Punjabi language

Punjabi Language
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, پنجابی, Panjābī
Punjabi gurmukhi shahmukhi devanagari.png
The word "Punjabi" in Gurmukhi, Shahmukhi and Devanagari
Spoken in

By local population in:

Migrant speakers in:
 United Kingdom
 United Arab Emirates
 Saudi Arabia
 United States
Region Punjab
Native speakers 28 million  (1991)[1]
Language family
Writing system Gurmukhi in India and among the Indian Punjabi diaspora
Shahmukhi in Pakistan and among the Pakistani Punjabi diaspora[2]
Official status
Official language in  India (Indian state of Punjab)
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 pa
ISO 639-2 pan
ISO 639-3 pan
Indic script
This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts. More...

Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ in Gurmukhi script and پنجابی in Shahmukhi/Perso-Arabic script) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region (north western India and in north eastern Pakistan). For Sikhs, the Punjabi language stands as the official language in which all ceremonies take place. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the most spoken language. Punjabi can be subdivided into two varieties, known as Eastern Punjabi and Western Punjabi.

According to the Ethnologue 2005 estimate,[1] there are 88 million native speakers of the Punjabi language, which makes it approximately the 10th most widely spoken language in the world. According to the 2008 Census of Pakistan,[3] there are 76,335,300 native Punjabi speakers in Pakistan and according to the 2001 Census of India, there are 29,102,477 Punjabi speakers in India.[4]

Punjabi language has many different dialects, spoken in the different sub-regions of greater Punjab. Since the Partition of Punjab in 1947, Punjabi spoken in the two countries has deviated from each other, with Indians relying more heavily on Sanskrit vocabulary through Hindi.[citation needed] The Majhi dialect is Punjabi's prestige dialect. This dialect is considered as textbook Punjabi and is spoken in the historical region of Majha,[5] centralizing in Lahore and Amritsar.

Along with Lahnda and Western Pahari languages, Punjabi is unusual among modern Indo-European languages because it is a tonal language.[6][7][8][9]



Indo-Aryan languages, grouping according to SIL Ethnologue, Punjabi is among the languages of the central zone:
  Central zone
  Northern zone
  Northwestern zone
  Eastern zone
  Southern zone
  Insular (Southern)

Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language like many other modern languages of South Asia. It is a descendant of the Shauraseni language, which was the chief language of medieval northern India.[10][11][12]

Punjabi emerged as an independent language in the 11th century.[citation needed] The first traces of Punjabi can be found in the works of the Nath yogis Gorakshanath and Charpatnath in the 9th and 10th century. The Punjabi literary tradition is popularly seen to commence with Fariduddin Ganjshakar (Baba Farid) (1173–1266), many ancient Sufi Muslim and later Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru of Sikhism. The early Punjabi literature was principally spiritual in nature and has had a very rich oral tradition. The poetry written by Sufi saints has been the folklore of the Punjab and is still sung with great love in any part of Punjab.[citation needed]

Between 1600 and 1850, Muslim Sufi, Sikh and Hindu writers composed many works in Punjabi. The most famous Punjabi Sufi poet was Baba Bulleh Shah (1680–1757), who wrote in the Kafi style.[citation needed] Bulleh Shah practiced the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry established by poets like Shah Hussain (1538–1599), Sultan Bahu (1629–1691), and Shah Sharaf (1640–1724). His lifespan also overlapped with the legendary Punjabi poet Waris Shah (1722–1798), of Heer Ranjha fame. Waris Shah's rendition of the tragic love story of Heer Ranjha is among the most popular medieval Punjabi works. Other popular tragic love stories are Sohni Mahiwal, Mirza Sahiba and Sassi Punnun. Shah Mohammad's Jangnama is another fine piece of poetry that gives an eyewitness account of the First Anglo-Sikh War that took place after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The linguist George Abraham Grierson in his multivolume Linguistic Survey of India (1904–1928) used the word "Punjabi" to refer to several languages spoken in the Punjab region: the term "Western Punjabi" (ISO 639-3 pnb) covered dialects (now designated separate languages) spoken to the west of Montgomery and Gujranwala districts, while "Eastern Punjabi" referred to what is now simply called Punjabi (ISO 639-3 pan)[13] After Saraiki, Potwari and Hindko (earlier categorized as "Western Punjabi") started to be counted as separate languages, the percentage of Pakistanis recorded as Punjabi speakers was reduced from 59% to 44%. Although not an official language, Punjabi is still the predominant language of Pakistan.

Modern Punjabi is not the predominant language of the Sikh scriptures (which though in Gurmukhi script are written in several languages).[14] A few portions of Guru Granth Sahib use the Punjabi dialects, but the book is interspersed with several other languages including Brajbhasha, Khariboli, Sanskrit and Persian.[15] Guru Gobind Singh, the last Guru of the Sikhs composed Chandi di Var in Punjabi, although most of his works are composed in other languages like Braj bhasha and Persian.

