsingh Malla and Jagat Prakash Malla. An example of the language used during this period is provided by the following lines from Mooldevshashidev written by Jagat Prakash Malla.[23]

धु छेगुकि पाछाव वाहान
dhu chēguki pāchāva vāhāna
तिलहित बिया हिङ लाहाति थाय थायस
tilahita biyā hiŋa lāhāti thāya thāyasa

The verse is a description of Shiva and the use of a tiger skin as his seat.

Dark age

Nepal Bhasa began to be sidelined after the Gorkha conquest of Nepal and the ouster of the Malla dynasty by the Shah dynasty in the late 18th century. Since then, its history has been one of constant suppression and struggle against official disapproval.[24]

Following the advent of the Shahs, the Gorkhali language became the court language,[25] and Nepal Bhasa was replaced as the language of administration.[26] However, Nepal Bhasa continued to remain in official use for a time as shown by the 1775 treaty with Tibet which was written in it.[6] A few of the new rulers cultivated the language. Kings Prithvi Narayan Shah, Rana Bahadur and Rajendra Bikram Shah composed poetry and wrote plays in it.

Nepal Bhasa suffered heavily under the repressive policy of the Rana dynasty (1846–1951 AD) when the regime attempted to wipe it out.[27][28] In 1906, legal documents written in Nepal Bhasa were declared unenforceable, and any evidence in the language was declared null and void.[29] The rulers forbade literature in Nepal Bhasa, and writers were sent to jail.[30] In 1944, Buddhist monks who wrote in the language were expelled from the country.[31][32]

Moreover, hostility towards the language grew following massive migration into the Kathmandu Valley leading to the indigenous Newars becoming a minority. During the period 1952 to 1991, the percentage of the population speaking Nepal Bhasa dropped from 74.95% to 43.93%.[33] The Nepal Bhasa movement arose as an effort to save the language.

Renaissance era

The period between 1909 to 1941 is considered as the renaissance era of Nepal Bhasa.[34] During this period, a few authors braved official disapproval and started writing, translating, educating and restructuring the language. Writers Nisthananda Bajracharya, Siddhidas Mahaju, Jagat Sundar Malla and Yogbir Singh Kansakar are honored as the Four Pillars of Nepal Bhasa. Shukraraj Shastri and Dharmaditya Dharmacharya were also at the forefront of the renaissance.

In 1909, Bajracharya published the first printed book using movable type. Shastri wrote a grammar of the language entitled Nepal Bhasa Vyakaran, the first one in modern times. It was published from Kolkata in 1928. His other works include Nepal Bhasa Reader, Books 1 and 2 (1933) and an alphabet book Nepali Varnamala (1933).[35]

Mahaju's Ramayan and books on morals and ethics, Malla's endeavors to impart education in the mother tongue and other literary activities marked the renaissance. Dharmacharya published the first magazine in Nepal Bhasa Buddha Dharma wa Nepal Bhasa from Kolkata in 1925. Also, the renaissance marked the beginning of the movement to get official recognition for the name "Nepal Bhasa" in place of the Khas imposed term "Newari".

Some of the lines of Mahaju read as follows:

सज्जन मनुष्या संगतनं मूर्ख नापं भिना वै
sajjana manuṣyā saṃgatanaṃ mūrkha nāpaṃ bhinā vai
पलेला लपते ल वंसा म्वति थें ल सना वै
palēlā lapatē la vaṃsā mvati thēṃ la sanā vai

The verse states that even a moron can improve with the company of good people just like a drop of water appears like a pearl when it descends upon the leaves of a lotus plant.

Modern Nepal Bhasa

Jail years

The years 1941-1945 are known as the jail years for the large number of authors who were imprisoned for their literary or political activities. They were a productive period and resulted in an outpouring of literary works.

