The language

Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language with rich cultural heritage. Punjabi is one of India’s official languages and it is spoken in the state of Punjab in India. It is also spoken in the Punjab province in Pakistan, although the language does not have official status in Pakistan. The language is widely used by immigrant communities in the U.K, Australia and Canada. The language has religious significance for Sikh communities as the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, is written in Punjabi

The dialects

Eastern Punjabi is spoken in India and Western Punjabi is spoken in Pakistan. In India, Punjabi is used in both formal and informal situations whereas in Pakistan, Punjabi speakers use Urdu or English in formal contexts. Eastern Punjabi has many loanwords from Hindi and English, while Western Punjabi borrows from Persian, Arabic and Urdu. Apart from these two variants, there are many different dialects of Punjabi which are mutually intelligible.

The script

The spoken language is almost the same but the writing scripts are different for the two countries. The Gurkmukhi script is used in India. It has 53 symbols and it is written from left to right. The Shahmukhi script, a version of the Urdu alphabet, is used in Pakistan. Shahmukhi is written from right to left.


When translating from Punjabi to English, the word count decreases by about 10-20% because Punjabi often requires more words to express an idea.

Punjabi culture

Punjabis have a rich tradition of folktales and songs. There are songs for every occasion, from birth to marriage. Punjabi is the language of Bhangra, a music genre which originated in folk music. Modern Bhangra draws from other genres like pop, and uses a combination of traditional and Western instruments. There is a strong Sufi influence in Punjabi music and poetry and there are many prominent Punjabi Sufi poets such as Waris Shah.