Punjabi or Panjabi ( in Gurmukhi script, in Shahmukhi script, in transliteration) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region (in Pakistan and north western India).
According to the Ethnologue 2005 estimate, there are 88 million native speakers of the Punjabi language, which makes it approximately the 11th most widely spoken language in the world. According to the 2008 Census of Pakistan, there are 76,335,300 native speakers of (Various Dialects) Punjabi in Pakistan and according to the Census of India, there are 29,102,477 (Eastern Dialects) Punjabi speakers in India.
Punjabi language has many different dialects, spoken in the different sub-regions of greater Punjab. The Majhi dialect is Punjabi's prestige dialect, and is spoken in the historical region of Majha, which spans East-central districts of Pakistani Punjab and the Indian State of Punjab.
Along with Lahnda and Western Pahari languages, Punjabi is unusual among modern Indo-European languages in being a tonal language.
The Language Punjabi today generally refers to "Eastern Punjabi" based on the Majhi, Malwi and Doabi dialects.
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language like many other modern languages of South Asia. The Punjabi language is a descendant of Sauraseni Prakrit, which was the chief language of medieval northern India.
Punjabi emerged as an independent language in the 11th century from the Sauraseni Apabhramsa. The literary tradition in Punjabi started with Fariduddin Ganjshakar (Baba Farid) (1173-1266), many ancient Sufi mystics and later Guru Nanak Dev ji, the first Guru of the Sikhism. The early Punjabi literature was principally spiritual in nature and has had a very rich oral tradition. The poetry written by Sufi saints has been the folklore of the Punjab and is still sung with great love in any part of Punjab.
Between 1600 and 1850, Muslim Sufi, Sikh and Hindu writers composed many works in Punjabi. The most famous Punjabi Sufi poet was Baba Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1757), wrote in the Kafi style. Bulleh Shah practiced the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry established by poets like Shah Hussain (1538 – 1599), Sultan Bahu (1629 – 1691), and Shah Sharaf (1640 – 1724). His lifespan also overlapped with the legendary Punjabi poet Waris Shah (1722 – 1798), of Heer Ranjha fame. Waris Shah's rendition of the tragic love story of Heer Ranjha is among the most popular medieval Punjabi works. Other popular tragic love stories are Sohni Mahiwal, Mirza Sahiba and Sassi Punnun. Shah Mohammad's Jangnama is another fine piece of poetry that gives an eyewitness account of the First Anglo-Sikh War that took place after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
The linguist George Abraham Grierson in his multivolume Linguistic Survey of India (1904-1928) used the word "Punjabi" to refer to several languages spoken in the Punjab region: the term "Western Punjabi" (ISO 639-3 pnb) covered dialects (now designated separate languages) spoken to the west of Montgomery and Gujranwala districts, while "Eastern Punjabi" referred to what is now simply called Punjabi (ISO 639-3 pan) After Saraiki, Pothohari and Hindko (earlier categorized as "Western Punjabi") got the status of separate languages, the percentage of Punjabi speakers in Pakistan decreased from 59% to 44%.
Punjabi is not the predominant language of the Sikh scriptures (which are written in several dialects, though in Gurmukhi script). A few portions of Guru Granth Sahib use the Punjabi dialects, but the book is interspersed with several other languages including old Hindi languages (such as Brajbhasha and Khariboli), Sanskrit and Persian. Guru Gobind Singh, the last Guru of the Sikhs composed Chandi di Var in Punjabi, although most of his works are composed in other languages like Braj bhasha and Persian.
However, in the 20th century, the Punjabi-speaking Sikhs started attaching importance to the Punjabi written in the Gurmukhi script as a symbol of their distinct identity. The Punjabi identity was affected by the communal sentiments in the 20th century. Bhai Vir Singh, a major figure in the movement for the revival of Punjabi literary tradition, started insisting that the Punjabi language was the exclusive preserve of the Sikhs. After the partition of India, the Punjab region was divided between Pakistan and India. Although the Punjab people formed the biggest linguistic group in Pakistan, Urdu was declared the national language of Pakistan, and Punjabi did not get any official status. The Indian Punjab, which then also included what are now Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, became Hindi-majority.
In the 1960s, the Shiromani Akali Dal proposed "Punjabi Suba", a state for Punjabi speakers in India. Paul R. Brass, the Professor Emeritus of Political Science and South Asian Studies at the University of Washington, opines that the Sikh leader Fateh Singh tactically stressed the linguistic basis of the demand, while downplaying the religious basis for the demand—a state where the distinct Sikh identity could be preserved. The movement for a Punjabi Suba led to trifurcation of Indian Punjab into three states: Punjab (India), Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
Punjabi is native to the Punjab region of South Asia
In India, Punjabi is one of the 22 languages with official status in India. It is the first official language of Punjab (India) and Union Territory State Chandigarh and the 2nd official language of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the provincial language of Punjab (Pakistan) the second largest and the most populous province of Pakistan.