Chittadhar Hridaya, Siddhicharan Shrestha and Phatte Bahadur Singh were among the prominent writers of the period who were jailed for their writings. While in prison, Hridaya produced his greatest work Sugata Saurabha,[36] an epic poem on the life of the Buddha.[30] Shrestha wrote a collection of poems entitled Seeswan ("Wax Flower", published in 1948) among other works. Singh (1902–1983) was sentenced to life imprisonment for editing and publishing an anthology of poems by various poets entitled Nepali Bihar.[37]

The efforts of Nepal Bhasa authors coincided with the revival of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal, which the rulers disliked equally. In 1946, the monks who had been exiled by the Ranas in 1944 for teaching Buddhism and writing in Nepal Bhasa were allowed to return following international pressure. Restrictions on publication were relaxed, and books could be published after being censored. The monks wrote wide-ranging books on Buddhism and greatly enriched the corpus of religious literature.[38][39]

Outside the Kathmandu Valley in the 1940s, poets like Ganesh Lal Shrestha of Hetauda composed songs and put on performances during festivals.[40]

The 1950s

Following the overthrow of the Rana dynasty and the advent of democracy in 1951, restrictions on publication in Nepal Bhasa were removed. Books, magazines and newspapers appeared. A daily newspaper Nepal Bhasa Patrika began publication in 1955.[41] Textbooks were published and Nepal Bhasa was included in the curriculum. Nepal Rastriya Vidhyapitha recognized Nepal Bhasa as an alternative medium of instruction in the schools and colleges affiliated to it.

Literary societies like Nepal Bhasa Parisad were formed and Chwasa Pasa returned from exile.[24] In 1958, Kathmandu Municipality passed a resolution that it would accept applications and publish major decisions in Nepal Bhasa in addition to the Nepali language.[42]

Second dark age

Democracy lasted for a brief period, and Nepal Bhasa and other languages of Nepal entered a second dark age with the dissolution of parliament and the imposition of the Panchayat system in 1960. Under its policy of "one nation, one language", only the Nepali language was promoted, and all the other languages of Nepal were suppressed as "ethnic" or "local" languages.[43]

In 1963, Kathmandu Municipality's decision to recognize Nepal Bhasa was revoked. In 1965, the language was also banned from being broadcast over Radio Nepal.[44] Those who protested against the ban were put in prison, including Buddhist monk Sudarshan Mahasthavir.

The New Education System Plan brought out in 1971 eased out Nepal's other languages from the schools in a bid to diminish the country's multi-lingual traditions.[45] Students were discouraged from choosing their mother tongue as an elective subject as it was lumped with technical subjects.[46] Nepal's various languages began to stagnate as the population could not use them for official, educational, employment or legal purposes.

Birat Nepal Bhasa Sahitya Sammelan Guthi (Grand Nepal Bhasa Literary Conference Trust), formed in 1962 in Bhaktapur, and Nepal Bhasa Manka Khala, founded in 1979 in Kathmandu, are some of the prominent organizations that emerged during this period to struggle for language rights. The names of these organizations also annoyed the government which, on one occasion in 1979, changed the name of Brihat Nepal Bhasa Sahitya Sammelan Guthi in official media reports.[47]

Some lines by the famous poet Durga Lal Shrestha of this era are as follows:[48]

घाः जुयाः जक ख्वइगु खः झी
स्याःगुलिं सः तइगु खः
झी मसीनि ! झी मसीनि !
धइगु चिं जक ब्वैगु खः
We are crying because we are wounded
We are shouting because of the pain
All in all, we are demonstrating
That we are not dead yet.

Post-1990 People's Movement

After the 1990 People's Movement that brought the Panchayat system to an end, the languages of Nepal enjoyed greater freedom.[49] The 1990 constitution recognized Nepal as a multiethnic and multilingual country. The Nepali language in the Devanagari script was declared the language of the nation and the official language. Meanwhile, all the languages spoken as mother tongues in Nepal were named national languages.[50]

In 1997, Kathmandu Metropolitan City declared that its policy to officially recognize Nepal Bhasa would be revived. The rest of the city governments in the Kathmandu Valley announced that they too would recognize it. However, critics petitioned the Supreme Court to have the policy annulled, and in 1999, the Supreme Court quashed the decision of the local bodies as being unconstitutional.[51] Nepal Bhasa was thus pushed out once again.