However, in the 20th century, the Punjabi-speaking Sikhs started attaching importance to the Punjabi written in the Gurmukhi script as a symbol of their distinct identity.[14] The Punjabi identity was affected by the communal sentiments in the 20th century. Bhai Vir Singh, a major figure in the movement for the revival of Punjabi literary tradition, started insisting that the Punjabi language was the exclusive preserve of the Sikhs.[16] After the partition of India, the Punjab region was divided between Pakistan and India. Although the Punjabi people formed the 2nd biggest linguistic group in Pakistan after Bengali, Urdu was declared the national language of Pakistan, and Punjabi did not get any official status. The Indian Punjab, which then also included what are now Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, became Hindi-majority.

In the 1960s, the Shiromani Akali Dal proposed "Punjabi Suba", a state for Punjabi speakers in India. Paul R. Brass, the Professor Emeritus of Political Science and South Asian Studies at the University of Washington, opines that the Sikh leader Fateh Singh tactically stressed the linguistic basis of the demand, while downplaying the religious basis for the demand—a state where the distinct Sikh identity could be preserved.[14] The movement for a Punjabi Suba led to trifurcation of Indian Punjab into three states: Punjab (India), Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Modern Punjabi

Modern Punjabi consists of several dialects and is rich in their use in Punjab. Majhi (Standard Punjabi) is the written standard for Punjabi in both parts of Punjab. Since the partition of the Punjab in 1947, the Punjabi language as spoken in India has replaced numerous Persian and Arabic loan words (acquired via Urdu) with words of Sanskrit origin, due to the domination of Hindi instead of Urdu in India.[citation needed] In addition, recent modernization and industrialization has witnessed an English influence in both parts of Punjab, as Punjab has undergone Science and Technology development. "Modern Punjabi" uses the Gurmukhī script in the Indian Punjab, which is specifically developed for the Punjabi language. Pakistani Punjabis, however, use the older Shahmukhī script, which is a modified Persian-Nasta’liq script. These two scripts are considered the official scripts of the Punjabi language. In India, Punjabi is one of the 22 languages with official status in India. It is the first official language of Punjab (India). In Pakistan, even though Punjabi has no official status, it is the most spoken language and is the provincial language of Punjab (Pakistan) the second largest and the most populous province of Pakistan.

The famous Punjabi writers from Pakistan include:

The famous Indian Punjabi poets in modern times are:

Geographic distribution


Administrative Divisions of Punjab Pakistan.

Punjabi is the most spoken language of Pakistan. Punjabi is spoken as first language by over 44.15% of Pakistanis. Punjabis comprise the largest ethnic group in the country. Punjabis are dominant in key institutions such as business, agriculture, industry, government, army, navy, air force, and police which is why about 70% of Pakistanis can understand or speak Punjabi.

The Punjabi speakers in Pakistan are composed of various social groups, castes and economic groups. Muslim Rajputs, Jat, Tarkhans, Dogars, Gujjars, Gakhars, Khatri or Punjabi Shaikhs, Kambohs, and Arains, comprise the main tribes in the north, while Awans, Gilanis[disambiguation needed ], Gardezis, Syeds and Quraishis are found in the south. There are Pashtun tribes like the Niazis and the lodhis, which are very much integrated into Punjabi village life. People in major urban areas have diverse origins, with many post-Islamic settlers tracing their origin to Afghanistan, Persia, Turkey, Arabia, Indus Valley civilization (Harappa and Mohenjo Daro) and Central Asia.

Census History of Punjabi Speakers in Pakistan
Year Population of Pakistan Percentage Punjabi Speakers
1951 33,740,167 57.08% 22,632,905
1961 42,880,378 56.39% 28,468,282
1972 65,309,340 56.11% 43,176,004
1981 84,253,644 48.17% 40,584,980
1998 132,352,279 44.15% 58,433,431

Source: [17] In the National Census of Pakistan (1981) Saraiki, Pahari-Potohari and Hindko (Before categorized as "Western Punjabi") got the status of separate languages thats why number of Punjabi speakers got decreased.

Provinces of Pakistan by Punjabi speakers (2008)
Rank Division Punjabi speakers Percentage
Pakistan 76,335,300 44.15%
1 Punjab 70,671,704 75.23%
2 Sindh 3,592,261 6.99%
3 Islamabad Capital Territory 1,343,625 71.66%
4 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 396,085 0.97%
5 Balochistan 318,745 2.52%
6 Federally Administered Tribal Areas 12,880 0.23%


Districts of Indian Punjab along with their headquarters

Punjabi is spoken as a native language by over 2.85% of Indians. Punjabi is the official language of the Indian state of Punjab.

The Punjabis found in India are composed of various ethnic groups, tribal groups, social groups (caste) and economic groups. Some major sub-groups of Punjabis in India include Ahirs, Arora, Bania, Bhatia, Brahmin, Chamar, Gujjar, Kalals/Ahluwalias, Kambojs, Khatris, Lobanas, Jats, Rajputs, Saini, Sood and Tarkhan. Most of these groups can be further sub-divided into clans and family groups.

