Punjabi grammar

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Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language native to the region of Punjab of India and Pakistan and spoken by the Punjabi people. This page discusses the grammar of Modern Standard Punjabi as defined by the relevant sources below (see #Bibliography).

Word order[edit]

Punjabi has a canonical word order of SOV (subject–object–verb).[1] It has postpositions rather than prepositions.[2]

Transliteration[edit]

In matters of script, Punjabi uses Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi. On this grammar page Punjabi is written in "standard orientalist" transcription as outlined in Masica (1991:xv). Being "primarily a system of transliteration from the Indian scripts, [and] based in turn upon Sanskrit" (cf. IAST), these are its salient features: subscript dots for retroflex consonants; macrons for etymologically, contrastively long vowels; h denoting aspirated plosives. Tildes denote nasalized vowels, while grave and acute accents denote low and high tones respectively.

Vowels and consonants are outlined in the tables below. The vowels table shows the character used in the article (ex. ī) followed by its IPA value in backslashes (ex. /iː/). See Punjabi language#Phonology for further clarification.

Vowels
Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
Close ī /iː/ ū /u/
Close-mid ē /eː/ i /ɪ/ u /ʊ/ ō /oː/
Mid vowel a /ə/
Open-mid e /ɛː/ o /ɔː/
Open ā /aː/
Bilabial Labio-
dental
Dental Alveolar Retroflex Post-alv./
Palatal
Velar Glottal
Plosive p /p/
ph /pʰ/
b /b/ t /t̪/
th /t̪ʰ/
d /d̪/ ṭ /ʈ/
ṭh /ʈʰ/
ḍ /ɖ/ k /k/
kh /kʰ/
g /g/
Affricate c /tʃ/
ch /tʃʰ/
j /dʒ/
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ ṇ /ɳ/ ñ /ɲ/ ṅ /ŋ/
Fricative f /f/ s /s/ z /z/ ś /ʃ/ x /x/ ġ /ɣ/ h /h/
Tap or Flap r /ɾ/ ṛ /ɽ/
Approximant v /ʋ/ y /j/
Lateral
approximant
l /l/ ḷ /ɭ/

Morphology[edit]

Nouns[edit]

Punjabi distinguishes two genders, two numbers, and five cases of direct, oblique, vocative, ablative, and locative/instrumental. The latter two cases are essentially now vestigial: the ablative occurs only in the singular, in free variation with oblique case plus ablative postposition, and the locative/instrumental is confined to set adverbial expressions.[3] Nouns may be further divided into extended and unextended declensional subtypes, with the former characteristically consisting of masculines ending in unaccented and feminines in .

The below tables displays the suffix paradigms, as outlined in Shackle (2003:600–601). Regarding the masculine, "the [extended] case-morphemes, very similar to those of the unextended declension, are added to the obl. base -e-, which is shortened to -i- (phonetically [e̯]) before back vowels and is lost before front vowels."[4] The division between feminine unextendeds and extendeds ending in looks to be now merely an etymological consideration, as there is neither a distinct oblique base nor any morphophonemic considerations.

Masculine
Dir. Obl. Voc. Abl. Loc./
Instr.
unEx. Sg. +ā +ȭ +ē
Pl. +ā̃ +ō +ī̃
Ex. Sg. -ā -ē - - -ē
Pl. -ē -iā̃ - -ī̃
Feminine
Dir. Obl. Voc. Abl. Loc./
Instr.
Sg. +ē +ȭ +ē
Pl. +ā̃ +ō +ī̃

The next table of noun declensions shows the above suffix paradigms in action. Words, from Shackle (2003:600–601): kṑṛā "stallion", sakhī "girlfriend", kàr "house", gall "thing, matter (being talked about)".

