Newar is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken mainly in the Kathmandu Valley and nearby parts of Nepal. In 2011 there were about 879,600 speakers of Newar in Nepal. There are also about 14,000 speakers of Newar in northern India, mainly in Bihar, Sikkim and West Bengal states, and a few in Khasa (Dram / Zhangmu) a town in Tibet on the border with Nepal.
Newar is also known as Newari, Nepal Bhasa (Nepal language), Newa Bhaye, Newaah Bhaae, Newaah Bhaaye, Newah or Newal Bhaye. In Nepal it is taught in schools, used in the media and literature, and has official status in Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
Newar words first appeared in writing in Sanskrit texts during the 5th century AD. Texts in Newar started to appear in the 12th century, written on palm-leaf manuscripts in the Nepal Lipi (Nepal Script). Newar became an administrative language in the 14th century, and was used on public notices, stone inscriptions, and in books. Much literature in Newar was produced between the early 16th and the mid-19th centuries, including poetry, stories and dramas. The language was also used in official and religious texts. Since 1847, however, use of Newar in writing has declined, and at times it has been officially disapproved of and efforts have been made to abolish its use. There was oppoisition to this, and those who published in Newar risked imprisionment at times.
After democracy was established in Nepal in 1951, restrcitions on the use of Newar were removed. Many books, magazines and newspapers in Newar were published, and the language was used in schools and colleges.
In 1960, however, democracy fizzled out, and languages other than Nepali were suppressed. Use of Newar on the radio was banned, and its use was discouraged in schools. After 1990 use of Newar, and other languages, in literature, education and the media began to increase.
Newar is generally written with the Devanagari script nowadays. The Newa (Prachalit Nepal) script is also used to some extent. In the past it was written with Nepal Lipi (Nepal script), Ranjana script, and a number of other scripts.
Online Nepal Bhasa lessons, dictionary and other resources
Online Newari dictionary
Sandhya Times - online Newari newspaper
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