The word "Nepali" written in Devanagari script
|Native to||Nepal, India, Bhutan|
|Ethnicity||Khas people (incl. Gurkha)|
|Native speakers||17 million (2007)|
|Official language in|| Nepal
India (in Sikkim and Darjeeling district, West Bengal)
|Regulated by||Language Academy of Nepal|
|ISO 639-3||nep – inclusive code
npi – Nepali
dty – Dotyali
World map with significant Nepali language speakers
Dark Blue: Main official language,
Light blue: One of the official languages,
Red: Places with significant population or greater than 20% but without official recognition.
Nepali (नेपाली) is a language in the Indo-Aryan languages . It is the official language and de facto lingua franca of Nepal and is also spoken in Bhutan. Nepali has official language status in the formerly independent state of Sikkim and in West Bengal's Darjeeling district. Nepali developed in proximity to a number of Indo-Aryan languages, most notably Pahari and Magahi, and shows Sanskrit influences. However, due to Nepal's geographical area, the language has also been influenced by Tibeto-Burman. Nepali is mainly differentiated from Central Pahari,both in grammar and vocabulary, by Tibeto-Burman idioms due to close contact with the respective language group.
Historically, the language was first called Khaskura (language of the khas 'rice farmers'), then Gorkhali or Gurkhali (language of the Gorkha Kingdom) before the term Nepali was taken from Nepal Bhasa. Other names include Parbatiya ("mountain language", identified with the Parbatiya people of Nepal) and Lhotshammikha (the "southern language" of the Lhotshampa people of Bhutan).
Writing system 
Nepali is commonly written in the Devanagari script. There is some record of using Takri script in the history of Nepali, especially in western Nepal, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh. Bhujimol is an older script native to Nepal, while Ranjana script is another writing system historically used.
Nepali developed a significant literature within a short period of a hundred years in the 19th century. This literary explosion was fueled by Adhyatma Ramayana; Sundarananda Bara (1833); Birsikka, an anonymous collection of folk tales; and a version of the South Asian epic Ramayana by Bhanubhakta. The contribution of trio-laureates Lekhnath Poudyal, Laxmi Prasad Devkota Muna Madan, and Balkrishna Sama took Nepali to the level of other world languages. The contribution of expatriate writers outside Nepal, especially in Darjeeling and Varanasi in India, is also notable. In the past decade, there have been many contributions to Nepali literature from the Nepali diaspora in Asia, Europe, and America.
Number of speakers 
Almost two-third of the population of Nepal speak Nepali as a native language. The Ethnologue website counts more than 17 million speakers worldwide, including 11 million within Nepal (from the 2001 census).
Nepali is traditionally spoken in the Hill Region of Nepal (Pahad, पहाड), especially in the western part of the country. Though Nepal Bhasa, Newari was the dominant language in the Kathmandu valley, Nepali is currently the most dominant. Nepali is used in government and as the everyday language of a growing portion of the local population. Nevertheless, the exclusive use of Nepali in the courts and government of Nepal is being challenged. Recognition of other ethnic languages in Nepal was one of the objectives of the Maoist insurgency.
In Bhutan, those who speak Nepali (known as Lhotshampa) are estimated at about 35 percent  of the population. This number includes displaced Bhutanese refugees, with unofficial estimates of the ethnic Nepalese population as high as 30 to 40 percent, constituting a majority in the south (about 242,000 people).) Since the late 1980s, over 100,000 Lhotshampas have been forced out of Bhutan, accused by the government of being illegal aliens. A large portion of them were expelled in an "ethnic cleansing" campaign, and presently live in refugee camps in eastern Nepal.
In India, there is a large number of Nepali-speaking people. There are an estimated 500,000 Nepali speakers in Sikkim. In Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal, there are about 1,400,000 Nepali speakers. In North-East India (states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh), there are several million Nepali speakers. A considerable number of Nepali-speaking people are also present in many Indian cities such as Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.
Combining the Ethnologue figures  with strong population growth in Nepal, the assumption of 20 million people with Nepali as their native language is a reasonable estimate for 2006.
History of the language 
Around 500 years ago, Khas from the Karnali-Bheri-Seti basin migrated eastward, bypassing inhospitable Kham highlands to settle in lower valleys of the Gandaki basin that were well suited to rice cultivation. One notable extended family settled in Gorkha, a small principality about halfway between Pokhara and Kathmandu. In 1559 AD a Lamjunge prince Dravya Shah established him in the throne of Gorkha with the help of local Khas and Magars. He raised an army of khas with the commandership of Bhagirath Panta. Later, in the late 18th century his heir Prithvi Narayan Shah raised and improvised an army of Khasa (Chhetri), Thakuri, Gurungs, and Magars and possibly other hill tribesmen and set out to conquer and consolidate dozens of small principalities in the Himalayan foothills. Since Gorkha had replaced the original Khas homeland as thary initiative, Khaskura was redubbed Gorkhali, i.e. language of the Gorkhas.
The most notable military achievement of Prithvi Narayan was conquest of the urbanized Kathmandu Valley, on the eastern rim of the Gandaki basin. This region was also called Nepal at the time. Kathmandu became Prithvi Narayan's new capital, from which he and his heirs extended their domain east across the Koshi basin, north to the Tibetan Plateau, south into the plains of northern India, and west across the Karnali/Bheri basin and beyond.
Expansion – particularly to the north, west, and south – brought the growing state into conflict with the British and Chinese. This led to wars that trimmed back the territory to an area roughly corresponding to Nepal's present borders. Both China and Britain understood the value of a buffer state and did not attempt to further reduce the territory of the new country. Since the Kathmandu Valley or Nepal had become the new center of political initiative, this word gradually came to refer to the entire realm and not just the Kathmandu Valley. And so Gorkhali, language of Gorkha, again came to be known as Nepali.
Khaskura/Gorkhali/Nepali is spoken indigenously over most of Nepal west of the Kaligandaki River, then progressively less further to the east. This is shown graphically in detailed language maps of western  and eastern  Nepal as language number 73.
See also 
- Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
- Ethnologue Report for Nepali (Accessed 1 February 2009).
- Gurung, Dr. Harka (19–20 January 2005). "Social Exclusion and Maoist Insurgency". Retrieved 13 April 2012. Page 5.
- "Background Note: Bhutan". U.S. Department of State. 2010-02-02. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
- Worden, Robert L.; Savada, Andrea Matles (ed.) (1991). "Chapter 6: Bhutan - Ethnic Groups". Nepal and Bhutan: Country Studies (3rd ed.). Federal Research Division, United States Library of Congress. p. 424. ISBN 0-8444-0777-1. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
Further reading 
- पोखरेल, मा. प्र. (2000), ध्वनिविज्ञान र नेपाली भाषाको ध्वनि परिचय, नेपाल राजकीय प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठान, काठमाडौँ ।
- Schmidt, R. L. (1993) A Practical Dictionary of Modern Nepali.
- Turner, R. L. (1931) A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language.
- Clements, G.N. & Khatiwada, R. (2007). “Phonetic realization of contrastively aspirated affricates in Nepali.” In Proceedings of ICPhS XVI (Saarbrücken, 6–10 August 2007), 629- 632. 
- Hutt, M. & Subedi, A. (2003) Teach Yourself Nepali.
- Khatiwada, R. (2009), Nepali. Journal of International Phonetic Association, 39:3, 337-380.Cambridge University Press.
- Manders, C. J. (2007) नेपाली व्याकरणमा आधार A Foundation in Nepali Grammar.
- Nepali linguistics spoken in Darjeeling-Sikkim (Dr. Dashrath Kharel)
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