Shwa for Punjabi
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਲਈ ਸ਼੍ਵਾ ·‫پنجابى لى شْوَا‬

Punjabi's 100+ million speakers straddle the border between Pakistan and India, and it is Pakistan's most spoken native language. Punjabi has considerable divergence among dialects; we'll describe the Majhi dialect of Lahore.

Let's start by considering the segmental phonemes, shown here with their equivalents in both Gurmukhī and Shamukhī scripts, along with IPA and Shwa transcription.

Punjabi is written using the Syllabary gait, here shown in a topline font.


Punjabi has ten vowels. The three central vowels (in red below) are short; the others are all long.

i i: ی ɪ i اِ ʊ u أ u u: ۏ
e ee: ے ə eh اَ o oh: و
ɛ e: ۓ ɑ a: آ ɔ o: وَ

The long vowels also have nasal versions, for which the Long mark is replaced by the Nasal suffix .


Letters on a gray background only occur in foreign words.

g g گ ʤ dj ج ɖ dr ڈ d d د b b ب
k k ک ʧ ch چ ʈ tr ٹ t t ت p p پ
kx کھ ʧʰ chx چھ ʈʰ trx ٹھ tx تھ px پھ
ŋ ng ں ɳ ny ں ɲ nr ں n n ن m m م
ɦ h ح ʃ sh ش z z ض s s س f f ف
ʋ vw و ɭ lr ل l l ل
y y ی ɽ rh ڑ ɾ r ر


Punjabi is mildly famous among linguists for being, along with two neighbors, the only Indo-European languages with tones. The marked tones arose from the breathy plosives of other Indo-Aryan languages, as follows:

However, these tones are not written in either of the current scripts. Instead, they use letters for the missing breathy plosives, and rely on writers and readers to know the rules above. In Shwa, we write the tones, using the Level accent. Here are some examples:

ਘੋੜਾ گهڑا
ਮਘੌਣਾ مگهوںا
ਮਾਘ ماگه

As with other Indo-Aryan languages, Shwa writes the stressed syllables with a high vowel.


Now that you know the letters, why not try to read some Punjabi written in Shwa?

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