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Thread: The language thread

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    New Forest, Hampshire, U.K.

    Default Re: The language thread

    Thanks Oli, great thread!
    I have also taught my guides, who invariably speak excellent English, a few extra words to add to their vocabulary, amongst them "knackered",ie, "are you feeling knackered Mr John"?
    "Yes Raj, I am feeling well and truly knackered"!

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK

    Default Numbers and counting

    Obviously numbers are very useful to know, whether ordering a few cups of tea or haggling over the price of souvenirs. Here is a list of cardinal numbers

    • 0 - sunya
    • 1 - ek
    • 2 - dui
    • 3 - tin
    • 4 - char
    • 5 - panch
    • 6 - chaa
    • 7 - saat
    • 8 - aath
    • 9 - nau
    • 10 - das
    • 11 - eghara
    • 12 - barha
    • 13 - terha
    • 14 - caudha
    • 15 - pandhra
    • 16 - sorha
    • 17 - satra
    • 18 - athara
    • 19 - unnais
    • 20 - beece
    • 30 - teece
    • 40 - chalice
    • 50 - pachas
    • 60 - satthi
    • 70 - sattari
    • 80 - asshi
    • 90 - nabbe
    • 100 - ek say
    • 1000 - ek hajar
    • 10,000 - das hajar
    • 100,000 - ek lakh
    • 1 million - das lakh

    When counting quantities of things a word is inserted between the number and the noun (like "three 'cups of' tea"). For most things use "wata" but for people "jana", the first three are irregular

    • one (thing) - euta
    • two (things) - duita
    • three (things) - tinta
    • four (things) - char wata
    • five (things) - panch wata

    To say multiples, like "twice" or "three times", add "-palta" to the number. "Mo Nepalma panch-palta ago", "I have been to Nepal five times".

    The word "kati" means "how many?". To ask "how many (things)?" say "kati wata?", for "how many (people)?" say "kati jana?". "kati ho?" means "how much?" (how expensive).
    Last edited by Oli; 2nd October 2008 at 03:08 AM.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK

    Default Nouns, pronouns and demonstratives

    Nepali nouns do not use 'article' like the English words "the" and "a", so "a dog" is just "kukur". To pluralise a noun add "-haru", "kukur-haru" is "dogs". Due to the lack of articles Nepali makes extensive use of demonstratives. "Yi mero sathiharu ho", "these are my friends".

    • this - yo
    • that - tyo
    • these - yi
    • those - ti

    Pronouns have formal and informal modes, they can have varying endings according to use in a sentence and are often omitted from speech if they can be understood from context. Here is a list of subject pronouns

    • I - ma
    • we - hami/hamiharu
    • you (sg,inf) - timi
    • you (pl,inf) - timiharu
    • you (sg) - tapai
    • you (pl) - tapaiharu
    • he/she/it (inf) - u/tyo/yo
    • they (inf) - uniharu
    • he/she/it - waha
    • they - wahaharu

    Possessive nouns and pronouns are formed with the suffix "-ko", so "Krishna-ko sathi" means "Krishna's friend", but some are irregular. Here is another list

    • my - mero
    • our - hamro
    • your (sg,inf) - timro
    • your (pl,inf) - timiharuko
    • your (sg) - tapaiko
    • your (pl) - tapaiharuko
    • his/her/its (inf) - usko/tyasko/yasko
    • his/her/its - wahako
    • their (inf) - uniharuko
    • their - wahaharuko

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK

    Default Re: The language thread

    Sorry for the lists and grammar, but I think its necessary to do justice to the subject. I'm glad for the positive feedback so I'll carry one posting some more. I ought to say that I am cribbing from phrasebooks, notably the Lonely Planet but also books by Mr Prakash A. Raj from Nabeen Publications in Kathmandu.

    An anecdote concerning learning from phrasebooks - one evening in the lodge some Nepali guys were reading my phrasebook to practice their English when they started laughing, obviously amused by something I asked them to share the joke, here is an excerpt from the vocabulary...
    • bag/pack - jhola
    • ...
    • sleep (n) - nindra
    • sleep (v) - sutnu
    • sleeping bag - sutne jhola

    ...they then explained to me that the words are all right, but sleeping bags are a western thing, when Nepalis have adopted their use from us they usually call them "sleeping bags". It reminds me of Manuel from Fawlty Towers, "I speak English very good, I learn it from a book"

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Packington, Leicestershire

    Default Re: The language thread

    Don't forget "Ke garne!" - "So what, Whatever" - as I always think of it as embodying some of the Nepali way of life.
    * thesilvertops *

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Re: The language thread

    Oli, thanks for telling me about link posting. And yes, it is surprising how many borrowed english words they use.

