Sindhi language

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سنڌي सिन्धी ਸਿੰਧੀ سندھی
Native to Sindh, Pakistan and Gujarat, India. Also immigrant communities in different part of world, Hong Kong, Oman, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, China, France, Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar
Region World
Native speakers
75 million (2015)[1]
Arabic, Devanagari, Khudabadi alphabet, Laṇḍā, Sindhi Roman, Gurmukhi[2]
Official status
Official language in
Pakistan (Sindh)
Regulated by Sindhi Language Authority (Pakistan),
National Council For Promotion Of Sindhi Language (India)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 sd
ISO 639-2 snd
ISO 639-3 Variously:
snd – Sindhi
lss – Lasi
sbn – Sindhi Bhil
Glottolog sind1272  (Sindhi)[3]
sind1270  (Sindhi Bhil)[4]
lasi1242  (Lasi)[5]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Sindhi /ˈsɪndi/[6] (سنڌي, सिन्धी, Sindhi) is an Indo-Aryan language of the historical Sindh region, spoken by the Sindhi people. It is the official language of the Pakistani province of Sindh.[7][8][9] In India, Sindhi is one of the scheduled languages officially recognized by the federal government. It has influences from Balochi spoken in the adjacent province of Balochistan.

Most Sindhi speakers are concentrated in Pakistan in the Sindh province, and in India in the Kutch region of the state of Gujarat and in Ulhasnagar region of the state of Maharashtra. The remaining speakers in India are composed of the Hindu Sindhis who migrated from Sindh, which became a part of Pakistan and settled in India after the independence of Pakistan in 1947 and the Sindhi diaspora worldwide. Sindhi language is spoken in Sindh, Pakistan and Kutch, India as well as immigrant communities in India, Hong Kong, Oman, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, UAE, UK, USA, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka.[10]

There are 46 million Sindhis living in Pakistan, with 44 million in Sindh, and over 2 million living in other provinces, Mostly in Balochistan. About 16% of the population of Sindhis in Pakistan are Hindus. Most of them live in urban areas like Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpur Khas, Dadu, Larkana and Jacobabad. Hyderabad is the largest centre of Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan with 100,000-150,000 people.

Sindhi is also spoken in India, especially in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Majority Sindhi Speaking City Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jalore, Kutch. 'Kutchchi' which is spoken in Kutch and nearby towns is a dialect of Sindhi language. In the princely state of Jaiselmer in Rajasthan, 'Dhakti' is spoken which is also a Sindhi dialect. Similarly, in Barmer, Jalore and other towns close to Tharparkar and Kutch, 'Thali' and 'Thareli' is spoken which too is a dialect of Sindhi language. It is also spoken in Ulhasnagar near Mumbai which is the largest Sindhi enclave in India, Sindhi is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where Sindhi people have emigrated in large numbers, such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, where it is the fourth-most-commonly used language, and Canada, where it is the fourth-most-spoken language. Total Sindhi population is over 75 million. There are 46 million Sindhi speakers in Pakistan, 26.5 million in India, 210,000 in the U.A.E, Half Million in the UK, 10,000 in KSA, 700,000 in USA, 31,000 in Canada, and 600,000 to 700,000 Sindhis in other countries.

Contemporary status[edit]

The Sindhi language and other native languages of Pakistan are struggling to be officially given the status of national language in Pakistan. Before the inception of Pakistan, Sindhi was the national language of Sindh.[11][12][13][14] There are many Sindhi language television channels broadcasting in Pakistan such as KTN, Sindh TV, Awaz Television Network. Besides this, Indian television Doordarshan have been asked by the Indian court to start a news channel for Hindu Sindhis of India.[15]


Main article: History of Sindh

The name "Sindhi" is derived from Sindhu, the local name of the Indus River.[16]


Sindhi has a vast vocabulary and a very old literary tradition.[citation needed] This trend has made it a favorite of many writers and consequently a vast volume of literature and poetry have been written in Sindhi.[citation needed]

At the time of the independence of Pakistan in 1947, both Bengali and Sindhi were official languages in their respective provinces. Both languages had a cherished history and a treasure trove of literature. Both languages were not only lingua franca of their provinces but were also in vogue for revenue, court, education and other official business.