Most of East Punjab's Muslims (in today's states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh) left for West Punjab in 1947. However, a small community still exists today, mainly in Malerkotla, the only Muslim princely state among the seven that formed the erstwhile Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU). The other six (mostly Sikh) states were: Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot, Kapurthala and Kalsia.

Census History of Punjabi Speakers In India
Year Population of India Punjabi Speakers in India Percentage
1971 548,159,652 14,108,443 2.57%
1981 665,287,849 19,611,199 2.95%
1991 838,583,988 23,378,744 2.79%
2001 1,028,610,328 29,102,477 2.83%
2011 1,210,193,422 33,038,280 2.73%

The Punjabi Diaspora

Southall Station (United Kingdom) sign in Gurmukhī alphabets of Punjabi language.

Punjabi is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where Punjabis have emigrated in large numbers, such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom (where it is the second most commonly used language[18]) and Canada, where in recent times Punjabi has grown fast and has now become the fourth most spoken language.[19]

List in order of native speakers

Countries by number of Punjabi speakers
Rank Country First language
1  Pakistan 76,335,300[20]
2  India 29,109,672[21]
3  United Kingdom 200,000[citation needed]
4  Canada 365,000[citation needed]
5  United Arab Emirates 200,000[citation needed]
6  United States 200,000[citation needed]
7  Saudi Arabia 100,000[citation needed]
8  Hong Kong 100,000[citation needed]
9  Malaysia 185,000[citation needed]
10  South Africa 30,000[citation needed]
11  Burma 120,000[citation needed]
12  France 90,000[citation needed]
13  Greece 80,000[citation needed]
14  Thailand 75,000[citation needed]
15  Japan 75,000[citation needed]
16  Mauritius 70,000[citation needed]
17  Singapore 70,000[citation needed]
18  Oman 68,000[citation needed]
19  Libya 65,000[citation needed]
20  Bahrain 60,000[citation needed]
21  Kenya 55,000[citation needed]
22  Australia 50,000[citation needed]
23  Tanzania 45,000[citation needed]
24  Kuwait 40,000[citation needed]
25  Germany 35,000[citation needed]

Dialects: linguistic classification

Dialects of Punjabi

In Indo-Aryan dialectology generally, the presence of transitional dialects creates problems in assigning some dialects to one or another "language".[22][23] However, over the last century there has usually been little disagreement when it comes to defining the core region of the Punjabi language. In modern India, the states are largely designed to encompass the territories of major languages with an established written standard. Thus Indian Punjab is the Punjabi language state (in fact, the neighboring state of Haryana, which was part of Punjab state in 1947, was split off from it because it is a Hindi speaking region).[citation needed] Some of its major urban centers are Ludhiana, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, and Patiala. In Pakistan, the Punjabi speaking territory spans the east-central districts of Punjab Province. Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faislabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Sialkot, Jhang, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Bahawalnagar, Multan, Jhelum and Gujrat. Lahore the historic capital of Punjab is the largest Punjabi speaking city in the world. Lahore has 86% native Punjabis of total population of the city. and Islamabad the Capital of Pakistan has 71% Native Punjabis of total population.