Post-2006 People's Movement

A second People's Movement in 2006 ousted the Shah dynasty and Nepal became a republic which gave the people greater linguistic freedom. The 2007 Interim Constitution states that the use of one's mother tongue in a local body or office shall not be barred.[52] However, this has not happened in practice.

The restoration of democracy has been marked by the privatization of the media. Various concerned people and organizations are working for the development of Nepal Bhasa by themselves. Nepal Bhasa has several newspapers, a primary level curriculum, several schools, several FM stations (selected time for Nepal Bhasa programs), regular TV programs and News (on Image TV Channel), Nepal Bhasa Music Award (a part of Image Award) and several websites (including Nepal Bhasa World Heritage Encyclopedia).

The number of schools teaching Nepal Bhasa has increased, and it is being offered in schools outside the Kathmandu Valley too.[53]


Nepal Bhasa literature has a long history. It has the fourth-oldest literature of the Sino-Tibetan languages (the first, second and third being Chinese, Tibetan and Burmese respectively).


Dramas are traditionally performed in open Dabu (stage). Most of the traditional dramas are related to deities and demons. Masked characters are central to such dramas. Music forms an important part of drama. Most of them are narrated with the help of songs sang at intervals. The drama as such resembles dance in many cases. The theme of most of the drama is to create a social wellbeing with morals illustrating the rise, turbulence and fall of evil. There are fixed dates in the Nepal Sambat (Nepal Era) calendar for performance of specific drama. Most of the dramas are carried out by specific Guthis.


Poetry writing constituted a pompous part of medieval Malla aristocracy. Many of the kings were well renowned poets. Siddhidas Mahaju and Chittadhar Hridaya are two great poets in the language.

Prose fiction

This is a relatively new field of literature compared to other fields. Most of the fiction were written in poetry form till the medieval era. So, almost all of prose fiction belong to the modern Nepal Bhasa. Collective short stories in Nepal Bhasa are more popular than novels.


The art of verbal story telling is very old in Nepal Bhasa. There are a variety of mythical and social stories that have aided in establishing the norm of Kathmandu valley. Stories ranging from the origin of Kathmandu valley to the temples of the valley and the important monuments have been passed down verbally in Nepal Bhasa and very few are present in written form. However, with an increase in literacy rate and an awareness amongst the people, those stories have been penned down. Stories on other topics have also taken root.

Nepal Bhasa movement

Main article: Nepal Bhasa movement

Newars have been fighting to save their language from the time of the repressive Rana regime till today.[46] The movement arose against the suppression of the language that began with the rise of the Shah dynasty in 1768 AD, and intensified during the Rana regime (1846–1951) and Panchayat system (1960–1990).[54]

At various times, the government has forbidden literature in Nepal Bhasa, banned official use and removed it from the media and the educational system. Activism has taken the form of publication of books and periodicals to public meets and protest rallies.

Writers and language workers have been jailed or expelled from the country, and they have continued the movement abroad. The struggle for linguistic rights has sometimes combined with the movement for religious and political freedom in Nepal.


The main dialects of Nepal Bhasa are:

Dolkhali (Dolakha)

Main article: Dolakhae newari

This is the most preserved form of the language and resembles the old Nepal Bhasa.

Sindhupalchowk Pahri (Pahri, Pahari)

This dialect has similar vocabulary as the Yala subdialect of Yen-Yala-Kyepu dialect. However, the language is spoken with a Tamang language tone. Now-a-days, in this district the Tamang caste lives more than other castes. In the new Nepal's constitutional assembly, the largest party of Nepal proposed in Tamsaling Rajya for this district in their federation module.


This dialect is used in Chitlang, a place south of Kathmandu valley in Makawanpur district. This is one of the biggest Newar bastions at Chitlang. Balami caste predominates there. Recently a new committee named "Balami Samaaj" has been established to give an identity rather than Newar but as the government has categorized Balami as Newar, this attempt fails.


Kathmandu dialect is one of the dominant form of language and very close to the standard form of language used in academics and media. It is also ta widely used dialect. It is especially spoken in Kathmandu. It is very similar to the Lalitpur dialect.


Lalitpur dialect is the most dominant form of language and is the standard form of language used in academics and media. It is also very widely used dialect. It is especially spoken in Lalitpur.


