Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nepal Bhasha 101.5

Yesterday I reviewed some of my Nepali phrases with the sweet, shy kids who work at my guest house, Sunny Guest House in Bhaktapur.

In addition to saying "Nepalis are generally easygoing," I could have added, "and generally too humble and polite to correct you even if you are using their language incorrectly." Turns out some phrases I have used with success had unecessary or inappropriate words tacked on.

It's confusing, because the people are generally soooo polite, any attempt at all to speak Nepali is normally met with "you are speaking very good Nepali!"

Even when it's not exactly true.

This is in sharp contrast to India, which is more like France in that you'll get jumped on instantly and in no uncertain terms for language infractions.

However, we did get one bit of Viewer mail that had some more aggressive suggestions for learning Nepali. Does sarcasm usually work when attempting to assist someone genuinely interested in your culture, I wonder? Very Indian of you.

....or, perhaps I should attend school in the West and spend thousands of dollars to learn the correct attitude with which to approach another culture. One must be carefully taught to interact with natives, after all. Genuine, innocent unbridled enthusiasm not welcome in high-brow circles.

Fortunately, as I said, most (I have met a lot of them in four years) Nepalis are delighted at a bideshi's attempts to learn the language.

Phrase for today: "Ma Sunny Guest house maa Baschhu." (I am staying at Sunny Guest House.)


c said...

well I think you speak splendid nepali.

Madhukar said...

Keep it going Siren, we are loving every bit of it (yes the lighter side, after all the clashes).

And the sarcasm thing, i think you don't even have to react at it.

:) Mk

Bryce said...

Here is a great website where you can practice reading Nepal Bhasa:

नेपाल भाषा wiki browser

Sirensongs said...

Hi Bryce -- thanks for a constructive comment. In fact, I think that the Nepali in this post is so poor (!) I will take it down. For another thing, Nepali bhasha is more correctly used to refer to Newar language. I've learned a couple things since April...
thanks again.