Punjabi language

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ਪੰਜਾਬੀ پنجابی
Punjabi example.svg
'Punjabi' written in Shahmukhi (top) and Gurmukhi (bottom) scripts
Native toPunjab region
Native speakers
Eastern Punjabi: 120 million (2011)[1]
Western Punjabi: 140 million (2015)[2]
Standard forms
Perso-Arabic (Shahmukhi)
Punjabi Braille
Laṇḍā (historical)
Official status
Official language in
 Pakistan (Punjab)[3]
 India (Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh)
Language codes
ISO 639-1pa
ISO 639-2pan
ISO 639-3Either:
pan – Eastern Punjabi
pnb – Western Punjabi
Glottologpanj1256  Punjabi
Areas of the Indian Subcontinent where Punjabi is natively spoken
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
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Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language. It is the first language of about 160 million people, and is the 9th 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 spoken in Haryana, India Himachal Pradesh, India and Delhi, India, uttarpradesh rajasthan, Bihar, Jammu amd Kashmir and other states as well . It is spoken by the majority of the population of Pakistan.[4]

Punjabi developed from the ancient language of Prakrit developed simultaneously with Sanskrit.

Punjabi is written in two different scripts, called Gurmukhī and Shahmukhī. Punjabi is the main language spoken by the Sikhs.[5] 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]

Dialects of Punjabi

Punjabi has many dialects. The dialects are similar enough to each other that speakers can understand most of the dialects that are related to theirs. Major dialects of Punjabi include Majhi, Puadhi, Malwai, Pothohari, Shahpuri, Jhangvi, Jatki, Doabi, and Pahari, among others.[6]

Majhi is Punjabi's standard 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, Rachnavi, Chenavari, Chhachi, Jandali, Ghebi. The Saraiki, spoken in southern 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".[7][8][9]

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.[10] In India, Punjabi is spoken as a native language by 3% of the population. This was about 33 million in 2011.[11] 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 emigrated.In the United Kingdom, it is the second-most-commonly used language.[12] In Canada, it is the fourth-most-spoken language.[13] There were 2.2 million Punjabi speakers in the US in 2017.[14] and 1.3 million in the UK in 2000.[12]

Phonology[change | change source]

Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
Close-mid ɪ ʊ
Mid ə
Open-mid ɛː ɔː
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) 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: Gurmukhi, Shahmukhi, and Devanagari. In the Punjab province of Pakistan, the script that is most used is Shahmukhī. The Majhi dialect is the written standard for Punjabi in both parts of Punjab.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Punjabi, Eastern". Ethnologue. Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  2. "Punjabi, Western". Ethnologue. Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  3. "Pakistan Census". Census.gov.pk. Archived from the original on 12 September 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  4. "Pakistan Census". Archived from the original on 2011-09-12. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  5. 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.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)
  6. Grierson, George A. 1904–1928. Grierson's Linguistic Survey of India. Calcutta.
  7. Masica, Colin (1991) The Indo-Aryan languages. Cambridge Univ. Press. p 25.
  8. Burling, Robbins. 1970. Man's many voices. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  9. Shackle, C. 1972. Punjabi. London: English Universities Press. p 240.
  10. "Pakistan 1998 census – Population by mother tongue" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-02-17. Retrieved 2014-11-19.
  11. "Indian Census".
  12. 12.0 12.1 McDonnell, John (7 March 2000). "Punjabi Community". Parliamentary Business: Commons Debates. UK Parliament. p. Column 142WH. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  13. "Punjabi is 4th most spoken language in Canada". The Times of India. 14 February 2008.
  14. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articlesho/62121520.cms

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