History of the Punjabi Language

Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the people of historical Punjab - both in Pakistan as well as in India. It is a Sikh dominated language spoken by approximately 90 million people, making it the 11th most commonly spoken language in the world. Apart from being the official language of Punjab and Chandigarh, it is also one of the official languages of Delhi and the second language of Haryana.

Although Pakistan has a majority of the Punjabi-speaking population, the language has failed to gain any official status in the country. It is not used greatly as a written language too in comparison to Urdu.

The grammatical structure of the Punjabi language is under high influence by the Dravidians and Proto – Dravidians, and also comes closer to Sindhi and Serieki.

As the Prakrit is known to have come from Sanskrit and so the Aprabhramsa language, the Punjabi language is known to have quite a few characteristics of Sanskrit, Prakrit and Aprabhramsa.


The Punjabi language is written in different scripts depending on the dialect of that particular region as well as the religion of the speaker. Shahmukhi is the commonly used Punjabi script in the Punjab province of Pakistan, which is a modified version of Persian-Nastaliq script; whereas the Gurumukhi script is the most prevalent and in major use in the Indian state of Punjab. Hindus and the other community residing in the adjoining states, such as Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, sometimes use the Devanagari script. However, the official and also the most commonly used scripts for writing Punjabi are Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi. Majority of the Sikhs believe that the Gurmukhi script is the only appropriate script that is produced from the Nagari script.

Modern Punjabi

The modern day Punjabi has a major influence of languages such as Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, English and Sanskrit. The language has integrated local vocabulary just like the English after having travelled around the world. Punjabi, in the current era, has thus evolved as the most important and an independent language of medieval northern India.

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