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Nepali Language At Cornell
Language Information Courses Other Resources

Terraced farming in Nepal. Photo credit: Ajay Rai/Wandering Spirits
Language Contact Person: Shambhu Oja
Phone: (607) 255-8447
Office: 339 Rockefeller Hall
The national language of Nepal is known as "Nepali". According to the most recent official census, conducted by the Government of Nepal in 2001, Nepal is home to around 20 million speakers of Nepali. Nepali is the mother tongue for 11 million people, and a lingua franca for many more. Outside of Nepal, Nepali is also spoken in northeast India and in much of Bhutan. On account of its widespread use in the states of West Bengal (particularly in the district of Darjeeling) and Sikkim, the Indian Constitution recognizes Nepali as a major language of India. In Bhutan, while Dzongkha is the national language, Nepali is widely spoken by people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Nepali is an Indo-Aryan language, and thus part of a linguistic grouping which includes other South Asian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and Gujarati. Modern Indo-Aryan languages derive from Sanskrit, much as modern European languages are related to Latin. Nepali is written in the Devanagari (or 'Nagari') script, which is also used for Hindi, Marathi and Sanskrit. Nepali Devanagari has 12 vowels and 36 consonants and is essentially phonetic, meaning that the pronunciation closely maps onto the writing system. The script is written from left to right, with a top line indicating the word boundaries.

Writers such as Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Bhanu Bhakta Acharya and Lekh Nath Paudyal established Nepali as a literary language. Today, Nepali literature is alive and well with many young and active authors publishing in Nepal and abroad.

The Nepali Language At Cornell
Nepali is taught at various levels at Cornell:

NEPAL 1101-1102: Elementary Nepali
NEPAL 2201-2202: Intermediate Nepali Conversation
NEPAL 2203-2204: Intermediate Nepali Composition
NEPAL 3301-3302: Advanced Nepali
NEPAL 4431-4432: Directed Study

Cornell Area Program Affiliation: South Asia Program
The South Asia Program coordinates teaching, research, and campus activities focusing on the Indian subcontinent, which comprises the modern nations of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Since 1985, Cornell has been in consortium with Syracuse University as a National Resource Center for South Asia. The Program attracts students engaged in regional history and the social sciences, and students are well known for their research on questions concerning the environment, rural inequality and agrarian change, labor market dynamics, economic liberalization, social movements and questions of governance. Through a weekly seminar series, yearly workshops and cultural events, students, faculty and invited speakers exchange ideas, research experiences and on-going research.

Last edited by elk38 on Mon Nov 17 2008 at 09:25 AM.