Voice Over Sydney: Punjabi (also known as Pañjābī) is a member of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. Eastern Punjabi is spoken as a first language primarily in the state of Punjab of India by 28.2 million people (Ethnologue). Western Punjabi (also known as Lahnda) is spoken by 60.6 million people in the Punjab province of Pakistan (Ethnologue). There are also speakers of these dialects in a number of other countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, United Kingdom, the U.S., and Canada. Nationalecyklopedin estimates the total number of first-language speakers of Punjabi at 100 million.
Ancestors of the Punjabis are thought to have inhabited the Indus Valley at least as far back as 2,500 BCE. Indo-Aryan invasions had a significant effect on the language of the ancient Punjabis with the result that, like other Indo-Aryan languages, Punjabi evolved from Sanskrit through Prakrit, the latter being a large group of ancient Indic languages spoken between the 6th and the 13th centuries AD.
Voice Over Sydney: Punjabi Status
Eastern Punjabi is one of the 22 official languages and 14 regional languages of India. It is the medium of everyday communication in the Indian state of Punjab. It is used in education, government, business and in the media.
Western Punjabi has no official status in Pakistan. Punjabi speakers in Pakistan use Urdu and English in government administration, the media, and education, as well as in most writing.
Punjabi is the religious language of the Sikhs. It is also the language of the popular Bhangra folk dance and singing.
Voice Over Sydney: Punjabi Dialects
There are numerous varieties of Punjabi that create a virtual continuum between Western and Eastern varieties of the language. For the most part, the dialects are mutually intelligible, even though there are differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. Punjabi expatriates around the world speak a creolized form of the language that is increasingly deviating from the norms of Punjabi spoken in India and Pakistan. Creolization is a process whereby a language evolves by incorporating elements of more than one language.