Extended
Dir. Obl. Voc. Abl. Loc./
Instr.
Masc. Sg. kṑṛā kṑṛe kṑṛiā kṑṛiȭ (kṑṛe)
Pl. kṑṛe kṑṛiā̃ kṑṛiō
Fem. Sg. sakhī sakhīē
Pl. sakhīā̃ sakhīō
Unextended
Dir. Obl. Voc. Abl. Loc./
Instr.
Masc. Sg. kàr kàrā kàrȭ kàrē
Pl. kàr kàrā̃ kàrō kàrī̃
Fem. Sg. gall (gallē) gallȭ gallē
Pl. gallā̃ gallō gallī̃

Adjectives[edit]

Adjectives may be divided into declinable and indeclinable categories. Declinables are marked, through termination, for the gender, number, case of the nouns they qualify. The set of declinable adjective terminations is similar but greatly simplified in comparison to that of noun terminations[5]

Sg. Pl.
Declin. Masc. Dir. -ā -ē
Obl. -ē -ē, -iā̃
Fem. -ī -īā̃
Indeclin.

Indeclinable adjectives are completely invariable, and can end in either consonants or vowels (including ā and ī ). Dir. masc. sg. () is the citation form. As a rule, adjectives ending in consonants are always indeclinable.

Declinable adjective caṅgā "good" in attributive use
Dir. Obl. Voc. Abl. Loc./
Instr.
Masc. Sg. caṅgā kṑṛā caṅgē kṑṛē caṅgē kṑṛiā caṅgē kṑṛiȭ (caṅge kṑṛē)
Pl. caṅgē kṑṛē caṅgiā̃ kṑṛiā̃ caṅgiā̃ kṑṛiō
Fem. Sg. caṅgī sakhī caṅgī sakhīē
Pl. caṅgīā̃ sakhīā̃ caṅgīā̃ sakhīō
Dir. Obl. Voc. Abl. Loc./
Instr.
Masc. Sg. caṅgā kàr caṅgē kàr caṅgē kàrā caṅgē kàrȭ caṅgē kàrē
Pl. caṅge kàr caṅgiā̃ kàrā̃ caṅgiā̃ kàrō caṅgiā̃ kàrī̃
Fem. Sg. caṅgī gall (caṅgī gallē) caṅgī gallȭ caṅgī gallē
Pl. caṅgīā̃ gallā̃ caṅgīā̃ gallō caṅgīā̃ gallī̃
Indeclinable adjective xarāb "bad" in attributive use
Dir. Obl. Voc. Abl. Loc./
Instr.
Masc. Sg. xarāb kṑṛā xarāb kṑṛē xarāb kṑṛiā xarāb kṑṛiȭ (xarāb kṑṛē)
Pl. xarāb kṑṛē xarāb kṑṛiā̃ xarāb kṑṛiō
Fem. Sg. xarāb sakhī xarāb sakhīē
Pl. xarāb sakhīā̃ xarāb sakhīō
Dir. Obl. Voc. Abl. Loc./
Instr.
Masc. Sg. xarāb kàr xarāb kàrā xarāb kàrȭ xarāb kàrē
Pl. xarāb kàr xarāb kàrā̃ xarāb kàrō xarāb kàrī̃
Fem. Sg. xarāb gall (xarāb gallē) xarāb gallȭ xarāb gallē
Pl. xarāb gallā̃ xarāb gallō xarāb gallī̃

All adjectives can be used either attributively, predicatively, or substantively. Those used substantively are declined as nouns rather than adjectives. Finally, additional inflections are often marked in colloquial speech, e.g. fem. sg. voc. nī sóṇīē kuṛīē! "hey pretty girl!".[5]

Postpositions[edit]

The aforementioned inflectional case system only goes so far on its own, and rather serves as that upon which is built a system of particles known as postpositions, which parallel English's prepositions. It is their use with a noun or verb that is what necessitates the noun or verb taking the oblique case, and it is with them that the locus of grammatical function or "case-marking" then lies. Such core postpositions include:

  • genitive marker; variably declinable in the manner of an adjective. X dā/dī/etc. Y has the sense "X's Y", with dā/dī/etc. agreeing with Y.
  • nū̃ – marks the indirect object (dative marker), or, if definite, the direct object (accusative marker).
  • ergative case marker; applicable to subjects of transitive perfective verbs.
  • - ablative marker, "from"
  • - superessive marker, "on" or "at"
  • vall - orientative marker; "towards"
  • kōḷ - possessive marker; "with" (as in possession) ex. kuṛī (de) kōḷ, "in the girl's possession."
  • vikhē - "at (a specific location)." Often colloquially replaced with . (e.g. Hoshiarpur vikhē, "at Hoshiarpur" (a city).
  • takk - "until, up to"
  • laī, vāstē - benefactive marker; "for"
  • bārē - "about"
  • vargā - comparative marker; "like"
  • duāḷē - "around, surrounding" ex. manjē (de) duāḷē, "around the bed."
  • binā̃ - abessive marker; "without"
  • nēṛē - "near"
  • lāgē - apudessive marker; "adjacent/next to"

Other postpositions are adverbs, following their obliqued targets either directly or with the inflected genitive linker de; e.g. kàr (de) vic "in the house", kṑṛe (de) nāḷ "with the stallion". Many such adverbs (the ones locative in nature) also possess corresponding ablative forms[6] by forming a contraction with the ablative postposition ; for example:

  • vic "in" → viccȭ "from in, among," for instance, jantē (de) viccȭ, "from among the people" and
  • nāḷ "with"→ nāḷȭ "compared to," for instance, kṑṛē (de) nāḷȭ, "compared to the stallion."

Pronouns[edit]

Personal[edit]

Punjabi has personal pronouns for the first and second persons, while for the third person demonstratives are used, which can be categorized deictically as near and remote. Pronouns do not distinguish gender.

The language has a T-V distinction in tū̃ and tusī̃. This latter "polite" form is also grammatically plural.

[7] 1st pn. 2nd pn.
Sg. Pl. Sg. Pl.
Direct mẽ asī̃ tū̃ tusī̃
Ergative asā̃ tusā̃
Dative menū̃ sānū̃ tenū̃ tuā̀nū̃
Ablative methȭ sāthȭ tethȭ tuā̀thȭ
Genitive mērā sāḍā tērā tuā̀ḍā
3rd pn. Relative Interrogative
Near Remote
Sg. Pl. Sg. Pl. Sg. Pl. Sg. Pl.
Direct koṇ, kī́
Oblique ḗ, is ḗnā̃ ṓ, us ṓnā̃ jí, jis jinā̃ kí, kis kinā̃

koṇ and are colloquially replaced by kḗṛā "which?" jḗṛā "which". Indefinites include kōī (obl. kisē) "some(one)" and kúj "some(thing)". The reflexive pronoun is āp, with a genitive of āpṇā. The pronominal obl. -nā̃ also occurs in ik, iknā̃ "some", hor, hornā̃ "others", sab, sabnā̃ "all".[8]

Derivates[edit]

Based on table in Shackle (2003:604). Indefinites are extended forms of the interrogative set; e.g. kitē "somewhere", kadē "sometimes". The multiple versions under "place" and "manner" are dialectal variations; the second row of "place" forms are the ablative forms of the first.

Interrogative Relative Demonstrative
Near Remote
Time kadȭ jadȭ (huṇ) ōdȭ
Place kitthē jitthē ēthē ōthē
kitthȭ jitthȭ ēthȭ ōthȭ
kíddar jíddar ḗdar ṓdar
Manner kíddā̃ jíddā̃ ḗddā̃ ṓddā̃
kivẽ jivẽ evẽ ovẽ
Quality kío jíā jíā éo jíā óo jíā
Quantity kinnā jinnā innā unnā
Size kiḍḍā jiḍḍā eḍā oḍā

Verbs[edit]

Overview[edit]

The Punjabi verbal system is largely structured around a combination of aspect and tense/mood. Like the nominal system, the Punjabi verb takes a single inflectional suffix, and is often followed by successive layers of elements like auxiliary verbs and postpositions to the right of the lexical base.[9]

Punjabi has two aspects in the perfective and the habitual, and possibly a third in the continuous, with each having overt morphological correlates. These are participle forms, inflecting for gender and number by way of vowel termination, like adjectives. The perfective, displaying a number of irregularities and morphophonemic adjustments, is formally the verb stem, followed by -i-, capped off by the agreement vowel. The habitual forms from the imperfective participle; verb stem, plus -d-, then vowel. The continuous forms periphrastically through compounding with the perfective of ráíṇā "to stay".

