(From 24 July 2013)
Only two days in and my Nepali language skills have grown exponentially. Learning how to write devanagari (deh-van-AG-ar-e) script reminds me of learning to count in other bases. Not knowing the basics- like the alphabet- is humbling, but already understanding the larger concept makes progress exhilaratingly quick.Today we learned our first phonemes: a, aa, ka, kaa, ma, and maa. There’s a picture below with some of the devanagari characters, the English letter(s) they represent, and an English word where the beginning sound is a good approximation of the phoneme. (Keep in mind that I'm just learning to write the characters, let alone write them on the touch screen of my computer!)
The best part is learning the Nepali words that typically go with each letter. A is for anaar (pomegranate), AA is for aama (mother), KA is for kamal (lotus flower), and MA is for maachhaa (fish). It’s a weird concept to wrap your head around.
Besides learning how to read and write, we have also done a lot of work with listening and speaking. Mostly key phrases and simple conversations, but even a few words in Nepali can help you get the lower “local prices” as opposed to the much higher amounts casually paid by unassuming tourists. Someday when the internet is being cooperative I will try to upload a video so you can hear ali ali (a little) Nepali.