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Shahmukhi alphabet

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Title: Shahmukhi alphabet  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Punjabi language, Arabic script, Taʿlīq script, Languages of Pakistan, Nastaʿlīq script
Collection: Arabic Alphabets, Language Orthographies, Languages of Pakistan, Punjabi Language
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Shahmukhi alphabet



Parent systems

U+0600 to U+06FF
U+0750 to U+077F
U+FB50 to U+FDFF

U+FE70 to U+FEFF

Shahmukhi (Western Punjabi: شاہ مکھی, Gurmukhi: ਸ਼ਾਹਮੁਖੀ, meaning literally "from the King's mouth") is a Perso-Arabic alphabet used by Muslims in Punjab to write the Punjabi language. It is generally written in Nastaʿlīq hand. Perso-Arabic is one of two scripts used for Punjabi, the other being Gurumukhi.

The Shahmukhi alphabet was first used by the Sufi poets of the Punjab; it became the conventional writing style for the Muslim populace of the Pakistani province of Punjab following the independence of Pakistan in 1947, while the largely Hindu and Sikh modern-day state of Punjab, India adopted the Gurmukhi script to record the Punjabi language.

Its use in Indian Punjab is mainly confined to the elderly generation, although it is also recommended to be studied for students studying at M.A level in Punjabi.[1] It is however, used as the main alphabet to write the Pothohari dialect in Indian Jammu and Kashmir.

Shahmukhi is written from right to left, while Gurmukhi is written from left to right. Below is the comparison of the two scripts.

Top left: International Phonetic Alphabet, dash, top right: Gurmukhi, bottom: Shahmukhi.


  • Features 1
  • Loanwords 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


  • Consonants are doubled with ّ (ੱ). Ex: (ਅੱਲਾਹ) "Allāh", كَچَّا (ਕੱਚਾ) Kachchā "unripe".
  • The Gurumukhi sounds ñ (ਞ), ng (ਙ), ṇ (ਣ), nh (ੰ/ં) are all written with ں nun ghunna (nun without dot). In initial and medial positions, the dot is retained.
  • ے (Bari ye) is only found in the final position, when writing the sounds e (ਏ) or æ (ਐ), and in initial and medial positions, it takes the form of ی.
  • There are three signs used when indicating a short vowel: َ (ਅ), ُ (ਉ), ِ (ਇ): a, u, i. Examples: قَلَم (ਕ਼ਲਮ) qalam "pen", گھُپ (ਘੁਪ) ghup "dense", لِحاظ (ਲਿਹਾਜ਼) lihāż "consideration"
  • at the beginning of a word, short vowels are written as follows: اِ, اُ, اَ.
  • Long vowels are expressed with ے, ی, ا and و as follows:
Vowel Initial Medial Final
ā (ਆ) آ ـا
e, æ (ਏ ਐ) اَے ـَيـ ـَے
ū (ਊ) اُو ـُو
ī (ਈ) اِی ـِیـ ـِی
au, o (ਔ ਓ) اَو ـَو


In Punjabi there are many Arabic and Persian loanwords. There are some sounds in these words which were not previously found in South Asian languages before the influence of Arabic and Persian, and these are therefore represented by introducing dots beneath specific Gurumukhi characters. Since the Gurmukhi alphabet is phonetic, any loanwords which contained pre-existing sounds were more easily transliterated without the need for characters modified with subscript dots beneath.

Letter Gurmukhi
ژ ਜ਼

is often transliterated in many ways due to its changing sound in various Arabic and Persian words.

See also


  1. ^

External links

  • Shahmukhi to Gurmukhi Transliteration System: A Corpus based Approach
  • The Western Panjabi Alphabet
  • Learn Shahmukhi
  • Likhari in Shahmukhi
  • Kalam-e-Baba Nanak
  • Punjabi and Punjab
  • E-Book on Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi
  • PDF on Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi
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