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(1) The name for all citizens of Nepal.
(2) The self-designation common among the peoples of Nepal for those who joined the Gurkha confederation and were gradually consolidated into a single people, now accounting for about half of the country’s population. They speak Nepali. (For the history, economy, and culture of the Nepali, see.)
(also Gurkhali or Khas-Kura), the language of the Nepali, and also the official language of Nepal; it is also spoken in India (the city of Darjeeling and several other regions in Assam State; also in the northwestern regions), Sikkim, and Bhutan. Nepali is spoken by more than 7 million people (more than 6 million speakers in Nepal, 1971 census; more than 800,000 in India). Nepali belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is divided into four dialects: Central, or Standard, Nepali; Eastern Nepali; Western Nepali; and the dialect of the foothills of the Himalayas.
The phonological features of Nepali include the presence of long and short vowels, opposition of pure (nonnasalized) and nasalized vowels, and the presence of retroflex consonants. The structure is analytic-synthetic, with a predominance of analytism. Words derived from Sanskrit are the basis of the vocabulary. Grammatical features include masculine and feminine gender of nouns (the masculine gender also includes inanimate objects) and two types of case forms, nominative and postpositional. There is also an ergative-postpositional subject. The verb has synthetic and analytic impersonal forms and five moods (optative, suppositional subjunctive, irrealis, and so on). Verb forms are combined to express intensity, duration of action, and other features. In composite sentences, the subordinate clause precedes the main clause. Nepali uses the Devanagari, or Nagari, script. The first written text dates from 1337. Since the early 19th century, a literary language has been developing from the central dialect.
REFERENCESZograf, G. A. Iazyki Indii, Pakistana, Tseilona i Nepala. Moscow, 1960.
Korolev, N. I. Iazyk Nepala. Moscow, 1965. (Includes bibliography.) Nepal’sko-russkii slovar’. Moscow, 1968. Pages 1211–1328.
Srivastava, Dayanand. Nepali Language: Its History and Development. Calcutta, 1962.
Turner, R. L. A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language. New York, 1966.
N. I. KOROLEV.