Also known as Khvapa Bhāy ख्वप: भाय्, this dialect is more archaic than the standard. Variations exist in the use of this form of language in Bhaktapur, Banepa, Panauti and Dhulikhel.

Religion in dialects

Religions play vital role in dialectical diversity though they are minor. It has been recorded from the Malla period. Hinduism and Buddhism were present at that age and few words in Hinduism and Buddhism of Nepal Bhasa differs. The step towards Christianity, Islam, other religions, and atheism the diversity has more extended. Especially the word "dhya|द्यः|god" is removed after the gods name by people except of Hinduism and Buddhism.

For example, Lord Ganesha is said as "ganedya|गनेद्यः" by Hindus and Buddhists but only "गने|gane" by other.


These days Nepal Bhasa is written generally with the Devanagari script, although formally it was written in the Ranjana and other scripts. The letters of the Nagari alphabet are traditionally listed in the order vowels (monophthongs and diphthongs), anusvara and visarga, stops (plosives and nasals) (starting in the back of the mouth and moving forward), and finally the liquids and fricatives, written in IAST as follows (see the tables below for details):

a ā i ī u ū ṛ ṝ ḷ ḹ ; e ai o au
ṃ ḥ
k kh g gh ṅ; c ch j jh ñ; ṭ ṭh ḍ ḍh ṇ; t th d dh n; p ph b bh m
y r l v; ś ṣ s h

Kathamandu Newar does not use ñ for the palatal nasal but instead writes this sound with the ligature as for example in the word nyā 'five'. Orthographic vowel length represents a difference of vowel quality, and in fact vowel length is indicated with the visarga after the vowel a (e.g. khāḥ ís') and with other vowels is written with the independent vowel letter (which would not be permitted e.g. in Sanskrit), for example mhiiga 'day after tomorrow'.

Writing systems

Main article: Nepal alphabets

Nepal Bhasa is now written in the Devanagari script. The script originally used for writing it, Nepal Lipi or Nepalese script, fell into disuse at the beginning of the 20th century when writing in the language and the script was banned.[55]

Nepal Lipi, also known as Nepal Akha,[56] emerged in the 10th century. Over the centuries, a number of variants of Nepali Lipi have appeared.

Nepal Bhasa has been written in a variety of abugida scripts:

  • Brahmi script
  • Gupta script
  • Kutila script
  • Prachalit script
  • Ranjana script
  • Bhujinmol script
  • Kunmol script
  • Kwenmol script
  • Litumol script
  • Hinmol script
  • Golmol script
  • Pachumol script
  • Devanagari script (Nepal Bhasa)

The many scripts used to write Nepal Bhasa are descended from the Brahmi script. They all proceed from left to right and include two sets of characters — a vowel set and a consonant set. Devanagari script is the most widely used script at present, as it is common in Nepal and India. Ranjana script was the most widely used script to write Nepal Bhasa in ancient times was used by Nepal government to gain membership of UN as Devanagiri script was already claimed by India as one of its national scripts. It is experiencing a sort of a revival due to recent cultural awareness. The Prachalit script is also in use. The Brahmi and Golmol scripts are rarely used at present.

In overall writing system of Nepal Bhasa, there are four form of alphabets:

  • Vowels called Ma Akha
  • Consonants called Ba Akha
  • Complex consonants called China Akha
  • Numericals called Lyaa Akha


The vowels, called MaAkha (माआखः) used in Nepal Bhasa are

Orthography अः आः लृ लॄ अँ अं अय् आय् एय्
Roman a a: aa aa: i ii u uu ri rii lri lrii e ai o au an aN ay aay ey

Even though ऋ, ॠ, ऌ, ॡ are present in Nepal Bhasa, they are rarely used. Instead, some experts suggest including अय् (aya) and आय् (aaya) in the list of vowels.[57]


The consonants, called BaAkha (बाआखः), meaning "Father alphabets" used in Nepal Bhasa are:

ka kha ga gha /ŋ/a /ŋ/ha
cha chh ja or za jha or zha /ɲ/ya
ta tha /ɖ/a dha /ɳ/a
ta tha /d̪/a /d̪ʱ/a na nha
pa pha or fa ba bha ma mha
ह्य ह्र ल्ह व्ह
ya hya ra hra la lha va or wa wha
/ɕ/a /ʃ/a sa ha
क्ष त्र ज्ञ
ksha tra} /ɡɲ/a

ङ्ह, न्ह, म्ह, ह्य, ह्र, ल्ह and व्ह are included in constants as these have a specific identity in Nepal Bhasa. Some people do not include these in consonants but few do.