Major Punjabi dialects

The Majhi dialect is Punjabi's prestige dialect and spoken in the heart of Punjab where most of the Punjabi population lives.[citation needed] The Majhi dialect, the dialect of the historical region of Majha,[5] which spans the Lahore, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Okara, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat and to some extant in Jhelum District of Pakistani Punjab and Amritsar, Tarn Taran Sahib, and Gurdaspur Districts of the Indian State of Punjab.
The Shahpuri dialect is mainly spoken in Pakistani Punjab. It is named due to the town of Shahpur, currently in Sargodha district. This dialect has been spoken by the people of District Sargodha including Dera Chanpeer Shah, Khushab, Jhang, Mianwali, Attock, parts of Faisalabad (formerly Lyallpur), parts of Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalnagar, Chakwal, Mianwali, Sargodha, Khushab and Mandi Bahauddin districts.
Jhangochi dialect is spoken in Pakistani Punjab.Jaangli,Jhangvi,Rachnavi,Changvi and Chenavri are alternate names of this dialect.It is the oldest and most idiosyncratic dialect of the Punjabi. It is spoken throughout a widespread area, starting from Khanewal and Jhang at both ends of Ravi and Chenab to Gujranwala district. It then runs down to Bahawalnagar and Chishtian areas, on the banks of river Sutlej. This entire area has almost the same traditions, customs and culture. The Jhangochi dialect of Punjabi has several aspects that set it apart from other Punjabi variants. This area has a great culture and heritage, especially literary heritage, as it is credited with the creation of the famous epic romance stories of Heer Ranjha and Mirza Sahiba. It is spoken in the Bar areas of Punjab, i.e., areas whose names are often suffixed with 'Bar', for example Sandal Bar, Kirana Bar, Neeli Bar, Ganji Bar and also from Khanewal to Jhang includes Faisalabad and Chiniot.
This dialect is spoken in north-western Pakistan. mainly The area where Pothowari is spoken extends in the north from Muzaffarabad to as far south as Jhelum, Gujar Khan and Rawalpindi. [phr] 49,440 (2000 WCD). Murree Hills north of Rawalpindi, and east to Bhimber. Poonchi is east of Rawalakot. Potwari is in the plains around Rawalpindi. Alternate names: Potwari, Pothohari, Potohari, Chibhali, Dhundi-Kairali. Dialects: Pahari (Dhundi-Kairali), Potohari , Chibhali, Punchhi (Poonchi), Jhelumi, Mirpuri. Pahari literally translates as 'mountain' referring to a string of divergent dialects, some of which may be separate languages. Lexical similarity 76% to 83% among varieties called 'Pahari', 'Potwari', and some called 'Hindko' in Mansehra, Muzaffarabad, and Jammu. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Northern zone, Western Pahari.
The people of Pothohar speak Pothohari dialect. However, the people of Chakwal or the Dhanni area in particular do not speak Pothohari and are ethnologically not regarded as Potoharis. They speak a distinctive Chakwali or Dhanni dialect of Punjabi, which is closer to Shahpuri, a dialect spoken in the Shahpur-Salt Range area and also has a slight element of Saraiki and Pothohari.
Classified under Lahnda languages by many linguists; perhaps differs from Punjabi. Hindko dialect is spoken in north west Pakistani Punjab and North-West Frontier Province mainly this dialect is spoken in districts of Peshawar, Attock, Nowshehra, Mansehra, Balakot, Abbottabad and Murree and the lower half of Neelum Districtmirpur District saraialamgir and Muzafarabad.
Malwi spoken in the eastern part of Indian Punjab. Main areas are Ludhiana, Moga, Sangrur, Barnala, Faridkot, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mansa, Muktsar, Ambala, Bathinda, Ganganagar, Malerkotla, Ropar, Ferozepur. Malwa is the southern and central part of present day Indian Punjab. It also includes the Punjabi speaking northern areas of Haryana, viz. Ambala, Hissar, Sirsa, Kurukshetra etc. Not to be confused with the Malvi language, which shares its name.
Doabi spoken in Indian Punjab. The word "Do Aabi" means "the land between two rivers" and this dialects is spoken between the rivers of Beas and Sutlej. It includes Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur districts.
Powadh or Puadh or Powadha is a region of Punjab and parts of Haryana between the Satluj and Ghaggar rivers. The part lying south, south-east and east of Rupnagar adjacent to Ambala District (Haryana) is Powadhi. The Powadh extends from that part of the Rupnagar District which lies near Satluj up to the Ghaggar river in the east, which separates the states of Punjab and Haryana. Parts of Fatehgarh Sahib district, and parts of Patiala districts like Rajpura are also part of Powadh. The language is spoken over a large area in present Punjab as well as Haryana. In Punjab, Kharar, Kurali, Ropar, Nurpurbedi, Morinda, Pail, Rajpura, and Samrala are the areas where the Puadhi language is spoken and the area itself is claimed as including from Pinjore, Kalka to Bangar area in Hisar district which includes even Nabha and Patiala in it.
Although Dogri is generally considered a separate language having its own vocabulary, some sources consider it a dialect of Punjabi. It is spoken by about 3.5 million peoples in the Jammu region of India.
Saraiki or Multani is spoken in Pakistani Punjab.It perhaps differ more than any other dialect of Punjabi. It becomes more and more different as you move down south, as the influence of Sindhi increases. Saraiki itself is Sindhi word and means northern.It is now considered as separate language, instead of merely a dialect of Punjabi.Multani,Riasati,Thalochri and Derawali are sub-dialects of Saraiki.It is mostly spoken in southern and western districts of Punjab,which comprises Multan, Lodhran, Bahawalpur, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Layyah, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, southern and western parts of Khanewal,southern parts of Bahawalnagar and western parts of Khushab districts. It is also spoken by majority of population of Dera Ismail Khan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (خیبر پښتونخوا) province, kachi plain of Balochistan, northern parts of Sindh, and cities of Hyderabad and Karachi.
Punjabi University classification

Punjabi University, Patiala, State of Punjab, India takes a very liberal definition of Punjabi, the University has issued the following list of dialects of Punjabi:[24]

  • Awankari
  • Baar di Boli
  • Banwali
  • Bhattiani
  • Bherochi
  • Chacchi
  • Chakwali
  • Chambiali
  • Chenavri
  • Thalochri
  • Wajeerawadi

The "Lahnda" construct

The name "Punjab" means "5 waters" in Persian (panj ab) and refers to five major eastern tributaries of the Indus River. The historical Punjab region, now divided between Pakistan and India, is defined physiographically by the Indus River and these five tributaries. The bulk of the Panjab is located in Pakistan. One of the five, the Beas River, is a tributary of another, the Sutlej River, and lies entirely in present day India, well within the eastern half of historical Punjab.

