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Thread: The language thread

  1. #1
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    Post The language thread

    Namaste! Welcome the the Nepali Language thread.

    One of the things that make it so easy to visit Nepal is that the locals are very good at speaking English so the language barrier is quite low. And much as the Nepali like to practice their English skills by chatting with tourists they are also very pleased when we try to speak their language. Just a few handy words and phrases can go a long way, this thread is intended as a place for us to share a few hints and tips.

    Please remember that I am just learning, not great expert in this field, if I make any mistakes then please feel free to correct me. And of course I'd welcome any other contributions with a few handy words of vocab or a short grammar lesson. As well as basic Nepali we might even have a few notes on other relevant languages, from Sherpa to Newari....

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    Default First and most useful

    The obvious place to start is the word "Namaste" (na-ma-stay), you will hear this said all the time. It is a common salutation and good for "hello" and "goodbye". Literally it means something along the lines of "Hail the jewel in the lotus" or "I salute the spirit inside you". If you are only going to learn one word of Nepali then this shall be the one. There is a more respectful version of the word, "Namaskar"

    One general purpose word is "Hajur" (ha-joor). It means "sir" and can be used in quite a variety of occasions - it can be a general expression of polite agreement, or "excuse me!", "pardon?". Another useful word is "Tik-cha", roughly meaning "OK" it can be used as the question and answer for "are you OK?" & "yes, I'm fine".

    It is nice to be able to say your name - "Mero nam ____ ho", "My name is ____" (my name _____ is).
    And to ask someone what is their name - "Tapaiko nam ke ho?" (ta-pie-ko nam kay ho), "What is your name?"

  3. #3
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    Default Feelings

    It is very useful and easy to convey a range of feelings and emotions - "I'm feeling happy", "I'm not hungry", "I'm cold", etc... just use the words "____ lagyo" (laag-yo) for "I am feeling ____", or "____ lagena" (la-geh-na) for "I am not ____", as appropriate. Here is a list of common feelings....

    • hot - garmi
    • cold - jado
    • happy - khusi
    • sad/sorry - dukhi
    • hungry - bhok
    • thirsty - tirkha
    • drunk - raksi
    • windblown - hawa
    • in a hurry - hatar
    • tired - thakai
    • sleepy - nindra

    Usually you should start the sentence with the word "Malai" (ma-lai) to refer to yourself, so for example "Malai khusi lagyo", "malai bhok lagena", "malai jado lagyo", etc...

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    Default Word order

    Nepali has a simple structure - the verb comes at the end, predeeded by the object and/or subject of the sentence. Adjectives precede the noun that they describe.

    "Ma ali-ali Nepali bolchhu", "I speak a little Nepali" (I little Nepali speak)
    "Ma maasu khaanna", "I do not eat meat" (I meat do not eat)
    "Yo piro khursani chha!", "This chilli is hot!" (this spicy/hot chilli is)

  5. #5
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    Wink Re: The language thread

    Namaste. I reccomend Eurotalk Talk Now Nepali. While it has its faults its a pretty easy way to hear Nepali being spoken and to learn basic phrases and words. I learned how to tell time. directions , greetings and objects.

    http://www.languageresourceonline.com/group.asp?grp=439

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The language thread

    The one I usually get - mostly from cheeky children and youths but sometimes from adults - is "Nameste, Baje" (Hello, Grandad!) I usually reply "Nameste neti " (Hello, grandson!) and this causes surprise at first followed by smiles and cheerful acknowledgement of my limited Nepali.

    I can manage a few other short phrases such as "Nepali derai ramro ho!" - "Nepal is very beautiful" and a few numbers, nouns and adjectives - "duita kalo bhirilo" - "two black cats". Just enough to have a bit of fun and to break the ice. Each time I go I manage to learn a little more.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: The language thread

    Namaste sathiharu...

    Here is a link to an online dictionary of the Nepali language... it is the best I've found, but I'd be very happy to hear of others. Remember to remove the asterisk in the address.

    ht*tp://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/turner/

    And I'll add a note about "please" and "thank you". These words, which are almost an involuntary reflex in many western cultures, are not routinely used in Nepali life. But if you absolutely can't help yourself, they are:

    Kripaya (may actually be Hindi, but used in Nepal, though rarely) = please

    Dhanyabad (also spelled "dhanyavad") = thank you

    Great idea for a thread... thanks Oli for starting it. I'd like to learn more.

    linwood

    PS I think using the term Grandfather is actually a sign of respect in Nepali culture, and not cheekiness.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The language thread

    PS I think using the term Grandfather is actually a sign of respect in Nepali culture, and not cheekiness.
    I'm sure you're right but sometimes it's said in a very cheeky manner.

    When we did our big Everest trek in 2001 (47 days - Tumlingtar/Khumbu/Jiri) we were on the last stage when I was stopped by a Nepali and asked all the usual questions finishing with "How old you". My reply of "59" elicited the response "Too old!" from the Nepali. And to rub it in, a little further on, I was greeted by a young lad who leaning over a wall, shouted "Hello, old man!". I've hiked in Everest region and Annapurna region twice since then, completed the GR10 hike across the Pyrenees and hiked the Bibbulmun Track twice (600 miles). You're never too old!
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: The language thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Linwood
    Namaste sathiharu... Here is a link to an online dictionary of the Nepali language...
    Nice find, thanks! But (this is not YZ so) the forum engine allows us to post URLs without the need to mung like ht*tp:// - hotlink I was just puzzling over dougk's pseudonym - "sikari kukur". I knew "kukur" means "dog" but was struggling with "sikari" until this database just told me it means "hunter".

    "Sathiharu" is worth translating - "sathi" means "friend", and "-haru" is a suffix to make a word plural, so "sathiharu" means "friends"

    "Nameste, Baje" (Hello, Grandad!)
    Yes, the Nepali are very big on using familial terms. It is very normal to address complete strangers as "dai" (brother) or "didi" (sister). There are a few of them to use and justify their own post in the thread (below), and yes the terms that refer to elders are usually considered more respectful, usually...

  10. #10
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    Default Kinship terms

    The Nepali use kinship terms not only for their family but also with friends and strangers. Words take account of gender and age...

    • elder brother - dai
    • elder sister - didi
    • young brother - bhai
    • young sister - bahini
    • father - buwa
    • mother - ama
    • grandfather - baje
    • grandmother - bajyai
    • son - chora
    • daughter - chori
    • children - chorachori

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