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Punjabi Alfabet ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ ਵਰਣਮਾਲਾ

An Introduction to Gurmukhi

A PDF version of this document is also available.

Gurmukhi, a derivative of Landa, is a type of script called an abugida. It was standardised by Guru Angad Dev in the sixteenth century and is designed to write the Punjabi language.

This guide introduces the main concepts of the Gurmukhi script in relation to the Punjabi language. Gurmukhi has been adapted to write other languages (such as Sanskrit) but these adaptations will generally not be covered.

The Alphabet

The Gurmukhi (or Punjabi) alphabet contains thirty-five distinct letters. These are:

Ura Era Iri

The first three letters are unique because they form the basis for vowels. Apart from Era, these characters are never used on their own. See the section on vowels for further details.

Sussa
Sa
Haha
Ha
Kukka
Ka
Khukha
Kha
Gugga
Ga
Ghugga
Gha
Ungga
Nga
Chucha
Ca
Chhuchha
Cha
Jujja
Ja
Jhujja
Jha
Yanza
Nya
Tainka
Tta
Thutha
Ttha
Dudda
Dda
Dhudda
Ddha
Nahnha
Nna
Tutta
Ta
Thutha
Tha
Duda
Da
Dhuda
Dha
Nunna
Na
Puppa
Pa
Phupha
Pha
Bubba
Ba
Bhubba
Bha
Mumma
Ma
Yaiyya
Ya
Rara
Ra
Lalla
La
Vava
Va
Rahrha
Rra

In addition to these, there are six consonants created by placing a dot (bindi) at the foot (pair) of the consonant:

ਸ਼ ਖ਼ ਗ਼ ਜ਼ ਫ਼ ਲ਼
Shusha pair bindi
Sha
Khukha pair bindi
Khha
Gugga pair bindi
Ghha
Zuzza pair bindi
Za
Fuffa pair bindi
Fa
Lulla pair bindi
Lla

Vowels

Gurmukhi follows similar concepts to other Brahmi scripts and as such, all consonants are followed by an inherent ‘a’ sound (unless at the end of a word when the ‘a’ is usually dropped). This inherent vowel sound can be changed by using dependent vowel signs which attach to a baring consonant. In some cases, dependent vowel signs cannot be used – at the beginning of a word or syllable for instance – and so an independent vowel character is used instead.

Dependent Vowels

ਿ
Mukta
a
Kanna
aa
Sihari
i
Bihari
ii
Lavan
ee
Dulavan
ai
Onkar
u
Dulankar
uu
Hora
oo
Kanaura
au

Dotted circles represent the barer consonant. Vowels are always pronounced after the consonant they are attached to. Thus, Sihari is always written to the left, but pronounced after the character on the right.

Independent Vowels

a aa i ii ee ai
u uu oo au

Vowel Examples

ਆਲੂ – aaluu – potato

ਦਿਲ – dil – heart

Halant

The Halant character is not used when writing Punjabi in Gurmukhi. However, it may occasionally be used in Sanskritised text. When it is used, it represents the suppression of the inherent vowel.

Halant

The affect of this is shown below:

ਕ – Ka

ਕ੍ – K

Numbers

Gurmukhi has its own set of numerals that behave exactly as Latin (Arabic) numerals do. These are used extensively in older texts. In modern contexts, they are being replaced by standard Latin numerals although they are still in widespread use.

Sifar
0
Ek
1
Dhau
2
Tinn
3
Char
4
Panj
5
Chaay
6
Sat
7
Aht
8
Noh
9

Other Signs

Bindi Tippi Addak

Bindi and Tippi are used for nasalisation (similar to the ‘n’ sound in words ending in ‘ing’). In general, Onkar (u) and Dulankar (uu) take Bindi in their initial forms and Tippi when used after a consonant. All other short vowels take Tippi and all other long vowels take Bindi. Older texts may not follow these conventions.

The use of Addak indicates that the following consonant is geminate. This means that the subsequent consonant is doubled or reinforced.

Conjuncts

A conjoined consonant combines two (or more) consonants. Modern Gurmukhi employs three main conjoined characters that sit at the bottom of a barer consonant. A half form of Yaiyya (ya) is also occasionally used.

Your browser may have problems displaying these conjuncts on their own. Pleasedownload the PDF if you are have problems.

‍੍ਹ ‍੍ਰ ‍੍ਵ ‍੍ਯ
Ha Ra Va Ya

The affect of this is shown below:

Mha – ਮ + ਹ = ਮ੍ਹ

Pra – ਪ + ਰ = ਪ੍ਰ

Dva – ਦ + ਵ = ਦ੍ਵ

Dya – ਦ + ਯ = ਦ੍ਯ

Ek Onkar

Ek Onkar is a Gurmukhi symbol that is often used in Sikh literature. It literally means ‘one God’.

Ek Onkar

Visarg

The Visarg symbol is very occasionally used in Gurmukhi. It can either represent an abbreviation (like period is used in English) or it can act like a Sanskrit Visarg where a voiceless ‘h’ sound is pronounced after the vowel.

Visarg

 

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