Punjabi Alphabet: Your #1 Best Guide

Looking at different noodle-shaped texts with absolutely no understanding of what is being written is confusing for any person. It makes them feel agitated and exhausted when they can clearly understand a language when it’s being spoken but not when it’s in writing. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to read the alphabet of any new language!

If you’re trying to learn Punjabi, then this article is perfect for you! You’ll learn easy letter sounds and pronunciation of the Punjabi alphabet.

Let’s get started. 

Punjabi Alphabet

I have been living in Punjab for more than three years as I have a job in an American office outsourcing in Punjab. My coworkers used to try to convince me to learn how to read and write the Punjabi language but I had several excuses for them. 

Every day I either used Google Maps or the help of people nearby to reach different destinations. One day it rained heavily that my phone lost its network. I couldn’t use the internet or call someone due to network issues. 

I was drenched in the rain and was near my house. There were several signs placed on the roads for right and left directions. Since I couldn’t read Punjabi I didn’t know which way to go. Instead of going to my house, I went into the woods. After walking for so long, I saw some huts and went towards them. 

The residents of the huts were nomads who were fortunately extremely helpful and hospitable. I received some food and clothes from them and later they also helped me reach my home. That day I learned my lesson and religiously started investing my time in learning the Punjabi alphabet. The reason I am telling my story is for you to avoid any chances of having such an eventful day. 

The primary component of language learning for the Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) language is learning the alphabet. You may learn the Punjabi alphabet and letters right here. This article will assist you in learning the Punjabi alphabet and characters in Punjabi as well as their English pronunciation.

A language is a tool for communication that allows us to transmit our thoughts, feelings, and knowledge to others. Because its structure is employed in everyday communication, learning the Punjabi alphabet is crucial. Even if you know how to write some words, without it you won’t be able to pronounce them correctly. You will be more understood when speaking Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) if you can pronounce each letter of a word correctly.

Punjabi letters/Punjabi alphabets are referred to as Punjabi Varnamala (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਵਰਣਮਾਲਾ). Punjabi alphabets based on the Indic script are known as Gurmukhi Alphabets (ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ), and those based on the Arabic script are known as Shahmukhi Alphabets (شاہ مکھی).

The 40-letter Punjabi alphabet represents 41 letters, 30 consonants, and 10 vowel signs. Punjabi consonants are referred to as Punjabi Vyanjan (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਵਿਅੰਜਨ) and Punjabi vowels as Punjabi Swar (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਸਵ).

Gurmukhi Alphabets (ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ)

Punjabi Alphabet

An abugida script, often known as a writing system, was created specifically for the Punjabi language. Other languages like Braj Bhasha, Hindi, Sanskrit, and Sindhi have been written using it. 

The second guru of Sikh, “Guru Angad”, formalized the Gurmukhi script around the 16th century after it evolved from the Landa alphabet. The official writing system for the Punjabi language, popularly known as a Sikh script, is called Gurmukhi and is used in Punjab, India. 

The Old Punjabi word guramukh, which means “from the Guru’s mouth,” is where the name Gurmukhi originates. 

Punjabi Aphabet ਅ ਬ ਭ ਗ ਧ ਢ ੲ ਵ ਦ ਡ ਹ ਘ ਥ ਠ ਯ ਕ ਚ ਲ ਮ ਨ ਣ (ਸ਼) ੳ ਪ ਫ ਸ ਖ ਛ ਰ ਖ ਤ ਟ

Romanized Guide a ba bha ga dha ḍha e va da ḍa ha gha tha ṭha ya ka ca la ma na ṇa śa* o pa pha sa kha cha ra ṣa* ta ṭa

Features Of Gurmukhi Alphabets (ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ)

Gurmukhi script has three features to each of its letters. 

  • Every letter is colorful and represents a different sound and has a unique shape and name. The very first language to organize the alphabets in accord with their sounds may have been Sanskrit. 
  • The Gurmukhi script originally only had thirty-five letters, but five more were later added to properly accommodate different sounds. Due to the prevalence of lone words in Punjabi, this necessity developed. An additional character (ਲ਼) was added more recently.
  • Since Punjabi is primarily a phonetic language, learning Gurmukhi symbols and language sounds simultaneous is entirely doable. Since each character in the Punjabi Writing system corresponds to a syllable, the term “syllabary” is more appropriate to call Punjabi writing. 