When Sindh was occupied by British army and was annexed with Bombay, governor of the province Sir George Clerk ordered to make Sindhi the official language in the province in 1848. Sir Bartle Frere, the then commissioner of Sindh, issued orders on August 29, 1857 advising civil servants in Sindh to qualify examination in Sindhi. He also ordered Sindhi to be used in all official communication. Seven-grade education system commonly known as Sindhi-Final was introduced in Sindh. Sindhi Final was made a prerequisite for employment in revenue, police and education departments.[17]


Cover of a book containing the epic Dodo Chanesar written in the Khudabadi script

The origin of the Sindhi language can be traced to an Old Indo-Aryan dialect, or primary Prakrit, that was spoken in the region of Sindh at the time of compilation of the Vedas (1500–1200 bce) or perhaps some centuries before that. Glimpses of that dialect can be seen to some extent in the literary language of the hymns of the Rigveda.[citation needed]

Like other languages of this family, Sindhi has passed through Old Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit) and Middle Indo-Aryan (Pali, secondary Prakrits, and Apabhramsha) stages of growth, and it entered the New Indo-Aryan stage around the 10th century ce.[18]

The immediate predecessor of Sindhi was an Apabhramsha Prakrit named Vrachada. Arab and Persian travellers, specifically Abu-Rayhan Biruni in his book 'Tahqiq ma lil-Hind', had declared that even before the advent of Islam in Sindh (711 A.D.), the language was prevalent in the region. It was not only widely spoken but written in three different scripts – Ardhanagari, Saindhu and Malwari. Biruni has described many Sindhi words leading to the conclusion that the Sindhi language was widely spoken and rich in vocabulary in his time.[citation needed][dubious ]

Sindhi became a popular literary language between the 14th and 18th centuries. This is when mystics or Sufis such as Shah Abdul Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Sultan-al-Aoliya Muhammad Zaman, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (as well as numerous others) narrated their theosophical poetry depicting the relationship between humans and Allah.[citation needed]

In the year 1868, the Bombay Presidency assigned Narayan Jagannath Vaidya to replace the Abjad used in Sindhi, with the Khudabadi script. The script was decreed a standard script by the Bombay Presidency thus inciting anarchy in the Muslim majority region. A powerful unrest followed, after which Twelve Martial Laws were imposed by the British authorities.[19]

According to Islamic Sindhi tradition, the first translation of the Quran into Sindhi was completed in the year 883 CE / 270 AH in Mansura, Sindh. The first extensive Sindhi translation was done by Akhund Azaz Allah Muttalawi (1747–1824 CE / 1160–1240 AH) and first published in Gujrat in 1870. The first to appear in print was by Muhammad Siddiq (Lahore 1867).[20]

Classification and related languages[edit]

Sindhi is an Indo-Aryan language of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It has influences from a local version of spoken form of Sanskrit and from Balochi spoken in the adjacent province of Balochistan.

Geographical distribution[edit]

Sindhi is spoken in Sindh and Balochistan in Pakistan. Sindhi is taught as a first language in the Pakistani province of Sindh, including in the provincial capital Karachi. It is taught as a first language in many government schools of Karachi and Balochistan in Pakistan. It is also spoken by Sindhi tribes living in Kutch, Gujarat. Karachi is the largest Sindhi-speaking city with 5-6 million Sindhis. Hyderabad ranks second with 3 million Sindhi speakers, Khairpur ranks third with almost a 2.9 million Sindhi Speakers. And Larkana rank fourth with 2 million Sindhis.

