Nepal Bhasa/Introduction

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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.

The name[edit]

The earliest occurrences of the name Nepal Bhasa can be found in the manuscripts Narad Sanhita, dated 1380 AD, and Amarkosh, dated 1389 AD.[1][2] Since then, the name has been used widely on inscriptions, manuscripts, documents and books.

In the 1920s, the name of the language known as Khaskura, Gorkhali or Parbatiya[3] was changed to Nepali,[4] 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.[5]

On 8 September 1995, following years of lobbying to use the standard name, the then His Majesty's Government decided that the name Nepal Bhasa should be used instead of Newari.[6] However, the decision was not implemented, and on 13 November 1998, the Minister of Information and Communication directed all public mass media to use the name Nepal Bhasa instead of Newari language.[7]

Geographic distribution[edit]

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.

  1. Tuladhar, Prem Shanti (2000). Nepal Bhasa Sahityaya Itihas: The History of Nepalbhasa Literature. Kathmandu: Nepal Bhasa Academy. ISBN 99933-56-00-X. Page 10.
  2. "Classical Newari Literature". http://www.kpmalla.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Classical-Newari-Literature.pdf. Retrieved 28 December 2011.  Page 1.
  3. Hodgson, B. H. (1841). "Illustrations of the literature and religion of the Buddhists". Serampore. http://www.archive.org/stream/illustrationsofl00hodg/illustrationsofl00hodg_djvu.txt. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  4. Lienhard, Siegfried (1992). Songs of Nepal: An Anthology of Nevar Folksongs and Hymns. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas. ISBN 81-208-0963-7. Page 3.
  5. "The kings song". Himal Southasian. June 2003. http://www.himalmag.com/component/content/article/4214-.html. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  6. "It's Nepal Bhasa". The Rising Nepal. 9 September 1995. 
  7. "Mass media directed to use Nepal Bhasa". The Rising Nepal. 14 November 1998. 
  8. Shrestha, Bal Gopal (2005). "Ritual and Identity in the Diaspora: The Newars in Sikkim". Bulletin of Tibetology. http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/bot/pdf/bot_2005_01_03.pdf. Retrieved 21 March 2011.  Page 26.
  9. Ethnologue entry