It is important to note the discrepancy between retroflex and dental consonants and aspirated/unaspirated consonants are two phonetic traits common to all North Indian languages. The English language lacks them. Contrary to non-aspirated consonants, which are produced with little or no breath, aspirated consonants go along with an audible discharge of air. It’s a lovely and beautiful language.

Gurmukhi Alphabets With A “Dot” (.)

Punjabi Alphabet

Additionally, it’s crucial to recognize the distinction between alphabets that are marked with a dot and those that are plain, as demonstrated below:

Many Punjabi speakers don’t differentiate between the following letters, “ਖ”, “ਖ਼”, “ਗ”, “ਗ਼” and ਫ ਫ਼. The two main explanations for this are that they are used to distinguish borrowed words from other languages, whose learning is dwindling in the state of India, East Punjab, and that their pronunciations are fairly similar.

ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਸਵ (Punjabi Swar)

ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਸਵ (Punjabi Swar) are used for the vowel phenomes. Punjabi has 10 vowel phonemes, compared to about twenty in English. The one sign, one sound guideline is typically followed while writing symbols in Punjabi. They are vowels that produce a single sound. 

The Shape Of Gurmukhi Vowels

Punjabi Alphabet

Vowels can, however, be in either of two shapes. The two types of vowels are independent form, which does not need a consonant/Punjabi vyanjan, and dependent form, which connects to a consonant.

Gurmukhi Vowels In Their Independent Forms

There are three ways that vowels might take the independent form. 

  • First, when the vowel starts a word or syllable, 
  • Second, when 2 vowel/mantras sounds are necessary because a consonant does not support 2 vowels/mantras,
  • Third, when 2 mantras/vowels are articulated in 1 syllable in a diphthong. 

However, independent and dependent vowels are pronounced exactly in the same way. 

Gurmukhi Matras

Punjabi Alphabet

Now that you are aware of this, you can start learning the 10 Gurmukhi matras. The ten vowels that make up the Punjabi alphabet are referred to as Punjabi Swar. Here, we will study Punjabi vowels and their English pronunciation. Each of the ten vowel signs or matras is explained below.

ਅ (Mukta: ਮੁਕਤਾ)

Mukta is the independent form of the vowel. Since Mukta literally means “free,” it lacks a symbol. It is analogous to the letter  “a” in the apple or “e” in Face. The Mukta vowel shall hereafter be represented by the letter /a/ in this article.

ਅਸ /as/ = us

Punjabi WordsRomanized PunjabiEnglish Translation
ਅਸਮਾਨasamānaThe sky

ਆ (Kanna: ਕੰਨਨਾ)

The second letter Kanna is the same as the letter “a” in father or alter. The kanna vowel sign will now be indicated in this module by the letter /aa/.

Punjabi WordsRomanized PunjabiEnglish Translation
ਆਕਾਸ਼ākāśaThe sky
ਆਸਮਾਨāsamānaThe sky

In Punjabi, a short mantra/vowel and a long mantra/vowel are always found together. A good example of this combination is mukta and kanna, where mukta is the shortest sign of vowel and kanna is the longest one. 

ਇ (Sihari: ਸਿਹਾਰੀ)

Sihar is an independent form of vowel, and is the same as the letter “I” in pin or thin. Sihari vowels will now be indicated with a /i/ in this module.

Punjabi WordsRomanized PunjabiEnglish Translation
ਇਨਸਾਨinasānaHuman beings

The fact that sihari, unlike other matras, comes before the letter it follows is one of its distinctive features.

ਈ (Bihari: ਬਿਹਾਰੀ)

Bihari is the same as “ee” in seek or “ea” in teacher. In this module, the bihari vowel sign will be indicated by the letter /ī/. See the bihari use examples below.

Punjabi WordsRomanized PunjabiEnglish Translation

ਉ (Aunkar:ਔਂਕਾਰ)

Aunkarh, an independent form of vowel, is the same as writing “u” or “oo” in a book. In this module, the /u/ sign will stand in for the aunkar vowel. Check out the use examples for aunkar below.

