SOAS University of London

SOAS Language Centre

Nepali at SOAS Language Centre

Nepali belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, more specifically to the Indo-Aryan branch of this family. It is therefore closely related to the languages of North India, such as Panjabi and Hindi. Linguists often classify Nepali as a dialect within the ‘Pahari’ group - a term referring to a complex dialect continuum stretching from Northern Pakistan to Nepal.

The traditional homeland of Nepali is the western part of Nepal. It has, however, had considerable territorial successes over the last few centuries and is now the lingua franca of the Kathmandu valley as well as the mother tongue of up to 5 million speakers spread across neighbouring Sikkim and West Bengal (India) and, further afield, Bhutan and the North-East States of India.

Nepali is written in the devanāgarī script, which is the script used for Sanskrit, Hindi and Marathi. This writing system is well suited to representing the sounds of Nepali and helps to maintain a strong connection with the Indic roots of the language. That said, Nepali has long been in contact with unrelated languages such as Tibetan and this has had, quite naturally, an impact on the sound system and vocabulary.    

SOAS Language Centre is not offering classes in Nepali during academic year 2018-19 but hopes to be able to do so again from October 2019.