The use of ङ and ञ was very common in the old form of language. However, in the new form, specially in writing, the use of these characters has diminished. The use of ण, त, थ, द, ध, न, श, ष, क्ष, त्र, ज्ञ are limited by the new grammar books to the loan words only.

Complex/compound consonants

Besides the consonants mentioned above, some complex consonants called China Akha (चिना आखः) are used. These China Akha represent the Sino-Tibetan characteristics of the language.[58]


Main article: Newari numerals

The numerals used in Nepal Bhasa have ten digits from 0 to 9. The numerals used in Ranjana script are as follows (from 0 to 9):

Numbers in Ranjana script

The same numericals in Devnagari are:

In Devanāgarī
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


Sentence structure

Statement sentence-
This language is a SOV (subject–object–verb) language. For instance, "My name is Bilat (Birat)" is "Jigu Na'aa Bilat Khaa'a " which word by word translation becomes, "My (Jigu) Name (Na'aa) Bilat is (Khaa'a)".

Interrogative sentence-
In case of Newar language, Wh-questions are rather "G-questions" with "when/which" being replaced by "Gublay/Gugu" respectively. There is an additional "Guli" which is used for "How much/How many". A S-word "Soo" is used for "who". "Chhoo/Schoo (with a silent 's')" is used for "What", and "Gathey" is used for "How".

2. Affixes

i. Suffix- "Chaa" and "Ju" are two popular suffixes. "Chaa" is added to signify "junior" or "lesser". But when added to a name, it is used derogatorily. For example, kya'ah-chaa means nephew where "chaa" is being added to kya'ah(son). When added to name like Birat for "Birat-chaa", it is being used derogatorily. The suffix "ju" is added to show respect. For example, "Baa-ju" means "father-in-law" where "ju" is added to "Baa(father)". Unlike "chaa", "ju" is not added to a first/last name directly. Instead, honorific terms like "Bhaaju" is added for males and "Mayju" for females. Example, "Birat bhaaju" for a male name (Birat) and "Suja Mayju" for a female name (Suja).

ii. Prefix – "Tap'ah" is added to denote "remote" or "distant" relative ('distance' in relationship irrespective of spatial extent). A distant (younger) brother (kija) becomes "tap'ah-kija". "Tuh" is added to denote "higher". Father (baa)'s senior brother is referred to as "Tuh-baa".