Punjabi WordsRomanized PunjabiEnglish Translation

ਊ (Dulenkarh: ਦੁਲੇਨਕਰਹ)

The “oo” in boot corresponds to dulenkarh. In this lesson, the dulenkarh vowel will be indicated by the letter /oo/. See the usage of dulenkarh in the example below.

Punjabi WordsRomanized PunjabiEnglish Translation
ਊਠŪṭhaThe camel

ਏ (Lanv: ਲੈਨਵ)

Lanv is the same as the letter “a” in hate or rate. In this module, a lanv vowel is indicated by the letter /e/. See the lanv usage examples below.

Punjabi WordsRomanized PunjabiEnglish Translation

ਐ (Dulawan: ਦੁਲਾਵਨ)

The letter “a” in substance or hat is equivalent to dulawan. The dulawan mantra/vowel will be indicated by the letter /ae/. See how dulanvan is used in the examples below.

Punjabi WordsRomanized PunjabiEnglish Translation
ਅਧਿਐਨAdhi’ainathe study

ਓ (Horha: ਹੋਰਹਾ)

The “o” sound from “home” in English corresponds to the horha. In this module, the Horha mantra/vowel will be denoted by the letter “o.” See the horha use examples below.

Punjabi WordsRomanized PunjabiEnglish Translation
ਅਧਿਐਨAdhi’ainathe study

ਔ (Kanaorha :ਕਨੌਰਹਾ)

Kanaorha is the same as the letter “o” in omelet or Cold. Kanaorha will be indicated by the letter /ao/. See the Punjabi words that employ kanaorha in the examples below.

  • ਔਖਾ (Aukhā) Difficult
  • ਔਸਤ (ausata) Average

Punjabi Consonants | Punjabi Vyanjan

All Punjabi consonants use the dependent form of the mantra/vowel. In the 30 aspirated and unaspirated consonants that make up the Punjabi alphabet, stops and affricates are 15, 2 are fricatives, 5 are the nasal consonants, liquids are 4, and glides are 2. 

Some Punjabi words call for consonants to be written in a conjunct form, which looks like a subscript to the main letter. The stops and nasals are characterized as being articulated at the following locations, such as  Labial, Dental, Retroflex, Palatal, and Velar, respectively. 

These Punjabi consonants are referred to as Punjabi Vyanjan because the palatal stops are actually affricates. Here, we study a few Punjabi consonants and how they sound in English.

  • ਡ (ddad’daa), a Gurmukhi letter pronounced “dd” as in daddy.
  • ਪ (pap’paa), a Gurmukhi letter pronounced as “p” as in papa.
  • ਬ (bab’baa), a Gurmukhi letter “b” as in baby.
  • ਨ (nan’naa), a Gurmukhi letter “n” as in name.

Tones In Gurmukhi

Pitch contours are one of Punjabi’s distinctive characteristics among the range of contemporary South Asian languages. Depending on how they sound, these alter the meaning of the term. 

Technically speaking, there are three different kinds of tones: low, high, and level. Tonal letters include the letters ਘ, ਝ, ਢ, ਧ, and ਭ. This indicates that these letters have either a high or a low-level tone depending on whether they are found at the beginning or the end of the word. 

These letters are aspirated and spoken in a low-level tone when they appear in the first syllable of a word. They take on a high-level tone and are unaspirated when they are in the final syllable of a word.

The letter p” stands for the aspirated sound, while the letter “h” stands for tone. All these vowels, consonants, and tones make different words of a certain grammatical value like the Punjabi verbs and Punjabi Pronouns.

Shahmukhi Alphabets (شاہ مکھی)

Punjabi Alphabet

Shahmukhi is the basis for Western Punjabi. Punjabi is written using a variant of the Persian script called Shahmukhi (شاہ مکھی) in Pakistan. Since the eleventh century, it has been written typically in the Nastaliq style. “From the King’s mouth” is the meaning of the name Shahmukhi. 

In 2016, Pakistan developed the present Shahmukhi alphabet. Because it shares the same alphabet as Urdu but only adds two consonants, it can be regarded as a superset of Urdu. As a result, anyone who can read Urdu can easily read Shahmukhi (and vice versa) without any practical difficulty.

