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19 January 2011

Nepal #2: 22 Useful Nepali Words

... and phrases I suppose. Why 22? A few reasons... That's how many days I spent in Nepal, and I'm pretty sure my brain was only capable of learning approximately 1 word per day. Also, the objective is not to write a Nepali dictionary - only to give you a glimpse of the words and phrases I used most often in Kathmandu, the village, and the trek.

First, a few notes:
  • Tamang is the language of the village that we home-stayed in (most people also spoke Nepali), so I also added the Tamang version of many words. There are 100+ languages spoken in Nepal, and each region usually speaks its own, in addition to some Nepali. Tamang is spoken by about 5% of the population of Nepal.
  • Nepali is a script language, so when you write the words in Roman letters the main objective is to spell it phonetically. My general impression is that as long as you can pronounce the word properly from looking at the spelled version it isn't super important how you spelled it. However, I could be making this up so correct me if I'm wrong!

THE LIST (adopted from the language list provided to us by Katie Walker)!
  1. Namaste - Hello! Typically accompanied by a slight bow with palms together at your heart. 
  2. Mero naam Nena ho - My name is Nena.
  3. Saathi - Friend.
  4. Rungi-chungi - Colorful. This became an instant favorite because it's incredibly fun to say!
  5. Baph-re-baph! - Wow! See above for explanation. This expression was typically returned with giggles by the Nepalis...
  6. Tulo - Big. Tulo paisa (big money) became a common expression among the Americans... 
  7. Dhanyebhad - Thank you. Nepalis don't say thank you very often. It is just assumed/expected that people do things for each other (like serving food, helping with little things). They usually only use dhanyebhad for situations where they are truly giving appreciation/thanks for something. 
  8. Maph garnus - I'm sorry.
  9. Ramro - Good. This was definitely my most commonly used word - any time I didn't understand something and the person was looking at me expectantly I gave them ramro or even dae-raii ramro (very good), and it was usually received well... 
  10. Dude - Milk. Love this one.
  11. Volie (pronounced Bolie) - Tomorrow.
  12. Chini - Sugar.
  13. Tapaii lai kasto chha? - How are you?
  14. Malaii ___ lagyo. - I feel ____. Blank can be filled in by voke (hungry), thakaii (tired), khusi (happy), or many other words that I do not know!
  15. Bistare - Slowly. Almost every other word the Nepalis said to us as we were walking down the mountain. 
  16. Basnuus - Sit down. 
  17. Aunuus/Januus - Come/Go Away! 
  18. Pani/Khana - Water/Food.
  19. Subaratri - Goodnight. This one is just fun to say!
  20. Mitho (Tamang: Rungba) - Delicious. If you turned down that extra heaping plate of food they wanted you to eat, you pretty much had to repeat these words 10 times to prevent them from thinking you thought it was not good. 
  21. Chick chick - A little bit. I'm pretty sure this is a Tamang word, but it was used very often in the village during meal times! More on that in the meal post.
  22. Pugyo (Tamang: Yoji) - Enough. Follow this with word #20 multiple times.
Well, that's 22. I guess I could have kept going until 30 or maybe even 40, but I'd say that's enough for now. 

One more thing: Counting to ten!
  1. Ek (pronounced ihk)
  2. Dui
  3. Tin (pronounced teen)
  4. Char
  5. Pach
  6. Chha
  7. Sat (pronounced saaht)
  8. Ath (don't pronounce the H)
  9. Nau (pronounced now)
  10. Das
And, last but not least, I learned how to write my name in Nepali!


Bailey said...

1) I find your writing style personable, eloquent, and easy to read - a combination traditionally hard to achieve.
2) Dhanyebhad is my favorite. I appreciate the use of "thank you" only during appropriate situations. (I can't stand when parents force their children to say thank you for things they don't actually feel thanks for - I think the feeling is more important than the words)

Nena said...

I totally agree with you! On the plan back from Belgium today the stewardess said thank you to every single passenger as they handed her their gross little balls of garbage. Now that's just too much!

Tammela said...

Interesting that "Namaste" means "hello" in Nepali -- that's what we say at the end of yoga, and in Sanskrit it means something like "the light in me salutes the light in you." The two languages seem to be similar.
With my host family here during training, I used the Ukrainian word for "enough" every day, multiple times, at meals!