'Punjabi' written in Shahmukhi (top) and Gurmukhi (bottom) scripts
|Native to||Punjab region|
|122 million, including Eastern and Western Punjabi variants. (2015 71 18 11)|
Official language in
| Pakistan (Punjab)|
India (Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi )
– Eastern Punjabi
– Western Punjabi
Countries of the world where Punjabi is spoken
50,000,000 - 80,000,000
1,000,000 - 50,000,000
500,000 - 1,000,000
200,000 - 500,000
100,000 - 200,000
50,000 - 100,000
1,000 - 50,000
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Punjabi (;Gurmukhi: ਪੰਜਾਬੀpañjābī; Shahmukhi: پنجابیpaṉjābī) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by over 100 million native speakers worldwide, ranking as the 10th most widely spoken language (2015) in the world. It is the native language of the Punjabi people, who associate with the historical Punjab region of India and Pakistan. Among Indo-European languages, it is unusual due to the use of lexical tone.
Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan, the 11th most widely spoken in India, and the third most-spoken native language in the Indian Subcontinent. Punjabi is the fifth most-spoken native language (after English, French, Mandarin and Cantonese) in Canada. It also has a significant presence in the United Arab Emirates, United States, United Kingdom and Australia. The Punjab is one of the relatively few regions in the world with a situation of digraphia; Punjabi is written in both the Shahmukhi and the Gurmukhi scripts; the former mainly by Muslims, the latter mainly by Sikhs and Hindus.
Main article: History of the Punjabi language
The word Punjabi has been derived from the word Panj-āb, Persian for "Five Waters", referring to the five major eastern tributaries of the Indus River. The name of the region was introduced by the Turko-Persian conquerors of South Asia. Panj is cognate with Sanskritपञ्च (pañca) and Greekπέντε (pénte) "five", and "āb" is cognate with Sanskrit अप् (áp) and with the Av- of Avon. The historical Punjab region, now divided between India and Pakistan, is defined physiographically by the Indus River and these five tributaries. One of the five, the Beas River, is a tributary of another, the Sutlej.
Punjabi developed from Sanskrit through Prakrit languages and later Apabhraṃśa (Sanskrit: अपभ्रंश; corruption or corrupted speech) From 600 BC Sanskrit gave birth to many regional languages in different parts of India. All these languages are called Prakrit (Sanskrit: प्राकृत prākṛta) collectively. Shauraseni Prakrit was one of these Prakrit languages, which was spoken in north and north-western India and Punjabi and western dialects of Hindi developed from this Prakrit. Later in northern India Shauraseni Prakrit gave rise to Shauraseni Aparbhsha, a descendent of Prakrit. Punjabi emerged as an Apabhramsha, a degenerated form of Prakrit, in the 7th century A.D. and became stable by the 10th century. By the 10th century, many Nath poets were associated with earlier Punjabi works.
Arabic and Persian influence on Punjabi
Arabic and Persian influence in the historical Punjab region began with the late first millennium Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent. The Persian language was introduced in the subcontinent a few centuries later by various Persianized Central Asian Turkic and Afghan dynasties including that of Mahmud of Ghazni. Many Persian and Arabic words were incorporated in Punjabi. Punjabi has more Persian and Arabic vocabulary than Bengali, Marathi, and Gujarati due to the proximity of the Punjab with western Asia. It is noteworthy that the Hindustani language divided into Hindi, with more Sanskritisation, and Urdu, with more Persianisation, but in Punjabi both Sanskrit and Persian words are used with a liberal approach to language. Later, it was influenced by Portuguese and English, though these influences have been minor in comparison to Persian and Arabic. However, in India, English words in the official language are more widespread than Hindi.
Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan, the eleventh -most widely spoken in India and spoken Punjabi diaspora in various countries.
Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan, being the native language of 44% of its population. It is the provincial language in the Punjab Province.
|Year||Population of Pakistan||Percentage||Punjabi speakers|
Beginning with the 1981 census, speakers of Saraiki and Hindko were no longer included in the total numbers for Punjabi, which could explain the apparent decrease.
See also: States of India by Punjabi speakers
Punjabi is spoken as a native language, second language, or third language by about 30 million people in India. Punjabi is the official language of the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. Some of its major urban centres in northern India are Ambala, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, and Delhi.
|Year||Population of India||Punjabi speakers in India||Percentage|
Main article: Punjabi diaspora
Punjabi is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where Punjabi people have emigrated in large numbers, such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, where it is the fourth-most-commonly used language. There were 76 million Punjabi speakers in Pakistan in 2008, 33 million in India in 2011, 368,000 in Canada in 2006, and smaller numbers in other countries.
