Punjabi language

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Punjabi
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, پنجابی, पंजाबी
Panjābī
Punjabi gurmukhi shahmukhi devanagari.png
The word "Punjabi" in Gurmukhi, Shahmukhi and Devanagari
Native to India, Pakistan
Region Punjab
Ethnicity Punjabis
Native speakers 100 million  (2010)
Language family
Writing system Gurmukhī
Shahmukhī
Devanāgarī
Official status
Official language in  India: (Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and West Bengal)
 Pakistan (Punjab and Azad Kashmir)
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 pa
ISO 639-2 pan
ISO 639-3 Either:
pan – Indian Punjabi
pnb – Pakistani Punjabi
Punjab map.svg
Distribution of native Punjabi and Lahnda speakers in India and Pakistan

Punjabi is a Indo-Aryan language. It is the native language of about 130 million people, and is the 10th most spoken language in the world. Most of the people who speak this language live in the Punjab region of Pakistan and India. It is also widely spoken in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. It is natively spoken by the majority of the population of Pakistan.[2]

Punjabi developed from the ancient language of Sanskrit just like many other modern Indo-Aryan languages. Punjabi is unusual among this group for being a tonal language.[3][4][5][6]

Punjabi is written in two different scripts, called Gurmukhī and Shahmukhī. Punjabi is the main language spoken by the Sikhs.[7] Most parts of the Guru Granth Sahib use the Punjabi language written in Gurmukhī, though Punjabi is not the only language used in Sikh scriptures. The Janamsakhis, stories on the life and legend of Guru Nanak (1469–1539), are early examples of Punjabi literature.

Dialects[change | change source]

Punjabi has many dialects. They form a continuous series that eventually becomes Hindi in India and Sindhi in Pakistan. The dialects are similar enough to each other that speakers can understand most of the dialects that are related to theirs. In India, the main dialects of Punjabi are: Majhi, Doabi, Malwi and Pwadhi. In Pakistan, the main dialects are Majhi, Pothohari, Hindko and Multani.[8]

Majhi is Punjabi's most important dialect because it forms the standard for writing in Punjabi. It is spoken in the centre of Punjab, including the districts of Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Okara, Nankana Sahib, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat, Pakpattan, Hafizabad and Mandi Bahauddin. In India it is spoken in Amritsar, Tarn Taran Sahib and Gurdaspur districts.

Other dialects of Punjabi include Pahari, Dhani, Shah Puri, Jhangochi, Rachnavi, Chenavari, Chhachi, Jandali, Ghebi, Thalochi, Riasti. The Saraiki, spoken in northern Punjab, and Dogri, spoken in Kashmir, are closely related to Punjabi. The relation of several dialects to languages other than Punjabi creates problems in assigning them to one or another "language".[9][10][11]

Distribution[change | change source]

Over 93% of people who speak Punjabi as their first language live in Pakistan and India. It is the most widely spoken native language in Pakistan. It is spoken as a first language by over 44% of Pakistanis. There were 76 million Punjabi speakers in Pakistan in 2008.[12] In India, Punjabi is spoken as a native language by 3% of the population. This was about 33 million in 2011.[13] It is the official language of the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana.

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
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%

Punjabi is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where large numbers of Punjabis have moved to. In the United Kingdom, it is the second-most-commonly used language.[14] In Canada, it is the fourth-most-spoken language.[15] There were 1.3 million Punjabi speakers in the UK in 2000,[14] and 368,000 in Canada in 2006.[16]

Phonology[change | change source]

Vowels
Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
Close
Close-mid ɪ ʊ
Mid ə
Open-mid ɛː ɔː
Open
Consonants
Bilabial Labio-
dental
Dental/
Alveolar
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɳ ɲ ŋ
Plosive and
Affricate
voiceless p ʈ t͡ʃ k
voiceless aspirated t̪ʰ ʈʰ t͡ʃʰ
voiced b ɖ d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative (f) ਫ਼ s(z) ਜ਼ (ʃ) ਸ਼ ɦ
Flap ɾ ɽ
Approximant ʋ l ɭ ਲ਼ j

Writing system[change | change source]

Gurmukhi alphabetic, excluding vowels.

There are three ways to write Punjabi: Gurmukhī, Shahmukhī, and Devanāgarī. In the Punjab province of Pakistan, the script that is most used is Shahmukhī. In the Indian state of Punjab, they mostly use the Gurmukhī script for writing Punjabi. Punjabi Hindus, most of whom live in Delhi and the states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, sometimes use the Devanāgarī script to write Punjabi.[17][18] The Majhi dialect is the written standard for Punjabi in both parts of Punjab.

References[change | change source]

  1. Ernst Kausen, 2006. Die Klassifikation der indogermanischen Sprachen (Microsoft Word, 133 KB)
  2. Pakistan Census
  3. 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.
  4. "Punjabi language and the Gurmukhi and Shahmuhi scripts and pronunciation". Omniglot.com. http://www.omniglot.com/writing/gurmuki.htm. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  5. Phonemic Inventory of Punjabi
  6. 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..."
  7. Melvin Ember, Carol R. Ember, Ian A. Skoggard, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World. Springer. p. 1077. ISBN 978-0-306-48321-9 .
  8. Grierson, George A. 1904–1928. Grierson's Linguistic Survey of India. Calcutta.
  9. Masica, Colin (1991) The Indo-Aryan languages. Cambridge Univ. Press. p 25.
  10. Burling, Robbins. 1970. Man's many voices. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  11. Shackle, C. 1972. Punjabi. London: English Universities Press. p 240.
  12. Pakistan 1998 census – Population by mother tongue
  13. Indian Census
  14. 14.0 14.1 McDonnell, John (7 March 2000). "Punjabi Community". Parliamentary Business: Commons Debates. UK Parliament. p. Column 142WH. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmhansrd/vo000307/halltext/00307h02.htm. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  15. "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.
  16. Population by mother tongue in Canada
  17. "Punjabi". University of California, Los Angeles. http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/Profile.aspx?LangID=95&menu=004. Retrieved 2009–10–31.
  18. Harjeet Singh Gill, "The Gurmukhi Script", p. 397. In Daniels and Bright, The World's Writing Systems. 1996.

More reading[change | change source]

Punjabi phrasebook travel guide from Wikivoyage

  • Bhatia, Tej (1993 and 2010) Punjabi: a cognitive-descriptive grammar. London: Routledge. Series: Descriptive grammars.
  • Singh, Maya (1895) The Panjabi dictionary. Lahore: Munshi Gulab Singh & Sons.
  • Ethnologue: Languages of India and Pakistan