Punjabi dialects

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Punjabi example.svg
The word "Punjabi" written in Shahmukhi (Nast'aliq style) and Gurmukhi
Native to Punjab region
Native speakers
100 million, including Lahnda (2010)[1]
Standard forms
Shahmukhi (Extended Perso-Arabic)
Gurmukhi (Brahmic)
Punjabi Braille (in India)
Devanagari (Brahmic, unofficial)[3]
Official status
Official language in
 India (Indian States of Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, secondary officially recognized language in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, & West Bengal)
 Pakistan (Pakistani Province of Punjab, Azad Kashmir, and Islamabad Capital Territory)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 pa
ISO 639-2 pan
ISO 639-3 paninclusive code
Individual codes:
bhd – Bhadrawahi [a]
bht – Bhattiyali
kfs – Bilaspuri
cdh – Chambeali
cdj – Churahi
doi – Dogri
dgo – Dogri (proper)
gbk – Gaddi (Bharmauri)
kjo – Harijan Kinnauri
hii – Hinduri
jat – Jakati
jns – Jaunsari
hno – Northern Hindko
xnr – Kangri
xhe – Khetrani
kfx – Kullu Pahari
doi – Lahnda
bfz – Mahasu Pahari
mjl – Mandeali
pnb – Pahari-Potwari
pgg – Pangwali
skr – Saraiki
srx – Sirmauri
hnd – Southern Hindko
pnb – Western Punjabi
Glottolog panj1256  (Punjabi)[4]
Punjab map.svg
Distribution of native Punjabi and Lahnda speakers in Pakistan and India
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Dialects of Punjabi are spoken by 60% of the population in Pakistan, as well as by a majority in Punjab state of India.

Punjabi dialects

Major dialects[edit]

In India, the major dialects are Majhi, Doabi, Malwai, and Powadhi. In Pakistan, they are Pothohari, Lahndi, and Multani.[5] Majhi is the standard in both countries.


Majhi is Punjabi's prestige dialect because it is standard of written Punjabi. It is spoken in the heart of Punjab in historical region of Majha which spans the Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Okara, Nankana Sahib, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat, Jhelum, Pakpattan, Vehari, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin and Chiniot districts of Pakistan's Punjab Province alongwith 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.

Mahasu Pahari[edit]

Mahasu Pahari is a Western Pahari language spoken in Himachal Pradesh.It is also known as Mahasui or Mahasuvi.Speaking population is about 1,000,000 (2001).It is more commonly spoken in Himachal Pradesh, Shimla (Simla) and Solan districts. It is to be known that Shimla and Solan were parts of old Mahasu district. Himachal Pradesh State on Ist September, 1972 reoganized the districts dissolving Mahasu district.The Solan district was carved out of Solan and Arki tehsils of the then Mahasu district and tehsils of Kandaghat and Nalagarh of the then Shimla District.

It is classified as- Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Northern zone, Western Pahari. According to different locations, the language has developed several dialects. Lower Mahasu Pahari (Baghati, Baghliani, Kiunthali), Upper Mahasu Pahari (Rampuri, Rohruri, Shimla Siraji, Sodochi). The Kiunthali variety appears to be understood by others, and their attitude toward it is favorable. Rampuri is also called Kochi; Rohruri is also called Soracholi and Sodochi spoken in Kotgarh. Intelligibility among dialects above 85%. Lexical similarity: 74%–82% with upper dialects, 74%–95% with lower dialects.The language is used in home and for religious purpose It is understood and spoken from people af vital age group. The educated are more proficient in Hindi and English. It is considered to be highly endangered as the number of people speaking is constantly going down. It is also to be noted that "Sirmauri" spoken in Sirmaur, Himachal Pradesh and in neighboring jaunsar-bawar of Uttrakhand more or less share the same roots down to Mahasu/mahasui language.


Shahpuri dialect (also known as Sargodha dialect) is mostly spoken in Pakistani Punjab. It is one of the oldest dialect of the Punjabi language spoken in Sargodh Division[6] of Pakistani Punjab.[7] Its name is derived from former Shahpur District (now Shahpur Tehsil, being part of Sargodha District). It can be described as a mixture of Majhi, Pothohari and Thalochi dialects. Shahpurias in the Khushab area speak this dialect in a more Thalochi tone while those in southern parts of its distribution have color of Jhangochi on their language.[8] 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.[9] The Shahpuri dialect of Punjabi has several aspects that set it apart from other Punjabi variants.[10]


