Kids Corner

Images: courtesy - Raminder Pal Singh, R.M. Singh.

History

Mother Tongue: The Many Dialects of Punjabi

by Dr. MASOOD TARIQ

 

 

 

1      Majhi Punjabi

The Majhi dialect is the prestige dialect of Punjabi’s and spoken in the heart of Punjab where most of the Punjabi population lives. The Majhi dialect, the dialect of the historical region of Majha, spans the Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Okara, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat and to some extant in Jhelum District of Pakistani Punjab and Amritsar, Tarn Taran Sahib, and Gurdaspur Districts of the Indian State of Punjab.

2    Pothowari Punjabi

This Pothowari dialect is spoken in north area of Pakistani Punjab. It extends in the north from Muzaffarabad to as far south as Jhelum, Gujar Khan, Rawalpindi, Murree Hills (north of Rawalpindi), and east to Bhimber. Poonchi is east of Rawalakot. Potwari is in the plains around Rawalpindi.

Alternate names: Potwari, Pothohari, Potohari, Chibhali, Dhundi-Kairali. Dialects: Pahari (Dhundi-Kairali), Pothwari (Potwari), Chibhali, Punchhi (Poonchi), Jhelumi, Mirpuri.

Pahari means ‘hill language’ referring to a string of divergent dialects, some of which may be separate languages. Pahari is a dialect chain with Panjabi and Hindko. Closeness to western Pahari is unknown. Lexical similarity 76% to 83% among varieties called ‘Pahari’, ‘Potwari’, and some called ‘Hindko’ in Mansehra, Muzaffarabad, and Jammu.

3      Hindko Punjabi

Classified under Lahnda languages by many linguists; perhaps differs from Punjabi. Hindko dialect is spoken in north west Pakistani Punjab and North-West Frontier Province mainly this dialect is spoken in districts of Peshawar, Attock, Nowshehra, Mansehra, Balakot, Abbottabad and Murree and the lower half of Neelum District and Muzaffarabad.

4     Jhangochi /Rachnavi/Changvi or Chenavari Punjabi

Jhangochi dialect is spoken in Pakistani Punjab. Jhangochi or Rachnavi is the oldest and most idiosyncratic dialect of the Punjabi.

It is spoken throughout a widespread area, starting from Khanewal and Jhang at both ends of Ravi and Chenab to Gujranwala district. It then runs down to Bahawalnagar and Chishtiaa(n) areas, on the banks of river Sutlej. This entire area has almost the same traditions, customs and culture.

The Jhangochi dialect of Punjabi has several aspects that set it apart from other Punjabi variants. This area has a great culture and heritage, especially literary heritage, as it is credited with the creation of the famous epic romance stories of Heer Ranjha and Mirza Sahiba.

It is spoken in the Bar areas of Punjab, i.e., areas whose names are often suffixed with ‘Bar’, for example Sandal Bar, Kirana Bar, Neeli Bar, Ganji Bar and also from Khanewal to Jhang includes Faisalabad and Chiniot.

5         Shahpuri Punjabi

The Shahpuri dialect has been spoken by the people of the town Shahpur. This language has been spoken by the people of District Sargodha including Dera Chanpeer Shah, Khushab, Mianwali, Attock, Chakwal, Mandi Bahauddin and Jhang. Parts of Faisalabad, Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalnagar districts.

 6        Dhani Punjabi

The people of Pothohar speak Pothohari dialect. However, the people of Chakwal or the Dhanni area in particular do not speak Pothohari and are ethnologically not regarded as Potoharis. They speak a distinctive Chakwali or Dhanni dialect of Punjabi, which is closer to Shahpuri, a dialect spoken in the Shahpur-Salt Range area and also has a slight element of Saraiki and Pothohari.

7         Multani/ Saraiki Punjabi

Multani or Saraiki is a mixture of Jhangochi of Punjabi and Sindhi. Saraiki is the new name. For centuries, Multani was in use. It is now considered a separate language instead of merely a dialect of Punjabi.

