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Colloquial Nepali (In Roman)

Colloquial Nepali (In Roman)
Item Code: NAC615
Author: G.G. Rogers
Publisher: Rupa & Company
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 8129109212
Pages: 125
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5 Inch X 5.5 Inch
weight of the book: 160 gms
Colloquial Nepali is no run-of-the-mill tourist handbook. It teaches you how to communicate with anyone, anywhere in Nepal.

Back of the Book

Colloquial Nepali is a reprint of an excellent introduction to spoken Nepali. Written by a British instructor of Nepali in the Indian Army (before Independence), the book was first published some fifty years back. But it still remains a very useful primer on the colloquial idiom of Nepali, for, while the formal and written variety of the language has received a great deal of attention from scholars, there is much less literature devoted exclusively to the spoken form even today.

Based on the Grammar-Translation method that happened to be the standard pedagogy during most of the 20th century for foreign language teaching, the book deals with all the three aspects of language—sound, structure and lexicon. As any linguist knows, the phonetic and grammatical organization of a language changes very little with time. Only its vocabulary changes and enlarges to reflect the cultural development of its speakers. However, the vocabulary that the author uses in his examples, and the word-list at the end of the book, consist words of everyday use, most of which have little chance of going out of currency.

The first few chapters are devoted to the phonetics of Nepali sounds followed by lessons on grammar (along with English-Nepali translation exercises). Finally there is an extremely useful list of more than 1500 commonly used words in Nepali with, of course, their English translations. The author has not forgotten to introduce the learner to some of the more frequently used idioms and slang in Nepali.

Avery useful teach-yourself book on spoken Nepali.


The sixty lessons contained in the following pages have been compiled from notes prepared by me when employed as Nepali Instructor with the Gurkha Brigade during the Second World War Many forms of the Nepali language exist in India and Nepal including firstly, a very cultured and pure form found in the central valley, sometimes termed the Court language, containing high-sounding phrases many of Sanskrit origin secondly, a form found in eastern and western Nepa4 and lastly, an extremely impure form of speech, being a regimental language containing at least 6o% pure Hindustani words and construction, evolved for parade purposes. The form found in eastern Nepal slightly differs from, and is purer than, the western form.

My object in these pages is to put before the student a simple form of the language as spoken in eastern and western Nepal that is, a pure form of the language as used by the young soldier or recruit in any Gurkha regiment. It would obviously be futile, indeed impossible, to attempt to teach the mixed language known as line bat “referred to above. The young soldier does not know this form but gradually learns it on parade or at the orderly room but immediately reverts to his own speech when off parade. It varies considerably in different regiments and is certainly not standard. Regiments and individual Gurkhas domiciled in the Punjab, for instance, have included quite a number of Punjabi words and expressions in their speech. I am moreover convinced that ft is highly desirable that officers should be able to speak a language which appeals to their men and which they really understand, and not merely a mixed language chiefly confined to the more senior Gurkha ranks, and even then only employed by them when speaking to non-Gurkhas in the fear that if they were to speak their own language they would not be understood. Where the eastern form is at variance with the western a note has been made to that effect.

As regards the general lay-out, the book consists of sixty lessons including certain lessons set aside for revision. Each lesson is designed to include sufficient work for one hour’s study and at the end of a large number of lessons test sentences are given. The English sentences should be translated by the student without reference to the Nepali translation, in each case given after the English. The Nepali translations should then be used as a key by the student, enabling him to correct his own work, Many notes and explanations are included with these translations. Throughout the book, where alternative Nepali forms exist, they are shown in brackets. In the vocabularies and sentences, in many cases, references are made to the lesson in which the particular phrase or word will be found explained. In the English-Nepali vocabulary the letter “v” indicates “verb”. The letters “tr.” and “intr.” in brackets after a verb indicate “transitive’’ and “intransitive” and are only inserted when a doubt might arise. At the beginning of the majority of lessons a vocabulary is given of words to be used in the lesson or test sentences. If however a word or phrase is explained in a lesson it is not included in the vocabulary for that lesson and words once included in these vocabularies or explanations are not repeated at the beginning of subsequent lessons.

I cannot lay too much stress on the importance of really mastering the sounds explained in Lessons 2 and 3 before going on to other lessons. The learning of a language is the acquisition of the spoken utterance and unless a student can really acquire these sounds which may be quite strange to him he cannot hope to speak the language in an accent readily understandable by the young soldier. Indeed, his failure to imitate the exact sounds will always handicap him and will tend to prevent him from attaining any real fluency. I have found that in the teaching of foreign languages the importance of precise sound is sometimes not sufficiently stressed. The long “a”, for instance, is often dismissed by the explanation that it represents the sound of the “a” in the English word “father”. In point of fad it bears little resemblance to that sound. Its precise sound will be found explained in Lesson 2. Similarly the short “a” sound bears little resemblance to the “u” sound in the English word ‘but” and really has no corresponding English sound, though the “if’ sound in the English word “dirt” comes very close to it. There are of course many other sounds not included in Lessons z and 3, but as they approximate to similar English sounds they have not been mentioned. No attempt has been made to explain the difference between the sound of the hard “d”, “1’, and “1” and their soft counterparts as it is considered that this can only be acquired by practice after hearing the sounds actually uttered. The cardinal importance of making syllables end on vowel sounds, as fully explained in Lesson 2, should never be lost sight of. It is the key o acquiring the correct accent. Many students have told me that the realisation and practice of this important rule has helped them more than anything else to speak the language reasonably well.

