Newar (Nepal Bhasa)
Austin Hale & Kedar P. Shrestha
Newar (known outside Nepal as Newari, but referred to by speakers as Nepal Bhasha) is spoken by half a million people, most of whom reside in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.
Newar is a Tibeto-Burman language influenced by centuries of contact with Indo-Aryan languages. As an Indospheric Tibeto-Burman language, Newar has many syntactic characteristics typical of South Asia: a somewhat flexible SOV clause order, a sentence structure typified by strings of medial clauses before a final finite clause. The freedom with which arguments can be omitted from a clause makes this an interesting language to investigate from the standpoint of referential density (Bickel Language 79.4:708-736 (2003). Newar has an auxiliary structure which makes grammatical use of semantically bleached lexical verbs to express directional, benefactive, aspectual, status, and honorifie modifications of the main verb. The process of grammaticalization is current and ongoing. One can still identify non-final verb forms that provide the bridge across which grammaticalization of lexical verbs as auxiliaries has been taking place. Newar (along with Tibetan) is also of interest as a language with a logophoric conjunct/disjunct verbal inflection, related to matters of evidentiality and the intentionality of the verb.
Newar is one of the few Tibeto-Burman languages (along with Tibetan and Burmese) to have produced a distinguished written literature. It is a relatively well documented language with extensive grammars and dictionaries of both Classical Newari and the modern language. This grammar deals with the language as it is used in Kathmandu and Patan. Most examples are drawn from a corpus of published Newar prose. The examples were chosen primarily to illustrate the grammatical workings of the language, but one often gets glimpses as well of the wit and chann of the contemporary masters of the language.
ISBN 9783895865251. Languages of the World/ Materials 256. 260 pp. 2006.