Historically, the speakers of dialects now recognized as belonging to Saraiki did not hold the belief that they constituted a cohesive language community or a distinct ethnicity. This consciousness developed among local elites in the years after the founding of Pakistan in 1947 in response to the social and political upheaval caused by the mass immigration of Urdu speaking refugee Muslims from India.

Saraiki has various sub-dialects such as Derewali, Thalochi, Multani and Riasuti. It is mostly spoken in southern and western districts of Punjab, which comprises Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Bhakkar, Layyah, Mianwali, western parts of Khushab districts, Multan, Lodhran, southern and western parts of Khanewal, Bahawalpur, southern parts of Bahawalnagar and Rahim Yar Khan.

More than Saraiki waseb, Saraiki is native language in the districts of Chakwal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahuddin, Faisalabad, Okara and Toba Tek Singh are also Saraiki.

It is widely spoken and understood as a second language in Northern and Western Sind down to the suburbs of Karachi and in Kachhi plain of Baluchistan.

In Sindh, Saraiki is widely spoken in Kashmore, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Tando Allahyar, Sobho Khan Mastoi, Kamal Khan Mastoi and Ghotki.

In Balochistan, Saraiki is widely spoken in Barkhan, Naseerabad, Jafarabad and Jhal Magsi.

In Khyber, Pakhtunkhwa Saraiki is native language in the districts of Dera Ismail Khan.

In India, Saraiki is spoken in Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hisar, Bhiwani, Panipat districts of Haryana, some area of Delhi and Ganganagar district, Hanumangarh and Bikaner districts of Rajasthan.

8           Malwi Punjabi

Malwi dialect is spoken in the eastern part of Indian Punjab. Main areas are Ludhiana, Moga, Sangrur, Barnala, Faridkot, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mansa, Muktsar, Ambala, Bathinda, Ganganagar, Malerkotla, Ropar, and Ferozepur.

Malwa is the southern and central part of present day Indian Punjab. It also includes the Punjabi speaking northern areas of Haryana, viz. Ambala, Hissar, Sirsa, Kurukshetra etc. Not to be confused with the Malvi language, this shares its name.

9           Doabi Punjabi

Doabi dialect is spoken in Indian Punjab. The word “Do Aabi” means “the land between two rivers” and this dialect is spoken between the rivers of Beas and Sutlej. It includes Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur districts.

10         Pwadhi Punjabi

Powadh or Puadh or Powadha is a region of Punjab and parts of Haryana between the Satluj and Ghaggar rivers. The part lying south, south-east and east of Rupnagar adjacent to Ambala District (Haryana) is Powadhi.

The Powadh extends from that part of the Rupnagar District which lies near Satluj up to the Ghaggar River in the east, which separates the states of Punjab and Haryana. Parts of Fatehgarh Sahib District, and parts of Patiala districts like Rajpura are also part of Powadh.

The Pwadhi dialect is spoken over a large area in present Punjab as well as Haryana. In Punjab, Kharar, Kurali, Ropar, Nurpurbedi, Morinda, Pail, Rajpura, and Samrala are the areas where the Puadhi language is spoken and the area itself is claimed as including from Pinjore, Kalka to Bangar area in Hisar district which includes even Nabha and Patiala in it.

11          Dogri Punjabi

Although Dogri is generally considered a separate language having its own vocabulary, some sources consider it a dialect of Punjabi. It is spoken by about 3.5 million people in the Jammu region of India.

Examples

 
English   Majhi, Standard Punjabi   Pothohari   Dogri   Pahari   Multani   Doabi  
 
What are you doing? (masculine)   Ki karda ain?/ki karan deya ain?/ki karda pya ain?   Ka karne uo?   Ke karde o?   Ke (kay) peya kare-nanh?   ke karende paye o?   ki karda aa?  
 
What are you doing? (masculine to address fem+ale)   Ki kardi ain?/ki karan dayi ain?/ki kardi payi ain?   Ka karani ay?   Ke karani ae?   Ke (kay) pai (payi) kare-neenh?   ke (kay) karende paye o?   ki kardi aa tu?  
 