Sindhi is also spoken in India, especially in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is also spoken in Ulhasnagar near Mumbai which is the largest Sindhi enclave in India, Sindhi is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where Sindhi People have emigrated in large numbers, such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, where it is the fourth-most-commonly used language, and Canada, where it is the fourth-most-spoken language. Total Sindhi population is over 75 million. There are 46 million Sindhi speakers in Pakistan, 26.5 million in India, 210,000 in the U.A.E, Half Million in the UK, 10,0000 in KSA, 7 lac in USA, 31,0000 in Canada, and 6 to 7 lac Sindhis in other countries. (2015) .[21]

Dialects and varieties[edit]

  • Utradi, a form of Sindhi Language regarded as a dialect of Sindhi; spoken mainly in Upper Sindh.
  • Vicholi, in Vicholo, Central Sindh. Vicholi is the basis for standardised Sindhi.
  • Lari, in Laru (Lower Sindh).
  • Lasi, in Lasbelo, a part of Kohistan in Baluchistan and the western part of Sindh.
  • Thari or Thareli, also known as Dhatki in Tharu, the desert region on the southeast border of Sindh and a part of the Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan.
  • Kachhi or Kutchi, in the Kutch region and in a part of Kathiawar in Gujarat, in southern Sindh.


Sindhi has a relatively large inventory of both consonants and vowels compared to other languages. Sindhi has 46 consonant phonemes and 16 vowels. The consonant to vowel ratio is around average for world's languages at 2.8.[22] All plosives, affricates, nasals, the retroflex flap and the lateral approximant /l/ have aspirated or breathy voiced counterparts. The language also features four implosives.


Sindhi consonants[23]
Labial Dental
Retroflex Post-al.
Velar Glottal
Nasal m
Stop/Affricate p


Implosive ɓ ɗ ʄ~jˀ ɠ
Fricative f s z ʂ x ɣ h
Approximant ʋ

Rhotic r

The retroflex consonants are apical postalveolar, as they are throughout northern India, and so could be transcribed /t̠, t̠ʰ, d̠, d̠ʱ n̠ n̠ʱ s̠ ɾ̠ ɾ̠ʱ/. The dental implosive is sometimes realized as retroflex [ɗ̠]~[ᶑ] The affricates /t̠ɕ, t̠ɕʰ, d̠ʑ, d̠ʑʱ/ are laminal post-alveolars with a relatively short release. It is not clear if /ɲ/ is similar, or truly palatal.[24] /ʋ/ is realized as labiovelar [w] or labiodental [ʋ] in free variation occurs, but is not common, except before a stop.


The vowel phonemes of Sindhi on a vowel chart

The vowels are modal length /i e æ ɑ ɔ o u/ and short /ɪ̆ ʊ̆ ɐ̆/. (Note /æ ɑ ɐ̆/ are imprecisely transcribed as /ɛ a ə/ in the chart.) Consonants following short vowels are lengthened: [pɐ̆tˑo] 'leaf' vs. [pɑto] 'worn'.


Ernest Trumpp authored the first Sindhi grammar entitled Sindhi Alphabet and Grammar.[25]


Historically, the Sindh region suffered frequent invasions. Arabs under Mohammad bin Qasim conquered parts of Sindh and the region was gradually converted to Islam under the Sultanate of Delhi and later under the Mughal Empire until the British conquest in 1843. Hence, the Sindhi language borrowed many Arabic and Persian words. In spite of this, the basic vocabulary and grammatical structure of Sindhi has remained mostly unchanged.[18]

In addition, Sindhi has borrowed from English and Hindustani. Today, Sindhi in Pakistan is heavily influenced by Urdu, with more borrowed Perso-Arabic elements, while Sindhi in India is influenced by Hindi, with more borrowed tatsam Sanskrit elements.[26][27]

Example extract[edit]

The following extract is from the Sindhi Wikipedia about the Sindhi language and is written in the 52-letter Sindhi-Arabic script, Devanagari and transliterated to Latin.

Sindhi-Arabic script: سنڌي ٻولي انڊو يورپي خاندان سان تعلق رکندڙ آريائي ٻولي آھي، جنھن تي ڪجھه دراوڙي اھڃاڻ پڻ موجود آهن. هن وقت سنڌي ٻولي سنڌ جي مک ٻولي ۽ دفتري زبان آھي.

