Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by about 130 million people
mainly in West Punjab in Pakistan and in East Punjab in India. There are
also significant numbers of Punjabi speakers in the UK, Canada, the UAE,
the USA, Saudi Arabia and Australia. Punjabi descended from the Shauraseni
language of medieval northern India and became a distinct language during
the 11th century.
In India Punjabi is written with the Gurmukhi
(ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ) alphabet, while in
Pakistan it is written with a version of the Urdu alphabet known as
مکھی). The written standard for Punjabi in
both India and Pakistan is known as Majhi (ਮਾਝੀ/
ماجھ), which is named after the Majha region
Punjabi at a glance
Native name: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ / پنجابی [pʌnˈdʒɑːbi]
Alternative names: Panjabi
Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central
Number of speakers: c. 130 million
Spoken in: India, Pakistan, the UK, USA, UAE, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Australia
First written: 16th century
Writing system: Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi scripts
Status: official status in the Indian states of Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, and Delhi; secondary officially recognized language in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and West Bengal; and in the Pakistani provinces of Punjab, Azad Kashmir, Islamabad Capital Territory, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand
Punjabi is one of India's 22 official languages and it is the first
official language in East Punjab. In Pakistan Punjabi is the second
most widely-spoken language but has no official status.
Gurmukhi script (ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ)
The Gurmukhi alphabet developed from the Landa alphabet and was
standardised during the 16th century by Guru Angad Dev Ji, the second
Sikh guru. The name Gurmukhi means "from the mouth of the Guru"
and comes from the Old Punjabi word guramukhī.
Type of writing system: syllabic alphabet
Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines
Used to write: Punjabi
Consonants have an inherent vowel. Diacritics, which can appear above,
below, before or after the consonant they belong to, are used to change
the inherent vowel.
When they appear at the beginning of a syllable, vowels are written
as independent letters.
When certain consonants occur together, special conjunct symbols
are used which combine the essential parts of each letter.
Punjabi is a tonal language with three tones: a deep-rising tone,
a high-falling tone and a mid tone. The letters ঘ (gha), ঝ
(jha), ঢ (ḍha), ধ (dha) and ভ (bha) have a
a deep-rising tone when in initial position, and when in medial position
when they are pronounced are unaspirated voiceless stops. When in final
position they are pronounced with a high-falling tone. Other letters are
pronounced with the mid tone.
The Shahmukhi alphabet is a version of the Urdu alphabet
used to write Punjabi in Pakistan. It is normally written in Nastaʿlīq
style and has been used since the second half of the 20th century. The name Shahmukhi
means "from the King's mouth" The chart below shows the Shahmuki script with Gurmukhi equivalents
Type of writing system: alphabet
Direction of writing: right to left in horizontal lines
Used to write: Punjabi
The sounds ñ (ਞ), ng (ਙ), ṇ (ਣ) and nh (ੰ/ં) are all written with ں (noon ghunna). In initial and medial positions they are written with ن.
ے (bari ye) is only found in the final position, when writing the sounds e (ਏ) or æ (ਐ), and in initial and medial positions, it takes the form of ي.
Short vowels are written with: َ (ਅ), ُ (ਉ), ِ (ਇ): a, u, i.
The chart below shows the Shahmuki script with Gurmukhi equivalents
Sample text in Punjabi (Gurmukhi alphabet)
Sample text in Punjabi (Shahmukhi alphabet)
Sārā manukhkhī parivār āpaṇī mahimā, śān ate hakkāṃ de pakhkhoṃ janama toṃ hī āzād hai ate sute sippa sāre lok barābar han. Unhāṃ sabhanā nūṃ tarak ate zamīr dī saugāt silī hoī hai ate unhāṃ nūṃ bharātarībhāv dī bhāvanā rakhadiāṃ āpas vica vicaraṇā cāhīdā hai.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)