How are you?   Ki haal ae?   Keh aal e?   ke aal a?   Tudda ke haal e (eh)?   keevein haal tuhaade?   ki haal chal aa?  
 
Do you speak Punjabi?   Tusi Punjabi Bol lainde o ?   Punjabii bolne uo?   Punjabi bolde o?   Punjabi uburne o?   tussan punjabi bol lainde o?   tu punjabi bol laena?  
 
Where are you from?   Tusi kithon de o?/Tusi kidron aaye o?   Tusa kudhr nay aiyo?   Tus kudhr to o?   Kathe ne o?   tussan kithon de o?   kithon aa tu?  
 
Pleased to meet you   Tenu/tuanu mil ke bahut khushi hoyi.   Tusan milay tay boo khushi oye   Tusan nu miliye bahut khusi oyi   Tussan mil ke khushi thi.   Tenu/tuanu mil ke bahut khushi thi e.   tuhanu mil k bahut khushi hoyi  
 
What’s your name?   Tuada naa ki ae?   Tusan naa ke aa?   Tusan da naa kay ai?   Tudda ke naanh ve?   Tuada naa ki ae?   tera naam ki aa?  
 
My name is …   Mera naa ain…   Mara naa … e   Mera naa … e   Mainda naanh … eh   mainda naa …. e.   mera naam aa  
 
What is your village’s name?   Tuade pind/graan da naa ki ae?/ Tuada pind/graan kehda ae?   Tusane graana naa ke aa?   Tusan da graan kay aa?   Tudde gerayenh na ke naanh ve?   tuade pind/graan da kay naa ae?   tere pind da ki naam aa  
 
Yes   Haanji   Aaho   Aah   Haan   haanji   hanji  
 
No   Nay   Naa   Nahin   Nayin   naa   nai  
 
Would you like (to eat) some sweets?   Mithaee lawoge? / Mithaee Khawoge?   Mithaee khaso?   Kish mithaee khaani e?   Kuj mitha khaine o?   tussan mithaee ghinso?   mitha khaunge tusi?  
 
I love you.   Main tenu pyaar karda haan.   Mai tuki pyar karna.   Mai tugi pyar karna.   Main tuhan pyar kare-nanh.   main tenu pyaar karda haan.   mai tuhanu pyar karda haan.  
 
We went to the Cinema   Assin Cinema gaye saan.   Assa cinema gaye saa   As cinema gaye he.   Assi cinema gaye ayan.   aasan cinema gaye saa.   asin cinema gye si.  
 
Where should I go?   Mainu kitthe jana chahida ae?   Mai kudhar jaa   Migi kuthe jaavnaah?       mainu kitthe vanjna chaida ae?   mai kithe jawa  
 

 

 

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), January 18, 2012, 12:32 PM.

Punjabi should be made on the curricula in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Europe, Australia, etc.

2: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), January 18, 2012, 12:47 PM.

Very informative. I grew up outside the Punjab, so every bit of Punjabi from any corner was always the sweetest sound.

3: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), January 18, 2012, 12:49 PM.

What a delightful, scholarly expose on Punjabi dialects, thanks to Dr. Masood Tariq Ji. At the time of Partition, when the various dialects were thrown into a huge crucible, a delightful comical hybrid was the result. Here are some examples: This lady from Sargodha district had landed in Delhi and her complaint to the 'mundu' (boy) was: 'Kabi kabi tum kam acha karto ho but kabi kabi thumara 'haba mar vanday han' - Loosely translated: "Some times you work all right but on other occasions you behave as if all your relatives have died". One day she was all dressed up and going some place when her friend inquired and her reply was: 'Youhee bhavan jhavan ja rehee hun' - "Just going out for a walk". In talking of Dogri, it is a delightful mixture of Hindi and Punjabi. Here is the example: "Ek din Raja jee muree gayae, una da naroa bur-hee dhum dham nal niklaya, Mantri ji vaakh kay roy paee, aj Raja Ji jinday honday thay wakh kay baray khush honday'. The flavour of this comment is lost in translation, but loosely: "One day Raja ji died, and his funeral was taken out befittingly in great pomp and show. The Minister, seeing this, cried out that if Raja ji had been alive, how very pleased he would've been to see such a procession.' The 'Janglee' dialect was not mentioned, it is pure bliss to hear that. Pakistanis do produce YouTube like films in those delightful dialects. When a pir's disciple heard Guru Nanak singing a shabad, he ran back to his pir to report this delightful encounter. The pir said: "Meako uthahi jhul ghin bachra, asa-n vee othay dedar kariee." You translate this one!