Despite Punjabi's rich literary history, it was not until 1947 that it would be recognized as an official language. Previous governments in the area of the Punjab had favoured Persian, Hindustani, or even earlier standardised versions of local registers as the language of the court or government. After the annexation of the Sikh Empire by the British East India Company following the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849, the British policy of establishing a uniform language for administration was expanded into the Punjab. The British Empire employed Hindi and Urdu in its administration of North-Central and North-West India, while in the North-East of India, Bengali was used as the language of administration. Despite its lack of official sanction, the Punjabi language continued to flourish as an instrument of cultural production, with rich literary traditions continuing until modern times. The Sikh religion, with its Gurmukhi script, played a special role in standardising and providing education in the language via Gudwaras, while writers of all religions continued to produce poetry, prose, and literature in the language.
In India, Punjabi is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. It is the first official language of the Indian State of Punjab. Punjabi also has second language official status in Delhi along with Urdu, and in Haryana. In Pakistan, no regional ethnic language has been granted official status at the national level, and as such Punjabi is not an official language at the national level, even though it is the most spoken language in Pakistan after Urdu. It is, however, the official provincial language of Punjab, Pakistan, the second largest and the most populous province of Pakistan as well as in Islamabad Capital Territory. The only two official national languages in Pakistan are Urdu and English, which are considered the lingua francas of Pakistan.
- Punjabi is spoken in many dialects in an area from Islamabad to Delhi. The Majhi dialect has been adopted as standard Punjabi in Pakistan and India for education, media etc. The Majhi (in Shahmukhi ماجھی، in Gurumukhi ਮਾਝੀ) dialect originated in the Majha region of the Punjab. The Majha region consists central districts of Pakistani Punjab and in India around Amritsar and Gurdaspur regions, known. The two most important cities in this area are Lahore and Amritsar.
- In India technical words in Standard Punjabi are loaned from Sanskrit similarly to other major Indian languages, but it generously uses Arabic, Persian, and English words also in the official language. In India, Punjabi is written in the Gurumukhī script in offices, schools, and media. Gurumukhi is considered the standard script for Punjabi, though it is often unofficially written in the Devanagari or Latin scripts due to influence from Hindi and English, India's two primary official languages at the Union-level.
- In Pakistan, Punjabi is generally written using the Shahmukhī script, created from a modification of the Persian Nastaʿlīq script. In Pakistan, Punjabi loans technical words from Persian and Arabic languages, just like Urdu does.
Majhi (Standard Punjabi)
Majhi is Punjabi's prestige dialect because it is standard of written Punjabi. It is spoken in the heart of Punjab which include Lahore, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Wazirabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat, Okara, Nankana Sahib, Faisalabad, Wazirabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat, Jhelum, Pakpattan, Vehari, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin and Chiniot districts of Pakistan's Punjab Province along with some major cities.
In India Amritsar, Tarn Taran Sahib, and Gurdaspur Districts of the State of Punjab and sizable population also in major cities of the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Mumbai India.
In Pakistan Standard Punjabi dialect is not called Majhi which is Indian terminology, in Pakistan it is simply called Standard Punjabi. This dialect is used for both Punjabi Films, TV and Theater industry to make Punjabi language content in Lahore.
Shahpuri dialect (also known as Sargodha dialect) is mostly spoken in Pakistani Punjab. Its name is derived from former Shahpur District (now Shahpur Tehsil, being part of Sargodha District). It is spoken throughout a widespread area, spoken in Sargodha and Khushab Districts and also spoken in neighbouring Mianwali and Bhakkar Districts. It is mainly spoken on western end of Sindh River to Chennab river crossing Jehlam river.
Malwai is spoken in the eastern part of Indian Punjab and also in Bahawalnagar and Vehari districts of Pakistan. Main areas are Ludhiana, Patiala, Ambala, Bathinda, Ganganagar, Malerkotla, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Moga. 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 is spoken in both the Indian Punjab as well as parts of Pakistan Punjab owing to post-1947 migration of Muslim populace from East Punjab. The word "Do Aabi" means "the land between two rivers" and this dialect was historically spoken between the rivers of the Beas and the Sutlej in the region called Doaba. Regions it is presently spoken includes the Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala districts in Indian Punjab, specifically in the areas known as the Dona and Manjki, as well as the Toba Tek Singh and Faisalabad districts in Pakistan Punjab where the dialect is known as Faisalabadi Punjabi.
This Dialect is also used as a standard for Indian Punjabi Films and TV shows.
Pwadhi, Powadh, 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 to beyond the Ghaggar river in the east up to Kala Amb, which is at the border of the states of Himachal pradesh 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 is spoken and the dialect area also includes Pinjore, Kalka, Ismailabad, Pehowa to Bangar area in Fatehabad district.
