12 Easy Languages In Pakistan You Could Learn

Popular Languages In Pakistan

Do you want to learn the languages in Pakistan? Pakistan is a country in South Asia with over 70 to almost 80 languages spoken. This article will teach you Pakistan’s most popular languages and where Pakistani people speak these languages extensively.

If you are up for that, then let the learning begin! There are two official languages ​​in Pakistan. The mother tongue and official language of Pakistan are Urdu, and English is the second official language of Pakistan. The 1998 Census has listed Pakistan’s most widely used languages in Pakistan​​: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Urdu, Saraiki, and Balochi.

What Languages Are Spoken In Pakistan?

First of all, let’s list the most popular languages in Pakistan today in 2023 while looking at the percentage of their speakers in the country’s total population.

  • Punjabi: Spoken by 38.78% of the population. It is the most popular language in Pakistan.

  • Pashto: Spoken by 18.24% of the population.

  • Sindhi: Spoken by 14.57% of the population.

  • Saraiki: Spoken by 12.19% of the population.

  • Urdu: Although it is the national language of Pakistan, it is spoken as the first language by only 7.08% of the population.

  • Balochi: Spoken by 3.02% of the population.

  • Hindko: Spoken by 2.44% of the population.

  • Brahui: Spoken by 1.24% of the population.

  • Kashmiri: Spoken by 0.17% of the population.

  • Others: Comprise 2.26% of the population.

Now, let’s discuss each of these languages in Pakistan in detail.

The Official Languages Spoken In Pakistan

Both Urdu and English are the official languages in Pakistan.

1. Urdu – The National Language

Urdu is a lingua franca and Pakistan’s native language. It is also Pakistan’s official language. However, only 7.08% of Pakistanis speak Urdu as their first language, and most individuals consider it a second language.

Urdu’s origins can be traced back hundreds of years. According to historians, Urdu was derived from the Indo-Aryan language spoken in the Delhi region of the Indian subcontinent, which absorbed words and phrases from Persian, Arabic, and Turkic languages during the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire periods.

Persian and Chughtai are two Persian dialects. Urdu is Pakistan’s primary language, and it is spoken in informal settings, government administration, and educational institutions.

2. English Language

English is an essential medium of formal communication in the country, and this is a relic of British colonial rule in the region. The country’s constitution and laws were created in English at first and are now being translated into local languages.

Many educational institutes in the country employ English as a medium of communication. Along with the native languages, English is spoken in the homes and informal groups of the country’s elite.

Popular Languages in Pakistan Widely Spoken - A time lapse photo of a city

The Widely Spoken Languages In Pakistan

Also, there are provincial languages, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, and more. Further, there is also one state language, the Kashmiri language.

1. Punjabi Language (Southern Punjab And Western Punjabi)

Punjabi is one of Pakistan’s major languages and the most widely spoken provincial language. A significant number of Pakistanis speak Punjabi in Punjab province as a first language, with around 38.78% of Pakistani Punjabis speaking it. It was originally written in the Shahmukhi script, which utilizes the Urdu alphabet. Some people believe Hindko and Saraiki are dialects of Punjabi, while others believe they are separate languages.

2. Pashto Language

In Pakistan, Pashto, the official language of neighboring Afghanistan, is spoken by many Pakistanis, particularly in regions like Quetta and Peshawar. This Pakistani language is spoken by around 18.24% of the country’s population.

Pashto speakers are primarily found in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northern Balochistan, and the formerly known Federally Administered Tribal Areas (now merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).

This language is also used amongst Pashtun groups in the country’s cities. Khushal Khan Khattak, Rahman Baba, Khatir Afridi, and Ghani Khan are just a few of the famous poets who have written in Pashto.

3. Sindhi Language

Sindhi is one of the provincial languages and is primarily used as a first language among Pakistanis-speaking Sindhi who live in the Sindh province. This Pakistani language is spoken by around 14.57% of Pakistanis.

Some experts say Sindhi is descended from Sanskrit and has absorbed elements from Arabic and Persian, while others believe it is descended from Indo-Aryan languages. A sizable portion of the Indian population also speaks Sindhi.