Some common phrases and terms in Nepal Bhasa and Nepali

English Nepal Bhasa
Nepal Bhasa
Roman script
Hello ज्वजलपा Jwojolappā! Namaste
What is your name? छिगु नां: छु खः ? Chigu nāṁḥ chu kha? Timro/tapai/tero naam ka ho?
My name is ___ जिगु नां: ___ ख: Jigu nāṁ: ___ kha. Mero naam ___ ho.
New Year greetings न्हूदँया भिंतुना Nhūdaṁyā bhintunā Naya barsa ko subhakamana.
Thank you शुभाय् Śubhāy Dhanyabad
Welcome लसकुस Lasakusa! Swagat chha
Yes खः Khaḥ Ho
No मखु Makhu Ho'eena
Okay ज्यु Jyu Thik chha
Not Okay मज्यु Majyu Thik chha'ee'na
Friend पासा Pāsā Saathi
Organization गुथि Guthi Sansthan
House छें Chēṁ Ghar
Human मनु Manu Manaw
Medicine वास: Vāsaḥ Owkhati/ Owsadhi
News बुखं Bukhaṁ Samachar
Dance प्याखं Pyākhaṁ Naach
Man मि:जं Miḥjaṁ Manchhe
Woman मि:शा Miḥśā Aa'ee'maa'ee
Gentleman भाजु Bhāju Mahodaya
Madam म्येजु Myēju Mahodaya
Young Man ल्याम: Lyāmaḥ Yuwa'a
Young Lady ल्यासी Lyāsī Yuwa'ati
Song म्ये Myē Geet
Stage दबली, दबू: Dabalī, dabūḥ Munch
Palace लाय्‌कू Lāy‌kū Durbar
Office ज्यास: Jyāsaḥ Karyalaya
Shop पस: Pasah Pasal
Courtyard चूक Cūka Chowk
Brain न्ह्यपु Nhyapu Dimag
Heart नुगः Nugaḥ Mutu
Water लः, ना Laḥ, Nā Pani
Rain वा Varsha'aa
Wife's parents place Sasli Sasurali
I don't understand Nepal Bhasa जित: नेपाल भाँः मवः Jitaḥ Nēpāl bhaah mawaḥ Ma'laee Nepal Bhasa aa'un'da'een'a
Earthquake Bho'khabo Bhukampa
Wall आंग Aanga Bhitta
Cock गोङ्ङ Gongnga Bhale
Hen खा Khaa Kukhuri
Mattress ला सा La sa Gundri
Pillow फोङ्ङा Fong nga Sirani
Broom तूफी Toofi Dulahi
Hair साः Saaah Kapal/Raun
Turmeric ह लू Huhloo Besar
Ginger पाः लू Paah Loo Aduwa
Fat ल्होङ Hlonga Moto
Thin गाइसी Gaishi Dublo
Healthy-looking स्वे जिऊ Swe jiu Swastha
Unhealthy-looking स्वे मजिऊ Swe majiu Aswastha
Agricultural Field बुँ Buu Khet
Wind फे Faye Hawa
Soil चाः Chaa Mato
Sugary चाः कू Chaa Ku Guliyo
Sweet(less Sugary) माः कू Maa Ku Mitho
Sour पङ् Pung Amilo
Bitter खाई Khai Tito
Shoes लकाङ Lakang Jutta
Shirt नङ् Nung Kamij
Mud भेते Bheytay Hilo
Place for Cremation खोडे Khode Ghat
Bridge ताँ Taah Pul
River खुसी Khusi Nadi
Rivulet/Stream ढचा Dhacha
Well तुन्छी Tunchhi ईऩार
Ground Floor छेली Cheeli Bhuin tala
First Floor माताङ् Matang Pahilo tala
Second Floor चुता Chuta Dosro tala
Attic Floor बैग Baiga
Roof कशी Kassi Chhat
Glass न्हेकङ् Nyekang Gilas
Toilet मः ला Ma Laa Charpi
Road लँा Laa Sadak
Hole ह्व/प्व Ho/Pyo Pwal
Ditch गः Ga Khanti
Grass घ्याँ Ghya Ghans
Scarecrow ख्याः Khyaa
Day न्हीछी Nhichi Din
Night चःछी Chhachi Rat
Month लःछी Lacchi Mahina
Year डाः छी Daachi Varsh
Three Month सो ला Swo laa Tin mahina
Six Month खु ला Khoo Laa Chha mahina
Spring बोङा Bongnga
More यक्को Yekko Dherai
Little न्यसुन Nesun Thorai
Not Enough म ग्गा Mugga Aparyapta


