About Punjabi

Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, پن٘جابی) is one of many recognized languages in India, and is the native language of the Punjabi people of India and Pakistan.

Punjabi may be written using different writing systems. In Pakistan, it is written using the Shahmukhi system adapted from Arabic, and in India today, the main writing system is Gurmukhi. Like Devanagari, this is one of many scripts derived from the ancient Brahmi system. It is an abugida, meaning that unlike alphabets such as Greek or Latin, is not written with complete vowels. The 32 consonants of Gurmukhi are written in full, while vowels and tones are represented with the use of diacritics which modify the consonant letter. Like other Brahmic scripts, it is written from left to right, without distinguishing between upper and lower case.

Gurmukhi belongs to a different branch of the Brahmic scripts from Devanagari. In the first millennium CE, the Sharada script evolved from Brahmi in northwestern India, and was used between the 8th and 12th centuries for writing Kashmiri and Sanskrit. From this came the Landa scripts, which were used to write Punjabi, among other languages, mostly in mercantile contexts. The script now known as Gurmukhi was derived from Landa.

The Guru Granth Sahib, the central scripture of the Sikh religion, was written in Punjabi. Guru Angad is credited with having standardized the Gurmukhi writing system through this, and as a result it was named for the Gurmukhs, the Guru’s followers. After its use in Sikh writing, Gurmukhi became the standard writing system for the Punjabi language. Today, Punjabi is the main language used by Sikhs, as well as being one of the most widely spoken languages in Pakistan.

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