Derived from hoṇā "to be" are five copula forms: present, past, subjunctive, presumptive, contrafactual (also known as "past conditional"). Used both in basic predicative/existential sentences and as verbal auxiliaries to aspectual forms, these constitute the basis of tense and mood.

Non-aspectual forms include the infinitive, the imperative, and the conjunctive. Mentioned morphological conditions such the subjunctive, "presumptive", etc. are applicable to both copula roots for auxiliary usage with aspectual forms and to non-copula roots directly for often unspecified (non-aspectual) finite forms.

Finite verbal agreement is with the nominative subject, except in the transitive perfective, where it can be with the direct object, with the erstwhile subject taking the ergative construction -ne (see postpositions above). The perfective aspect thus displays split ergativity.

Tabled below on the left are the paradigms for the major Gender and Number termination (GN), along the line of that introduced in the adjectives section. To the right are the paradigms for the Person and Number termination (PN), used by the subjunctive (which has 1st pl. -īe) and future (which has 1st pl. -ā̃).

(GN) Sg. Pl.
Masc. -ā -ē
Fem. -ī -īā̃
(PN) 1st. 2nd. 3rd.
Sg. -ā̃ -ē~ -ē
Pl. -ā̃/īē -ō -aṇ

Forms[edit]

The sample verb is intransitive naccṇā "to dance", and the sample inflection is 3rd. masc. sg. (PN = e, GN = ā) where applicable.

Non-aspectual Aspectual
Non-finite
Root * nacc
Dir. Infinitive/
Gerund/
Obligatory
*-ṇ-ā naccṇā
Obl. Infinitive *-(a)ṇ naccaṇ
Abl. Infinitive *-ṇ-ȭ naccṇȭ
Conjunctive *-kē nacckē
Agentive/
Prospective
*-(a)ṇ-vāḷ-GN naccaṇvāḷā
Adjectivals.
Perfective *-GN hō-GN nacciā hōiā
Imperfective *-d-GN hō-GN naccdā hōiā
Adverbial. Obl. of adjectival.
Imperfective *-d-ē, -d-iā̃ naccdē, naccdiā̃
Finite
Contingent Future *-PN naccē
Definite Future *-PN-g-GN naccēgā
Imperatives.[10]
Sg. Pl.
Present nácc náccō
Aorist naccī̃ nacciō
Aspectuals plotted against copulas.
Perfective Habitual Continuous
*-(i)-GN *-d-GN * ráí-GN
Present h-? nacciā he naccdā he nacc ríā he
Past s-? nacciā sī naccdā sī nacc ríā sī
Subjunctive ho-v-PN nacciā hōvē naccdā hōvē
Presumptive ho-v-PN-g-GN nacciā hōvēgā naccdā hōvēgā
Contrafactual hun-d-GN nacciā hundā naccdā hundā
Unspecified nacciā naccdā

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gill, Harjeet Singh and Gleason Jr, Henry A. (1969). A Reference Grammar of Panjabi. Patiala: Department of Linguistics, Punjabi University
  2. ^ Wals.info
  3. ^ Shackle (2003:599)
  4. ^ Shackle (2003:600)
  5. ^ a b Shackle (2003:601)
  6. ^ Shackle (2003:602)
  7. ^ Shackle (2003:603)
  8. ^ Shackle (2003:604)
  9. ^ Masica (1991:257)
  10. ^ Shackle (2003:607–608)
  • Punjabi.aglsoft.com
  • Bhatia, Tej K. (1993). Punjabi: A Cognitive-Descriptive Grammar. London: Routledge.

Bibliography[edit]