Punjabi Language – An Extensively Used Language in The World

The Punjabi language is an Indo-Aryan language with more than 70 million native speakers in Pakistan.

The name of the language derives from the word ‘Panj-āb,’ which means “Five Water.” It has a history of more than 1000 years.

With almost 225.2 million people, Pakistan has the fifth largest population in the world. And it is the second most populous Muslim-majority country after Indonesia.

Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in Pakistan after English, with Urdu being a close third.

History of Punjabi Language

Once the language of an empire, Punjabi has a very long and rich history. Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the family of Indo-European languages.

It is spoken by about 93 million people in India and Pakistan, making it the 9th most widely spoken language globally.

The Punjabi language history starts from the formation of the Apabhraṃśa in 600 AD.

Apabhraṃśa is the earliest attested literary language of the Indian subcontinent.

It evolved into two different languages by 600 to 1500 AD.

– Nāgara Apabhramsa

– Shauraseni Apabhramsa 

The latter is the direct ancestor of Punjabi. Sauraseni Apabhramsa further evolved into two different groups of language:

– Western Hindi 

– Tākka & Upnāgara Apabhramsa

The Punjabi language evolved from later to 1500 AD. So this is how the Punjabi Language came into existence.

What is The Meaning of Punjabi?

Punjab combines two Persian words, ‘Panj’ and ‘Ab.’ Panj means five, and Ab implies water.

So, the word meaning Punjab is a land with five rivers. The five rivers are:

– Jhelum

– Chenab

– Ravi

– Beas 

– Sutlej 

These rivers flow through the Punjab region of Pakistan and India. The area got its name from these five rivers.

Punjabi is the language spoken in this region. It has a rich tradition of folk songs, dance, and poetry.

Why is The Punjabi Language Famous?

The Punjabi language is famous for its rich literature. In addition, it has a long tradition of poetry and folk songs.

Punjabi Poets

There are many famous Punjabi poets like:

  • Baba Farid (1188-1266)
  • Bulleh Shah (1680-1757)
  • Waris Shah (1722-1799)

Punjabi literature is very diverse and has been influenced by many different religions.

Punjabi Songs

Punjabi is also the language of some of the world’s most popular Bhangra and Sufi music. 

Many famous Punjabi singers come from this region, such as:

  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997)
  • Gurdas Maan 
  • Diljit Dosanjh

Punjabi Cuisines

Punjab is also famous for its cuisine. Some of the most popular Punjabi dishes are:

  • Chicken Tikka Masala
  • Butter Chicken
  • Dal Makhani
  • Sarson ka Saag

Punjabi Agriculture

Punjab is a significant agricultural region in Pakistan and India. Some of the crops grown in Punjab are:

  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Cotton
  • Sugar cane

Punjab is also home to some of Pakistan’s largest dairy farms.

Punjabi Festivals

Punjab is home to many festivals and celebrations. Some of the most popular Punjabi festivals are:

  • Basant
  • Baba Farid Urs
  • Punjab Sports Festival
  • Urs of Waris Shah

Punjab is a vibrant and colorful region with a rich culture and heritage.

Punjabi Art and Architecture

Punjab is also home to some of Pakistan’s most beautiful art and architecture. Some of the most famous Punjabi architectural landmarks are:

  • Minar e Pakistan
  • Badshahi Mosque Lahore
  • Jahangir’s Tomb
  • Lahore Fort
  • Masjid Wazir Khan

So these are just some of the reasons why Punjab is such a special and unique place.

Geographical Distribution of Punjabi Language

Punjabi language’s importance is also because many people speak it. It is the 9th most spoken language in the world. Moreover, it is official in Pakistan and India.

In Pakistan, it is primarily spoken in the Punjab province. While in India, it is the official language in Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab states.

Punjabi is also spoken in some other parts of the world by the Punjabis residing there, such as:

– Canada

– The United Kingdom

– The United States 

With the increase in the Punjabi diaspora, the number of people speaking Punjabi is also increasing.

Dialects of Punjabi Language

Now we speak about dialects of the Punjabi language. It has been divided into two different kinds of dialects:

Eastern Dialects

These dialects are spoken in Indian Punjab. The main dialects of this group are:

·        Majhi (It is spoken in the minority in the Amristar region of India)

·        Doabi

·        Malwai

Majhi is considered standard Punjabi in India because most old classic literature has been written in this dialect.

Western Dialects

These dialects are spoken in Pakistan, Punjab, and some parts of Azad Kashmir. The main dialects of this group are:

·        Majhi 

·        Jatki 

·        Dhani 

·        Multani 

·        Hindko 

·        Derwali

·        Thalochi 

·        Pothwari

The Punjabi language has many dialects because it is spoken in different regions. Each dialect has its unique features.

Punjabi Language Grammar

The Punjabi language has rich grammar. Let’s discuss some of the main features of Punjabi grammar.

Punjabi Word Order

The basic word order in Punjabi is Subject + Object + Verb. However, changing the word order for emphasis or clarification is possible.

Punjabi has several discourse particles that signal the speaker’s attitude or intention.

These particles are often placed at the beginning of the sentence. Punjabi also has a rich system of postpositions.

Punjabi is a head-final language. That means that the verb falls at the end of the sentence.

Punjabi Conjugates

Punjabi verbs are conjugated according to person, number, genderand tense. In addition, there are three tenses in Punjabi: present, past, and future.

Punjabi nouns are also inflected for case and number. There are three genders in Punjabi: masculinefeminineand neuter. 

Punjabi is Agglutinative. It means that morphemes (meaningful language units) are added to a word stem, one after the other, to form new words.