Jhangochi (جھنگوچی) dialect is oldest and most idiosyncratic dialect of the Punjabi. It is spoken in Pakistani Punjab throughout a widespread area, starting from Khanewal and Jhang at both ends of Ravi and Chenab to Hafizabad district. This entire area has almost the same traditions, customs and culture. The Jhangochi dialect of Punjabi has several aspects that set it apart from other Punjabi variants. This area has a great culture and heritage, especially literary heritage, as it is credited with the creation of the famous epic romance stories of Heer Ranjha and Mirza Sahiba. It is also called Ubhechari dialect۔


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. Currently area includes Faisalabad, Chiniot, Sahiwal, Toba Tek Singh, Bahawalnagar districts in Pakistani Punjab. Rachnavi is alternate names of this dialect.


Mandeali is a Western Pahari language spoken in northern India, predominantly in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh by the people of the Mandi Valley and particularly in the major city of Mandi. Other spellings for the name are Mandiyali and Mandiali; it is also called Mandalgarhi ~ Mandigyahri. UNESCO reports it is one of the highly endangered languages of India.[11] Speakers of the language have decreased by 21% from 1961 to 2001.

The Chambealic varieties (Bilaspuri, Chambeali, Bhattiyali, Pangwali, Gaddi, and Churahi/Bhadrawahi/Bhalesi/Khashali/Padari) are often considered separate languages, but at least some are 90–95% intelligible with Mandeali proper.


Bhadarwahi (Bhadrawahi) is a native language of the people of Bhadarwah, a tehsil in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Bhaderwahi is a Pahari language spoken by about 50,000 people in Bhaderwah town and surrounding villages (Bhadrawahi/Bhadarwahi, Bhalesi, Padari/Padri, and Khashali/Khasali dialects), and by about 110,000 people in Chaurah and Saluni tehsils in Himachal Pradesh. It has many alternate names like Baderwali, Bhadri, Badrohi, Bhidli.


Kangri is a dialect spoken in northern India, predominantly in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, by the people of the Kangra Valley. It is an Indo-Aryan dialect, related to Dogri and classified as one of the Western Pahari (पहाड़ी) group of languages, with somewhat vocabulary impact from Punjabi,[12] which is spoken to the west in the state of Punjab. Kangri, along with Dogri, has been classified as a dialect of Punjabi by linguists but since the 1960s, both have been recognised as dialects of a separate language group called Pahari.


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 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.


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.


The Chambealic varieties (Bilaspuri, Chambeali, Bhattiyali, Pangwali, Gaddi, and Churahi/Bhadrawahi/Bhalesi/Khashali/Padari) are often considered separate languages, but at least some are 90–95% intelligible with Mandeali proper.

Harijan Kinnauri[edit]

Pahari Kinnauri, or Harijan Kinnauri, is a Western Pahari of northern India. It is spoken by harijan, or dalits, in Kinnaur District; it is not clear how distinct it is from other varieties of Himachali.


Pothohari is spoken in north Pakistani Punjab and Azad Kashmir. The area where it is spoken extends in the north from Muzaffarabad to as far south as Jhelum, Gujar Khan, Rawat and Rawalpindi, Murree Hills north of Rawalpindi, and east to Bhimber and Rawalakot. Chibhali and Dhundi-Kairali dialects may be related. It is in a dialect chain with Majhi and Hindko dialects of Punjabi.


Multani is spoken in Multan and Lodhran districts of Pakistan Punjab. It had been historically classified as a dialect of Punjabi. In the 1920s Garrison in his Linguist Survey of India classified into Southern cluster of Lahnda (Western Punjabi). In 1964 Multani was termed as Saraiki which is claimed as a separate language.


These similar dialects are spoken in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan in the districts of Peshawar, Nowshera, Kohat, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur and the lower half of the Neelum District of Azad Kashmir. They had been historically classified as dialects of Punjabi. In the 1920s, Garrison in his Linguist Survey of India classified them within the Western cluster of Lahnda (Western Punjabi). The debate over Hindko as a separate language or dialect of Punjabi is an issue which could not be resolved.


Kullu (Kullū, also known as Kuluī and Kulvi) is a Western Pahari language spoken in Himachal Pradesh.


It is mostly spoken in Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan districts in Pakistani Punjab. It is also recently classified as Saraiki, which is considered a separate language by many linguists.


