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 (ab 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 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.
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.
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.
The chart below shows the Shahmuki script with Gurmukhi equivalents
Information about the Shahmukhi / Punjabi alphabet (in Punjabi)
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.
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
Online Punjabi lessons and other learning resources
Learn Punjabi and Hindi Online
Online collections of Punjabi phrases
Online Punjabi dictionaries
Punjabilok - Punjabi news, history, language, etc
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