    Silvertops, I checked with my husband (who is Nepali), and he said they probably were being cheeky, so I withdraw my comment. What I was thinking of was something he told me a while ago about how sometimes Brahmins would insist on being called "grandfather" as a term of respect. Even an old, lower-caste person would have to call a Brahmin child "grandfather". Ick.

    Additional (more formal/polite, I think) terms for:

    grandfather = hajurba

    grandmother = hajurma

    These are the terms we use in our family.

    And I think it is important to mention the difference between the forms of "you". "Timi" is something you would use for a friend or someone who is younger than you. "Tapai" is appropriate for someone you don't know well, or someone who is older than you. Kind of like in French, when you use "Tu" for your friends, but "Vous" for your grandmother.

    There's a third form of "you" that I can not remember... I forget it if it is uber-respectful, or what you use for animals... it is one end of the spectrum or the other (better not use it yet, eh?? lol). Maybe someone will come along who knows... or I can ask at home tonight.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Packington, Leicestershire

    Default Re: The language thread

    Thanks for the info re: grandfather, grandmother., and your observations on the use of "Tapai". I am used to using "Tapai ko nam ke ho?" when talking to people and getting to know them but I didn't know the other form of "you" and it's use. I am familiar with the French "Tu" and "Vous" and their use. The other problem trekkers sometimes meet in Nepal is that many languages are spoken, 50 plus I believe. One of our porters earlier this year spoke Gurung and that sounded very, very different.
    * thesilvertops *

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK

    Default Re: The language thread

    Good point to highlight the "timi" vs "tapai" point, I missed explaining that detail, its worth remembering.

    I would expect that "hajurba" and "hajurma" are quite respectful as they both have their root in "hajur" which translates as "sir". Another pair of familial terms that I have frequently heard used for young boys and girls is "kanja" (m) and "kanji" (f).

    "Kegarne" is a great word, not only is it useful but it provides insight into the Nepali mindset. I use it a lot

    Useless fact: on the table of Wikipedias by language ordered on number of articles, Nepali is 124th but Newar (Nepal Bhasa) is 36th. Slightly more useful: The Tamang greeting, rather than "Namaste", is "la-sso".

    With just some of the info from above and a couple of choice new words we have a simple conversation....

    • Namaste! - Hello!
    • Tapailai kasto cha? - How are you?
    • Malai thikcha - I am fine, thanks
    • Tapaiko nam ke ho? - What is you name?
    • Mero nam ____ ho - My name is ____
    • Yo mero sathi, wahako nam ____ ho - This is my friend, his name is ____
    • Tapailai bhetera khusi lagyo - I am pleased to meet you
    • Nepal dherai ramro ho - Nepal is very beautiful
    • Malai Nepal (ekdam) manparcha - I like Nepal (very much)
    • Namaste - Goodbye
    • Ramro sanga januhos - Have a good journey
    • Pheri bhetaula - I hope we meet again

    I added a couple of useful parting phrases for good measure.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK

    Default Yes & No

    There are a few ways to say "yes" and "no". Nepali makes extensive use of the verb "hunu" ("to be") which is a bit complicated and shall be explained later, but simply put "ho" or "cha" mean "yes", and "hoina" and "chaina" mean "no". "Hajur" ("sir") is a simple agreement like "yes I agree with you", whereas a request like "may we have out dhal bhat at 8 o'clock?" many we answered with "huncha" for "yes, it will be so". Quite often a question may be answered with a simple restating of the verb in either the positive or negative form, for example "chiya paincha?" (is tea available) may be answered with "paincha" (yes it is available).

    Non-verbal consideration: The Nepali have a habit of tilting their head to one side with a slight shrug, this generally indicates agreement so not to me confused with a negative head-shake.
    Last edited by Oli; 3rd October 2008 at 04:46 AM. Reason: ,

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wales, UK

    Default Time

    The important word to remember for time is "bajyo", or sometime "baje" (for "at a time").
    • what time is it? - kati bajyo?
    • it's five o'clock - panch bajyo
    • half past three - sade tin bajyo
    • quarter to seven - paune saat bajyo
    • quarter past two - sawa dui bajyo
    • at what time? - kati baje tira?
    • at eight o'clock - aath baje

    Some other useful words...
    • now - ahile
    • today - aja
    • this morning - aja bihana
    • tonight - aja rati
    • yesterday - hijo
    • day before yesterday - asti
    • tomorrow - bholi
    • day after tomorrow - parsi
    • hour - ghanta
    • day - din
    • week - hapta
    • month - mahina
    • year - barsa
    • last week - gayako hapta
    • next month - arko mahina

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