About Punjabi (Gurmukhi) Language
Gurmukhi script - origin. The Gurmukhi alphabet was devised during the 16th century by Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru, and popularised by Guru Angad, the second Sikh guru. It was modelled on the Landa alphabet. The name Gurmukhi means "from the mouth of the Guru".
The script is used to write Panjabi or Punjabi, an Indo-Aryan language spoken by about 60 million people in Pakistan and the Indian state of Panjab. In Pakistan Panjabi is written with a version of the Arabic script known as Shahmukhi.
Punjabi or Panjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ in Gurmukhi script, پنجابی in Shahmukhi script, पंजाबी in Devanagari script, Pañjābī 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 13th 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 spoken in East Punjab and surrounding areas of Lahore in West Punjab.
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language like many other modern languages of South Asia. It 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 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%.
Association with the Sikhs
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 Brajbhasha, 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 Punjabi people formed the 2nd biggest linguistic group in Pakistan after Bengali, 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.
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.
Pakistan-Punjabi is the most spoken language of Pakistan. Punjabi is spoken as first language by over 44.15% of Pakistanis. Punjabis comprise the largest ethnic group in the country. Punjabis are dominant in key institutions such as business, agriculture, industry, government, army, navy, air force, and police which is why about 70% of Pakistanis can understand or speak Punjabi.
The Punjabis found in Pakistan are composed of various social groups, castes and economic groups. Muslim Rajputs, Jat, Tarkhans, Dogars, Gujjars, Gakhars, Khatri or Punjabi Shaikhs, Kambohs, and Arains, comprise the main tribes in the north, while Awans, 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.
Punjabi is spoken as a native language by over 2.85% of Indians. Punjabi is the official language of the Indian state of Punjab and the shared state capital Chandigarh. It is one of the official languages of the state of Delhi and the second language of Haryana.
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.
The Punjabi Diaspora
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.
Dialects: linguistic classification
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.
There 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 differs from the standard Nastaʿlīq script as it has four additional letters. The eastern part of the Punjab region, located in India, is divided into three states. In the state of Punjab, the Gurmukhī script is generally used for writing Punjabi. Punjabi Hindus, who are mainly concentrated in the neighbouring Indian states such of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, as well as the national capital territry of Delhi, sometimes use the Devanāgarī script to write Punjabi.
Punjabi in modern culture
Punjabi is becoming more acceptable among Punjabis in modern media and communications. Punjabi has always been an intergal part of Indian Bollywood cinema. In recent years a trend of Bollywood songs written totally in Punjabi can be observed. Punjabi pop and folk songs are very popular both in India and Pakistan at the national level. A number of television dramas based on Punjabi characters are telecast by different channels. 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.