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Punjabi dialects

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Punjabi dialects

Dialects of Punjabi are spoken by 60% of the population in Pakistan, as well as by a majority in Punjab state of India.

Punjabi dialects

Major dialects

In India, the major dialects are Majhi, Doabi, Malwai, and Powadhi. In Pakistan, they are Pothohari, Lahndi, and Multani.[1] Majhi is the standard in both countries.


The Majhi is Punjabi's prestige dialect because it is standard of written Punjabi. It is spoken in the heart of Punjab in historical region of Majha which spans the Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Okara, Nankana Sahib, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat, Jhelum, Pakpattan, Vehari, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin districts of Pakistan's Punjab Province and also in major cities of Pakistani Punjab.

In India Amritsar, Tarn Taran Sahib, and Gurdaspur Districts of the State of Punjab and sizable population also in major cities of the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Mumbai India.


Shah Puri dialect(also known as Sargodha dialect) is mostly spoken in Pakistani Punjab. It is one of the oldest dialect of the Punjabi language spoken in Sargodh Division[2] of Pakistani Punjab.[3] Its name is derived from former Shahpur District (now Shahpur Tehsil, being part of Sargodha District). It can be described as a mixture of Majhi, Pothohari and Thalochi dialects. Shahpurias in the Khushab area speak this dialect in a more Thalochi tone while those in southern parts of its distribution have color of Jhangochi on their language.[4] It is spoken throughout a widespread area, spoken in Sargodha and Khushab Districts and also spoken in neighbouring Mianwali and Bhakkar Districts. It is mainly spoken on western end of Sindh River to Chennab river crossing Jehlam river.[5] The Shahpuri dialect of Punjabi has several aspects that set it apart from other Punjabi variants.[6]


Jhangochi (جھنگوچی) dialect is oldest and most idiosyncratic dialect of the Punjabi. It is spoken in Pakistani Punjab throughout a widespread area, starting from Khanewal and Jhang at both ends of Ravi and Chenab to Hafizabad district. 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 also called Ubhechari dialect۔


Jaangli is a dialect of former nomad tribes of areas whose names are often suffixed with 'Bar' derived from jungle bar before irrigation system arrived in the start of the 20th century, for example, Sandal Bar, Kirana Bar, Neeli Bar, Ganji Bar. Former Layllpur and western half of Montgomary district used to speak this dialect. Currently area includes Faisalabad, Chiniot, Sahiwal, Toba Tek Singh, Bahawalnagar districts in Pakistani Punjab. Rachnavi is alternate names of this dialect.


It is spoken in the eastern part of Indian Punjab and also in Bahawalnagar and Vehari districts of Pakistan. Main areas are Ludhiana, Patiala,Ambala, Bathinda, Ganganagar, Malerkotla, Fazilka, 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, which shares its name.


Doabi is spoken in both the Indian Punjab as well as parts of Pakistan Punjab owing to post-1947 migration of Muslim populace from East Punjab. The word "Do Aabi" means "the land between two rivers" and this dialect was historically spoken between the rivers of the Beas and the Sutlej in the region called Doaba. Regions it is presently spoken includes the Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts in Indian Punjab, specifically in the areas known as the Dona and Manjki, as well as the Toba Tek Singh and Faisalabad districts in Pakistan Punjab where the dialect is known as Faisalabadi 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 to beyond the Ghaggar river in the east up to Kala Amb, which is at the border of the states of Himachal pradesh and Haryana. Parts of Fatehgarh Sahib district, and parts of Patiala districts like Rajpura are also part of Powadh. The language 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 is spoken and the dialect area also includes Pinjore, Kalka, Ismailabad, Pehowa to Bangar area in Fatehabad district.


Spoken in north Pakistani Punjab and Azad Kashmir. The area where it is spoken extends in the north from Muzaffarabad to as far south as Jhelum, Gujar Khan , Rawat and Rawalpindi, Murree Hills north of Rawalpindi, and east to Bhimber and Rawalakot. Chibhali and Dhundi-Kairali dialects may be related. It is in a dialect chain with Majhi and Hindko dialects of Punjabi.


It is spoken in Multan and Lodhran districts of Pakistan Punjab. It had been historically classified as a dialect of Punjabi. In the 1920s Garrison in his Linguist Survey of India classified into Southern cluster of Lahnda (Western Punjabi). In 1964 Multani was termed as Saraiki which is claimed as a separate language.


These similar dialects are spoken in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan in the districts of Peshawar, Nowshera, Kohat, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur and the lower half of the Neelum District of Azad Kashmir. They had been historically classified as dialects of Punjabi. In the 1920s, Garrison in his Linguist Survey of India classified them within the Western cluster of Lahnda (Western Punjabi). The debate over Hindko as a separate language or dialect of Punjabi is an issue which could not be resolved.