The British linguist George Abraham Grierson classified Punjabi into two major groups of dialects,on the basis of similarities of some features between dialects in both groups.These groups are "western Punjabi" or Lahnda spoken north and west of the Punjab heartland, in the Indus valley itself and on the lower reaches of the other four tributaries (excluding the Beas River)and "eastern punjabi" spoken in central,and north eastarn parts of Pakistani Punjab and whole indian Punjab. He christened these group of dialects in a volume of the Language Survey of India (LSI) published in 1919.[13] He grouped as "southern Lahnda" the dialects that are now recognized as Multani or Saraiki. The northern Lahnda sub-Group has evolved into Pahari-Potohari and modern Hindko. Grierson tentatively identified the boundary between Punjabi and "Lahnda" as a north-south line running from the Gujranwala District (during British rule, Gujranwala district was very large with respect to area,stretched across the entire plateau, from the Chenab to the Ravi ) to the former Montgomery District (near the town on Sahiwal).[25]

In the aftermath of the independence of Pakistan and subsequent Partition of 1947, some investigators supposed that the Punjabi speakers in new Pakistan might give up their native dialects and adopt one or another "Lahnda" dialect; but this did not occur.[25]

Classification by Ethnologue

Because of the stature of Ethnologue as a widely accepted authority on the identification and classification of dialects and languages, their divergent views of the geographical distribution and dialectal naming of the Punjabi language merit mention. They designate what tradition calls "Punjabi" as "Eastern Punjabi" and they have implicitly adopted the belief (contradicted by other specialists[26]) that the language border between "Western Punjabi" and "Eastern Punjabi" has shifted since 1947 to coincide with the international border.[27]


English Majhi, Standard Punjabi Potohari Dogri Pahari Multani Doabi
What are you doing? (masculine) Ki karda ain?/ki karan deya ain?/ki karda pya ain? Ke (kay) peya kare-nanh? Ke karde o? Ka karne oo? Ke karende vade o? Ki karda aa?
What are you doing? (masculine to address female) Ki kardi ain?/ki karan dayi ain?/ki kardi payi ain? Ke (kay) pai (payi) kare-neenh? Ke karni ae? Ka karani ay? Ke (kay) karendi vadi ein? Ki kardi aa tu?
How are you? Ki haal ae? Keh aal e? ke aal a? Kay haal e (eh)? Keevein haal tuhaade? Ki haal chal aa?
Do you speak Punjabi? Tusi/Tussan Punjabi Bol lainde o? Punjabii bolne uo? Punjabi bolde o? Tus Punjabi bolne o? Tussan punjabi bol lainde ve? Tu punjabi bol laena?
Where are you from? Tusi/Tussan kithon de o?/Tusi/Tussan kidron aaye o? Tusa kudhr nay aiyo? Tus kudhr to o? Kuthey ne o? Tussan kidohn de o? Kithon aa tu?
Pleased to meet you. Tenu/tuanu mil ke bahut khushi hoyi. Tusan milay tay boo khushi oye. Tusan nu miliye bahut khusi oyi. Tussan e/ki mili tay khushi hoi. Teku/tuaku mil ke baun khushi thi e. Tuhanu mil k bahut khushi hoyi.
What's your name? Tuada na naa ki ae? Tusan naa ke waa? Tusan da naa kay ai? Tharra kay naanh ay? Tuhada naa ke ae? Tera naa ki aa?
My name is .... Mera naa ain.... Maara naa ... e. Mera naa ... e. Mahara naanh ... eh. Mainda/Maida naa ... e. Mera naam ... aa.
What is your village's name? Tuade pind/graan da naa ki ae?/ Tuada pind/graan kehda ae? Tusane graan naa na kay aa? Tusan da graan kay aa? Tusane gerayenh na kay naanh aa? Tuhade pind/graan da kay naa ae? Tere pind da ki naam aa?
Yes Haanji Aaho Aah Ahan Haanji Hanji
No Nay Naa Nahin Naa Naa Nai
Would you like (to eat) some sweets? Mithaee lawoge? / Mithaee Khawoge? Mithaee khaso? Kish mithaee khaani e? Mithaee khaso? Tussan mithaee ghinso? Mitha khaunge tusi?
I love you. Main tenu pyaar karda (masculine)/kardi (feminine) haan./ Main tere nal pyaar karda (masculine)/kardi (feminine) haan. Mai tuki pyar karna (masculine)/karni (feminine). Mai tugi pyar karna/karni. Main tuki pyar karna yan(musculine)/karni yan (feminine). main teku pyaar karda/kardi haan. Mai tuhanu pyar karda/kardi haan.
We went to the Cinema. Assin/Assan Cinema gaye saan. Assa cinema gaye saa. As cinema gaye he. Aas cinema gaye asayan. Aasan cinema gaye hum. Asin cinema gye si.
Where should I go? Mainu kitthe jana chahida ae? Mai kudhar jaa? Migi kuthe jaavnaah? May kur ghachan / jullan ? Maiku kitthe vanjna chaida ae? Mai kithe jawan?