4. Balochi Language

Balochi, as one of Pakistan’s regional languages, plays a central role in the cultural identity of the Baloch people. It is predominantly spoken in Balochistan, the largest province in terms of area.

Balochi is the primary language for about 3.02% of Pakistan’s population, reflecting the country’s unique linguistic diversity. This language, part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian language family, signifies a rich oral tradition with a growing body of literature in both poetry and prose.

5. Saraiki Language

Flourishing in the heartland of Southern Punjab, Saraiki claims its own cultural and linguistic identity, distinguishing itself from Punjabi. It garners the attention of approximately 12.19% of Pakistan’s populace, who use it as their primary mode of communication.

The richness of Saraiki is further exemplified in its literary traditions, where it boasts a diverse range of poetry and prose, enriching the culture of Pakistan. This language’s script, a modified version of the Perso-Arabic script, reflects its historical evolution and influence from neighboring linguistic traditions.

6. Hindko Language

Hindko, primarily spoken in the verdant valleys and towns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, brings together unique linguistic additions that some may link to Punjabi but with distinct features setting it apart.

Representing around 2.44% of the Pakistani populace, Hindko speakers maintain a vibrant oral tradition that can be seen through their daily conversations and cultural expressions.

The script, a version of the Perso-Arabic, serves as a vessel for their rich folklore and oral histories, preserving a unique segment of Pakistan’s linguistic heritage.

7. Brahui Language

Amidst the diverse linguistic landscape of Pakistan, Brahui stands out as a linguistic enigma. Belonging to the Dravidian family, it diverges significantly from the predominantly Indo-Aryan and Iranic languages of the region.

Primarily nestled in the central expanses of Balochistan, Brahui is the tongue of a modest segment of the population. It preserves a unique linguistic lineage that traces back to ancient Dravidian roots. Its speakers keep alive a language that is proof of the vast and varied cultural history of the region.

8. Kashmiri Language

Kashmiri, spoken by a minority in the region of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, is a language steeped in a rich oral literature tradition. Its speakers, though few, contribute to the cultural and linguistic diversity of Pakistan.

The language, with its roots in the Dardic branch of the Indo-Aryan languages, is written in the Perso-Arabic script. This script encapsulates the linguistic beauty of Kashmiri and serves as a bridge connecting it to the broader South Asian literary and cultural heritage.

Popular Languages in Pakistan Minor Languages - A photo birds flying above mosque

The Minor Languages In Pakistan

A wide variety of languages can be classified as minor languages in Pakistan and are used by the country’s minority communities. The number of individuals who understand these minor languages ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand.

Some of these languages are likewise endangered and may become extinct shortly. Pakistanis speak foreign languages in Pakistan that have a significant impact in Pakistan. Besides English, the other important foreign languages of Pakistan are:

1. Arabic Language

Arabic holds a significant place in Pakistan, primarily due to the country’s Islamic heritage. As the liturgical language of Islam, Arabic is central to religious education and practices. The Holy Quran, Hadith, Sunnah, and other Islamic texts are originally in Arabic. These texts are often studied in their original language and also widely available in translations, particularly in Urdu.

In Pakistan, a substantial portion of the Muslim population receives some form of religious education that includes the study of Arabic. However, this education is more focused on religious texts rather than conversational proficiency in the language.

2. Persian Language (Historical And Literary Language)

Persian was the language spoken by the Royals of the Mughal Empire and served as the cultural and official language of this Empire. As such, it had a high status in Muslim society in the past.

However, the British colonial administration abolished the official status of Persians during their rule over the Indian subcontinent. Today, only a tiny section of the Pakistani population speaks this language. Its influence, however, endures in the country’s rich literary and cultural heritage, marking its historical significance.

Master The Languages In Pakistan With The Ling App

Now you know the most spoken languages in Pakistan. If you are soon visiting or moving to the country, start learning the Urdu language with the Ling app now! If you are initially learning the language, start with basic Urdu words and phrases and greetings in Urdu.

The Ling app is based on user input and market research. Users can enhance their speaking and writing skills by practicing languages every day with engaging mini-games on the Ling app. So far, the Ling app supports more than 60 languages.

Visit the Ling web page or download the app from the Play Store and the App Store to start your exciting language-learning journey today!

Updated by: Jefbeck

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