It is mostly spoken in Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan districts in Pakistani Punjab. It is also recently classified as Saraiki, which is considered a separate language by many linguists.


This dialect is quite similar to the Potowari dialect, but differs slightly, for example in the past tense, in which it uses (ahay+prefix) for 'was'. For example "Mea ahayaan" means "I was". It also uses "Vinjna" instead of "jaana" or "gchna" for "going". It is mostly spoken in Fateh Jang Tehsil and Pindi Gheb Tehsil in Pakistani Punjab. The Awaankari dialect spoken in Mianwali is also very close to Ghebi.


Also known as Bhawalpuri/Choolistani; spoken in Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Rahim Yar Khan districts of Punjab (Pakistan). Its name is derived from Riast (State) of Bahawalpur. It is a mix of Rajasthani, Punjabi and Multani(Saraiki).It is spoken throughout a widespread area on the banks of river Sutlej and Choolistan desert.It is also recently classified as Saraiki dialect, but Saraiki as a separate language or dialect of Punjabi is an issue which could not be resolved to date because of contrasting views of Local linguists.


It is one of dialect spoken in Pakistani Punjab which is a mixture of Potowari, Hindko dialects of Punjabi.Its name is derived form Chach region in Attock District of Pakistani Punjab where Chhachi clan which is a sub section of the Kohli Khokhran clan. It is mainly spoken in Attock District, Parts of Hazara Division and adjacent areas of Pakistani Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkha.


Jandali is a mixture of Potowari, Chachi (Hindko sub dialect) and Thalochi dialects. It is also called Rohi. It is mostly spoken in Jand Tehsil and Mianwali district in Pakistani Punjab.


Spoken in Thal Desert of Pakistani Punjab. Its name is derived from Thal Desert. This dialect has great proximity with Shah puri Dialect of Punjabi Language spoken in Sargodha and Khaushab Districts. It is spoken throughout a widespread area, starting from Bhakkar, Layyah to Muzzaffargarh Districts on eastern end of Sindh River In Punjab Province of Pakistan. It is also spoken on western end of Sindh River from Bannu, Tank runs down to Dera Ismail Khan in KPK Province of Pakistan.


Spoken in parts of Rawalpindi Division (Pothohar) of Pakistani Punjab.[3] Its name is derived from Dhan valley where its spoken. It is spoken in Chakwal,[7] parts of Jehlam Districts and Attock Districts. 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.[5]


These are a form of Derawali very strongly influenced by baluchi and sindhi languages, spoken in Musakhel and Barkhan, districts of Pakistani Province Balochistan respectively.

Khetrani may not actually be a Lahnda language, but Dardic.


West of Chenaab river in Jhang district of Pakistani Punjab the dialect of Jhangochi merges with Thalochi and resultant dialect is Chenavari. Name is derived from Chenaab river.

Videsi ( Barli Boli)

There are several dialects all cited in the dialect link. Note as the language is spreading with immigration throughout the world variations on the exported dialects of the immigrants mixed with local languages are now emerging where Punjabi has managed to sustain itself. For example in the UK and North America English words and grammar have begun infiltrating Punjabi spoken there as has Swahili in Kenya. The effect of this is a myriad of Diaspora Creole variations that deviate from the source language somewhat like Spanish and French have in Latin America and North America

This probably can then be subdivided into American Punjabi, Bartanvi / Valaiti ( British Punjabi), Kenyan Punjabi etc.

Punjabi University classification

The University has issued the following list of dialects of Punjabi.[8]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Punjabi University, Patiala
  4. ^ The Indo-Aryan Languages By Colin P. Masica (page 18)
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Advanced Centre for Technical Development of Punjabi Language, Literature and Culture
  • Burling, Robbins. 1970. Man's many voices. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • Ethnologue. Indo-Aryan Classification of 219 languages that have been assigned to the Indo-Aryan grouping of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages.
  • Ethnologue. Languages of India
  • Ethnologue. Languages of Pakistan
  • Grierson, George A. 1904-1928. Grierson's Linguistic Survey of India. Calcutta.
  • Masica, Colin. 1991. The Indo-Aryan languages. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Rahman, Tariq. 2006. The role of English in Pakistan with special reference to tolerance and militancy. In Amy Tsui et al., Language, policy, culture and identity in Asian contexts. Routledge. 219-240.
  • Shackle, C. 1970. Punjabi in Lahore. Modern Asian Studies, 4(3):239-267. Available online at JSTOR.
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