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Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ / پنجابی)

Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken mainly in Punjab Province in Pakistan, and in Punjab state in India. There are also Punjabi speakers in the Kenya, Singapore, UK, Canada, the UAE, the USA, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

The names Punjabi and Punjab come from the Persian words for five (panj - پنج) and water (an آب), and refers to the five major eastern tributaties of the Indus River that flow through Punjab: the Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas.

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 descended from the Shauraseni language of medieval northern India and became a distinct language during the 11th century. There are two main varieties of Punjabi: Eastern Punjabi and Western Punjabi, each of which has a number of dialects.

Eastern Punjabi is spoken by about 32.6 million people (in 2011), mainly in India in the states of Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan. There are also speakers of Eastern Punjabi in Nairobi in Kenya, and in Singapore.

Western Punjabi is spoken by about 92.7 million people (in 2015), mainly in Punjab province in Pakistan, and also in Punjab state and Jammu and Kashmir state in India. It is also known as Lahanda, Lahnda or Lahndi.

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 Shahmukhi (شاہ مکھی). The written standard for Punjabi in both India and Pakistan is known as Majhi (ਮਾਝੀ/ ماجھ), which is named after the Majha region of Punjab.

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 alphabet (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.

Notable Features

Gurmukhi vowels

Other symbols

Other Gurmukhi symbols


Gurmukhi numerals

More numbers in Punjabi

Shahmukhi alphabet (شاہ مکھی)

The Shahmukhi alphabet is a version of the Persian alphabet used to write Punjabi in Pakistan. It is normally written in Nastaʿlīq style and has been used since the 11th century. The name Shahmukhi means "from the King's mouth". The Shahmukhi alphabet currently used was developed in Pakistan in 2016. It is also known as the Punjabi alphabet. The chart below shows the Shahmuki script with Gurmukhi equivalents.

Notable Features

The chart below shows the Shahmuki script with Gurmukhi equivalents

Shahmukhi script

Information about the Shahmukhi / Punjabi alphabet (in Punjabi)

Sample text in Eastern Punjabi (Gurmukhi alphabet)

ਸਾਰਾ ਮਨੁੱਖੀ ਪਰਿਵਾਰ ਆਪਣੀ ਮਹਿਮਾ, ਸ਼ਾਨ ਅਤੇ ਹੱਕਾਂ ਦੇ ਪੱਖੋਂ ਜਨਮ ਤੋਂ ਹੀ ਆਜ਼ਾਦ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਸੁਤੇ ਸਿੱਧ ਸਾਰੇ ਲੋਕ ਬਰਾਬਰ ਹਨ । ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਸਭਨਾ ਨੂੰ ਤਰਕ ਅਤੇ ਜ਼ਮੀਰ ਦੀ ਸੌਗਾਤ ਮਿਲੀ ਹੋਈ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਭਰਾਤਰੀਭਾਵ ਦੀ ਭਾਵਨਾ ਰਖਦਿਆਂ ਆਪਸ ਵਿਚ ਵਿਚਰਣਾ ਚਾਹੀਦਾ ਹੈ ।

Sample text in Western Punjabi (Shahmukhi alphabet)

سارے انسان آزاد تے حقوق تے عزت دے لحاظ نال برابر پیدا ہوندے نیں ۔ ۔ اوہ عقل سمجھ تے چنگے مندے دی پچھان تے احساس رکھدے نے ایس واسطے اوہناں نوں اک دوجے نال بھائی چارے والا سلوک کرنا چاہی دا اے ۔ ۔.


Sārā manukhkhī parivār āpaṇī mahimā, śān ate hakkāņ de pakhkhoņ janama toņ hī āzād hai ate sute sidh sāre lok barābar han. Unhāņ sabhanā nūņ tarak ate zamīr dī saugāt milī hoī hai ate unhāņ nūņ bharātarībhāv dī bhāvanā rakhadiāņ āpas vic vicaraṇā cāhīdā hai.

A recording of this text by Asha of Punjabi Hindi Online.com


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)

Some information provided by Rana Zubair, a student and writer from Sahiwal district of Punjab in Pakistan.

Information about Punjabi (in English) | Information about Punjabi (in Punjabi) | Phrases | Tower of Babel | Learning materials


Information about Punjabi

Information about Gurmukhi

Information about Shahmukhi

Online Punjabi lessons and other learning resources

Learn Punjabi and Hindi Online

Online collections of Punjabi phrases

Online Punjabi dictionaries

Free Gurmukhi fonts

Online Punjabi Radio

Online Punjabi news

Punjabilok - Punjabi news, history, language, etc

Indo-Aryan languages

Awadhi, Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Chakma, Dhivehi, Domari, Fiji Hindi, Garhwali, Gujarati, Hajong, Hindi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Kotia, Kutchi, Magahi, Maithili, Marathi, Marwari, Modi, Nepali, Odia, Palula, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Rohingya, Romani, Saraiki, Sarnámi Hindustani, Sindhi, Sinhala, Shina, Sourashtra, Sugali, Sylheti, Torwali, Urdu

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas

Other languages written with the Arabic and Gurmukhi scripts

If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.

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