Punjabi language

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Punjabi example.svg
The word "Punjabi" written in Shahmukhi (Nast'aliq style), Gurmukhi
Native to Punjab region
Native speakers
100 million, including Lahnda variants (2010)[1]
Standard forms
(Shahmukhi alphabet)
Punjabi Braille
Official status
Official language in
Pakistan, India
Language codes
ISO 639-1


paEastern Punjabi
ISO 639-2

none Individual codes:

panEastern Punjabi
ISO 639-3

lahinclusive code
Individual codes:
lah – Lahnda
pnb – Western Punjabi
hno – Northern Hindko
hnd – Southern Hindko
jat – Jakati
xhe – Khetrani
phr – Pahari-Potwari
skr – Saraiki

panEastern Punjabi
Glottolog lahn1241  (Lahnda)[3]
east2727  (Eastern Punjabic)[4]
Linguasphere 59-AAF-e
Countries where Punjabi is spoken.png
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
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Punjabi /pʌnˈɑːbi/[5] (Shahmukhi: پنجابی paṉjābī; Gurmukhi: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ pañjābī)[6] is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by over 100 million native speakers worldwide, making it the 10th most widely spoken language (2015)[7][8] in the world. It is the native language of the Punjabi people who inhabit the historical Punjab region of Pakistan and India. Among the Indo-European languages it is unusual in being a tonal language.[9][10][11]

Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan,[12] 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[13] and third-most spoken native language (after English and French) in Canada.[14][15] The language also has a significant presence in the United Arab Emirates, United States, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. The Punjabi language is written in the Shahmukhi and Gurumukhi scripts, making it one of the relatively few languages written in more than one script.



The word Punjabi is 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 pente "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.

Origin of the Punjabi language[edit]

Punjabi developed from Sanskrit through Prakrit language and later Apabhraṃśa (Sanskrit:अपभ्रंश; corruption or corrupted speech)[16] From 600 BC Sanskrit gave birth to many regional languages in diffrerent parts of India. These all languages are called Prakrit language 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 ,which was a degenerated form 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.[17][17][18][18][19][19]

Arabic and Persian influence on Punjabi[edit]

Arabic and Persian influence in the historical Punjab region began with the late first millennium Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent.[20] 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.[21] Punjabi has more Persian and Arabic vocabulary than Bengali, Marathi, and Gujarati due to the proximity of the Punjab with western Asia.[22] 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.[23]

Geographic distribution[edit]

Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan, the seventh-most widely spoken in India and spoken Punjabi diaspora in various countries.


Map of showing geographical distribution of Punjabis in Pakistan
a book cover from Pakistan, written in Shahmukhi script, which is used in Pakistan

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. 86% of the total population of Lahore is native Punjabi and Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, is 71% native Punjabis at 3rd after Faisalabad where 76% are native. There are also large number of Punjabi speakers in Karachi.

Census history of Punjabi speakers in Pakistan[24]
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
Provinces of Pakistan by Punjabi speakers (2008)
Rank Division Punjabi speakers Percentage
Pakistan 106,335,300 60% (inc Saraiki and Hindko dialects)
1 Punjab 70,671,704 75.23%
2 Sindh 4,592,261 10%
3 Islamabad Capital Territory 1,343,625 71.66%
4 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 7,396,085 21%
5 Balochistan 318,745 2.52%

In the 1981 National Census of Pakistan the Saraiki, Pothohari and Hindko dialects of the Western Punjabi were accorded the status of separate languages, which explains the decrease of the percentage of Punjabi speakers.


"Jallianwala Bagh" written in Hindi, Punjabi, and English in Amritsar, India

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.

Census history of Punjabi speakers in India[25]
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%

Punjabi diaspora[edit]

Main article: Punjabi diaspora
Southall Station (United Kingdom) sign in Punjabi, in the Gurmukhī script

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,[26] where it is the fourth-most-commonly used language,.[27] There were 76 million Punjabi speakers in Pakistan in 2008,[28] 33 million in India in 2011,[29] 1.3 million in the UK in 2000,[30] 368,000 in Canada in 2006,[31] and smaller numbers in other countries.

