Nepali Transliteration & Transcription

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The Transliteration and Transcription of Nepali

Contributors: David Germano, Mark Turin

Nepali is written in the Devanagari (or “Nagari” script), which is also used for Hindi, Marathi, and Sanskrit. Nepali Devanagari has 11 vowels and 33 consonants and is largely phonetic, which means that the pronunciation closely resembles the writing system.

The US Library of Congress and the American Library Association transcription scheme for Nepali can be found documented on the external link: ALA-LC romanization page for Hindi, since they make no distinction between the two.

However, there are a few differences in practice:

  1. In accordance with pronunciation, the inherent “a” vowel is not always written. Examples:
    1. nepāl, not nepāla
    2. gorkha, not gorakha
  2. Nasalized consonants are usually transliterated as a tilde (~) preceding the consonant rather than as an ṇ, ṃ, ṁ, or ṅ. Example (above the first “a”):
    1. ãdhyāro

The transliteration of Nepali in fact is fairly close to its pronunciation, so there is not a pressing need for a separate transcription system of the sounds of Nepali. Typically transcription will in fact simply be a simplification of the transliterated form which eliminates diacritic marks by removing the macron indicating long vowels, or converts ś into “sh,” and so forth.

Provided for unrestricted use by the external link: Tibetan and Himalayan Library