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
Close-mid ɪ ʊ
Mid ə
Open-mid ɛː ɔː

The long vowels (the vowels with [ː]) also have nasalized versions.

Bilabial Labio-
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɳ ɲ ŋ
Plosive and
voiceless p ʈ t͡ʃ k
voiceless aspirated t̪ʰ ʈʰ t͡ʃʰ
voiced b ɖ d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative (f) s (z) (ʃ) ɦ
Flap ɾ ɽ
Approximant ʋ l ɭ j

Punjabi has three phonemically distinct tones that developed from the lost murmured (or "voiced aspirate") series of consonants. Phonetically the tones are rising or rising-falling contours and they can span over one syllable or two, but phonemically they can be distinguished as high, mid, and low.

A historical murmured consonant (voiced aspirate consonant) in word initial position became tenuis and left a low tone on the two syllables following it: ghoṛā [kòːɽɑ̀ː] "horse". A stem final murmured consonant became voiced and left a high tone on the two syllables preceding it: māgh [mɑ́ːɡ] "October". A stem medial murmured consonant which appeared after a short vowel and before a long vowel became voiced and left a low tone on the two syllables following it: maghāuṇā [məɡɑ̀ːʊ̀ɳɑ̀ː] "to have something lit". Other syllables and words have mid tone.[28]


The grammar of the Punjabi language is the study of the word order, case marking, verb conjugation, and other morphological and syntactic structures of the Punjabi language, an Indo-Aryan language native to the region of Punjab and spoken by the Punjabi people. This page discusses the grammar of Modern Standard Punjabi as defined by the relevant sources below (see #Bibliography).

Writing system

Punjabi Alphabets poster using Gurmukhi script

There are several different scripts used for writing the Punjabi language, depending on the region and the dialect spoken, as well as the religion of the speaker. In the Punjab province of Pakistan, the script used is Shahmukhi and differs from the standard Nastaʿlīq script as it has four additional letters.[29] The eastern part of the Punjab region, located in India, is divided into three states. In the state of Punjab, the Gurmukhī script is generally used for writing Punjabi. Punjabi Hindus, who are mainly concentrated in the neighbouring Indian states such as Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, as well as the national capital territory of Delhi, sometimes use the Devanāgarī script to write Punjabi.[29]

While a Punjabi GCSE is available to students in the United Kingdom; its written exam is in Gurmukhi only.

Gurmukhi Redefined

"Gurmukhi" is not merely a script but it is the language which came out of Guru's mouth - by using this definition, all words in Guru Granth Sahib constitute "Gurmukhi" words, thus making it a language which comprises two components - Gurmukhi script and Gurmukhi words, in the form of Gurbani which utilized different words from different languages of the time, thus making it a universal language.

Gurmukhi is used to express "Brahm Vichar" (divine knowledge) and therefore, in Guru Granth Sahib, words from different languages were used to capture this knowledge. In order to understand this divine knowledge, one must learn words from Guru Granth Sahib.

Punjabi in modern culture

Punjabi is becoming more acceptable among Punjabis in modern media and communications. Punjabi has always been an integral part of Indian Bollywood cinema. In recent years a trend of Bollywood songs written totally in Punjabi can be observed. Punjabi pop and folk songs are very popular both in India and Pakistan at the national level. A number of television dramas based on Punjabi characters are telecast by different channels. The number of students opting for Punjabi literature has increased in Pakistani Punjab. Punjabi cinema in India has also seen a revival and more and more Punjabi movies are being produced. Punjabi music is very popular in modern times.[30]

Sample text

Example 1

This sample text was taken from the Punjabi Wikipedia article on Amritsar; translated to English[translation needed] and transliterated to Latin.

Gurmukhi: ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ, ਮਤਲਬ "ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਦਾ ਸਰੋਵਰ", ਪੰਜਾਬ, ਭਾਰਤ ਦਾ ਸਰਹੱਦੀ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ ਹੈ। ਇਹ ਸਥਾਨ ਸਿੱਖ ਧਰਮ ਦ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਅਤੇ ਸਭਿਆਚਾਰਕ ਕੇਂਦ‍ਰ ਹੈ| ਇਹ ਦੀ ਆਬਾਦੀ ਕਰੀਬ ੨੦੦੦੦੦੦ ਸ਼ਹਿਰੀ ਅਤੇ ੩੦੦੦੦੦੦ ਦੇ ਕਰੀਬ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ ਜ਼ਿਲੇ ਵਿੱਚ ੨੦੦੧ ਭਾਰਤੀ ਜਨ-ਸੰਖਿਆ ਗਣਨਾ ਅਨੁਸਾਰ ਹੈ। ਇਸ ਦਾ ਪਰਸ਼ਾਸਕੀ ਮੁੱਖ ਦਫ਼ਤਰ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ ਜ਼ਿਲਾ ਹੈ। ਇਹ ਭਾਰਤ ਦੀ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਪਰਦੇਸ਼ ਵਿੱਚ ਉੱਤਰੀ ਭਾਗ ਹੈ, ਜੋ ਕਿ ਲਾਹੌਰ ਤੋਂ 67 ਕਿਲੋਮੀਟਰ ਦੂਰ ਹੈ।