Official status[edit]

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 has also second official status in Delhi along with Urdu, Haryana.

Punjabi on Indian currency, see in language box on eleventh place

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.

Modern Punjabi[edit]

Gurmukhi alphabet excluding vowels

Standard Punjabi[edit]

  • However 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 this sense, Punjabi is different from Hindi, Bangla and Gujrati languages, where emphasis is given only to words from the Sanskrit 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 like Urdu.

Punjabi in modern culture[edit]

Punjabi is becoming more acceptable among Punjabis in modern media and communications. Punjabi has always been an integral part of Indian cinema. A large number of Hindi movies now incorporate Punjabi vocabulary in music and dialogue. 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 throughout the world.[32]

Dialects and related languages[edit]

Main article: Punjabi dialects
Dialects of Punjabi language

Punjabi has variously been assigned to either the Northwestern group of Indo-Aryan (together with Lahnda and Sindhi) or to the Central group (together with Hindi).[33]

The major dialects of Punjabi include Majhi, Doabi, Malwai, Powadhi, Pothohari, and Multani. The dialects in the Lahnda dialect continuum, including Saraiki and Hindko, are considered as dialects of Punjabi by many linguists but as distinct languages by others.[34]

In Indo-Aryan dialectology generally, the presence of transitional dialects creates problems in assigning some dialects to one or another "language".[35][36] However, over the last century there has usually been little disagreement when it comes to defining the core region of the Punjabi language. The British linguist George Abraham Grierson came to the conclusion that a group of dialects known collectively as "western Punjabi" spoken north and west of the Punjab heartland, in the Indus valley itself and on the lower reaches of the other four tributaries (excluding the Beas River), in fact constituted a language distinct from Punjabi. He named this group of dialects "Lahnda" in a volume of the Language Survey of India (LSI) published in 1919.[37] He grouped as "southern Lahnda" the dialects that are now recognized as Saraiki. In the National Census of Pakistan (1981) Saraiki and Hindko (previously categorized as "Western Punjabi"), got the status of separate languages,[38] which explains the decrease in the percentage of Punjabi speakers.

Standard dialect[edit]

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 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.

English Gurmukhi based (India) Shahmukhi based (Pakistan)
President ਪਰਧਾਨ (pardhān) صدرا ملمکت (sadar-e mulmikat)
Article ਲੇਖ (lēkh) مظمون (mazmūn)
Prime Minister ਪਰਧਾਨ ਮੰਤਰੀ (pardhān matarī) وزیرا اعظم (wazir-e aʿzam)
Family ਪਰਵਾਰ/ਟੱਬਰ (parvār/ṭabar) تابڑ/خاندان (khāndān/tabbar)
Philosophy ਫਲਸਫਾ (falsafā) فلسفہ (falsafā)
Capital ਰਾਜਧਾਨੀ (rājdhānī) راجدغانڑ/دارال حکومت (dārul haqūmat/rājghar)
Viewer ਦਰਸ਼ਕ (darśak) ناظرین (nāzrīn)

In India, Punjabi is written in Gurmukhī, a standardized script. The word Gurmukhi translates into 'from the Guru's mouth'.[39] In Pakistan, the Shahmukhī script, meaning "from the King's mouth", based on the Persian abjad is used.[40]


Front Central Back
Close i(ː) u(ː)
Near-close ɪ ʊ
Close-mid e(ː) o(ː)
Mid ə
Open-mid ɛ(ː) ɔ(ː)
Open a(ː)

The long vowels (the vowels with [ː]) also have nasal analogues.

