Newar - Orientation

Identification. Most likely, the word "Newar," in use since the seventeenth century, is derived from the word "Nepal" and originally denoted the residents of the Kathmandu (or Nepal) Valley without regard to their ethnic affiliation.

Location. Today, more than half of the Newars live in the Kathmandu Valley located at 27° 30′ to 27° 50′ N and 85° 10′ to 85° 30′ E. Most others live in commercial or administrative centers in the hills and the Terai Plain.

Demography. According to the census of Nepal in 1981, the number of people speaking Newari as their mother tongue was 448,746 (3 percent of the total population of Nepal). Newars are also found in Darjeeling, Sikkim, and Bhutan and lived in Lhasa, Tibet, before 1959.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Newari language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Family. It has many classifiers and postpositions but is not tonal. Having a long history of contact with Indic languages such as Sanskrit, Maithili, and Nepali, it has many loanwords, especially from Sanskrit. The standard Newari is the Kathmandu dialect. Others are the Bhaktapur, Dolakha, and Pahari dialects. Newari is written in Devanagari script. There were several old Newari scripts derived from Indian alphabets.

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