Shahmukhi: امرتسر، مطلب "امرت دا سروور"، پنجاب، بھارت دا سرحدی شہر ہے۔ ایہہ ستھان سکھی د دھارمک اتے سبھیاچارک کیند‍ر ہے| اس دی آبادی قریب 2000000 شہری اتے 3،000،000 دے قریب امرتسر ضلع وچّ 2001 بھارتی جن-سنکھیا گننا انوسار ہے۔ اس دا پرشاسکی مکھ دفتر امرتسر ضلع ہے۔ ایہہ بھارت دی پنجاب پردیش وچّ اتری بھاگ ہے، جو کہ لاہور توں 67 کلومیٹر دور ہے۔

Transliteration: ammritsar, matlab "amrit dā sarōvar", panjāb, pā̀rat dā sarhaddī shahir he. ih sathān sikkh tàram da tā̀rmik atē sàbiācārak kēnda‍r he. ih dī ābādī karīb 2,000,000 shahirī atē 3,000,000 dē karīb ammritsar zilē vicc 2001 pā̀ratī jan-sankhiā gaṇanā anusār he. is dā parshāskī mukkh daftar ammritsar zilā he. ih pā̀rat dī panjāb pardēsh vicc uttarī pā̀g he, jō ki lāhor tō᷈ 67 kilōmīṭar dūr he.

Example 2

This sample text was taken from the Punjabi Wikipedia article on Lahore; translated to English and transliterated to Latin.

Gurmukhi: ਲਹੌਰ ਪਾਕਿਸਤਾਨ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦਾ ਦਾਰੁਲ ਹਕੂਮਤ ਐ। ਲੋਕ ਗਿਣਤੀ ਦੇ ਨਾਲ ਕਰਾਚੀ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਲਹੌਰ ਦੂਜਾ ਸਬ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਡਾ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ ਐ। ਲਹੌਰ ਪਾਕਿਸਤਾਨ ਦਾ ਸਿਆਸੀ, ਰਹਤਲੀ ਤੇ ਪੜ੍ਹਾਈ ਦਾ ਗੜ੍ਹ ਐ ਤੇ ਇਸੇ ਲਈ ਇਹਨੂੰ ਪਾਕਿਸਤਾਨ ਦਾ ਦਿਲ ਵੀ ਕਿਹਾ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਏ। ਲਹੌਰ ਦਰਿਆਏ ਰਾਵੀ ਦੇ ਕੰਡੇ ਤੇ ਵਸਦਾ ਏ ਉਹਦੀ ਲੋਕ ਗਿਣਤੀ ਇੱਕ ਕਰੋੜ ਦੇ ਨੇੜੇ ਐ ।

Shahmukhi: لہور پاکستان پنجاب دا دارالحکومت اے۔ لوک گنتی دے نال کراچی توں بعد لہور دوجا سب توں وڈا شہر اے۔ لہور پاکستان دا سیاسی، رہتلی تے پڑھائی دا گڑھ اے تے ایسے لئی اینوں پاکستان دا دل وی کیا جاندا اے۔ لہور دریاۓ راوی دے کنڈے تے وسدا اے اسدی لوک گنتی اک کروڑ دے نیڑے اے ۔

Transliteration: lahor pākistān panjāb dā dārul hakūmat e. lōk giṇtī dē nāḷ karācī tō᷈ bāad lahor dūjā sab tō᷈ vaḍḍā shahir e. lahor pākistān dā siāsī, rahtalī tē paṛā̀ī dā gā́ṛ e tē isē laī ihnū᷈ pākistān dā dil vī kihā jāndā ē. lahor dariāē rāvī dē kanḍē tē vasdā ē uhdī lōk giṇtī ikk karōṛ dē nēṛē e.


