No Punjabi On Duolingo? What Are The Alternatives?

January 15, 2021

The fact that there is no Punjabi on Duolingo makes me sad. It has always been at the top of the list of languages I am most eager to learn. I presume that Duolingo is focusing on more popular/ more in-demand languages, so this is one that they would probably hand over to volunteers in the future.

About The Punjabi Language

Punjabi (also known as Pañjābī) is a member of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. Eastern Punjabi is spoken as a first language primarily in the state of Punjab of India by 28.2 million people (Ethnologue). Western Punjabi (also known as Lahnda) is spoken by 60.6 million people in the Punjab province of Pakistan (Ethnologue). 

There are also speakers of these dialects in a number of other countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, the United Kingdom, the U.S., and Canada. Nationalecyklopedin estimates the total number of first-language speakers of Punjabi at 100 million.

Ancestors of the Punjabis are thought to have inhabited the Indus Valley at least as far back as 2,500 BCE. Indo-Aryan invasions had a significant effect on the language of the ancient Punjabis with the result that, like other Indo-Aryan languages, Punjabi evolved from Sanskrit through Prakrit, the latter being a large group of ancient Indic languages spoken between the 6th and the 13th centuries AD.

Why Is There No Punjabi On Duolingo?

I think there are two main reasons why there is no Punjabi on Duolingo:

  • Not enough resources. Unfortunately, there are not a whole lot of resources for English speakers to learn Punjabi. There are a couple of books out there that can help but they are written in the middle of the last century (the 60s, maybe?) and are pretty dry and boring.
  • Hindi and Punjabi are quite closely related since they both descend from Shauraseni which was one of the major Prakrits descended from Sanskrit... The Hindi language is well understood by North, West, East, and Central India. Even non-Hindi speaking states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, West Bengal, and Odisha understand Hindi. In addition, many young people in South India can understand and speak a little bit of Hindi. So, for all practical reasons, Hindi should be learned first.

Learning Hindi is more intelligible throughout different areas in India. If, however, you’re going to live in Punjab or Delhi learning Punjabi will help a lot too. 

Most of the Hindi speaking people understand Punjabi well, some of them are able to understand Punjabi just because they listen to Punjabi music. And they also watch Punjabi movies as well.

Punjabi is different from Hindi and Urdu but there are few words that match.

Some people even say that Punjabi is just a dialect of Hindi.  Punjabi, while similar to Hindi, is a separate language. Stating that Punjabi is a dialect of Hindi is equivalent to stating that Spanish is a dialect of Portuguese.

Punjabi has a unique conjugation of verbs that differ from Hindi. Both are similar as they are both neighboring Indo-Aryan languages, but separate languages nonetheless.

Punjabi uses the Gurmukhi script, and Hindi uses the Devanagri script, they are not legible from each other unless you learn the scripts. The script may be the sole reason why the Indian government has not classified Punjabi as a dialect of Hindi as they have done to other languages in North India.

What Are The Alternatives To Duolingo?

Ling

No Urdu On DuolingoI am glad you asked. There is one very obvious recommendation that can be made here, and that is the Ling Punjabi app. Ling uses native Punjabi speakers to help you learn Punjabi, just like it will sound in the country. 

Through the gamification of learning, also makes the whole process much more engaging. You can see yourself progress as you make your way through the different topics and tests that come along with it.

Then there is the chatbot feature that simulates conversations and makes for great practicing your Punjabi language skills. For an introvert like me, it helps to build up my courage to eventually feel confident enough to use it when out and about.

While these mobile apps do share a common goal of making language learning fun and accessible, what sets Ling apart is the focus on practical vocabulary, sentences, and phrases that you will use in everyday speech. 

Simply Learn

No Urdu On DuolingoThis one is actually a part of the same family as Ling. Simply Learn Punjabi is a phrasebook in app form, giving you all the benefits that come with that. You can listen to the words and phrases being spoken by native Punjabi speakers, along with the Punjabi and phonetic spellings of the words. 

It makes for a great companion both when practicing and when you are in Pakistan. It makes use of flashcards and the spaced repetition learning technique that is said to really improve language learning.

It may not be the top choice if you want a deep understanding of the language but helps you start out with pronunciation and basic grammar like word order. 

Other Resources 

There are quite a few different apps and websites that work great with helping you to learn Punjabi. Each one goes about its own way to replace the hole made by the lack of Punjabi in Duolingo. Ultimately, it is a case of finding which option works best for your case.

Like we said before, it is good to make a language learning plan and mix things up if you are serious about learning Punjabi. If you are just looking for a more casual experience to learn a few phrases before traveling, then apps like the Ling Punjabi app might be the best option for you.

What Are The Chances Of Punjabi Appearing In Duolingo?

There are languages that are already in the development phase. Whether the Punjabi language will be inserted in the language section or not depends not only on the desire and will of users willing to help create a Punjabi language course, as well as on those who would like to learn Punjabi but also on the assessment of people who lead this site whether they need that language. I really don't know if and when the Punjabi language will be taught at Duolingo.

I think that the chances of the Punjabi language appearing in that form at Duolingo are very small. Since the language is not in that so-called Language Section, and since Duolingo cannot be set to the Punjabi option, the prerequisite to be able to learn any language on this site is to know English. You may like it or not, but this is how things work on this site.

Conclusion

Personally, I  would like to see Punjabi on Duolingo. The reason why English became such a common language is because of the many resources/dictionaries out there that can easily help out with the meaning of words.

I have a friend that was fortunate enough to have known Punjabi from being raised in Punjab...but his children won’t be so fortunate. He already finds it difficult enough to find meanings of Punjabi words that he's not familiar with...and so he resorts to his parents for help. Even then, sometimes they don’t know the meanings either.

They must take the initiative ourselves, and ask their elders to help them form a Punjabi dictionary/Kosh of some sort to make it easy for future generations to learn Punjabi.

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