Punjabi is written in the Gurmukhi Script in India. It is written in Perso-Arabic script in Pakistan. The Gurmukhi script is the official recognized script of the Punjabi language in India and it is used in the teaching and learning of the language in different situations. The orthography is called /pε'ti/ as the number of its letters is thirty five. Gurmukhi is written from left to right. Punjabi is a tonal language but there are no separate symbols in the Gurmukhi Script to mark the tones. In other words, there are no separate symbols for tones, but the tones are generally clearly indicated by certain consonant signs. This is the major function of the signs for voiced aspirates, for 'h' and conjunct consonants including 'h'. The characters are normally aligned below the line of writing. The name Gurumukhi literally "from the mouth of the Guru" refers to its use in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. As discussed above the letters of the Gurmukhi script are thirty-five. These letters are given below.


Grapheme		Value		-
  ਓ		U		Ur̤
  ਅ		∂		εr̤
  ਏ		I		Iṛi
  ਸ		s		s∂ssa
  ਹ		h		haha
  ਕ		k		k∂kka
  ਖ		kh		Kh∂kha
  ਗ		g		g∂gga
  ਘ		k' 'g g'		k∂gga
  ਙ		n		n∂nna
  ਚ		c		c∂cca
  ਛ		ch		ch∂cha
  ਜ		j		j∂jja
  ਝ		c' 'j j'		c∂jja
  ਞ		n		n∂na
  ਟ		ṭ		ṭε'ka
  ਠ		ṭh		ṭh∂ṭha
  ਡ		ḍ		ḍ∂ḍḍa
  ਢ		ta' 'd ̣ḍ'		ṭ∂ḍḍa
  ਣ		ņ		ņáņa
  ਤ		t		t∂tta
  ਥ		th		th∂tha
  ਦ		d		d∂dda
  ਧ		t' 'd d'		t∂dda
  ਨ		n		n∂nna
  ਪ		p		p∂ppa
  ਫ		ph		ph∂pha
  ਬ		b		b∂bba
  ਭ		p' 'b b'		p∂bba
  ਮ		m		m∂mma
  ਯ		y		y∂ya
  ਰ		r		rara
  ਲ		l		l∂lla
  ਵ		v		vava
  ਡ਼		r		ṛaṛa

The following letters with a dot diacritic supplements the basic alphabet. All but the first are used only is unassimilated loan words, mostly from Persian./p>

Shape of letter	Value		Name
   ਸ਼		sa		ṣ∂ṣṣa
   ਖ਼		x		x∂xa
   ਗ਼		ga		ga∂gagaa
   ਜ਼		z		z∂zza
   ਫ਼		f		f∂ffa

Punjabi has a retroflex lateral /Ia/ and in the Gurmukhi script a dot is put under the letter /l/

Shape of letter	Value		Name
         ਲ਼		ḷ		ḷaḷa

Vowels and Accessory signs:

Vowels other than /∂/ are indicated by accessory signs written around (that is, below, above, to the right and to the left) the consonant signs. When a vowel is not preceded by a consonant, it is written with one of the three vowel bearers. These accessory signs are also called matras. These signs or matras are shown alone, with the proper vowel bearer.

Primary shape	Value	Name of the vowel		Matra
      ਅ		∂		mukta		- no sign
      ਆ		a		k∂nna		k
      ਇ		I		sIhari		f
      ਈ		i		bIhari		h
      ਉ		U		̣̂kaṛ		^
      ਊ		u		dUlε'k∂ṛ 		{
      ਏ		e		lã		/
      ਐ		ε		dUlavã		?
      ਓ		o		hora		'
      ਔ		̣̂		k∂ṇ̂ṛa		"


Nasality is distinctive in Punjabi. In the script two symbols are used for it. They are known as bindi [ A ] and tippi [ z ]. The signs of bindi and tippi are placed above the vowels. Tippi is placed over inherent or clear vowel [∂], [I] and with the matras of [U] and [u], bindi is placed over the vowels like [a], [i], [e], [ε], [o], [̣̂] and in the initial position of [U] and [u].

use of tippi.

ਸੰਤ S∂'t saint ਅੰਤ ∂'t end ਇੰਜ íj like this ਸਿੰਗ síg horn ਸੁੰਡ sU'd trunk ਤੂੰ tù you

use of bindi

  ਜਾਂਦਾ	jãda	going
  ਪੀਂਦਾ	pi'da	drinking
  ਜਿਵੇਂ	jIve'	like that
  ਮੈਂ	mε'	I
  ਤੋਂ	to'	from
  ਸੌਂ	ṣ̂'	sleep
  ਉਂਨ	U'n	wool
  ਊਂਘ	u'g	nap


Gemination is phonemic in Punjabi and is indicated by the sign [ Z ) called ∂dd∂k above the letter and before the consonant to be geminated.

   ਪੱਤਾ	p∂tta	leaf
   ਪੱਖਾ	p∂kkha	fan
   ਸੱਤ	s∂tt	seven 


Three types of conjunct consonants are written in which the modified form of the second consonant letter is subjoined to the first unaltered consonant letter. The second member consonant letters are j o and t

	Primary Shape	Modified form	Value 
	        ਹ		        ੲ		   h	
	        ਰ		        ੳ		   r
	        ਵ		        _		   v


There are five symbols of voiced aspirate sounds in the Gurmukhi alphabets. They are x, M, Y, X, GH In the borrowed lexical items in Punjabi the voiced aspirated sounds loose their aspiration and all pronounced with tone differently in the initial position and medial/final positions. In the initial position, they are pronounced as voiceless unaspirated sounds e, u, N, s, g and in the medial/final position as unaspirated voiced sounds r, i, v, d,p

Numerals and special characters:

Numerals are written in the same manner as in Devanagri or Western Arabic numeration. The symbols for the ten digits are as follows:

	1	1		6	6
	2	2		7	7
	3	3		8	8
	4	4		9	9
	5	5		10	10

The sign: is used to mark abbreviations. Abbreviation is not very extensively used. Here are some of the examples:

	ਪ੍ਰੋ:	 for	ਪ੍ਰੋਫੈਸਰ	Professor
	ਡਾ:	 for	ਡਾਕਟਰ	Doctor


There are only two marks of punctuation in older Gurmukhi. One '1' is use to mark the end of major units, sentences in prose. The other '..' is used to mark the end of verses in poetry. The two are not used together in the same passage. In modern printed books, punctuation of the English type is used, except that '.' is used instead of the period. There is no standardization of practice other than that provided by the English models.


Copyright CIIL-India Mysore