This dialect is quite similar to the Potowari dialect, but differs slightly, for example in the past tense, in which it uses (ahay+prefix) for 'was'. For example "Mea ahayaan" means "I was". It also uses "Vinjna" instead of "jaana" or "gchna" for "going". It is mostly spoken in Fateh Jang Tehsil and Pindi Gheb Tehsil in Pakistani Punjab. The Awaankari dialect spoken in Mianwali is also very close to Ghebi.


Also known as Bhawalpuri/Choolistani; spoken in Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Rahim Yar Khan districts of Punjab (Pakistan). Its name is derived from Riast (State) of Bahawalpur. It is a mix of Rajasthani, Punjabi and Multani(Saraiki).It is spoken throughout a widespread area on the banks of river Sutlej and Choolistan desert.It is also recently classified as Saraiki dialect, but Saraiki as a separate language or dialect of Punjabi is an issue which could not be resolved to date because of contrasting views of Local linguists.


It is one of dialect spoken in Pakistani Punjab which is a mixture of Potowari, Hindko dialects of Punjabi.Its name is derived form Chach region in Attock District of Pakistani Punjab where Chhachi clan which is a sub section of the Kohli Khokhran clan. It is mainly spoken in Attock District, Parts of Hazara Division and adjacent areas of Pakistani Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkha.


Jandali is a mixture of Potowari, Chachi (Hindko sub dialect) and Thalochi dialects. It is also called Rohi. It is mostly spoken in Jand Tehsil and Mianwali district in Pakistani Punjab.


Spoken in Thal Desert of Pakistani Punjab. Its name is derived from Thal Desert. This dialect has great proximity with Shah puri Dialect of Punjabi Language spoken in Sargodha and Khaushab Districts. It is spoken throughout a widespread area, starting from Bhakkar, Layyah to Muzzaffargarh Districts on eastern end of Sindh River In Punjab Province of Pakistan. It is also spoken on western end of Sindh River from Bannu, Tank runs down to Dera Ismail Khan in KPK Province of Pakistan.


Spoken in parts of Rawalpindi Division (Pothohar) of Pakistani Punjab.[7] Its name is derived from Dhan valley where its spoken. It is spoken in Chakwal,[13] parts of Jehlam Districts and Attock Districts. The people of Pothohar speak Pothohari dialect. However, the people of Chakwal or the Dhanni area in particular do not speak Pothohari and are ethnologically not regarded as Potoharis. They speak a distinctive Chakwali or Dhanni dialect of Punjabi, which is closer to Shahpuri, a dialect spoken in the Shahpur-Salt Range area.[9]


These are a form of Derawali very strongly influenced by baluchi and sindhi languages, spoken in Musakhel and Barkhan, districts of Pakistani Province Balochistan respectively.

Khetrani may not actually be a Lahnda language, but Dardic.


Jaunsari is a Pahari language of northern India spoken in the Chakrata and Kalsi blocks of Dehradun district in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand state. It is said to be a dialect of the Garhwali language,[citation needed] but is more closely related to the Dogri–Kangri languages. Since it is spoken in an area that borders the Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh, it has vocabulary from the closely related Sirmauri language.[citation needed]

The people of this region are Indo-Aryan in origin and claim to be descendants of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata. They are listed as a Scheduled Tribe in the Indian Constitution.


Lahnda /ˈlɑːndə/[14] or Western Punjabi (Shahmuhki: شاہ مکھی پنجابی) are those Indo-Aryan varieties in parts of Pakistani Punjab that are transitional between Eastern Punjabi and Sindhi. The literary language of Lahnda speakers has traditionally been Standard Punjabi.[15]


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.

Videsi ( Barli Boli)[edit]

There are several dialects all cited in the dialect link. Note as the language is spreading with immigration throughout the world variations on the exported dialects of the immigrants mixed with local languages are now emerging where Punjabi has managed to sustain itself. For example in the UK and North America English words and grammar have begun infiltrating Punjabi spoken there as has Swahili in Kenya. The effect of this is a myriad of Diaspora Creole variations that deviate from the source language somewhat like Spanish and French have in Latin America and North America.


Dogri (डोगरी or ڈوگرى) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by about five million people[16] in India and Pakistan, chiefly in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, but also in northern Punjab, other parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and elsewhere.[17] Dogri speakers are called Dogras, and the Dogri-speaking region is called Duggar.[18] Since Kashmiri, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi are spoken in a region that has witnessed significant ethnic and identity conflict, all have been exposed to the dialect-versus-language question. Each of these languages possesses a central standard on which its literature is based, and from which there are multiple dialectal variations. At various times, Dogri and Himachali have been claimed to be dialects of Punjabi. Similarly, some Western Pahari languages (such as Rambani) have been claimed to be dialects of Kashmiri.[19][20] Dogri is a member of the Western Pahari group of languages.[19] The language is referred to as Pahari (पहाड़ी or پھاڑی) in Pakistan. Unusually for an Indo-European language, Dogri is tonal,[21] a trait it shares with other Western Pahari languages and Punjabi.