Labial Dental/
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɳ ɲ ŋ
tenuis p ʈ t͡ʃ k
aspirated t̪ʰ ʈʰ t͡ʃʰ
voiced b ɖ d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative voiceless f ਫ਼ s ʃ ਸ਼ (x ਖ਼)
voiced z ਜ਼ (ɣ ਗ਼)
Flap ɾ ɽ
Approximant ʋ l ɻ ਲ਼[41] j ɦ


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.[42]


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.

Writing systems[edit]

Punjabi has two major writing systems in use: Gurmukhi, which is a Brahmic script derived from the Laṇḍā script,[43] and Shahmukhi, which is an Arabic script. The word Gurmukhi translates into "Guru's mouth",[39] and Shahmukhi means "from the King's mouth".[40]

In the Punjab province of Pakistan, the script used is Shahmukhi and differs from the Urdu alphabet in having four additional letters.[44] In the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi and other parts of India, the Gurmukhī script is generally used for writing Punjabi.[44] Historically, various local Brahmic scripts including Laṇḍā were also in use.[45]

Sample text[edit]

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 ।


لاهور 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 ‖]

Literature development[edit]

main article Punjabi literature

Medieval era, Mughal and Sikh period[edit]

  • The earliest Punjabi literature is found in the fragments of writings of the 11th Nath yogis(ناتھیوگی ਨਾਥਯੋਗੀ) Gorakshanath and Charpatnah which is primarily spiritual and mystical in tone.[46]Fariduddin Ganjshakar of Pak Pattan is generally recognised as the first major poet of the Punjabi language.[47] 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).
Great Punjabi poet Waris Shah
Sufi poets have enriched Punjabi literature

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 (1735?–1843?), and Qissa Puran Bhagat by Qadaryar (1802–1892).[citation needed]
  • Heroic ballads known as Vaar(وار ਵਾਰ) 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).[49]

British Raj era and post-independence period[edit]

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.

Issues regarding Punjabi language[edit]

In Pakistan[edit]

  • Pakistan was created in 1947 and however Punjabi was the language spoken by majority of people but Urdu was chosen as national language of Pakistan. Even in Punjab province of Pakidtan Punjabi has been not given any status. Broadcasting in Punjabi language also been decreased by Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation on TV and radio after 1947. Punjabi is not tuaght at elementary level in schools of Pakistan.[50] Many liguistic experts has expressed their concerns about situation f Punjabi language in Pakistan. Many experts blame Pakistan Urdunisastion of Pakistan and Punjabi language can extinct in Pakistan.[51][52][53]
  • However many Pakistani Punjabi language activist struggling for due rights for the lanmguage in Pakistan.[54] Many Punjabi organisations like Punjabi Adabi Board, Khoj Garh research centre[55]

[56] Punjabi Prachar, Institute for Peace and Secular Studies, World Punjabi congress, Adbi Sangat, Khaaksaar Tehreek, Saanjh, National Youth Forum, Maan Boli Research Centre, Punjabi Sangat Pakistan, Punjabi Markaz, Sver International, Punjabi writers Forum, National Students Federation, Punjabi Union, Pakistan, Punjabi Adbi Board and Punjabi National Conference raise time to time the issue before the authorities to adopt the Punjabi language at official level.[57] 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 are those activists want implementation of the Punjabi as the official, academic and legal language in the Punjab.[58][59][60]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.[61]

  • However Punjabi language is offered by few Universities and colleges at graduate and poist-graduate level.[62] for example the teaching of the Punjabi language and literature by Punjab university, Lahorewas started in 1970 with the establishment of the Punjabi Department in the Punjab University.[63]

In India[edit]

  • Punjabi has been declared as on of the 22 national official languages of India and many states of India has given second status to Punjabi langiage. Punjabi has been adopted as state language in Indian Punjab, so it is used in official works of Punjab government. Punjabi is taught at all levels in not only in Punjab state of India but in Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Himachal Prdesh, Chandigarh and J&K it has been also made as optional subject.[64] In India Punjabi media has flourished. Indian currency, Indian prime minister website, government orders also uses Punajabi language.
  • However many concerns about Punjabi has been also expressed in India about future of Punjabi language, Many Punjabi families encourage children to speak Hindi rather than Punjabi.[65]

Punjabi and official status[edit]

Ghadar di Gunj 1913, newspaper in Punjabi of Ghadar Party, US-based Indian revolutionary party.