Writing Style of Punjabi Language

The Punjabi language history is ancient. It is written in several scripts, the most common being Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi.


Gurmukhi is the name of the script used to write Punjabi in India. It was developed by Guru Angad Dev Ji, the second Sikh Guru, in the 16th century.

Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus in India use the Gurmukhi script. The importance of the Punjabi language is very high in Sikhism.

They use it to write the Punjabi version of their holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.


Shahmukhi is the name of the script used to write Punjabi in Pakistan. It was developed by Muslim scholars in the 16th century and is mainly used by Punjabi Muslims in Pakistan.

The Nastaʿlīq calligraphic hand used in Urdu is sometimes used to write Punjabi in Pakistan.

Arabic script is also sometimes used, especially in religious texts.

How are Indian Punjabi and Pakistani Punjabi Different?

There are many differences between Indian Punjabi and Pakistani Punjabi. The main differences are:

  • Indian Punjabi is written in Gurmukhi script. Pakistani Punjabi is written in Shahmukhi script.
  • Indian Punjabi is spoken mainly in the state of Punjab in India. Pakistani Punjabi is expressed primarily in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
  • Pakistani Punjabi has many loanwords from Urdu. Indian Punjabi has fewer loanwords than Hindi.
  • Urdu influences the grammar of Pakistani Punjabi. Likewise, Hindi affects the grammar of Indian Punjabi.
  • Pakistani Punjabis tend to use more Persian and Arabic words. Indian Punjabis tend to use more Sanskrit words.
  • There are differences in vocabulary, pronunciationand usage between Indian Punjabi and Pakistani Punjabi.

Importance of The Punjabi Language in Pakistan

The importance of the Punjabi language is rising day by day. The significance of the Punjabi language is not confined to Pakistan and has an important place in the world.

Number of Speakers

Punjabi is now the 9th most spoken language in the world. Almost 93 million people claim it as their first language.

The status of any language depends on the number of its speakers. Therefore, the more speakers a language has, the more critical it becomes.

Provincial Language of Punjab, Pakistan

It is the regional language of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab. Punjab is Pakistan’s second most populous province, with a population of over 110 million. And it is also the most industrialized and developed province of the country.

The economy of Punjab province is the most significant contributor to the national economy of Pakistan.

So, you can gauge the importance of the Punjabi language because it is the regional language of Pakistan’s most populous and developed province.

Most Widely Spoken Language in Pakistan

Punjabi is also the most spoken language in Pakistan. It is spoken as a first language by almost 44% of Pakistanis. 

It is the official language of Punjab province and is also spoken in:

·        Sindh

·        Baluchistan and

·        Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. 

It is also used as a second language by many people in Pakistan.

Punjabi is The Language of Lollywood

The Punjabi film industry is also called Lollywood. The films are mostly in Punjabi, but some are also in Urdu.

Some big and famous stars have also started appearing in Punjabi films. 

Facts About The Punjabi Language

Now let’s look at some interesting facts about the Punjabi language:

1.     Punjabi is the 9th most spoken language worldwide, with over 93 million speakers.

2.     It is the native language of the people of Punjab in India and Pakistan.

3.     Punjabi is written in the Gurmukhi script in India and the Shahmukhi script in Pakistan.

4.     Punjabi is one of the 22 official languages of India and is one of the 70 regional languages of Pakistan.

5.     The Punjabi language has many dialects, including Majhi, Doabi, Malwai, Powadhi, and Chardi Kala.

6.     The earliest Punjabi literature dates back to the 11th century AD.

7.     Famous Punjabi poets include Baba Farid, Bulleh Shah, Waris Shah, and Guru Nanak.

8.     Punjabis made the first Punjabi film in 1936.

9.     The name Punjab means “land of five rivers.” It is derived from the Persian words panj (five) and ab (river).

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the official language of Punjab? 

The official language of Punjab is Punjabi. Most Punjabis live in Pakistan, where Punjabi is the provincial language of Punjab Province.

In India, Punjabi is spoken in the state of Punjab.

What makes the Punjabi language unique?

The Punjabi language is unique in several ways. Firstly, it is one of the few languages in the world that is written in two different scripts:

– Gurmukhi and

– Shahmukhi.

Secondly, it is one of the few languages with a distinct dialect for each community – Jat, Malwa, Doabi, and Majhi.

Punjabi is also one of the very few languages with a rich literary tradition spanning over 1500 years.

What type of language is Punjabi?

Punjabi is a member of the Indo-Aryan group of languages. It is a sub-group of the Indo-European language family.

The Punjabi language is descended from Sanskrit and Prakrit. And it is closely related to Hindi, Bengali, and Marathi.

Why is Punjabi not the national language of Pakistan?

The answer to this question is not that easy. There are several reasons why Punjabi is not the national language of Pakistan.

Punjabi is spoken as a first language by only 44% of Pakistan’s population. Most Pakistanis – 56% – speak other languages as their first language.

The province of Punjab, where Punjabi is predominantly spoken, makes up only 42% of Pakistan’s total land area.

Lastly, the Pakistani government has declared Urdu as the national language. And it has made efforts to promote its use throughout the country.

How many languages are used in Punjab?

Punjab is home to many languages, the most common being Punjabi and Urdu. Other languages spoken in Punjab include:

– Pashto

– Sindhi

– Saraiki and

– Balochi.

It is evident that language diversity exists in Pakistan and that the government has made efforts to promote using Urdu as the national language.

However, given the vast size of the country and a large number of Punjabis residing here, Punjabi will always be an essential language and will be used alongside Urdu.