As Hindi, the Punjabi language amongs to the Indo Aryan group. The Punjab ethnic tribe, living in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, speaks it as first language, and Hindi as the second one.

With more than 115 million native speakers, it is even more than Urdu. The larger part of them are in Pakistan, with 80.5 million speakers. While Punjabi has there more speakers than any other language, it does not have any official status. This, at both national or regional level. However, it has an official status in the state of Punjab in India. To that, some diaspora use it in foreign countries, such as Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.


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People do not use the same script to write Punjabi according to the region. Thus, people use the Gurmukhi script in Punjab while Pakistan uses the Shahmukhi's one. Plus, Punjabi is unusual among Indo Aryan dialects as it uses a lexical tone.


Punjabi is unique in that it gets a tones system. Thus, in many words there is a choice of up to three tones: high falling, low rising, and neutral. About 75% of words have a tone. Also, for some words, linguists say that they have a rising tone in the first syllable and a falling one in the second. Some describe that as a fourth tone. But a study of six Punjabi speakers founds no evidence of a separate falling tone following a medial consonant.


First, word order is as follows: SOV (subject, object, verb).
Also, it has post rather than prepositions.

Second, there are two genders and two numbers. As well as five cases: direct, oblique, vocative, ablative, and locative. The ablative occurs only in the singular, and we use the locative to set adverbial expressions.

Third, adjectives, when declinable, are marked for the gender, number, and case of the nouns they qualify. The use of postpositions with a noun or verb needs that the two latter take the oblique case.


As an Indo Aryan language, a part of its lexicon derives from Sanskrit, as Hindi. But it also contains many loanwords from Persian and Arabic, as Urdu.

Medieval era, Mughal and Sikh period

We found the earliest Punjabi literature in the fragments of religious and mystical writings of the 11th century.

As the Sikh religion has its roots in the Punjab region, Punjabi is also the main language of Sikhs.

From the 12th to the 19th century, many great Sufi saints and poets preached in the Punjabi language. Among the most famous ones is Bulleh Shah. The Punjabi language is famous for its rich qissa literature about love and passion. But also about betrayal, sacrifice, social values and revolt against a larger system. The qissa of Heer Ranjha, by Waris Shah, is among the most popular of Punjabi qissas. But that is not all as heroic ballads, known as Vaar, enjoy a rich oral tradition in Punjabi. Among the most famous Vaars is Chandi di Var in early 18th century.

20th century

Punjabi then enjoyed a fresh and modern twist during the British era of the Raj. After the fall of the British empire, many and such famous writers and poets worked to enrich Punjabi literature in Pakistan and India.

Which future?

The Punjabi Sahit academy works to support and spread the Punjabi language. Also, the Jammu and Kashmir academy of art, culture and literature, works for this purpose, too.

Many softwares are available for Punjabi for almost all platforms. Nowadays, various software programmes allow to build nearly all Punjabi newspapers, magazines and journals, on computer. The most widespread of which is InPage Desktop Publishing package. Also, Microsoft has included Punjabi support in all new versions of Windows and many old ones from 2007. Plus, Apple built the Punjabi keyboard across mobile devices. Finally, Google provides many apps using it, like Google Search, Google Translate and Google Punjabi Input Tools.

Behind that, some great universities and research centers aim to support and spread it online.

Finally, the Dhahan Prize was created to award literary works in Punjabi around the world.

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