4: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), January 18, 2012, 2:41 PM.

Here is a delightful example of the Multani dialect. Please click on the following site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWZXl_D8Mac&feature=related

5: Gurpal (Wolverhampton, United Kingdom), January 18, 2012, 3:56 PM.

Interesting certainly, but very much West Punjab oriented. Not much on Doabi, even though it is widely spoken in the diaspora. A lovely countryside dialect!

6: Aryeh Leib (Israel), January 19, 2012, 5:11 AM.

So ... where does that leave a wannabe student of this language, which is so very necessary for a successful integration into the Qaom, as it's presently constituted? Is there a Standard Punjabi, used in mass media? Are the various dialects mutually intelligible, more or less? I know that Yiddish certainly has the same problem, depending on the geographic origin of the speaker.

7: Ranjeet (Southampton, United Kingdom), January 19, 2012, 8:04 AM.

Aryeh: Majhi is considered to be the best of Punjabi, and is the written standard in Punjabi. My ethnic origins are however Doabi, so I speak in the Doabi dialect but write Punjabi the Majhi way. Sometimes, I do however write the odd 'b' instead of 'v' (which I believe is a classic Doabi trait). Most of the dialects are mutually intelligible, except when you go to the more mountainous areas to the north and north west.

8: Jaswant Singh Dhillon (Patiala, Punjab), January 19, 2012, 8:46 AM.

Aryeh Leib ji: It is no different than trying to learn English, which similarly has numerous accents and dialects. In fact, Punjabi/Gurmukhi is probably the easiest language to pick up because it is totally tied to phonetics. That is, it is written exactly the way it is pronounced, and spoken exactly the way it is written. There are no half-letters (such as in Hindi), no silent letters (such as in French); and it follows predictable patterns and rules (unlike English). As for the standard, Lahori Punjabi - or loosely, the Punjabi spoken by the educated middle-class in West Punjab - would qualify as the bench-mark of authentic, literary Punjabi - the equivalent of the King's English. Why Lahore? Because it was the capital of the great Sikh Kingdom, and remained the epitome of Sikh and Punjabi culture until the Partition of Punjab. Some would say, it still is - not because it has retained its position, but because East Punjab has become contaminated with desi influences.

9: Sunnys Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), January 19, 2012, 1:03 PM.

I'd argue that in the diaspora, well at least in the case of the Sikh-Punjabi community, there is a greater portion of Doabi and Malwi speakers. And of course this fluctuates between which country in the diaspora we are referring too. Would also like to state that its nice to know that Pakistanis still have an interest in the language of their ancestors. I know I've met my fair share of Pakistani Punjabis who have succumbed to the Urdu-centric social engineering of that country.

10: Roop Dhillon (Reigate, United Kingdom), January 19, 2012, 3:24 PM.

In the U.K. it is mostly Doabi Indian Punjabi or Pindi (Majdi/Lahori) Pakistani Punjabi. I myself write in a hotch-potch mixture of Doabi Malvi with dashes of Lahori recoded to English syntax because this in my view genuinely reflects Punjabi spoken by those born in the West who can. I call this khicchri Vilayati, which I think the Indian professors just call 'baharli boli'. And yes, it is available in the U.K. to study, and I agree, despite Urdu script (Shahmukhi) being the older one, that Gurmukhi is far easier to write Punjabi in. And I am not just saying this because I am a Sikh ... It is the one in which most Punjabi literature has been written in the last century, so I would say it is the new Standard. Below is a link to my written version of U.K. born and raised Punjabi in its written form. http://www.5abi.com/dharavahak/urra-onkar/07-khakka-onkar-dhillon-140112.htm

11: Roop Dhillon (Reigate, United Kingdom), January 19, 2012, 3:46 PM.

