The Journey of Nepal Bhasa. From Decline to Revitalization

Thesis by: Maharjan, Resha

Nepal Bhasa is a rich and highly developed language with a vast literature in both ancient and modern times. It is the language of Newar, mostly local inhabitant of Kathmandu. The once administrative language has been replaced by Nepali (Khas) language and has a limited area where it can be used. The language has faced almost 100 years of suppression and now is listed in the definitely endangered language list of UNESCO. Various revitalization programs have been brought up, but with limited success. This main goal of this thesis on Nepal Bhasa is to find the actual reason behind the fall of this language and hesitation of the people who know Nepal Bhasa to use it. Simultaneously, it tries to find the ways to revitalize the language. To find the main reason for the weakening of this language, I conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews to elicit the view of Newar people on this topic. A survey was conducted with the same purpose. With the help of my primary and secondary data I prove that due to the Linguistic hegemony of Nepali language, supported by Nepal’s government, the area of Nepal Bhasa is curtailed hence leading it to the verge of extinction. The study also reveals how the government maintains the hegemony of Nepali language through its biased policy. At the end I present ways to revitalization as per the view of informants.

Thesis available