Retired Nepalese economist Shankar Raj Pathak has a unique take on the English language: He considers it a necessity for his nation to escape a cycle of poverty that makes Nepal one of the poorest nation in Asia. English can bring advances in medicine, engineering, computers and other technology to the Himalayan nation best known for backpacker tourists and mountaineer assaults on Mount Everest, Mr. Pathak says.
“Without English, you cannot go even an inch,” he said in a recent interview.
“It is a link language. You can use this language to have access for different fields outside Nepal, or internationally. For example, scientific developments, innovations and inventions in the technical area — if you don’t know the English language, it will be difficult to know developments taking place outside the world. “
Mr. Pathak, 75, spent the past decade, including eight years since retiring as vice chancellor of Tribhuvan University in Katmandu, compiling the largest-ever English-to-Nepalese dictionary. The 3½-inch-thick, 7-pound single volume would be hard to miss on any library’s reference bookshelf with its blazing red and yellow jacket. Inside it contains more than 130,000 words that the professor collected from sources including news magazines Time and Newsweek; Shakespeare and Milton; and what must have been a huge assortment of scientific journals.