*Punjabi has rich literary history and great geographical area but before 1947 it had never been official language.The Battle of Plassey in 1757 and later The Battle of Buxar in 1764 let the British East India Company take control of Bengal and Avadh of the Indian subcontinent. THE Britisher employed Bengalis in Bengal and Urdu speaking people in Avadh.The Second Anglo-Sikh War took place in 1848 and 1849, between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company. It resulted in the subjugation of the Sikh Empire, and the annexation of the Punjab. English took Urdu speaking clerks and administrators with them from Delhi-Avadh area and thus urdu became official language of Punjab and Punjabi language confined to general public, however Punjabis of all major religions continued to produce literature in Punjabi and Punjabi was taught in Gurudwaras also.]

Hence Urdu prospered as a literary expression somewhat at the expense of Punjabi. Besides Urdu became the language of the media in the Punjab.[66][67][68]

  • In Pakistan:-After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Urdu was chosen to be the national language of the new country, Urdu, the language of only 2% of Pakistanis was considered language of Pakistani nationalism and Punjabi is not given any status till the date. However Bangladesh separated from Pakistan on Urdu-Bangla dispute.[69] and Sindhi language was given official status in 1972 after 1972 Language violence in Sindh.

¤Urdu is preferred medium of education in local schools-colleges[70][71] as well as Government paperwork which is very threatening for survival of Punjabi language in Punjab, Pakistan.[72][73] But Urdu is the mother tongue of only about 7.57% Pakistanis.[74] 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 Punjabi language in the province.[75] Punjabi lovers also say that creation of Bangladesh out of Pakistan proves that love of Mother-tongue is more important than religion.[76] Pakistani Punjabi language film industry is in crisis as filmmakers were not producing Punjabi language films like before 1975 Punjabi films ruled in film industry of Pakistan.[77] Television Channels from Lahore (Punjab's capital city) are all in Urdu instead of Punjabi.[78] There is still 150-year-old unofficial ban on education in Punjabi language in Punjab, Pakistan and Government is ignorant about it thus compelling Punjabi people to protest.[79] In August 2015, Pakistan Academy of Letters, International Writer’s Council (IWC) and World Punjabi Congress (WPC) organised Khawaja Farid conference and demanded Punjabi University should be established in Lahore and Punjabi language should be declared as the medium of instruction at the primary level.[80] In Lahore, every year thousands of punjabis gather on International Mother Language Day seeking an end to the 150-year-old ban on education in Punjabi in Pakistan and against Urdu-isation of Punjab.[81] Punjabi remained only as public language through Punjabi cinema, literature, folk songs, music.

In India[edit]

In the 1950s, the linguistic groups across India sought statehood, which led to the establishment of the States Reorganisation Commission in dec 1953. At that time, the Punjab state of India included present-day states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh (some parts) along with Chandigarh.Punjabi Suba movement was aimed at creation of a Punjabi-majority subah ("province") in the Punjab region of India in the 1950s.[82] The Government of India was wary of carving out a separate Punjabi language state, because it effectively meant dividing the state along religious lines: Sikhs would form a 60% majority in the resulting Punjabi state.[83] Fresh from the memory of the violent religion-based partition of India in 1947, the Punjabi Hindus were also concerned about living in a Sikh-majority state. The Hindu newspapers from Jalandhar, exhorted the Punjabi Hindus to declare Hindi as their "mother tongue", so that the Punjabi Suba proponents could be deprived of the argument that their demand was solely linguistic. This later created a rift between Hindus and Sikhs of Punjab. The case for creating a Punjabi Suba was presented to the States Reorganisation Commission.