In addition to my last comment, Masood has only focused on West Punjabi because despite hindization of East Punjabi, it is West Punjabi in danger, due to Urdu, extremism, failure to read and write in the language and the now serious threat of further partition of Pakistani Punjab. We in the East must not fail to now actually encourge the learning of Punjabi and Gurmukhi before we go the same way.

12: Sunny Singh Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), January 19, 2012, 5:26 PM.

The politics of language is quite interesting. My mother, like many Sikh immigrants, came from a village and it is the Punjabi spoken there which my siblings and I learned. Now, mind you, this was about 30 years ago. When I visited Punjab a few years ago, I realized that there was a slight difference between the Punjabi I learned and the Punjabi now spoken in Punjab. For example, I remember saying "koonjee" (key) and some of the people were surprised with an older lady telling me that before people said "chabee", they used to say "koonjee". I remember my mom correcting me when talking about our shopping to refer to our clothes as "kapprrey" rather than "leeray". Now, I'm not sure if it's because I'm of the second generation and fuddling the language or if is the hindization of East Punjab.

13: Gurcharan Singh Kulim (Brentwood, United Kingdom), January 20, 2012, 12:46 PM.

Indeed the emphasis is upon the Western Punjabi dialects. I also agree with Roop ji that the Western Punjabi, despite being a majority language, is in far more danger of erosion than the Punjabi of East Punjab. The writer has also failed to identify East Punjabi pockets that have made their home in Shiekupura, Bahawalpur and Mongomery regions, as most of those settled there went with their Malvi and Majhel dialects. And then there are the Punjabis of Baluchistan, where their language has intermingled with Farsi.

14: Manjeet Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), January 20, 2012, 9:56 PM.

Guru Granth Sahib remains the encylopaedia of languages. All Punjabi dialects, as well as several other languages and dialects, are there. Unfortunately, in East Punjab, these dialects are not widely spoken as they are in West Punjab and other parts of Pakistan. Nevertheless you get a glimpse of them here and there. The variety of languages used in Guru Granth Sahib is mind boggling. The base however in Punjabi. For once in human history, the common language of the people was used for scripture. For an example of the rich tapestry we have in Guru Granth Sahib, look at page 214. "har naam leho meeta leho agay bikham panth bheyaan ..." In a note on this shabad, the learned authors of the Shabadaarth say: "In this shabad, in accordance with the diction of the Malwa region in place of the word 'w' or 'wawwa' in Punjabi, the word 'b' or 'babba' is used". Take the line, 'hom jag tirath kiye bich haumai baday vikaar' which appears in the shabad. Had Malwa boli not been used, the line would have read 'hom jag tirath kiye vich haumai vaday vikaar ...' There is also, for example, generous use of the Sindhi boli and Saraiki. Words like 'chavai' and 'biya' are delightfully used.

15: B. Singh (London, United Kingdom), January 21, 2012, 9:31 PM.

Doabi is no longer confined to the area between the Beas and the Sutlej. Muslims made up a majority of Doabi speakers in pre-partition days and after the creation of Pakistan they were overwhelmingly re-housed in the Faisalabad district there. As such, Doabi has become the dialect of the Faisalabad area (although it is known in that country as 'Faisalabadi Punjabi'). Also, the Doabi dialect is widely heard in England and much of the diaspora. P.S. Just to correct what the author states is the Doabi way to say, "What is the name of your village?': The Doabi speaker pronounces 'pind' as 'pend', and he doesn't say 'naam'... he says 'naa'.

16: Roop Dhillon (Reigate, United Kingdom), January 22, 2012, 7:12 PM.

Interesting. I guess the majority of what I write must be Doabi? Is that correct?

17: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), January 23, 2012, 8:01 AM.

Here is a most hilarious example of Malvi/Doabi accent: Please click on the following site: https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=edfae1982a&view=audio&msgs=13509762d0b1d508&attid=0.1&zw

18: Aisha Janjua (United Kingdom), February 06, 2012, 6:29 PM.