In the Arabic script, Shahmukhi is written. It has 37 different alphabets. It is spelled like Arabic from right to left, unlike Gurmukhi. First and foremost, you must learn and retain this alphabet. 

We advise you to focus solely on identifying these alphabets during your initial learning stages. You’ll learn quickly once you can identify these alphabets.

Alphabets In Shahmukhi

Here are the Alphabets in Shahmukhi that you can learn

Punjabi Aphabet: ا ب پ ت ٹ ث ج چ ح خ د ڈ ذ ڑ ز ژ س ش ص ض ط ظ ع ع ف ق ک گ ل لؕ م ن ݨ و ہ ھ ء ی ے

Romanized Guide: a ba paa ta tta tha ja cha ha kha aa gha fa qa ka ga la lla ma na ṇa wa ha hha aa- ya

There are not such equivalents to the matras in Gurmukhi in the Shahmukhi. Since it follows the Arabic script, the vowels are invisible and you learn how to pronounce each word independently. 

Fun Facts 

Do you know that Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ), an Indo-Aryan (ਇੰਡੋ-ਆਰੀਅਨ) Language? It is spoken in the state of Punjab in India and Punjab Province in Pakistan? In 2015, West Punjabi is spoken by about 92.7 million people, mainly in Punjab in Pakistan, While East Punjabi is spoken by about 32.6 million people in 2011), it is mainly spoken in East Punjab, India. Additionally, Punjabi is spoken in other countries like Kenya, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Saudia, and Australian countries.

The word Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) is derived from the Persian language for 5 which means Punj and water means aab. The Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas are the five main eastern headwaters of the Indus that flow through Punjab.

The Shauraseni language of medieval northern India is the ancestor of Punjabi, which emerged as a separate language in the 11th century.

Is Punjabi Really Hard To Learn?

Punjabi Alphabet

Those who are unfamiliar with Punjabi pronunciations (e.g of Punjabi question words and phrases) frequently find it difficult to adapt. For the most impressive outcomes, you must begin learning Punjabi as soon as possible. Your chances of learning it will quickly increase. It is less probable that you will succeed in learning a language the longer you wait to start.

For instance, the Punjabi equivalent of “How are you doing?” is “Tu ki karda,”  ” ਤੁਸੀ ਕਿਵੇਂ ਹੋ.” The example would not sound offensive in terms of tone or wording. Punjabi is a lovely language.

You should learn the language of the native population because many native Punjabi speakers find it difficult to comprehend you. Only in the beginning process of learning a language is it challenging. However, once you start using Punjabi, you’ll find that it comes naturally. You may quickly learn Punjabi with enough practice.

Before someone asks you if learning Punjabi is hard? assure them that it is not. Below are some techniques and lessons that will speed up your learning of Punjabi.

  • Punjabi movies can help you learn the language.
  • Pakistan’s most extensively used language is Punjabi. You can therefore learn this native language by conversing with native Punjabi speakers.
  • Listening to Punjabi music is another way to learn the language. It is among the most effective methods for learning a language.
  • Watching the Punjabi language study on YouTube channel is another approach to learning this Indo-Aryan language.
  • You can seek the assistance of qualified teachers for any questions on Ling, a language learning platform that effectively aids someone in learning a new language. You can learn the Punjabi alphabet, grammatical gender, and their meaning by having simple discussions with Punjabi speakers.

Hope you understood all the instructions related to Punjabi Alphabets, their pronunciation, grammar, and meanings. Visit Punjab and speak Punjabi fluently with the native Punjabi speakers.

Wrapping Up 

Punjabi Alphabet

That’s it for this blog post. Learning Punjabi becomes an absolute need while living in Punjab and knowing Punjabi becomes a great perk. You might be seeking some impeccable ways to learn Punjabi and nothing could be better than Ling App to learn Punjabi. We provide numerous ways for our learners so that they can improve their language easily.

Not only the words but you also learn their meanings and transliteration which we doubt any other language learning app/website is doing right now. Download the app now from the Google Playstore and App Store to have a wholesome experience and start speaking the Punjabi language confidently.

Start learning Punjabi now!

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