June 17, 2012


[“His Majesty’s government (now Nepal Government) has decided to name ‘Nepal Bhasha’ instead of ‘Newari’ language which has been broadcast in the government media. This decision was taken in the meeting of council of minsters held yesterday … The Newar community had been since long demanding that ‘Newari’ be called ‘Nepal Bhasha”.- The Rising Nepal 9/8/1996 .]

By Daya R. Shakya 
Even though the above statement was published more than a decade ago, knowingly or unknowingly the Newah people have been adding an ‘i’ to the word “Newar” to indicate its adjective form. By virtue of being non Indo-Aryan language adding an “i” in Newar is grammatically incorrect (Malla -1999).

In this short essay, I shall attempt to present some linguistic arguments on why the word ‘Newari’ is ungrammatical. The name of language itself is wrongfully called NEWARI. Historically, the name of the Newah language is NEPAL BHASHA or colloquially it is known as the NEWAH BHAAYE. No historical proof is available to indicate the language of Newah people by the term NEWARI. It is the word that is used by non-Newah people by influence of their own languages. Brain H. Hodgson, a British Resident to Nepal (1820 to 1843 and in Darjeeling from 1845 to 1858), appears to be the first among such authors who have used the term: 'Newar' in his essays on Nepal and Tibet, possibly influenced by his associates appointed by the then Rana regime.  

For further reading please refer to the author's article ‘In naming the language’ by this author in Newah Vijnaana-2, 1998. According to the features of Tibeto-Burman languages a word by itself is not enough to indicate the name of a language as listed below.

Sherpe Lhapsye                         Sherpa language                       
Phoe Pe                                     Tibetan Language
Yakthum Paan                           Limbu language
Tamang Tam                             Tamang Language
Magar Dhut                               Magar Language
Magar Pang                              Kham Magar Language
Kusunda Gepang                      Kusunda Language
Newah Bhaaye                          Newar Language

Here the words /lhapsye/pe/,/paan/, /tam/, /dhut/, /pang/,/gepang/ mean ‘language’ in their native term. Therefore the language of Newah people can also be written by the phrase ‘Newah Bhaaye’, a colloquial form of ‘Nepal Bhasha’. That is a compound form of ethnic name and the native word for the language. Hence the term NEWARI is uncommon and not acceptable to the native Newah people.

By examining  phonological features of Newah Bhaaye, we understand that the structure of many Newah words are mono or bi-syllabic as shown in the  table below:
Mono Syllabic               Meaning                       Bi Syllabic                     Meaning
maN                             mother                          kijaa                             younger brother
khaN                            matter                           duru                              milk
nhaaye                          nose                             mhutu                           mouth
hyaauN                         red                               tuyu                              white

If the words are other than mono or bi-syllabic they must fit into phonological justification. Many of multi-syllabic words used in Newah language are borrowed from other languages and if the native words are multi-syllabic they must be  written or pronounced with phonological changes as shown in following words:
Borrowed word           Meaning                 Native word         Phonological Change                    Meaning
Tarakari                        vegetable                      Tapuli                           tapli                              hat
Sarakar                         Government                  Dabula                          dabuu                           stage
Jaagira                          service                          Kapala                          kapaah                          forehead
Gundruk                        fermented veggie           Kirtipur                         kipuu                            Kirtipur(city)
Gudhiyaa                      dolls                              Jhyaala                         hyaah                           window
Jahaana                          family                           Kalaata                         kalaah                           wife

In addition to above native words there is a whole set of words in Nepal Bhasa that shows a phonological difference between underlying and written forms. Some examples of these forms are given below:
Underlying Old form (1) Written Current form (2)            Deleted sound(3)           Meaning(4)
Nhaasa                                    nhaae:                                       sa                                 nose                
Mesha                                      myeh                                        sa                               baffalo 
Bhaasa                                     Bhaaye                                     sa                                 language
Phasa                                       phaye                                       sa                                 air
Khansa                                     khayen                                      sa                                 Khasa people
Hansa                                       hayen                                       sa                                 duck 
Newaara                                  Newaah                                    ra                                 Newar People
Magara                                    Magah                                      ra                                 Magar people 
Nepala                                      Nepaah                                     la                                  Nepal country
Puchala                                     puchah                                      la                                  Group
Jhyaala                                     jhyaah                                       la                                  window
Makala                                     makah                                      la                                  fire pot
Maakala                                   maakah                                     la                                  monkey
Pasala                                      pasah                                        la                                  store
Degala                                      degah                                       la                                  Temple
Kaenla                                      kayen                                       la                                  Bronze
Jhangala                                   jhangah                                     la                                  bird
Daala                                       daah                                         la                                  fat
Nyakula                                    nyekuu                                      la                                  horn
Nugala                                      nugah                                       la                                  heart
Papula                                      papuu                                       la                                  wing
Sala                                          sah                                           la                                  sound
Maala                                       maah                                        la                                  garland
Puchala                                     puchah                                      la                                  group 
Saphuta                                    saphuu                                      ta                                 Book
Kalaata                                     kalaah                                       ta                                 wife 
Pwatha                                     pwaah                                      tha                                stomach
Twaatha                                   twaah                                       tha                                mouth/bick 
Chhyana                                   chhyaN                                     na                                 head
Chalana                                    chalaN                                      na                                 tradition
Chhochuna                                chhochuN                                 na                                 flour 
Gaama                                      gaaN                                        ma                                village 
Manukha                                  manuu                                      kha                               human
Lakha                                       lah                                            kha                               water
Naakha( Bhaktapur)                  naah                                         kha                               water
Ailaakha                                   ailaah                                        kha                               liquor
Kokha                                      koh                                           kha                               crow