English Devanagari Roman script Nepali
Mother मां Māṁ Aa'maa
Father अबु Abu Ba'aa
Grandmother अजी Ajī Ba'jya'ee
Grandfather अजा Ajā Baaj'ey
Brother (Elder) दाजु Dāju Dai
Brother (younger) किजा Kijā Bhai
Sister (elder) तता Tatā Didi
Sister (younger) कें Kēṁ Bahini
Uncle (Mother's brother) पाजु Pāju Mama
Uncle (Father's brother) त: बा / क: का Taḥbā (elder brother), Kaḥkā (younger brother) Thool-buwa (elder brother) / Kaka (younger brother)
Uncle (Father's sister's husband) पाजु Pāju Phoophajyu
Aunty (Father's sister) निनी Ninī Phoophoo
Aunty (Mother's sister) त:मा Taḥmā Thool-ama (elder sister)/Kanchhi amaa (younger sister)
Aunty (Father's elder brother's wife) त: मा Taḥmā Thooli-ama
Aunty (Father's younger brother's wife) मामा Mama Kaki
Aunty (Mother's brother's wife) मल्जु Malju Maijyu
Son काय: Kāyaḥ Chhora
Daughter मयाह: Mayāhaḥ Chhori
Nephew (Brother's son) कय:चा Kayaḥcā Bhatija
Niece (Brother's daughter) मयाह: चा Mayāhahcā Bhatiji
Nephew (Sister's son) भिन्चा Bhincā Bhanja
Niece (Sister's daughter) भिन्चा Bhincā Bhanji
Grandchild छ्ये Chyē Nati/Natini (male/female)
Daughter-in-law ब्हऔ Bḥa'au Buhari
Son-in-law जीलाजं Jīlājaṁ Jwaeen (nasalised 'n')
Father's in Law ससः बा Sasaḥ bā (Father) / Suh'suhmaa (Mother) Suhsurobaa (Father) / Saasoo (Mother)
Mother's in Law ससः मा Sasaḥma (Mother) Suhsura (Father) / Saasoo (Mother)



English Devanagari Romanized Boiled Rice जा: Jāh Rice जा:कि Jāki Paddy वा: Wa
Wheat छो: Chho
Beaten Rice बजी Vajī
Meat (Buff / Chicken / Lamb / Pork) ला: (मेइ ला / खाई ला / दुकुचिउ ला / फाई ला) Lāh (mei lah / khai lah/ dukuchiu lah / fai lah)
Dried Meat सुकुला: Sukulāh
Yogurt धौ: Dhau


Devanagari Roman Ingredient
य:मरी Yah Marī Rice Flour, Chaku (sweet) or Maa (black gram) or Muu (green gram)
चट्टामरी chatanmari Rice Flour Pan Cake
त:खा Tah Khā Terrin of Buffalo meat
सन्या:खूना Sahnyāh khūnā Terrin of buffalo meat and tiny fresh water fish
से ला: Sēlāh Buffalo liver
छोय् ला: Chōy lāh Meat (mainly Buffalo, Duck), chiles, onion, oil
बारा व Vārā Wo Maa (black gram patty) or Muu (green gram patty)
सम:य बजी Samah ya bajī Bāra, (boiled) egg*, fresh water fish, black eyed peas, black soybeans, beaten rice, roasted beaten rice, ginger, choylah, potatoes etc.
थ्वँ: Thwoh Rice wine
सिसा पुसा Sisapussa Salad (radish, peas, etc)
  • Duck egg for special occasion (rituals, sagun/sagā, birthday)

Animal names

English Devanagari Roman script Nepali
Black Ant(Bigger) ईमू/याङ् Īmū/Yang Kamila
Red Ant(Smaller) सापेङ् Sapeng Kamila
Lice सिः Si jumrra
Baby Lice सँा सिः Saa Si
Buffalo मे Mehn (nasalised "n") Rang'o/Bhaise
Bull Dohn (nasalised "n") Goru
Cat भौ Bhou Biralo
Cockroach Bili Sāngla
Cow Sahn (silent "n") Gai
Crow को Kag
Dog खिचा Khicā Kukur
Duck हें/ Hēṁ/Hyaa Hahns (slightly nasalised 'n')
Eagle Emaa Cheel
Earthworm Doobui Gadeaula
Snakes Ta:ha Sarpa
Elephant Kisi Hatti
Fish ङा Nyaa Machha
Hen/Chicken खा: Khāh Kukhura
Horse सल: salaah ghoda
Kite Bhutima Changaa
Monkey माक: Mākah Badar
Mouse छू: Chūh Musa
Owl Bhundru Latokosero
Pigeon वखूँ Vakhūm Parewa
Pig फा Phā Sungur
Sparrow चकूचा Cakūh cha Bhangero (nasalised 'n')
Toad/Frog बय्याँ Bayyāng Bhyaguta
Tiger धुँ Dhyun Bagh
Fox ध्व Dhwo syal
Mosquito पाँती Paanti lamkhutè
Lizard म्हाल्िङचा Mhabilingcha
House-fly भूजिङ Vuzing jhinga
Grasshopper बुँइचा Buicha fatiangra
Goat डुगु Cholecha vedda
Sheep फै Fai bakhara
Rabbit खराचा Kharacha Kahraio
Bee हँा Haan


