Published February 23, 2018
This video was recorded by Daniel Bogre Udell in New York City, USA. Newari, also known as Newar, is spoken by as many as 850,000 people in central Nepal. A literary language since at least the Medieval era, Newari emerged as a language of government by the 14th century CE and remained so through the mid-1800s. In the early 20th century, a shift in Nepal’s political landscape ushered in a set of challenges for Newari speakers, with the onset of discriminatory language policies that lasted through the country’s transition to democracy. Though Newari speakers continue to face some challenges in preserving their language for future generations, the political situation has improved: today, Newari is recognized as a regionally official language by the government of Nepal. A member of the Sino-Tibetan linguistic family, Newari shares closer roots with Tibetan than Nepali, an Indo-European language. Nonetheless, the close historical proximity of Newari and Nepali speakers has facilitated a degree of mutual influence.