The entry in the table above well illustrate that Nepal Bhasha words end in vowel not as Nepali words that end in consonant such as Jhyaal, suruwaal, degal, mandir etc.  It is considered that the Newah words undergo phonological process of deleting the final syllable when they are used in a sentence. So any words which need to be pronounced with long vowel at the end of word can be assumed that it has extended form as given in column1 and current written form as in column 2.  The column 3 illustrates deleted sounds ‘agam’such as, -sa. -la, -ta, -tha, -ma, -kha.

This is a fact that Newah words undergo phonological changes and maintain grammatical requirements. In addition, a message of ‘ who is doing what to whom’ is marked in any language by using a linguistic device called case mark or kaarak in the form of bibhakti (in Nepali). The case marks are attached with noun words as suffixes or also called as post-positions where as in English all the case marks are called pre-positions fro instance ghar-maa or in a house.

In Newah languge also, all the English pre-positions are known as post-positions because they are suffixed to the noun words. In order to deliver a message from a speaker to a listener, the case marks are very important in a language. Hence, the case marks are unavoidable device of Newah grammar. There is a set of Newah case marks in English, Nepali and Newah as  listed below:
(1)                    (2)                                            (3)                                (4)                                (5)
Prepositions      Underlying Meaning                  Nepali form                   Newah form                 Example
By                    Agent / doer                              -le                                -na /-aN                        john-na
To                    Receipient                                 -laai                              -yaata                           john-yaata
In/on/at             Location                                   -maa                             -sa –e                           Amerikaae
From                Ablative                                    -dekhi/baata                  -aN                              Nepal-an
With                 Associative                               -sanga                          -naapa                          paasaa-naapa
With                 Instrumental                              -le                                -N                                kathi-N
Of N                Genetive                                   -ko                               -yaagu/mha                   john-yaa-gu/mha

The newah case marks given in column (4) above are listed in regular form and they undergo the process of phonological change when they occur with a noun of different forms of final syllable including vowel and consonant endings as shown below:
‘i’–ending         ‘e’- ending        ‘a’ ending         aa-ending          u-ending       o-ending            consonant ending
Chameli            SyeN                Chota               Gamalaa           KuN                 Wo                   Telephon
Tapuli               Pele                  Ratna               Kamalaa           Kulu                 Ko                    Kamal             
Chhwaali          KeheN             Chhyana           Simaa               Pulu                  Bo                    Gopaal 
Chheli               YeN                 Surdyawa         Jaamaa             Kathmandu       So                    Nepal              
Gwaali              KheN               Sagana             Timilaa             Paalu                Cho                  Makal
Tuti                  -                       Lagana             Kusaa               Dugu                Chho                Computer
Chhaati             -                       Magan              Lwosaa            Mulu                 Mo                   Degal
Nhi                   -                       Mangaala          Suruwaa           Swayambhu      No                    Mandir
kaapi                -                       Dhwopwaala     Dewaa             Swaapu             Paako               Nokar
Dashami           -                       -                       Kipaa               Lwaapu             Ho                    Jokar               
Si                     -                       -                       Twaa                Duru                 Gwo                 Chokar

It is obvious from the above table that many of Newah words consist of various structures either with vowel ending or consonant endings. When these words are attached with case marks they assimilate with the form of the final syllable as illustrated in table-7 showing a suffix of agent /-aN/ or instrumental/ -aN/ and ablative /-aN/ case marks equivalent to Nepali case marks /-le/,/dekhi/ and /-baata/. Here ‘N’ represents the preceding vowel is nasalized) for the meaning of these words please refer to appendix at the end.