English Devanagari Roman script Nepali
White तूयु Tuyu Seto
Black हाकू Haku Kalo
Red ह्याँगू Hyau'n (nasalised 'n') Rato
Green वाङ्गू Wau'n (nasalised 'n') Hariyo
Blue वओंचुगु Wo'chu'n (nasalised 'n') Nilo
Yellow म्हासू Mhasu'n (nasalised 'n') Pahelo
Brown सियू Siyugu (nasalised 'n') Khairo

Few words--origin--meaning

(From the review article on "Dictionary of classical Newari compiled from manuscript sources." With financial support of Toyota Foundation, Japan, Nepal Bhasa Dictionary Committee. Cwasā Pāsā. Kathmandu: Modern Printing Press, Jamal 2000, pp. XXXV, 530. ISBN 99933-31-60-0")

Words Origin (orig. word) Meaning
La:h (ल:) Pali (Jala:h) Water
Kaa:sa Pali Bronze
Kaji Arabic leader
Khaapaa (खापा) Pali Door (Original meaning in Pali was "door panel")
Kimi (कीमी) Sanskrit (Krmi) Hookworm
Adha:vata Persian Malice
Ka:h Pali (Kana) Blind (Original meaning in Pali was "one-eyed")
Dya:h Pali (Dev) Deity
Nhya:h Pali (Na:sika) Nose
Mhu:tu Pali (Mukhena) Mouth
Khicha: (खिचा) Pali (Kukkura) Dog

Nepal Bhasa and Newar community

Nepal Bhasa is the mother tongue of Newars. Newars form a very diverse community with people from Tibeto-Burman, ASI and ANI origin.[59] Newars follow Hinduism and Buddhism, and are subdivided into 64 castes. The language therefore plays a central unifying role in the existence and perpetuation of Newar community. The poet Siddhidas Mahaju concluded that the Newar community and its rich culture can only survive if Nepal Bhasa survives (भाषा म्वासा जाति म्वाइ).

Relative to many other languages of Nepal, Nepal Bhasa enjoyed promotions in various areas since Kathmandu become the capital of the country, as the Newar community rose in ranks throughout the government, royal courts and businesses.

Nepal Bhasa faced a decline during the Shah era when this language was replaced by Khas Kura (later renamed Nepali) as the national language and after the introduction of the "One nation, one language" policy of King Mahendra. The then Royal Nepalese Government spent a lot for Sanskrit education and a Sanskrit University was approved during those times—although Sanskrit is virtually not spoken by anyone in Nepal—because Khas Kura's roots lie in Sanskrit. There were very few resources available then for even primary-level education in Nepal Bhasa. There were no programs broadcast in Nepal Bhasa in the state radio, Radio Nepal. Even after programs in Nepal Bhasa began to be broadcast, the language was referred to as "Newari", a term considered derogatory by Newars. Even today, there are no programs in Nepal Bhasa in the state television, Nepal Television, although it broadcasts a Bollywood Hindi movie every Saturday (although it is used as lingua franca in Terai, Hindi is mother tongue of less than 1% population in Nepal) and often Pakistani serials (in Urdu) as well. The Supreme Court of Nepal has also banned any use of Nepal Bhasa even for trivial matters in official purposes of any part of Nepal. These factors have led to a resentment among Newar community and a feeling of "second class" citizen in one's own state.

This fact has been used for political advantages by many parties of Nepal. Many slogans are translated into Nepal Bhasa, although very few important documents of political parties are ever translated into Nepal Bhasa.

See also


External links

  • Michael Noonan, Recent Language Contact in the Nepal Himalaya (PDF).
  • Newari/Ranjana script page on Omniglot
  • Online Nepal Bhasa dictionary
  • type in Nepali Unicode and Nepal bhasha
  • नेपालभाषा

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