Retroflexion in Nepali

  • Rajesh Khatiwada Department of South Asia Himalaya at Inalco, Paris, France
Keywords: Retroflexion, Nepali, platography, linguography, apicality


Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language spoken in Nepal along with India and Bhutan, and some parts of Burma, possesses three coronal stops (2 plosives and 1 affricate). Retroflexion is traditionally considered as the distinctive feature between two different types of plosives. Though retroflexion in Nepali is considered- like in the case of other Indo-Aryan languages- a fundamental distinctive articulatory parameter (Bhat 1973, Ladefoged and Bhaskararao 1983, Ladefoged and Maddieson 1996), Pokharel (1989), however, claims that there is no retroflex category in Nepali, because the “so-called” (sic.) Nepali retroflex stops are not produced with the “tongue tip curling back” as it is described in the traditional grammar. In this work, I have tried to show that this claim is just one side of the story and that the “retroflex” as a phonetic and phonological category “does exist” in Nepali. Based on two different palatographic and linguographic studies (of 9 speakers – four females and five males- of Nepal) I have presented a different scenario than that of Pokharel, without completely denying his claim.


Author Biography

Rajesh Khatiwada, Department of South Asia Himalaya at Inalco, Paris, France

Dr. Rajesh Khatiwada ( studied linguistics in different universities in France. He did his PhD dissertation on phonetics and phonology interface from University of Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris. He works primarily in the domain of phonetics and phonology. His interest involves language documentation and linguistic typology of South Asian languages. He is currently a Lecturer at Department of South Asia Himalaya at Inalco, Paris.

How to Cite
Khatiwada, R. (2019). Retroflexion in Nepali. Gipan, 4, 19-29.