‘i’ –ending        ‘e’- ending        ‘a’ ending         aa-ending          u-ending         o-ending            consonant ending
Chameli-N        SyeNN             Chota-N           Gamalaa-N       KuN-naN         Wo-naN           Telephon-aN
Tapuli-N           Pele-N              Ratna-N           Kamalaa-N       Kulu-N             Ko-NaN           Kamal-aN        
Chhwaali-N      KeheN             Chhyana-N       Simaa-N           Pulu-N              Bo-naN            Gopaal-aN       
Chheli-N           YeN-naN         Surdya-naN      Jaamaa-N         Kathmandu-N   So-naN             Nepal-aN         
Gwaali-N          KheN-naN       Sagana-N         Timilaa-N         Paalu-N            Cho-N              Makal-aN
Tuti-N              ?                        Lagana-e          Kusaa-N     Dugu-N        Chho-N                Computer-aN
Chhaati-N         ?                      Magan-N          Lwosaa-N        Mulu-N             Mo-N               Degal-aN
Nhi-N               ?                      Mangaala-N      Suruwaa-Nan    SwayambhuN   No-N                Mandir-aN
Kaapi-N           ?                      DhwopwaalaN Dewaa-N          ?                      Paako-N           Nokar-aN
Dashami-N       ?                      ?                      Kipaa-N           Lwaapu-N        Ho-naN             Jokar-aN         
Si-N                 ?                      ?                      Twaa-naN        Dur-N              Gwo-naN          Chokar-aN

In ddition, the following table(8) illustrates the structure of noun words with case marks of receipient (yaata) or location (-e) similar to Nepali forms /-laai/ and /-maa/. This suffix is derived from the classical or the old form /-Sa/. Ex.’Raja kula –sa’’ in the palace’. The genitive case mark /-yaa-/or /-ko/ in nepali, requires to note whether the noun is animate (living) or inanimate (non-living) either with/-mha/ or /-gu/ siffiexed to the base morpheme /-yaa-/.

 (1)                   (2)                    (3)                    (4)                    5)                     (6)                    (7)
‘i’ –ending        ‘e’- ending        ‘a’ ending         aa-ending          u-ending            o-ending            consonant ending
Chameli-yaata   Pele-yaata        Ratna-yaata      Kamalayaata     Kulu-yaata        Ko-yaata          Kamal-yaata
Tapuli-i             SyeN-e             Surdya-yaata     Gamalaa-e        KuN-i               Wo-lae             Jokar-yaata
Chhwaali-i        KeheN-yaata    Chhyana-e        Simaa-e            Pulu-i                Bo-yaata           Gopaal-yaata    
Chheli-i            YeN-e Chota-e  Jaamaa-e          Kathmandu-i     So-lae               Nokar-yaata     
Gwaali-i           KhneN               Sagana-e          Timilaa-e          Paalu-i              Cho-lae             Telephon-ae     
Tuti-i                -                       Lagana-e          Kusaa-e            Dugu-yaata       Chho-e             Computer-ae
Chhaati-i           -                       Magan-yaata     Lwosaa-e         Mulu-i               Mo-e                Degal-ae
Nhi-i                 -                       Mangaala-e       Suruwaa-lae      Swayambhu-i    No-lae              Mandir-ae
Kaapi-i             -                       Dhwopwaala     Dewaa-e          Swaapu-ti         Paako-e             Nepal-ae
Dashami-i         -                       -                       Kipaa-e             Lwaapu-i          Ho-lae              Makal-ae         
Si-yaata            -                       -                       Twaa-thae        Duru-i               Gwo-lae            Chokar-ae

From the table (8) above, it is noticeable that to fulfill the message of ‘who is doing what to whom and where’ it is obligatory to add the suffixes to noun and maintain the rule of Newah language grammar.  The suffix ‘yaata’ does not change the form of the noun, whereas adding the locational case mark /-e/ is not consistent in most of the words which contain different vowel quality as shown above (8) Thus, according to the structure of the final syllable of a word the locational case marking suffix /-e/ undergoes changes as stated below.

(9)        /-e/ changes to    1.  /-i/ in I and u ending words as in column 1 and 5
                                     2. /-ae/ in consonant ending words as in column 7
            /-e/ stays same in /-e/, /-a /,/- aa/ and /-o/ ending words as in column 2, 3, 4 and 6