I'm curious: are Mirpuris (people from UK will know who they are!) from Kashmir actually Punjabis too? I come from a Punjabi Pothohari-speaking family from West Punjab and have noticed not only do Mirpuris share the Punjabi culture, but their family names are similar to those of Sikhs and other Punjabis. They have more in common with Punjabis than they do with other Kashmiris and of course their language (which we call Punjabi and they call Mirpuri) is exactly the same, their cuisine too (the Kashmiri food joints in the U.K. run by Mirpuris tend to just be typical Punjabi food, when I know typical Kashmiri food can be quite different). I've heard that Mirpur used to be a part of Punjab, is that true? A lot of the Mirpuris I know call themselves Kashmiris, but other Kashmiris don't seem to accept them as such. Tell a Mirpuri he isn't Kashmiri and they'll probably punch you, though! Or are they like Hindkowans/Chachis who seem to be in between Pathans and Punjabis? I'm curious so it would be great to get some info on this! All I know is when I speak Punjabi (our Pindi dialect) my Mirpuri friends understand what I'm saying, but my Lahori and Sialkoti and Sikh friends don't, so I have to speak in the Lahori dialect!

19: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), February 07, 2012, 10:48 AM.

Here's a bit of what I know ... I hope it helps in answering your questions, Aisha. The River Jhelum, in the Mirpur area at least, has Punjab on its Western banks, Kashmir on its Eastern banks. My father was born and brought up on the Kashmir side, and went to school in Mirpur - all before Partition, of course. My mother's village was across the river, in Punjab - specifically in the Potohar region, of which Rawalpindi is a part. The Punjabi dialects in the entire region, on both sides of the river, are similar, but not identical. I visited the villages on both sides a few times in the last few years and did not have any difficulty in either understanding the locals or being understood, despite the fact that my Punjabi skills came to me second-hand through osmosis from my parents in distant Bihar (a thousand miles away), where I was born shortly after Partition. Mirpur, as did the whole of Kashmir, came under Sikh rule during Ranjit Singh's reign. The region was given to the Dogra brothers - direct ancestors of the current dogra Karan Singh - by the British, as a negotiated price for the treachery of the Dogras against their Sikh masters. The Dogra rulers therefore have ever since been considered interlopers - which remains the main gripe behind the current Kashmir conflict. Because the Dogra rulers were never considered indigenous to Kashmir, Punjabi remained the language of prestige in the area, and the Sikhs the elite community - until Partition turned everything upside down. Present day Kashmiris from the Pakistan side resent the Punjabis, not because of the Sikhs but because of India's controversial claims over their land.

20: Jespal Singh Brar (Lodi, California, U.S.A.), March 13, 2012, 3:08 PM.

I enjoyed reading the article as I have an interest in linguistics and genetics as a hobby. I belong to the Malwai dialect, my wife's paternal side is Majha and her maternal side is Doaba. So my children are covered by quite a few dialect streams. LOL. My wife gets amused when I speak in Punjabi which is laced with a Malaysian accent. Since Malwa is on the South-eastern side of the Punjabi dialect continum, she thinks the words I say are Hindi but hey, that is how we Malwais speak. Also I noticed that some words spoken by Malaysian Punjabis are archaic and they are no longer generally used. It is almost like Malaysian Punjabis speak in a way that is time-warped. They migrated a few generations ago, but the languages have continued in the land they left behind.

21: Aanand Kumar (Ghaziabad, India), December 04, 2013, 1:28 AM.

I learned a lot from this article. Do you have any more information on the history and growth of Multani Punjabi?

22: Parvez Qadir (Multan, Punjab, Pakistan), December 13, 2013, 3:22 AM.

Jhangvi, Shahpuri, Dhani Chakwali and Multani are Saraiki. Saraiki is the native language in the districts of Chakwal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahuddin, Faisalabad, Jhang, Sahiwal, Okara and Toba Tek Singh.

Comment on "Mother Tongue: The Many Dialects of Punjabi"









To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please type the letters shown in the image.


Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.