The famous Punjabi writers from Pakistan include:
The famous Indian Punjabi poets in modern times are:
The Punjabis found in Pakistan are composed of various social groups, castes and economic groups. Muslim Rajputs, Jat, Gujjars, Gakhars, Khatri or Punjabi Shaikhs, Kambohs, Awans, and Arains, comprise the main tribes in the north, while Gilanis, Gardezis, Syeds and Quraishis are found in the south. There are Pashtun tribes like the Niazis and the lodhis, which are very much integrated into Punjabi village life. People in major urban areas have diverse origins, with many post-Islamic settlers tracing their origin to Afghanistan, Persia, Turkey, Arabia and Central Asia.
|Year||Population of Pakistan||Percentage||Punjabi Speakers|
Source:  In the National Census of Pakistan (1981) Saraiki, Pothohari and Hindko (Before categorized as "Western Punjabi") got the status of separate languages thats why number of Punjabi speakers got decreased.
|3||Islamabad Capital Territory||1,343,625||71.66%|
The Punjabis found in India are composed of various ethnic groups, tribal groups, social groups (caste) and economic groups. Some major sub-groups of Punjabis in India include Ahirs, Arora, Bania, Bhatia, Brahmin, Gujjar, Kalals/Ahluwalias, Kambojs, Khatris, Lobanas, Jats, Rajputs, Saini, Sood and Tarkhan. Most of these groups can be further sub-divided into clans and family groups.
Most of East Punjab's Muslims (in today's states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh) left for West Punjab in 1947. However, a small community still exists today, mainly in Malerkotla, the only Muslim princely state among the seven that formed the erstwhile Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU). The other six (mostly Sikh) states were: Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot, Kapurthala and Kalsia.
|Year||Population of India||Punjabi Speakers in India||Percentage|
Punjabi is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where Punjabis have emigrated in large numbers, such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom (where it is the second most commonly used language) and Canada, where in recent times Punjabi has grown fast and has now become the fourth most spoken language.. Punjabi is the 2nd most common language in the UK after English and the 4th most common spoken language in Canada after English, French and Chinese.
|2||Republic of India||29,109,672|
In Indo-Aryan dialectology generally, the presence of transitional dialects creates problems in assigning some dialects to one or another "language". However, over the last century there has usually been little disagreement when it comes to defining the core region of the Punjabi language. In modern India, the states are largely designed to encompass the territories of major languages with an established written standard. Thus Indian Punjab is the Punjabi language state (in fact, the neighboring state of Haryana, which was part of Punjab state in 1947, was split off from it because it is a Hindi speaking region). Some of its major urban centers are Ludhiana, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, and Patiala. In Pakistan, the Punjabi speaking territory spans the east-central districts of Punjab Province. Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faislabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Sialkot, Jhelum and Gujrat. Lahore the historic capital of Punjab is the largest Punjabi speaking city in the world. Lahore has 86% native Punjabis of total population of the city. and Islamabad the Capital of Pakistan has 71% Native Punjabis of total population.
Punjabi University, Patiala, State of Punjab, India takes a very liberal definition of Punjabi in that it classifies Saraiki, Dogri, and Pothohari/Pothwari as Punjabi. Accordingly, the University has issued the following list of dialects of Punjabi:
The "Lahnda" constructThe name "Punjab" means "5 waters" in Persian (panj ab) and refers to five major eastern tributaries of the Indus River. The historical Punjab region, now divided between Pakistan and India, is defined physiographically by the Indus River and these five tributaries. The bulk of the Panjab, 3.5 rivers are located in Pakistan. One of the five, the Beas River, is a tributary of another, the Sutlej River, and lies entirely in present day India, well within the eastern half of historical Punjab. The British linguist George Abraham Grierson came to the conclusion that a group of dialects known collectively as "western Punjabi" or Lahnda 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 eastern or jurdga Punjabi. He christened this group of dialects "Lahindā" in a volume of the Language Survey of India (LSI) published in 1919. He grouped as "southern Lahnda" the dialects that are now recognized as multani or Saraiki. The northern Lahnda sub-Group has eveloved into Modern Panjistani (or pahiri/mirpur/pothoahri)and modern Hindko .Grierson tentatively identified the boundary between Punjabi and "Lahnda" as a north-south line running from the Gujranwala District to the former Montgomery District (near the town on Sahiwal). This line lies well west of Lahore and within the boundary of Pakistan. In the aftermath of the independence of Pakistan and subsequent Partition of 1947, some investigators supposed that the Punjabi speakers in new Pakistan might give up their native dialects and adopt one or another "Lahnda" dialect; but this did not occur. Most Punjabis in Pakistan including Muslim migrants from East Punjab now speak the Lahnda dialect.
Classification by EthnologueBecause of the stature of Ethnologue as a widely accepted authority on the identification and classification of dialects and languages, their divergent views of the geographical distribution and dialectal naming of the Punjabi language merit mention. They designate what tradition calls "Punjabi" as "Eastern Punjabi" and they have implicitly adopted the belief (contradicted by other specialists) that the language border between "western Panjabi" and "eastern Panjabi" has shifted since 1947 to coincide with the international border.
Writing systemThere are several different scripts used for writing the Punjabi language, depending on the region and the dialect spoken, as well as the religion of the speaker. In the Punjab province of Pakistan, the script used is Shahmukhi and is essentially the same as the Urdu script. In the Indian state of Punjab, Sikhs and others use the Gurmukhī script. Hindus, and those living in neighbouring Indian states such as Haryana and Himachal Pradesh sometimes use the Devanāgarī script. Shahmukhi and Gurmukhī scripts are the most commonly ones used for writing Punjabi and are considered the official scripts of the language.