Devanagari script: सिन्धी ॿोली इण्डो यूरपी ख़ान्दान सां ताल्लुक़ु रखन्दड़ आर्याई ॿोली आहे, जिंहन ते कुझ द्राविड़ी उहुञाण पण मौजूद आहिनि। हिन वक़्तु सिन्धी ॿोली सिन्ध जी मुख बोली ऐं दफ़्तरी ज़बान आहे।

Transliteration (IAST): sindhī b̤olī iṇḍo yūrapī khāndān sā̃ taʿlluqu rakhandaṛ āryāī b̤olī āhe, jinhã te kujha drāviṛī uhuñāṇ paṇa maujūda āhini. hin vaqtu sindhī b̤olī sindh jī mukh b̤olī ãĩ daftarī zabānā āhe.

Writing system[edit]

Written Sindhi is mentioned in the 8th century, when references to a Sindhi version of the Mahabharata appear. However, the earliest attested records in Sindhi are from the 15th century.[18]

Before the standardisation of Sindhi orthography, numerous forms of the Devanagari and Lunda (Laṇḍā) scripts were used for trading. For literary and religious purposes, an Arabo-Persian alphabet known as Ab-ul-Hassan Sindhi and Gurmukhi (a subset of Laṇḍā) were used. Another two scripts, Khudabadi and Shikarpuri, were reforms of the Landa script.[28] During British rule in the late 19th century, a Persian alphabet was decreed standard over Devanagari.[29]

Medieval Sindhi devotional literature (1500–1843) comprises Sufi poetry and Advaita Vedanta poetry. Sindhi literature flourished during the modern period (since 1843), although the language and literary style of contemporary Sindhi writings in Pakistan and India were noticeably diverging by the late 20th century; authors from the former country were borrowing extensively from Persian and Arabic vocabulary, while those from the latter were highly influenced by Hindi.[18]

Laṇḍā scripts[edit]

Laṇḍā- based scripts, such as Gurmukhi, Khojki and the Khudabadi script were used historically to write Sindhi.


or Sindhi
Direction Left-to-right
ISO 15924 Sind, 318
Unicode alias

The Khudabadi alphabet was invented in 1550 CE, and was used alongside the Arabic script by the Hindu community until the colonial era, where the sole usage of the Arabic script for official purposes was legislated.

The script continued to be used in a smaller scale by the trader community until the independence of Pakistan in 1947.[30]

Chart of the Khudabadi Script


Khojiki was employed primarily to record Muslim Shia Ismaili religious literature, as well as literature for a few secret Shia Muslim sects.[31]


The Gurmukhi script was also used to write Sindhi, mainly in the North of Sindh, and also by Hindu women.[30][32]

Arabic script[edit]

Historically, different versions of the Arabic script were used by the Hindu and Muslim communities.[33] During British rule in India, a variant of the Persian alphabet was adopted for Sindhi in the 19th century. The script is used in Pakistan today. It has a total of 52 letters, augmenting the Persian with digraphs and eighteen new letters (ڄ ٺ ٽ ٿ ڀ ٻ ڙ ڍ ڊ ڏ ڌ ڇ ڃ ڦ ڻ ڱ ڳ ڪ) for sounds particular to Sindhi and other Indo-Aryan languages. Some letters that are distinguished in Arabic or Persian are homophones in Sindhi.

جھ ڄ ج پ ث ٺ ٽ ٿ ت ڀ ٻ ب ا
ɟʱ ʄ ɟ p s ʈʰ ʈ t ɓ b ɑː ʔ
ڙ ر ذ ڍ ڊ ڏ ڌ د خ ح ڇ چ ڃ
ɽ r z ɖʱ ɖ ɗ d x h c ɲ
ق ڦ ف غ ع ظ ط ض ص ش س ز ڙھ
q f ɣ ɑː ʔ ʕ z t z s ʃ s z ɽʱ
ي ه و ڻ ن م ل ڱ گھ ڳ گ ک ڪ
j h ʋ ʊ ɔː ɳ n m l ŋ ɡʱ ɠ ɡ k
Sindhi alphabet with equivalent characters in English, Urdu and Hindi.

