Punjabi (/pʌnˈdʒɑːbi/; Gurmukhi: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ pañjābī; Shahmukhi: پنجابی paṉjābī) 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 in having 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 fourth most-spoken language in the United Kingdom, and 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 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.
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. Panj is cognate with Sanskrit pañca and Greek πέντε (pénte) "five", and "āb" is cognate 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 seventh-most widely spoken in India and spoken Punjabi diaspora in various countries.
Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan. Punjabi is the provincial language in the Punjab Province of Pakistan. Punjabi is spoken as a native language by over 44.15% of Pakistanis. About 70.0% of the people of Pakistan speak Punjabi as either their first or second language, and for some as their third language. Lahore, the capital of the Punjab Province of Pakistan, is the largest Punjabi-speaking city in the world. Moreover, Punjabi first-language (native) speakers constitute 86%, 72%, and 98% of the population in Lahore, Islamabad, and Faisalabad ., and there are large numbers of Punjabi speakers in Karachi.
|Year||Population of Pakistan||Percentage||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|
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, 1.3 million in the UK in 2000, 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.
In modern culture
Punjabi pop and folk songs are very popular both in India and Pakistan at the national level. 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. In India, the number of students opting for Punjabi Literature as an optional subject in IAS examinations has increased along with the success rate of the students. Punjabi music is very popular today in the Indian subcontinent and among the Indian diaspora around the world.
Dialects and related languages
The Majhi (ماجھی ਮਾਝੀ) dialect spoken around Amritsar and Lahore is Punjabi's prestige dialect. Majhi is spoken in the heart of Punjab in the region of Majha, which spans Lahore, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Kasur, Tarn Taran, Faisalabad, Nankana Sahib, Pathankot, Okara, Pakpattan, Sahiwal, Narowal, Sheikhupura, Sialkot, Chiniot, Gujranwala and Gujrat and in Mandi Bahauddin(97’/.) districts. Majhi retains the nasal consonants /ŋ/ and /ɲ/, which have been superseded elsewhere by non-nasals /ɡ/ and /d͡ʒ/ respectively. The Majhi (and Lahnda) spoken in Pakistan is more Persianized in vocabulary, and the usage of the sounds /z/, /x/ and /ɣ/ is more common. (In the following table, it should be noted that tabbar in both dialects is informal)
|English||Gurmukhi based (India)||Shahmukhi based (Pakistan)|
|President||ਰਾਸ਼ਟਰਪਤੀ (rāśtarpatī)||صدرمملکت (sadar-e mumlikat)|
|Article||ਲੇਖ (lēkh)||مضمون (mazmūn)|
|Prime Minister||ਪਰਧਾਨ ਮੰਤਰੀ (pardhān mantarī)||وزیراعظم (wazir-e aʿzam)|
|Family||ਪਰਵਾਰ/ਟੱਬਰ (parvār/ṭabbar)||ٹبّر/خاندان (khāndān/ṭabbar)|
|Philosophy||ਫ਼ਲਸਫ਼ਾ/ਦਰਸ਼ਨ (falsafā/darśan)||فلسفہ (falsafā)|
|Capital||ਰਾਜਧਾਨੀ (rājdhānī)||دارالحکومت (dārul haqūmat)|
|Viewer||ਦਰਸ਼ਕ (darśak)||ناظرین (nāzrīn)|
In India, Punjabi is written in Gurmukhī, a standardised script. The word Gurmukhi translates into 'from the Guru's mouth'. In Pakistan, the Shahmukhī script, meaning "from the King's mouth", based on the Persian abjad is used.
|Close||i(ː) ਈ||u(ː) ਊ|
|Near-close||ɪ ਇ||ʊ ਉ|
|Close-mid||e(ː) ਏ||o(ː) ਓ|
|Open-mid||ɛ(ː) ਐ||ɔ(ː) ਔ|
The long vowels (the vowels with [ː]) also have nasal analogues.
