Nepali Orthography


Nepali orthography (Nepali Barna Binyas) includes a set of conventions for writing Nepali, including spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, Padyog Padbiyog (writing words together or separately).

Words used in Nepali can be broadly categorized into two groups - Nepali words and Sanskrit loanwords. Sanskrit loanwords, called Tatsam, are adopted from Sanskrit into Nepali without any modification. Nepali words primarily consist of words, called Tadbhav, that originated from Sanskrit but got modified as they finally made it to the Nepali language. Nepali words also include loanwords from sources other than Sanskrit.

An important orthographic distinction between these two groups is that the Nepali words are written using Nepali orthography rules, whereas the Sanskrit loanwords are written the same way as they are written in Sanskrit since they are adopted into Nepali without any modification. The Nepali orthography rules, compared to their Sanskrit counterparts, are much simpler making it easy to write all forms of Nepali words (primarily, words that originated from Sanskrit but got modified along the way and loanwords from sources other than Sanskrit.) In contrast to this, writing Sanskrit loanwords requires knowledge of additional Sanskrit orthography rules as they have to be written the same way as they are written in Sanskrit.

Nepali orthography has evolved over time. The conventions used at Nepali Language Resource Center are based on guidelines published by Nepal's language academy, Nepal Academy.

To take both writing systems into account, whenever applicable, the articles in this topic, have separate sections on conventions used to write Nepali words and conventions used to write Sanskrit loanwords.

Raswa Dirgha in Nepali

A vowel can occur either as an independent vowel letter or as a dependent vowel sign in combination with a consonant letter. See Alphabet and Writing System for more details. The two vowels /i/ and /u/ can also occur either as short vowels or long vowels. In Nepali, Raswa refers to the occurrence of such short vowels, इ, ि, उ and ु, and Dirgha to the occurrence of long vowels, ई, ी, ऊ and ू, in an orthographic syllable.

This section presents a guide to using Raswa and Dirgha in writing Nepali.

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