Jhangochi (جھنگوچی) dialect is spoken in Pakistani Punjab throughout a widespread area, starting from Khanewal and Jhang at both ends of Ravi and Chenab to Hafizabad district.
Jangli is a dialect of former nomad tribes of areas whose names are often suffixed with 'Bar' derived from jungle bar before irrigation system arrived in the start of the 20th century, for example, Sandal Bar, Kirana Bar, Neeli Bar, Ganji Bar. Former Layllpur and western half of Montgomary district used to speak this dialect.
West of Chenaab river in Jhang district of Pakistani Punjab the dialect of Jhangochi merges with Thalochi and resultant dialect is Chenavari. Name is derived from Chenaab river.
The long vowels (the vowels with [ː]) also have nasal analogues.
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 modally 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 modally voiced and left a low tone on the two syllables following it: maghāuṇā[məɡɑ̀ːʊ̀ɳɑ̀ː] "to have something lit". Other syllables have mid tone.
Main article: Punjabi grammar
The grammar of the Punjabi language concerns the word order, case marking, verb conjugation, and other morphological and syntactic structures of the Punjabi language. The main article discusses the grammar of Modern Standard Punjabi as defined by the sources cited therein.
Main articles: Shahmukhī alphabet, Gurmukhī alphabet, and Punjabi braille
Punjabi has two major writing systems in use: Gurmukhi, which is a Brahmic script derived from the Laṇḍā script, and Shahmukhi, which is an Arabic script. The word Gurmukhi means "from the Guru's mouth", and Shahmukhi means "from the King's mouth".
In the Punjab province of Pakistan, the script used is Shahmukhi and differs from the Urdu alphabet in having four additional letters. In the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi and other parts of India, the Gurmukhī script is generally used for writing Punjabi. Historically, various local Brahmic scripts including Laṇḍā were also in use.
This sample text was taken from the Punjabi Wikipedia article on Lahore.
ਲਹੌਰ ਪਾਕਿਸਤਾਨੀ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੀ ਰਾਜਧਾਨੀ ਹੈ । ਲੋਕ ਗਿਣਤੀ ਦੇ ਨਾਲ ਕਰਾਚੀ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਲਹੌਰ ਦੂਜਾ ਸਭ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਡਾ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ ਹੈ । ਲਹੌਰ ਪਾਕਿਸਤਾਨ ਦਾ ਸਿਆਸੀ, ਰਹਤਲੀ ਤੇ ਪੜ੍ਹਾਈ ਦਾ ਗੜ੍ਹ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਇਸ ਲਈ ਇਹਨੂੰ ਪਾਕਿਸਤਾਨ ਦਾ ਦਿਲ ਵੀ ਕਿਹਾ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ । ਲਹੌਰ ਦਰਿਆ-ਏ-ਰਾਵੀ ਦੇ ਕੰਢੇ ਤੇ ਵਸਦਾ ਹੈ । ਤੇ ਇਸਦੀ ਲੋਕ ਗਿਣਤੀ ਇੱਕ ਕਰੋੜ ਦੇ ਨੇੜੇ ਹੈ ।
لہور پاکستانی پنجاب دا دارالحکومت اے۔ لوک گنتی دے نال کراچی توں بعد لاهور دوجا سبھ توں وڈا شہر اے۔ لاهور پاکستان دا سیاسی، رہتلی تے پڑھائی دا گڑھ اے تے اس لئی ایھنوں پاکستان دا دل وی کیھا جاندا اے۔ لاهور دریاۓ راوی دے کنڈھے تے وسدا ۔ اے اسدی لوک گنتی اک کروڑ دے نیڑے اے ۔
Transliteration: lahaur pākistānī panjāb dī rājdā̀ni ài. lok giṇtī de nāḷ karācī tõ bāad lahaur dūjā sáb tõ vaḍḍā šáir ài. lahor pākistān dā siāsī, rátalī te paṛā̀ī dā gáṛ ài te is laī ínū̃ pākistān dā dil vī kihā jāndā ài. lahaur dariāe rāvī de kaṇḍè te vasdā ài. te isdī lok giṇtī ikk karoṛ de neṛe ài.
Translation: Lahore is the capital city of the Pakistani Punjab. After a number of people from Karachi, Lahore is the second largest city. Lahore is Pakistan's political stronghold and education capital and so it is also the heart of Pakistan. Lahore lies on the bank of the Ravi River. And, its population is close to ten million people.
