I was recently watching a Punjabi film Angrej, set in 1945 pre-partitioned India, exploring the story of a young man’s love life, cultural traditions, and the complexities of rural life and relationships. What surprised me were the old Punjabi words and vocabulary used in the dialogues and the song lyrics which are not in common use these days.
This piqued my interest and as a language enthusiast, I found myself googling the lyrics and finding out the use of those beautiful words that are rarely heard in day-to-day conversations in the Punjabi language. And that’s how this blog came into existence – to share that list of Punjabi words with you all!
Old Punjabi Words
Like many other languages, old Punjabi words have undergone transformations over time, influenced by a myriad of factors and historical developments. According to linguists, the Punjabi language boasts a remarkable linguistic heritage, enriched by its geographical location (being the shared region between India and Pakistan), and the cultural exchanges that shaped the region.
Within Punjabi language and culture, the term Theth Punjabi refers to the pure or traditional form of the language. Theth Punjabi places a strong emphasis on preserving the linguistic integrity, historical roots, and cultural heritage of the language, extending even to its music. It upholds grammatical structures, syntactical rules, and vocabulary that have been passed down through generations, providing a valuable connection to the past.
However, it’s important to recognize that language is a living entity that evolves and adapts over time. While Theth Punjabi holds a special place in Punjabi literature for its traditional nature, it coexists with other variations and dialects that have emerged due to regional influences, urbanization, and language contact.
Now, let’s dive into some examples of the charming Theth Punjabi words that embody the rich tapestry of this cherished language.
Theth Punjabi Words
Origins Of Old Punjabi Words
The origins of Punjabi words can be traced back to several sources mentioned below:
Indo-European Language Family: Punjabi belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family, which includes languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, and Bengali. Many Punjabi words have their roots in Sanskrit, the ancient Indo-Aryan language. In fact, the Sanskrit name Panchanada, which means the land of the five rivers, was originally the root name of Punjab.
|Path (in the religious/spiritual context)||ਪੰਥ||Panth|
|Beautiful (feminine form)||ਸੋਹਣੀ||Sōhanī|
Prakrit Languages: Prakrits were an Indo-Aryan subgroup spoken during ancient times. They influenced the development of Punjabi vocabulary, especially during the early stages of the language. Prakrits were widely used in religious and literary texts, and their influence can still be seen in certain Punjabi words.
Persian and Arabic: The Punjabi language has been significantly influenced by Turkish Persian conquerors due to historical and cultural interactions. Persian, being the official language of the Mughal Empire, had a profound impact on Punjabi vocabulary. A lot of Punjabi Indian literature was originally from here.
|Good news (Persian: خوشخبری)||ਖ਼ੁਸ਼ਖ਼ਬਰੀ||Khushkhabrī|
|Pure, free (Arabic: خالصة)||ਖ਼਼ਲਸਾ||Khālsā|
|Love (Persian: عشق)||ਇਸ਼ਕ਼||Ishq|
|Hard work (Arabic: محنة)||ਮਿਹਨਤ||Mihnat|
|Order, command (Arabic: حكم)||ਹੁਕਮ||Hukam|
Regional and Cultural Influences: Punjab, the region where Punjabi is spoken, has a long history of cultural diversity and interactions with neighboring regions. Words from languages such as Sindhi, Pashto, and Rajasthani paved the way for Punjabi as the vital overseas diaspora.
|Guests (borrowed from Sindhi: سپرمیان)||ਸਪਰਮਿਆਂ||Saparmiān|
|Guest (borrowed from Persian: مهمان)||ਮੇਹਮਾਨ||Mehmān|
|To weep, cry (influenced by Rajasthani: रंझणा)||ਰੰਝਣਾ||Ranjhṇā|
|Vegetables (borrowed from Hindi: सब्जी)||ਸੁਬਜੀ||Subjī|
|Week (borrowed from Sindhi: پڪوڙو)||ਪਖਵਾਡਾ||Pakhvāḍā|
British Colonial Influence: During the British colonial period, Punjabi interacted with English and adopted certain words related to administration, technology, and modern concepts. English loanwords continue to be incorporated into Punjabi vocabulary and the Punjabi university today.
|Railway (borrowed from English: railway)||ਰੈਲਵੇ||Railve|
|Police (borrowed from English: police)||ਪੁਲਿਸ||Pulis|
|Post, mail (borrowed from English: post)||ਡਾਕ||Dāk|
|Hospital (borrowed from English: hospital)||ਅਸਪਤਾਲ||Aspatal|
|School (borrowed from English: school)||ਸਕੂਲ||Skūl|
Punjabi Language Around The World
History reveals that South Asia is home to both Indian Punjabi speakers and Pakistani Punjabi speakers. The division between Pakistani Punjabi and Indian Punjabi arose during the 1970 war, leading to slight variations in the script and writing while maintaining overall linguistic similarities. Originating from the Indo-Aryan language family, Punjabi encompasses diverse dialects. The Majhi dialect, known for its simplicity, is widely understood even by non-Punjabi speakers and serves as the primary dialect used in mass media.
Fast forward to today, Punjabi has become a vibrant global diaspora, transcending the boundaries of the eastern Indus River and capturing the hearts of people worldwide as their second language. It has truly found its place in the hearts of many. With approximately 152 million people worldwide speaking Punjabi as their mother tongue and first language, it holds a significant presence. Interestingly, only 3% of the Indian population speaks Punjabi, while the majority of Punjabi speakers reside in the Pakistani Punjab region.
Additionally, Punjabi communities exist in other countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and many more, due to migration. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Punjabi’s influence and reach have expanded, making it a language that connects people across borders and cultures.
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