By NLRC Staff, December 16, 2010, Category: Language
We congratulate Nepal Academy for publishing the seventh edition of its dictionary. The Academy's dictionary, which is the official dictionary for the Nepali language, is one of the most important documents for the Nepali language and continues to be the authoritative document in the discipline.
About Nepali dictionaries
The first published Nepali dictionary is considered to be Ralph Lilley Turner's dictionary, A comparative and etymological dictionary of the Nepali language, published in 1931 in London. Unlike other Nepali dictionaries mentioned in this section, Turner's dictionary was a Nepali-to-English dictionary. After Turner's dictionary was published, many efforts started to publish a Nepali dictionary, with definitions also in Nepali. After a Nepali dictionary from Nepali Bhasa Prakasini Samiti, a publishing company in Kathmandu at the time, Balkrishna Sharma published another Nepali dictionary, Nepali Shabdakosh, from Nepal Academy (then Royal Nepal Academy) circa 1956. Sharma's dictionary, however, was not published again.
Nepal Academy started working on a comprehensive Nepali dictionary circa 1976, bringing Nepali language experts together, which consisted of many professors from Tribhuvan University, Nepal's leading university at the time in Nepali language research and teaching. In 1983, the Academy published its first comprehensive Nepali-to-Nepali dictionary, Nepali Brihat Shabdakosh, in Kathmandu, which continues to be the official dictionary of the Nepali language.
The dictionary was updated eighteen years later when its fifth edition was published. In the update, some old forms of words were removed and new words added, words and their alternate forms appeared in one entry, and minor errors from the previous edition were corrected.
The political transition, including the abolition of monarchy in 2007, Nepal becoming a republic in 2008, and the restructuring of the different state organs including the Academy affected the regular functioning of the Academy, including the publication of newer editions of the dictionary. The transition also renamed the Academy from Royal Nepal Academy to Nepal Academy. The delay in publishing newer editions of the dictionary created a shortage of its printed copies in the market. Under a new structure that followed the political transition, the Academy decided to publish the next edition of the dictionary as its earliest opportunity. Subsequently, the seventh edition of the dictionary was published in 2010 with minor updates that included addition of some new words and rewriting of some definitions to make them more relevant.
Use of the official Nepali dictionary at NLRC
The history of written Nepali dates back to over a thousand years. In Nepal, the language started as a regional language but it has now become the lingua franca of Nepal connecting Nepali communities that speak different regional languages. The official language of the Nepali government, the Nepali language is also one of the officially recognized languages in India. The growing number of Nepalis outside of Nepal has meant that speakers of the language are not concentrated in one part of the world. Today, Nepali is being taught at various universities around the world. The advancement in technology has provided opportunities to effectively promote the language in the digital medium.
In this context where the language is being used from such a geographically diverse group, it is important to maintain an official document that everyone can refer to. The official Nepali dictionary is one such important document. The reliance on such documents also comes with a need to update them on a regular basis to reflect the dynamic aspect of the Nepali language. With the advancement in science and technology, Nepali is inheriting a lot of loanwords and at the same there is a need to preserve and promote the original Nepali words. We appreciate Nepal Academy's efforts to take initiatives to update the dictionary to address such changing scenarios.
At Nepali Language Resource Center, NLRC, we rely heavily on the official Nepali dictionary from Nepal Academy. As soon as a new edition is published, we use the latest edition for any updates in our products or services. In a parallel effort, we also start updating the older data that have been deprecated in the newer edition. The dataset that powers our applications and that go through a manual verification against the dictionary during data entry can be taken as an example. When the seventh edition of the dictionary became available, we stopped using the earlier edition and started using the latest edition as the reference.
With the products and services we offer, NLRC is continually searching for insights on the usage of the Nepali language and the ways to make the language easy to use in the digital medium. On a regular basis, NLRC shares such insights with the Nepali language community. In the case of the official dictionary, along with such insights, we also share our findings from simple things like noting the unintentional typos in the document to general things like providing information on most frequently words, new words, etc. We hope such information will come in handy during the next update of the dictionary.