            This comes to the point that due to inconsistent occurrence of the locational suffix any Newa noun word with this suffix confuses native speakers with lack of proper analysis and understanding.  Now a question arises how the consonants appear when the locational suffix is added as in /swaapu-ti/,’ ‘In relationship’, /so-lae/ ‘in a nest , /no-lae/’ ‘balancing rod’, /suruwaa-lae/ ‘in a trouser’  etc. In order to identify such a hidden consonant the speakers are advised to understand that any noun generally listed in a dictionary is simply a surface form of current use. To identify the actual form of noun word, first of all, it has to be sure in a sentence and add case marks. If the form of noun changes an automatic consonant appear with case marking suffixed. As for example, when the locational case mark /-e/ is added with the word Nepaah or Newaah, dabuu, puchah, they become Nepaa(l)-ae, Newaa-(l)-ae, Dabu-(l)-i, and puch-(l)-ae. The appearance of (l) with these words is due to the phonological justification within morphological boundary and it is called ‘Agam’  in Nepal Bhasha  grammar ( Joshi 1990). When these words are written in Devnagari a colon(:) is used however in Roman alphabet an (h) is used in conventional way to indicate a log vowel. In linguistic terms, it is called ‘conmmpensatory lengthening of vowel’. For this reason an ‘h’ is required with the word ‘Newaa’ to represent exact pronounciation discriminating against the pronounciation of the sounds in /mewaa/’ papaya’ and /sevaa/’ service’. This is important feature of Newah language and it is very rare in other languges spoken in Nepal. Due to this hidden feature, many Newah speakers are not aware of correct form of Newah words including adjectives. Therefore, they simply and randomly use “NEWARI” with influence of rules of the dominating Nepali language.  

             Now going back to adding ‘i’ in Newar. I have outlined in the very beginning of this article that adding ‘i’ in Newar is grammatically incorrect. From the table (8) the word ‘Newar’ can be categorized under the consonant ending word and it is a proper noun for a particular group of people. It is used as an agent who does something or to some body. According to the rule of Newah grammar the adjective form of ‘Newar’ can not be ‘Newari’. It is simply indicates by the word Newar by itself such as Newah chalan, Newah Bhoe, Newah sanskriti, Newah Bhaaye, Newah sanstha etc. not as Newari chalan, Newari Bhoe, Newari sanskriti, Newari Bhaaye, Newari sanstha. These are all unacceptable phrases in Newah language.

            If we add locative suffix to consonants ending word simply we can add ‘ae’ as shown in the rules discussed in (9). Therefore, the Nepali phrase of NEWAR MAA is simply written “Newar-ae”. But the word Newar is not native or underlying old form. Therefore the actual word used in Newah language is “Newaal-ae”. This word has very close link with the country Nepal and the language spoken in Nepal is known as Nepal Bhasha. Newar people are very much concerned when their language is called by ‘Newari’. Due to lack of awareness even the native Newars use the word ‘Newari’. The author hopes, Newah people  after reading this paper,  will understand the rule of Newah grammar and  stop using the word NEWARI.

Appendix: 1
‘i’–ending               Meaning            ‘e’- ending                Meaning     ‘a’ ending    Meaning     aa-ending           Meaning
Chameli                   name                        SyeN                       heart                        Chota          third floor            Gamalaa                  Vase
Tapuli                     hat                           Pele                         Name                       Ratna           gemes                  Kamalaa                  name
Chhwaali                 wheat straw            KeheN                     younger Sister         Chhyana       head                     Simaa                       Tree        
Chheli                      ground floor            YeN                         Kathmandu             Surdyawa      Sun                      Jaamaa                     dress       
Gwaali                     heel                          KheN                      egg                           Sagana         ritual                    Timilaa                    moon      
Tuti                         leg                            Lagana                     auspicious time       -                                               Kusaa                      umbrella 
Chhaati                    chest                        Magan                     name                        -                                               Lwosaa                    side dish 
Nhi                          mucus                      Mangaala                 sewerage                 -                                               Suruwaa                  trouser
kaapi                       copy                        Dhwopwaala           drain hole                -                                               kipaa                       picture
Si                             louse                        -                                                               -                                               Twaa                       mouth                   
u-ending            Meaning           o-ending            Meaning           consonant ending           Meaning
KuN                 smoke              Wo                   beans cake        Telephon                       phone
Kulu                 drummer           Ko                    crow                 Kamal                          name
Pulu                  bamboo mat     Bo                    arrow               Gopaal                          name
Kathmandu       city                   So                    nest                  Nepal                           country
Paalu                ginger               Cho                  urine                 Makal                    portable fire pot
Dugu                goat                  Chho                wheat               Computer               equipment
Mulu                 needle              Mo                   husk                 Degal                       temple
Swayambhu      place name       No                   balancing rod     Mandir                         temple
Swaapu            relationship        Paako             place name       Nokar                        Servant
Lwaapu            dispute              Ho                   hole                  Jokar                         clown
Duru                 milk                  Gwo                joint                  Chokar                  left over husk

Appendix -2
Usage of Locative case /-e/ with place and country name.

Germany -i
New Jersey-i

India -e
North Carolina -e
America –e

France ae
Ohio -ae

* The author lives in be Portland, Oregon USA and can be reached at drasha@aol.com