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Punjabi is a member of the Indo-Aryan group of the Indo-European language family, and is the 10th most commonly spoken language in the world (2015).  Over 100 million people (2010) speak Punjabi worldwide, both in the native Punjab districts of Pakistan and India, and by Punjab emigrants in countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Saudi Arabia, and Australia.

In addition to being one of India’s 22 scheduled languages, Punjabi is also an official language of India and the Indian State of Punjab.  Punjabi is not categorised as an official language of Pakistan, despite being the most commonly spoken language in the country. This is due to Pakistan not approving any regional language for official language status at national level.  Nevertheless, Punjabi is the official provincial language of the Punjab Province of Pakistan.


Punjabi can be divided into multiple dialects, subject to regional variances.  In India, the leading Punjabi dialects are Majhi, Doabi, Malwai, and Pwadhi; while in Pakistan they are Majhi, Pothohari, Hindko, and Multani.  Further to these there are roughly eleven additional vernaculars.  Punjabi dialects run together in such a manner that they ultimately become Hindi in India and Sindhi in Pakistan.  A handful of linguists refer to certain Punjabi dialects (such as Majhi, Hindko, and Saraiki) as languages in their own right, thereby reducing the proportion of Punjabi speakers in the world.

Similar to numerous other contemporary Indo-Aryan languages, Punjabi developed from Sanskrit; and large portions of Punjabi prose include expressions from Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, and other Indic languages.  The Majhi vernacular is believed an esteemed dialect due to the fact that it is used as the standard for written Punjabi.  In Pakistan Punjabi is written using the Shahmukhi script, whereas in India the Gurmukhi script is used.

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