IPA:[lə̄ɦɔ̄ːɾ pāːkɪ̄st̪āːnīː pə̄̃d͡ʒāːb d̪īː ɾāːd͡ʒt̪àːnɪ̄ ɦɛ̀ː ‖ lōk ɡɪ̄ɳt̪īː d̪ē nāːl kə̄ɾāːt͡ʃīː t̪ō̃ bāːə̄d̪ lə̄ɦɔ̄ːɾ d̪ūːd͡ʒāː sə́p t̪ō̃ ʋːə̄ɖāː ʃə̄ɦɪ̄ɾ ɦɛ̀ː ‖ lə̄ɦɔ̄ːɾ pāːkɪ̄st̪āːn d̪āː sɪ̄āːsīː | ɾə́ɦt̪ə̄līː t̪ē pə̄ɽɦàːīː d̪āː ɡə́ɽɦ ɦɛ̀ː t̪ē ɪ̄s lə̄īː ɪ́ɦnū̃ pāːkɪ̄st̪āːn d̪āː d̪ɪ̄l ʋīː kɪ̄ɦāː d͡ʒā̃ːd̪āː ɦɛ̀ː ‖ lə̄ɦɔ̄ːɾ d̪ə̄ɾɪ̄āːē ɾāːʋīː d̪ē kə̄̃ʈè t̪ē ʋə̄̃sd̪īː ɦɛ̀ː ‖ t̪ē īsd̪īː lōk ɡɪ̄ɳt̪īː ɪ̄kː kə̄ɾōɽ d̪ē nēɽē ɦɛ̀ː ‖]
Main article: Punjabi literature
Medieval era, Mughal and Sikh period
- The Sikh religion originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region and Punjabi is the predominant language spoken by Sikhs. Most portions of the Guru Granth Sahib use the Punjabi language written in Gurmukhi, though Punjabi is not the only language used in Sikh scriptures.
The Janamsakhis (ਜਨਮਸਾਖੀ, جنم ساکھی), stories on the life and legend of Guru Nanak (1469–1539), are early examples of Punjabi prose literature.
- The Punjabi language is famous for its rich literature of qisse (ਕਿੱਸੇ, قصّے), most of the which are about love, passion, betrayal, sacrifice, social values and a common man's revolt against a larger system. The qissa of Heer Ranjha by Waris Shah (1706–1798) is among the most popular of Punjabi qissas. Other popular stories include Sohni Mahiwal by Fazal Shah, Mirza Sahiban by Hafiz Barkhudar (1658–1707), Sassui Punnhun by Hashim Shah (c. 1735–c. 1843), and Qissa Puran Bhagat by Qadaryar (1802–1892).
- Heroic ballads known as Vaar(ਵਾਰ, وار) enjoy a rich oral tradition in Punjabi. Famous Vaars areChandi di Var (1666–1708), Nadir Shah Di Vaar by Najabat,Jangnama of Shah Mohammad (1780–1862).
British Raj era and post-independence period
The Victorian novel, Elizabethan drama, free verse and Modernism entered Punjabi literature through the introduction of British education during the Raj. Nanak Singh (1897–1971), Vir Singh, Ishwar Nanda, Amrita Pritam (1919–2005), Puran Singh (1881–1931), Dhani Ram Chatrik (1876–1957), Diwan Singh (1897–1944) and Ustad Daman (1911–1984), Mohan Singh (1905–78) and Shareef Kunjahi are some legendary Punjabi writers of this period. After independence of Pakistan and India Najm Hossein Syed, Fakhar Zaman and Afzal Ahsan Randhawa, Shafqat Tanvir Mirza, Ahmad Salim, and Najm Hosain Syed, Munir Niazi, Pir Hadi abdul Mannan enriched Punjabi literature in Pakistan, whereas Amrita Pritam (1919–2005), Jaswant Singh Rahi (1930–1996), Shiv Kumar Batalvi (1936–1973), Surjit Patar (1944–) and Pash (1950–1988) are some of the more prominent poets and writers from India.
When Pakistan was created in 1947, although Punjabi was the majority language in West Pakistan and Bengali the majority in East Pakistan and Pakistan as whole, English and Urdu were chosen as the national languages. The selection of Urdu was due to its association with South Asian Muslim nationalism and because the leaders of the new nation wanted a unifying national language instead of promoting one ethnic group's language over another. Broadcasting in Punjabi language by Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation decreased on TV and radio after 1947. Article 251 of the Constitution of Pakistan declares that that these two languages would be the only official languages at the national level, while provincial governments would be allowed to make provisions for the use of other languages. However, in the 1950s the constitution was amended to include the Bengali language. Eventually, Punjabi was granted status as a provincial language in Punjab Province, while the Sindhi language was given official status in 1972 after 1972 Language violence in Sindh.
Despite gaining official recognition at the provincial level, Punjabi is not a language of instruction for primary or secondary school students in Punjab Province (unlike Sindhi and Pashto in other provinces).