|Nasal||m ਮ||n ਨ||ɳ ਣ||ɲ ਞ||ŋ ਙ|
|tenuis||p ਪ||t̪ ਤ||ʈ ਟ||t͡ʃ ਚ||k ਕ|
|aspirated||pʰ ਫ||t̪ʰ ਥ||ʈʰ ਠ||t͡ʃʰ ਛ||kʰ ਖ|
|voiced||b ਬ||d̪ ਦ||ɖ ਡ||d͡ʒ ਜ||ɡ ਗ|
|Fricative||voiceless||f ਫ਼||s ਸ||ʃ ਸ਼||(x ਖ਼)|
|voiced||z ਜ਼||(ɣ ਗ਼)|
|Flap||ɾ ਰ||ɽ ੜ|
|Approximant||ʋ ਵ||l ਲ||ɻ ਲ਼||j ਯ||ɦ ਹ|
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.
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.
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 translates into "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.
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 ‖]
Medieval era, Mughal and Sikh period
- The earliest Punjabi literature is found in the fragments of writings of the 11th Nath yogis (ਨਾਥਯੋਗੀ, ناتھیوگی) Gorakshanath and Charpatnah which is primarily spiritual and mystical in tone.Fariduddin Ganjshakar of Pak Pattan is generally recognised as the first major poet of the Punjabi language. Roughly from the 11th century to 19th century, many great Sufi saints and poets preached in the Punjabi language. Bulle Shah is considered one of the greatest Sufi poets. Punjabi Sufi poetry developed under Shah Hussain (1538–1599), Sultan Bahu (1628–1691), Shah Sharaf (1640–1724), Ali Haider (1690–1785), Saleh Muhammad Safoori (son of Hazrat Mai Safoora Qadiriyya, whom Ali Haider had given great tribute) and Bulleh Shah (1680–1757).
- 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 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). Pupils in secondary schools can choose the language as an elective, while Punjabi instruction or study remains rare in higher education. One notable example is the teaching of Punjabi language and literature by the University of the Punjab in Lahore which began in 1970 with the establishment of its Punjabi Department.
In the cultural sphere, there are many books, plays, and songs being written or produced in the Punjabi-language in Pakistan. Until the 1970s, there were a large number of Punjabi-language films being produced by the Lollywood film industry, however since then Urdu has become a much more dominant language in film production. Additionally, television channels in Punjab Province (centred on the Lahore area) are broadcast in Urdu. The preeminence of Urdu in both broadcasting and the Lollywood film industry is seen by critics as being detrimental to the health of the language.
Language demands in Punjab province
The use of Urdu and English as the near exclusive languages of broadcasting, the public sector, and formal education have led some to fear that Punjabi in Pakistan is being relegated to a low-status language and that it is being denied an environment where it can flourish. Several prominent educational leaders, researchers, and social commentators have echoed the opinion that the intentional promotion of Urdu and the continued denial of any official sanction or recognition of the Punjabi language amounts to a process of "Urdu-isation" that is detrimental to the health of the Punjabi language In August 2015, the Pakistan Academy of Letters, International Writer’s Council (IWC) and World Punjabi Congress (WPC) organised the Khawaja Farid Conference and demanded that a Punjabi-language university should be established in Lahore and that Punjabi language should be declared as the medium of instruction at the primary level. In September 2015, a case was filed in Supreme Court of Pakistan against Government of Punjab, Pakistan as it did not take any step to implement the Punjabi language in the province. Additionally, several thousand Punjabis gather in Lahore every year on International Mother Language Day.
