Rooted in the archaic languages Sanskrit and Prakrit, Nepali is a close relative of Hindi and many other northern Indian languages that belong to the Indo-European family of languages. So as foreign as it may seem, Nepali has many links to our own European tongues. For example:
- mero naam prem ho: My name is Prem.
- dant, muk, nak: tooth (think: dental), mouth, nose
- ek, dui, tin – one, two, three / un, deux, trois / uno, dos, tres / ena, dyo, tria
- ke? – what? (think: Spanish – qué?, or Italian – chè?)
All these connections provide links that make learning easier than you’d expect. Of course, there are lots of challenges but it would be boring if it was too easy!
Nepali is spoken by around 17 million people in Nepal, northern India, Tibet, Bhutan and diaspora communities around the world. Although there are many other languages in Nepal, it is the official lingua franca in the country.
Hindi is the most widely spoken Indo-Aryan language with 258 million speakers spread mainly across northern India, from Rajasthan in the west right across the Gangetic plains to Bihar in the east and from Himachal Pradesh in the north to Madhya Pradesh in central India. But Hindi’s influence is much wider, being the primary official language of the Indian Republic; the main language of the world’s biggest film industry, Bollywood; and the mother tongue of a large part of the south Asian diaspora. Hindi is these days a truly world language and an important key to the door of Indian culture.
The world’s most useful language, English is the first global lingua franca. It is the first language of 375 million people worldwide and the second language of up to another billion. As a Germanic language overwritten with French and with a healthy appetite for adopting new words from other cultures, English has the widest vocabulary of any language and is still growing as it reaches further round the globe. English grammar is relatively simple (although some would beg to differ) and, whatever you think about it, English is now an international essential in all walks of life.