Nepali: A Beginner's Primer Conversation and Grammar

Welcome to Cornell's online language course for learning Nepali, hosted by the Language Resource Centre.

Nepali is spoken as a lingua franca across many parts of South Asia and the Himalayas, as well as a mother tongue by 11 million in Nepal itself. Cornell University's relationship to Nepali is particularly significant as it is the only North American education institution that has consistently offered Nepali language instruction both in the academic year and the summer, in addition to a prominent semester-long Study Abroad Program (CNSP) based in Kathmandu. Over the years, with sustained input from faculty in Anthropology, the instructional and research strength of Nepali and Himalayan Studies at Cornell has attracted many students, visitors and projects.

Shambhu and Banu Oja have taught Nepali at Cornell University since 1984. In 2003, Cornell was awarded a small grant from the South Asia Language Resource Center at the University of Chicago (SALRC) to further enrich the pedagogical learning resources developed at Cornell and bring them to a wider audience by constructing a web-based 'version' of the course in natural language Nepali. Cornell's online resources for Nepali include audio and text of original dialogs written and recorded by Cornell's language instructors, interlinear transcripts and translations, grammatical explanations, a bi-directional glossary with audio pronunciation, and supplementary videos scripted and produced in Nepal.

Please note that to use these online resources, you will have to ensure that QuickTime is installed on your computer and that you can view Asian (Devanagari fonts). Please visit the SALRC page on fonts and keyboards for more information and to check whether your computer is ready. Nepali Unicode (both traditional and Romanized) can be downloaded from here. This online learning site has been optimized for viewing using the Firefox web browser. While most pages may be readable in Safari, Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, each of these browsers has different rendering protocols and we are presently unable to support them.

Many people have played a role in seeing this project through to conclusion. First, we are grateful to Steve Poulos and the SALRC staff at the University of Chicago, to Bill Phelan and Durga Bor at Cornell's own South Asia Programme, to staff at the Department of Asian Studies and the Department of Anthropology for their financial support and guidance since the inception of this project. Second, we offer particular thanks to Dick Feldman, Dan Gaibel and Nick LaVerne of Cornell's Language Resource Centre; to Banu Ojha, David Holmberg, Man Chhiring Tamang and his crew of actors in Nepal, the wonderful staff of the Cornell Nepal Study Program and Amar Gurung and his team at Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya; and to Ethan Feldman, Rajeev and Janani Rajbhandari and Rhitu Shrestha back in Ithaca for their technical, vocal and editorial support. We are open to feedback and eager to hear from users about any specific problems that they may experience. Please send us an email with 'Cornell Nepali Course' in the subject line.

Volunteers for site assessment
We are currently assessing the usage and efficacy of this site. If you would be willing to respond to some questions about your usage, please write an email to The materials are all offered for free online, so we appreciate your efforts to help us evaluate them.

Thank you.

Kathryn March, Shambhu Oja and Mark Turin. Ithaca, New York. December 2010.

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