Punjabi Translation Services
Whether you are looking for a Punjabi translation for something technical, legal or medical, or simply a letter, we can help you.
We will equip you with knowledge and methods, enabling you to communicate in the correct written Punjabi form, whether you are targeting an audience in Pakistan or India, we can help. Remember not to pick the wrong one!
We offer a professional Punjabi to English and English to Punjabi language translation service, and more. Here is some information which you will find useful as the Punjabi language is full of interesting facts and essential tips when you are looking to communicate effectively in Punjabi speaking countries.
Location: Punjab region covering vast areas of eastern Pakistan and northern India
Population: 100 million in Pakistan and 30 million in India
Language Family: Indo-Aryan
Related Languages: Sanskrit
Number of Global Speakers: 130 million (world’s tenth most widely spoken language)
- About Punjabi
Punjabi is one of 22 official languages of India and the native language of around 45% of Pakistanis. The word “Punjab” is made up of two Persian words, panj and aab, which mean “five” and “water” respectively and refer to the region’s five rivers. Although most native speakers of Punjabi live in Pakistan, it is not an official language in this country and Urdu and English are used for official, administrative, educational purposes and in the media. Punjabi is the religious language of Sikhism.
According to the 2011 UK census, there is a significant minority Punjabi population, with around 273,000 people speaking Punjabi. This makes quality Punjabi translation and interpreting services more important than ever as UK residents need medical documents, legal documents and government information and correspondence translated for them and professional public service interpreters to facilitate their understanding in legal situations or at medical appointments, for example. Lingua Translations are highly experienced in providing Punjabi language services for your every need, so don’t hesitate to get in touch!
- Written Punjabi
There are two different mutually incomprehensible scripts that can be used to write Punjabi, Gurmukhi (ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ) and Shahmukhi (شاہ مکھی). The former is used to write Punjabi in India and Shahmukhi is used to write Punjabi in Pakistan.
Gurmukhi developed from the Landa alphabet and translates as “from the mouth of the Guru”, as it was standardised by the second Sikh guru, Guru Angad, in the 16th century. It is a syllabic alphabet that reads horizontally from right to left. All consonants have an inherent vowel and different diacritics (or accents) are used to change this vowel. The script has 35 consonants and nine vowel diacritics, as well as two symbols representing nasal sounds and one which duplicates the sound of any consonant. Vowel symbols do not have an independent sound but give sound to the letter to which they are attached. Gurmukhi is the sole official script for all state purposes in the Punjab state of India. Where vowels appear at the beginning of a syllable, they are written as independent letters.
Shahmukhi is written using an adapted form of the Persian script and translates as “from the mouth of the King”. It contains 43 basic characters and 15 diacritics. Unlike in English, there is no upper or lower case in Shahmukhi. Like Arabic, due to the fact that Shahmukhi is a cursive script, the form of some characters changes depending whether it is isolated, or in the initial, medial or end position of a word. This is true for most characters, although ten of them only have two shapes, isolated and end position. It differs from Gurmukhi because it is written from right to left, like Arabic.
Although the two scripts are mutually incomprehensible, Punjabi-speaking Pakistanis can be understood by Indians who speak the language and vice versa.
- Punjabi dialects
Punjabi has a vast variety of different dialects, which are largely named after the regions they come from. In India, some of the major dialects are Majhi, Doabi, Malwai and Powadhi/Pwadhi. In Pakistan, they include Pothowari and Multani. Mahji is the “prestige” dialect and the standard of written Punjabi in both countries.
Mahji is spoken in the heart of the Punjab where most of the Punjabi population lives. This dialect is spoken in the region of Majha, which encompasses the districts of Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Okara, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat in Pakistani Punjab and the districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran Sahib and Gurdaspur of Indian Punjab.
Doabi is spoken in Doaba Punjab a, and comes from the words Do Aabi, or “the land between two rivers”. It is mainly spoken in the districts of Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala in Indian Pubjab.
Malwai is spoken in the Malwa region of Punjab, which shouldn’t be confused with Malvi, which is a completely separate language.
Powadhi/Pwadhi is a dialect spoken in the Powadh region of Punjab as well as parts of Haryana. The Powadi language is spoken mainly in Kharar, Ropar, Nurpurbedi, Rajpura, Samrala, Kurali, Pail and Morinda.
Pothorwari is spoken by those living in Pothohar Plateau and northern Pubjab and Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. Many native-speaking Punjabis living in the UK speak this dialect of Punjabi.
Multani is actually now considered a separate language rather than just a dialect of Punjabi.
- Difficulties of Punjabi translation
- It is very important to know your target audience, as the two different Punjabi scripts are mutually incomprehensible. If you are looking for Punjabi translation services, make sure that you know whether it’s intended for Indian or Pakistani Punjab.
- Due to the differences between English and the two Punjabi scripts, it is very possible that you may need to source expert Desktop Publishing (DTP) services to ensure that your Punjabi translations are laid out to their best effect, especially with the Shahmukhi script which presents the additional problem of reading from right to left.
- Some differences between Punjabi and English
- Nouns are gendered in Punjabi, whereas English does not have this distinction.
- Punjabi has postpositions rather than prepositions like English. Postpositions follow the noun, rather than precede it.
- When writing Punjabi on lined paper, whereas in English the words sit on the line, in Punjabi the words hang from the lines.
- To mark the end of a sentence, rather than using a full stop like in English, a vertical stroke is used.