In conclusion it must be explained that consequent on variations in the language the rendering of some Nepali words in the Roman script is more or less arbitrary. As an example, the Nepali word “man”.—’ ‘in” is pronounced “ma” in many parts of the country, and the word “manthi”- “above”, “on” is often rendered “math?’. By repeated checking of both manuscript and typescript every effort has been made to ensure that, as far as these pages are concerned, precisely the same rendering of the same word is always employed. If however any slight variance is found, as for instance, in the employment or otherwise of the nasal “n” in a certain word, I am confident that it will be realised that thousands of accents have had to be carefully checked and it is always possible that one or two may have been missed.

If this book helps to further understanding and sympathy for the Gurkha, both in the Army and in civil life, I shall be satisfied that my labours have not been in vain.

My thanks are due to Capt. J. Miller, late 2nd K. E. VII’s O. Gurkhas for the help he gave me in tabulating the vocabularies, and to my wife for her invaluable help in typing the manuscript without which the production of the book would have been impossible.


1. The are of speaking a foreign language 1
2. Important sounds 2
3. Important sounds – (continued) 4
4. Active transitive verb: Present Habitual5
5. Active transitive verb: Imperfect 8
6. Active transitive verb: Past and Perfect tenses 11
7. Active transitive verb: The Past Perfect tense14
8. Active transitive verb: The Past Habitual 15
9. Active transitive verb: Aorist or Present Subjunctive 16
10. Active transitive verb: The Future 17
11. Active transitive verb: The Future Perfect 19
12. Active transitive verb: The Past Conditional 20
13. Active transitive verb: The Imperative 22
14. Active transitive verb: Revision 26
15. Active transitive verb: Participles 26
16. The Verb Hunu - To Be: Present tense29
17. The Verb Hunu - To Be: The rai-chha construction 32
18. The Verb Hunu - To Be: The Imperfect, Past and Perfect tenses 34
19. The Verb Hunu - To Be: Part Perfect, Past Habitual Aorist or Present Subjunctive 35
20. The Verb Hunu - To Be: Future, Future Perfect 37
22. The Verb Hunu - To Be: Past Conditional, Imperative38
22. The Verb Hunu - To Be: Participles 39
23. The Polite form of the verb 41
24. Compound verbs 42
25. Sentences introducing use of compound verbs 44
26. Till, Until, as long as, after 45
27. The Subjunctive mood with Conditional 47
28. The Subjunctive mood with Conditional – (continued) 48
29. The use of pani – Also to mean in spite or, whether or not, even if (though)50
30. Special uses of the words ni, ta, na, re, ke, ki, ke, re and ra 51
31. Sentences introducing uses of words ni, ta, na, re, ke, ki, ke re and ra as studied in previous lesson 53
32. Bharnu (tr.) – To Fill, Complete, Load Barhnu (intr.) – To Advance, Increase, Grow 54
33. Liaunu, liera aunu, leidinu, linu, linu janu, lanu, lejanu, lagnu, launu, lagaunu and lagnu 56
34. The Bhanera construction 58
35. Sentences on the Bhanera construction 61
36. Revision of Bhanera construction 63
37. Chahinchha, man lagnu and mangnu 63
38. Certain alternative verbs meaning to Know, Understand 65
39. Certain alternative verbs meaning to Descend, Fall Etc. 65
40. Certain alternative verbs meaning to Burn, Light, Catch Fire, Etc. 66
41. The Noun 68
42. The Comparison 69
43. Advers 71
44. Adverbs – (continued) 73
45. Pronouns 74
46. Table of Adverbs and Pronouns in their Relative, Demonstrative and Interrogative forms 76
47. The Preposition 78
48. The Preposition – (continued)79
49. Sentences introducing use of Prepositions 81
50. Idioms 82
51. Idioms – (continued) 84
52. Idioms – (continued) 85
53. Sentences on use of Idioms 87
54. Sentences on use of Idioms – (continued) 89
55. Conjunctions 90
56. Conjunctions – (continued) 92
57. Interjections and Slang 93
58. Interjections and Slang – (continued) 95
59. Sentences on Interjections and Slang 96
60. Adjectives 98
61. Vocabulary (Nepali to English) 100
62. Vocabulary (English to Nepali) 113

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