Potohari-Pahari (Northern Lahnda) dictionary by Sharif Shad

See also

Portal icon Punjab portal
Portal icon Languages portal


  1. ^ a b Punjabi language at Ethnologue
  2. ^ S. N. Sridhar; Yamuna Kachru (2008). Language in South Asia. Cambridge University Press. p. 128. ISBN 9780521781411. 
  3. ^ According to statpak.gov.pk 44.15% of the Pakistani speaks Punjabi natively. This translates to approximately 76,335,300 Punjabi speakers according to the 2008 census (Total population: 172,900,000).
  4. ^ List of Indian languages by number of native speakers, 2001
  5. ^ a b "Majhi" is a word used with reference to many other places and dialects in north India; these have nothing to do with the Majhi dialect of Punjabi
  6. ^ Barbara Lust, James Gair. Lexical Anaphors and Pronouns in Selected South Asian Languages. Page 637. Walter de Gruyter, 1999. ISBN 978-3-11-014388-1.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Phonemic Inventory of Punjabi
  9. ^ Geeti Sen. Crossing Boundaries. Orient Blackswan, 1997. ISBN 978-81-250-1341-9. Page 132. Quote: "Possibly, Punjabi is the only major South Asian language that has this kind of tonal character. There does seem to have been some speculation among scholars about the possible origin of Punjabi's tone-language character but without any final and convincing answer..."
  10. ^ India's culture through the ages by Mohan Lal Vidyarthi. Published by Tapeshwari Sahitya Mandir, 1952. Page 148: "From the apabhramsha of Sauraseni are derived Punjabi, Western Hindi, Rajasthani and Gujerati [sic]..."
  11. ^ National Communication and Language Policy in India By Baldev Raj Nayar. Published by F. A. Praeger, 1969. Page 35. "...Sauraseni Aprabhramsa from which have emerged the modern Western Hindi and Punjabi."
  12. ^ The Sauraseni Pr?krit Language. "This Middle Indic language originated in Mathura, and was the main language used in drama in Northern India in the medieval period. Two of its descendants are Hindi and Punjabi."
  13. ^ a b Shackle 1970:240
  14. ^ a b c Brass, Paul R. (2005). Language, Religion and Politics in North India. iUniverse. p. 326. ISBN 9780595343942. 
  15. ^ The Adi Granth: Or The Holy Scriptures Of The Sikhs by Ernest Trumpp. 2004. ISBN 81-215-0244-6.
  16. ^ Punjabis Without Punjabi By Ishtiaq Ahmed. The News, 24 May 2008.
  17. ^ http://www.statpak.gov.pk/depts/pco/index.html
  18. ^ "Punjabi Community". The United Kingdom Parliament.
  19. ^ "Punjabi is 4th most spoken language in Canada". The Times Of India. 14 February 2008. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Punjabi_is_Canadas_4th_most_top_language/articleshow/2782138.cms. 
  20. ^ Pakistan 1998 census – Population by mother tongue
  21. ^ Indian Census
  22. ^ Masica 1991:25
  23. ^ Burling 1970:chapter on India
  24. ^ Advanced Centre for Technical Development of Punjabi Language, Literature and Culture
  25. ^ a b Masica 1991:20
  26. ^ e.g., Shackle 1970:240, Panjabi University in India, see below
  27. ^ Ethnologue country pages for Pakistan and India; page for Indo-Aryan languages
  28. ^ Harjeet Singh Gill, "The Gurmukhi Script", p. 397. In Daniels and Bright, The World's Writing Systems. 1996.
  29. ^ a b "Punjabi". University of California, Los Angeles. http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/Profile.aspx?LangID=95&menu=004. Retrieved 2009–10–31. 
  30. ^ . 9 march 2011. http://www.sify.com/mobile/movies/balle-balle-punjabi-music-is-flavour-of-bollywood-news-national-ldjjEcbhfef.html. Retrieved 9 march 2011. 

Note 3 Bhatia, Tej K. 2007. Regional languages of South Asia. In: Sridhar and Kachru. Languages in South Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Note 4 Bhatia, Tej K. 2005. Punjabi, Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd Edition, pp. 291–295. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd

Note 7

Bhatia, Tej K. Punjabi: A Cognitive-Typological Study. [General Editor: Bernard Comrie], London: Routledge. 2010 [paperback] and 1993.

Bhatia, Tej K. 1996. Lexical Anaphors and Pronouns in Punjabi. In: Lexical Anaphors and Pronouns in Selected South Asian Languages, Barbara Lust et al. (eds.), 637-714. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


  • Burling, Robbins. 1970. Man's many voices. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • Ethnologue. Indo-Aryan Classification of 219 languages that have been assigned to the Indo-Aryan grouping of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages.
  • Ethnologue. Languages of India
  • Ethnologue. Languages of Pakistan
  • Grierson, George A. 1904–1928. Grierson's Linguistic Survey of India. Calcutta.
  • Masica, Colin. 1991. The Indo-Aryan languages. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Rahman, Tariq. 2006. The role of English in Pakistan with special reference to tolerance and militancy. In Amy Tsui et al., Language, policy, culture and identity in Asian contexts. Routledge. 219–240.
  • Shackle, C. 1970. Punjabi in Lahore. Modern Asian Studies, 4(3):239–267. Available online at JSTOR.

Further reading

  • Punjabi Phrasebook on Wikitravel
  • Bhatia, Tej. 1993 and 2010. Punjabi : a cognitive-descriptive grammar. London: Routledge. Series: Descriptive grammars.
  • Gill H.S. [Harjit Singh] and Gleason, H.A. 1969. A reference grammar of Punjabi. Revised edition. Patiala, Punjab, India: Languages Deparmtent, Punjab University.
  • Shackle, C. 1972. Punjabi. London: English Universities Press.
  • Chopra, R. M., Perso-Arabic Words in Panjabi, in: Indo-Iranica Vol.53 (1–4).
  • Chopra, R. M.., The Legacy of The Punjab, 1997, Punjabee Bradree, Calcutta.

External links

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