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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...


Panjabi (Punjabi)

Part of an illuminated Sikh Guru Granth
(“Master Book”) folio with Gurmukhi calligraphy

Language information: Panjabi is used primarily in the Panjab (Punjab) Region, which is situated for the greater part in the eastern part of Pakistan and partly in the northwestern part of India. It is the official language of Indian Panjab and one of the official languages of Chandigarh state. It is the predominant language of Pakistani Panjab, though only Urdu and English are official there. Panjabi is also used in surrounding areas, in major urban centers of both countries as well as in numerous and often large Panjabi communities troughout the world, particularly in Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Fiji, Hong Kong, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Persian Gulf States, Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Panjabi is strongly, if not dominantly, represented among the South Asian languages used in Britain and North America.

Made of marble and bronze and covered with gold
leaf— the Golden Temple of Amritsa, India, the
sacred Sikh sanctuary, home of the Guru Granth

           While it is also used by many closely associated populations (typically minorities within Panjabi communities), Panjabi is the primary language of the Panjabi people. As such it serves as an important uniting element across religious and subordinate ethnic lines. The main religions among Panjabis are Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism, among which Islam represents a majority. Furthermore, there are some Panjabi Christian and Jain minority groups as well.
      Being an Indo-Aryan language, Panjabi is more or less closely related to languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Sindhi, Rajasthani, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali and Nepali, standing with some neighboring ones in a continuum, especially with Sindhi, Urdu and Hindi.

On both sides of the border between Pakistan
and India, the Panjab abounds with magnificent
mosques, some of them quite old, such as the
Sadhana Kasai Mosque at Sirhind in India, which
is built from the characteristic Sirhind brick.

              Panjabi has been influenced by numerous languages, most importantly by Sanskrit, Farsi, Urdu, Hindi and English.
      Panjabi has numerous dialects. A major dialect division exists between western (Lahndi) and eastern dialects. Majhi is a Central Panjabi dialect and is used in both Pakistan and India. What may be considered the standard language is divided into a Muslim standard and a non-Muslim standard. Differences between them do not significantly obstruct mutual comprehension. Apart from some structural differences due to different dialectical bases, there are stylistic differences as well as lexical ones, particularly the greater number of Persian and Arabic loanwords in the Muslim standard.
     Two writing systems are used for Panjabi:
      · Gurmukhi
        (“from the master’s mouth,” related to Devanagari [e.g., for Hindi], etc.)
      · Shahmukhi
        (“from the king’s mouth,” an Arabic-based script used also for Urdu, etc.)
Of these, Shahmukhi is used predominantly by Muslims. Sikhs use the Gurmukhi script whose creation and popularization are attributed to the first Sikh master Guru Nanak Dev (1469–1539) and the second Sikh master Guru Angad Dev (1504–1552) respectively.

Most languages of the Indian subcontinent have a dental and
a retroflex consonant series where European languages have
only one. Most Germanic and Slavonic languages have only
an alveolar series for t, d, n, r and l, most Romance and
Celtic languages only a dental one.

               Like closely related languages, Panjabi has two noteworthy phonological features: aspiration of both voiceless and voiced plosives and, probably owing to an ancient Munda or Dravidian substrate, a retroflex series of consonants. Furthermore, it has two contrastive series of consonants where European languages have only one. It has a dental series (in which the tip of the tongue touches the front teeth) and a retroflex series (in which the tip of the tongue is bend back or upward to touch an area behind the alveolar ridge). They lack a corresponding alveolar series, which is the default in Germanic languages. In rendering loanwords and names from ALL languages and dialects are beautiful, precious gifts. So cherish yours and others! Share them with the world!English and other Germanic languages, speakers of Panjabi and related languages thus must choose dental or retroflex substitution. Interestingly, they tend to choose the retroflex series since it sounds more closely related to them. This is why retroflexion is a striking characteristic of South Asian “accents” in English.
      Unlike other Indo-Aryan languages (with rare exceptions, such in a few Bengali dialects), Panjabi is tonal. It has a high tone and a low tone, besides a neutral or level tone. (In the phonetic transcriptions these are marked as ´ for high and ` for low.) It has been said that Panjabi developed this tonal system from reinterpretations of consonant series attributes.
     Panjabi literature has a long and fruitful history. Of particular importance are poetic works by Sufi and Sikh masters.

Genealogy: Indo-European > Indo-Iranian > Indo-Aryan > Central

Historical Lowlands language contacts: English

    Click to open the translation: [Muslim (Shahmukhi)] [Non-Muslim (Gurmukhi)] Click here for different versions. >

Author: Reinhard F. Hahn

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