Government seal of Indian Punjab with Punjabi in right side

In September 1966, the Indira Gandhi-led Union Government accepted the demand, and Punjab was trifurcated as per the Punjab Reorganisation Act.[84] Areas in the south of Punjab that spoke the Haryanvi dialect of Hindi formed the new state of Haryana, while the areas that spoke the Pahari dialects were merged to Himachal Pradesh (a Union Territory at the time). The remaining areas, except Chandigarh, formed the new Punjabi-majority state.[85] Until 1966, Punjab was a Hindu majority state (63.7%). But during the linguistic partition, the Hindu-majority districts were removed from the state.[86] Chandigarh, the planned city built to replace Punjab's pre-partition capital Lahore, was claimed by both Haryana and Punjab. Pending resolution of the dispute, it was declared as a separate Union Territory which would serve as the capital of both the states. But still some Sikh organisations hold the view that trifurcation was not properly carried out, as many Punjabi speaking districts went to Haryana, since Haryana has second largest Punjabi speaking population of India & many of its districts are Punjabi dominated or have large minorities.

There are still movements to end discrimination to Punjabi language implement it in Punjabi majority areas like Chandigarh,[87][88] Haryana,[89] Delhi,[90][91][92] Uttar Pradesh,[93] Jammu and Kashmir[94] and many institutes like schools-colleges in Punjab state itself where Punjabi language is ignored.[95][96][97] Punjabi language dialects like Bauria, Bazigari, Bhand, Dhaha, Gojri, Lahanda, Lubana, Odi, Rai Sikhi and Sansi are also becoming extinct in Punjab, India.[98] There is Hindi imposition since 1950s and 1960s in state against Punjabi language.[99][100] Despite a rich heritage of Punjabi literature, Punjabi Television serial industry in Indian Punjab has totally disappeared.[101] In 2008 by a landmark decision, the Punjab government and Punjab Legislative Assembly legislated the Punjab Languages (Amendment) Act, 2008 to make the study of Punjabi compulsory up to class tenth in Government and private schools applying equally to the schools affiliated to the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) throughout Punjab and all the official work in the government offices and semi-government institutions would be carried on in Punjabi. All official correspondence and the official work in all Colleges and Universities in the state would also be carried in the Punjab Language.[102][103][104]

Institutes working for Punjabi[edit]

  1. Research Centre for Punjabi Language Technology, Punjabi University, Patiala.[105] 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.[106] 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.
  2. Punjabipedia an online encyclopedia is also launched by Patiala university in 2014.[107][108]
  • 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).[109]


  • 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, Msoffice 2007,Msoffice 2010, Msoffice 2013, are available in Punjabi through Language Interface Pack[110] support. Most Linux Desktop distributions allow the easy installation of Punjabi support and translations as well.[111] Apple implemented the Punjabi language keyboard across Mobile devices[112]Google also provide many applications in Punjabi language like google search,[113] google translate,[114] google Punjabi input tols[115]


See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Bhatia, Tej. 1993 and 2010. Punjabi : a cognitive-descriptive grammar. London: Routledge. Series: Descriptive grammars.
  • Gill H.S. [Harjit Singh] and Gleason, H.A. 1969. A reference grammar of Punjabi. Revised edition. Patiala, Punjab, India: Languages Department, Punjab University.
  • Shackle, C. 1972. Punjabi. London: English Universities Press.
  • Chopra, R. M., Perso-Arabic Words in Panjabi, in: Indo-Iranica Vol.53 (1–4).
  • Chopra, R. M.., The Legacy of The Punjab, 1997, Punjabee Bradree, Calcutta.
  • Singh, Chander Shekhar (2004). Punjabi Prosody: The Old Tradition and The New Paradigm. Sri Lanka: Polgasowita: Sikuru Prakasakayo.
  • Singh, Chander Shekhar (2014). Punjabi Intonation: An Experimental Study. Muenchen: LINCOM EUROPA.

External links[edit]