Lessons

Chapter -1-VOWELS AND CONSTANTS



So as we learnt in the Introduction section, Nepali words, in the exact same way as English ones, are composed of Vowels and Consonants. In Nepali all the vowels come at the start of the alphabet. We’re going to begin by learning the vowels! Heres a little sneak peak of all the vowels in Nepali…

VOWELS

The Devanagari script has 11 vowels. Every vowel except 3{ â has two symbols. The first symbol is the full form of the vowel, called the vowel characterT. his is usedw henú e vowel is the f[st letter of a word or syllable, and when it follows anoúer vowel. The second s'.rnbofi s the vowel sign, wllich is useda fter a consonanti,. e. when úe vowel is üìe secondle ner of a syllable.T he alphabebt eginsw ith the vowels,a ndt he vowel charactersa rc showno pposite.

CONSONANTS

The Devanagari scÍipt has 33 consonants. The traditional Indian system very helpfully orders consonants according to the way they are pronounced, and they are listed heÍe in alphabetical order. Each of the first five groups of consonants has as its final member a nasal consonant (a consonant pronounced through the nose).

Brch Devanagari character is followed by a Roman transüteration which consists of the consonant followed by the letter a. This is bccausei,n the úsence of any other vowel sign, eachc onsonantis hold to contain úe inheÍent q a vowel. Because each Devanasari consonanút eÍefore comest o rcpresenta syllúle, somes cholarsia ll thc Devanagari system a 'syllabary' rather than an .alphabef. In words that end in a consonant, the inheÍent a of úe final letter is rcmetimes pronounced, but is more often silent. This final a will appearin transüterationo nly when it is to be pronounced. Two impoÍant contrasts tlÌat exist in Nepali, but not in,English, should be pointed out. The fiÌst is between aspiÍatàd aÍld- non_ ,rpfaÍed consonants, the secoâd betwen dental and retroflex consonants.

Nepali is written in the phonetically based Devanagari script using the Sanskrit sound system. This means that Nepali is a “what you see is what you read” language. Nepali words do not have any hidden or implied sounds; for the most part, if a sound is written it is pronounced, if it is not written it is not pronounced. This makes reading Nepali relatively straightforward once the alphabets and writing or phonetic conventions are understood.

Nepali is a Subject-Object-Verb language.
Example: म नेपाली बो􀃣छु ।
ma nepali bolchhu. Literally: I Nepali speak.
I speak Nepali.
There are singular and plural forms. There are tenses as well, like English.
In Nepali we do not have prepositions, we have post position. In English we say on the table, in Nepali we say table on. “Tebulmaa”
Due to the socio-cultural reasons there are free, borrowed words from Nepali to other languages, and vice-versa. There are many loan words from English, as well as scientific, technical and foreign cultural terms that have been worked into Nepali exactly as they are used in other countries. There are many more borrowed words from Sanskrit.

Nepali vowels are made up of eight pure vowels sounds, अ, आ, इ, ई, उ, ऊ, ए, ऐ, and two dipthongs “o” ओ, and “au”औ.
In Nepali there are two “I,” short “I” इ, and long “I” ई, also two u, short “u” उ, and long “u” ऊ only distinguished in writing. In speaking, both are pronounced with the same caveat as above applies.

1. Velar consonants क, ख, ग, घ, ङ (ka, kha, ga, gha, nga)
2. Palatal consonants च, छ, ज, झ, ञ ( cha, chha, ja, jha, yna)
3. Retroflex consonants ट, ठ,ड, ढ, ण (Ta, Tha, Da, Dha, Na)
4. Dental consonants त, थ, द, ध,न (ta, tha, da, dha, na)

In this consonant chart, aspirated consonants are indicated by the addition of “h” after the consonant sound.
pha- फ is pronounced as F in English.
And bha – भ is pronounced as V in English.

6. ( य ya, र ra, ल la and व wa) are considered “semi-vowels”
7. ( श sha, ष sha and स sa) are three “s” in Nepali
8.( 􀂢 kchha, ऽ tra and 􀂣 gya ) are two letters combinations, contains special conjunct consonants characters mostly used in spelling words derived from Saskrit.
ka+sha= kchha 􀂢 ( is a combination of ka sha)
ta+ra=tra ऽ ( is a combination of ta and ra)
ga+ya=gya ( is a combination of gya and na)

Combining Vowels and Consonants to make words:
All consonants in the Nepali alphabet are distinct syllables which have an “a” Sound built in at the end.
For example: क ka , ख kha, ग ga already have “a” sound built in .
For any other vowels, other than “a” अ a vowel sign is applied to the consonant to make a composite syllable. For example, the vowel sign ई is combined with consonants “ka” to make a separate consonant “ki” क􀈧.



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