Punjabi language facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Punjabi
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, پنجابی
Panjābī
Punjabi example.svg
The word "Punjabi" in Gurmukhi, Shahmukhi
Native to India, Pakistan
Region Punjabi
Ethnicity Punjabis
Native speakers 100 million  (2010)
Language family
Writing system Gurmukhī
Shahmukhī
Official status
Official language in  India: (Punjab, Haryana, Delhi
 Pakistan (Punjab and Azad Kashmir)
Regulated by No official regulation
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.

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.

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

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.

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".

Distribution

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. In India, Punjabi is spoken as a native language by 3% of the population. This was about 33 million in 2011. 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. In Canada, it is the fourth-most-spoken language. There were 1.3 million Punjabi speakers in the UK in 2000, and 368,000 in Canada in 2006.

Phonology

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

Punjabi Alphabet
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. The Majhi dialect is the written standard for Punjabi in both parts of Punjab.

More reading

  • 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

Images for kids


Punjabi language Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.