Devanagari script[edit]

In India, the Devanagari script is also used to write Sindhi. A modern version was introduced by the government of India in 1948; however, it did not gain full acceptance, so both the Sindhi-Arabic and Devanagari scripts are used. In India a person may write a Sindhi language paper for a Civil Services Examination in either script [1]. Diacritical bars below the letter are used to mark implosive consonants, and dots called nukta are used to form other additional consonants.

ə a ɪ i ʊ e ɛ o ɔ
ख़ ग़
k x ɡ ɠ ɣ ɡʱ ŋ
c ɟ ʄ z ɟʱ ɲ
ड़ ढ़
ʈ ʈʰ ɖ ɗ ɽ ɖʱ ɽʱ ɳ
t d n
फ़ ॿ
p f b ɓ m
j r l ʋ
ʃ ʂ s h

Gujarati script[edit]

The Gujarati script is used to write the Kutchi dialect in India.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  2. ^ "Script". 
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Sindhi". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Sindhi Bhil". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  5. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Lasi". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  6. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  7. ^ Gulshan Majeed. "Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict in Pakistan" (PDF). Journal of Political Studies. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Sindhi". The Languages Gulper. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica". Sindhi Language. Retrieved December 29, 2013. 
  10. ^ "English to Sindhi Dictionary & Sindhi to English Dictionary". Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  11. ^ Language and Politics in Pakistan. "THE SINDHI LANGUAGE MOVEMENT 103 103 7The Sindhi Language Movement". Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  12. ^ "The Imposition Of Urdu". NAWAIWAQT GROUP OF NEWSPAPERS. September 10, 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "24hr news channel for Sindhis: HC seeks Centre's response". Business Standard Private Ltd. Press Trust of India. September 4, 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  16. ^ "Sindhi". The Languages Gulper. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  17. ^ Naseer Memon (April 13, 2014). "The language link". The News on Sunday. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Encyclopædia Britannica". Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Sindhi alphabets, pronunciation and language". 
  20. ^ "The Holy Qur'an and its Translators -- Imam Reza (A.S.) Network". Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  21. ^ "Sindhi Saints: Jhulelal: Sindhi Shaadi: Sindhi: Culture: Festivals: Music: Recipes: Sindhi Tipano". Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  22. ^ Nihalani, Paroo. (1999). Handbook of the International Phonetic Association (Sindhi). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  23. ^ Paroo Nihalani (December 1, 1995). "Illustration of the IPA - Sindhi". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  24. ^ The IPA Handbook uses the symbols c, cʰ, ɟ, ɟʱ, but makes it clear this is simply tradition and that these are neither palatal nor stops, but "laminal post-alveolars with a relatively short release". Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:83) confirm a transcription of [t̠ɕ, t̠ɕʰ, d̠ʑ, d̠ʑʱ] and further remarks that "/ʄ/ is often a slightly creaky voiced palatal approximant" (caption of table 3.19).
  25. ^ Ernest Trumpp (1872). "Grammar of the Sindhi Language". Google Books. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  26. ^ Cole (2001:652–653)
  27. ^ Khubchandani (2003:624–625)
  28. ^ Khubchandani (2003:633)
  29. ^ Cole (2001:648)
  30. ^ a b "Sindhi Language: Script". Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ p.14 Proposal to Encode the Sindhi Script in ISO/IEC 10646
  34. ^ "Gujarati alphabet, pronunciation and language". Retrieved 29 March 2015. 


For further reading:

  • Chopra, R. M., The Rise, Growth And Decline of Indo-Persian Literature, 2012, Iran Culture House, New Delhi, Chapter on"Persian in Sindh".

External links[edit]