The Gaddis are a tribe living mainly in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. They are Hindus and belong to several castes including Brahmin, Rajput, Dhangar, Khatri, Rana and Thakur.

Gaddi woman cutting grass. Painting by Alfred Hallett, c.1975.


Saraiki is spoken in Sindh, Balochistan.


Sirmauri, or Himachali, is a pair of Western Pahari languages of northern India, Dharthi (Giriwari) and Giripari. Although considered dialects, intelligibility between them is difficult, and not much better than with neighboring languages. Since Kashmiri, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi are spoken in a region that has witnessed significant ethnic and identity conflict, all have been exposed to the dialect-versus-language question. Each of these languages possesses a central standard on which its literature is based, and from which there are multiple dialectal variations. At various times, Gujri, Dogri and Himachali have been claimed to be dialects of Punjabi Language. Similarly, some Western Pahari languages (such as Rambani) have been claimed to be dialects of Kashmiri.[19][20]

Punjabi University classification[edit]

The University has issued the following list of dialects of Punjabi.[22]


  1. ^ The status of these various languages below as Punjabi varieties or separate languages is subject to discussion.


  1. ^ "Världens 100 största språk 2010" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2010), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. ^ "Punjabi". languagesgulper.com. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "Census of India: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues –2001". Censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Panjabi". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  5. ^ "UCLA Language Materials Project: Language Profile". Lmp.ucla.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  6. ^ "District Website". Sargodha.dc.lhc.gov.pk. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  7. ^ a b "Online Punjabi Teaching". Learnpunjabi.org. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  8. ^ The Indo-Aryan Languages By Colin P. Masica (page 18)
  9. ^ a b "The Art and Culture of the Diaspora | Mother Tongue: The Many Dialects of Punjabi". Sikhchic.com. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  10. ^ "Punjabi Language, Gurmukhi , Punjabi Literature, History Of Punjabi Language, State Language Of Punjab". Languages.iloveindia.com. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  11. ^ "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in danger". Unesco.org. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "Online Punjabi Teaching". Learnpunjabi.org. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  13. ^ "History of Chakwal | I Have A Dream In My Eyes". Meetcornor.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  14. ^ "Lahnda". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  15. ^ Tolstaya, Natalya I. (1981). The Panjabi Language. Routledge. ISBN 9780710009395. 
  16. ^ Sharma, Sita Ram (1992). Encyclopaedia of Teaching Languages in India, v. 20. Anmol Publications. p. 6. 
  17. ^ Billawaria, Anita K. (1978). History and Culture of Himalayan States, v.4. Light & Life Publishers. 
  18. ^ Narain, Lakshmi (1965). An Introduction to Dogri Folk Literature and Pahari Art. Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. 
  19. ^ a b c Masica, Colin P. (1993). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-29944-6. 
  20. ^ a b Itagi, N. H. (1994). Spatial Aspects of Language. Central Institute of Indian Languages. p. 70. ISBN 81-7342-009-2. 
  21. ^ Ghai, Ved Kumari (1991). Studies in Phonetics and Phonology: With Special Reference to Dogri. Ariana Publishing House. ISBN 81-85347-20-4. non-Dogri speakers, also trained phoneticians, tend to hear the difference as one of length only, perceiving the second syllable as stressed 
  22. ^ https://web.archive.org/20090831060945/http://www.advancedcentrepunjabi.org:80/intro1.asp. Archived from the original on August 31, 2009. Retrieved September 20, 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)


  • Burling, Robbins. 1970. Man's many voices. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • Ethnologue. Indo-Aryan Classification of 219 languages that have been assigned to the Indo-Aryan grouping of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages.
  • Ethnologue. Languages of India
  • Ethnologue. Languages of Pakistan
  • Grierson, George A. (1903–28). Linguistic Survey of India. Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, India.  Online database
  • Masica, Colin. 1991. The Indo-Aryan languages. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Rahman, Tariq. 2006. The role of English in Pakistan with special reference to tolerance and militancy. In Amy Tsui et al., Language, policy, culture and identity in Asian contexts. Routledge. 219-240.
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