Hafiz Saeed, chief of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD) has questioned Pakistan's decision to adopt Urdu as its national language in a country where majority of people speak Punjabi language, citing his interpretation of Islamic doctrine as encouraging education in the mother-tongue. The list of thinktanks, political organisations, cultural projects, and individuals that demand authorities at the national and provincial level to promote the use of the language in the public and official spheres includes:
- Cultural and research institutes: Punjabi Adabi Board, the Khoj Garh Research Centre, Punjabi Prachar, Institute for Peace and Secular Studies, Adbi Sangat, Khaaksaar Tehreek, Saanjh, Maan Boli Research Centre, Punjabi Sangat Pakistan, Punjabi Markaz, Sver International
- Trade unions and youth groups: Punjabi Writers Forum, National Students Federation, Punjabi Union-Pakistan, Punjabi National Conference, National Youth Forum, Punjabi Writers Forum, National Students Federation, Punjabi Union, Pakistan, and the Punjabi National Conference.
- Notable activists include Tariq Jatala, Farhad Iqbal, Diep Saeeda, Khalil Ojla, Afzal Sahir, Jamil Ahmad Paul, Mazhar Tirmazi, Mushtaq Sufi, Biya Je, Tohid Ahmad Chattha and Bilal Shaker Kahaloon, Nazeer Kahut
At the federal level, Punjabi has official status via the Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution. At the state level, Punjabi is the sole official language of the state of Punjab, while it has secondary official status in the states of Haryana and Delhi.
Both federal and state laws specify the use of Punjabi in the field of education. The state of Punjab uses the Three Language Formula, and Punjabi is required to be either the medium of instruction, or one of the three languages learnt in all schools in Punjab. Punjabi is also a compulsory language in Haryana, and other states with a significant Punjabi speaking minority are required to offer Punjabi medium education.
There is a vibrant Punjabi language movie industry in India, however Punjabi has a much smaller presence in television. Despite Punjabi having far greater official recognition in India, attitudes of the Punjabi speaking elite towards the language are ambivalent as they are in neighboring Pakistan.:37 There are also claims of state apathy towards the language in non-Punjabi majority states.
Institutes working for Punjabi
- Punjabi University It was established on the 30 April 1962, and is only the second university in the world to be named after a language, after Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- Research Centre for Punjabi Language Technology, Punjabi University, Patiala. It is working for development of core technologies for Punjabi, Digitisation of basic materials, online Punjabi teaching, developing software for office use in Punjabi, provinding common platform to Punjabi cyber community. Machine translation tool for Punjabi to Hindi, Punjabi to Urdu nad vice versa and machine transliteration system between Gurumukhi and Shahmukhi scripts are very popular.
- Punjabipedia an online encyclopaedia is also launched by Patiala university in 2014.
- The Dhahan Prize: The Dhahan Prize was created award literary works produced in Punjabi around the world. The Prize encourages new writing by awarding $25,000 CDN annually to one "best book of fiction" published in either of the two Punjabi scripts, Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi. Two second prizes of $5,000 CDN are also awarded, with the provision that both scripts are represented among the three winners. The Dhahan Prize is awarded by Canada India Education Society (CIES).
Various governmental academies and institutes working for Punjabi language
|logo of academy||Academy or institute and establishing year||Government||Note|
- Software are available for Punjabi language for almost all platforms. These software are mainly in Gurmukhi script. Nowadays, nearly all Punjabi newspapers, magazines, journals, and periodicals are composed on computers via various Punjabi software programmes, the most widespread of which is InPage Desktop Publishing package. Microsoft has included Punjabi language support in all new versions of Windows and both Windows Vista, Mircrsoft Office 2007, 2010 and 2013, are available in Punjabi through the Language Interface Pack support. Most Linux Desktop distributions allow the easy installation of Punjabi support and translations as well. Apple implemented the Punjabi language keyboard across Mobile devices. Google also provides many applications in Punjabi, like Google Search, Google Translate and Google Punjabi Input Tools.
- Punjabi Wikipedia
- Languages of Pakistan
- Languages of India
- List of Indian languages by total speakers
- List of Punjabi-language newspapers
- Hindi-to-Punjabi Machine Translation System
- Punjabi cinema
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Sikhs often write Punjabi in Gurmukhi, Hindus in Devanagari, and Muslims in Perso-Arabic.
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