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Learn Gurmukhi Alphabet





 

oorhaa

    Ou

 airhaa

    Aa

 eerhee

    Ie

 sassaa

    Sa

haahaa

    Ha

 

 

kakkaa

    Ka

khakhkhaa

   Kha

gaggaa

    Ga

ghaggaa

   Gha

nganngaa

   Nga

 

 

chachchaa

   Cha

chhachhchhaa

  Chha

 jajjaa

    Ja

 jhajjaa

  Jha

njannjaa

   Nja

 

 

tainkaa

   Ta

thaththaa

  Tha

daddaa

   Da

dhaddaa

  Dha

nhaanhaa

   Na

 

 

tattaa

   Ta

thaththaa

  Tha

daddaa

   Da

dhaddaa

  Dha

nannaa

   Na

 

 

pappaa

   Pa

phaphphaa

  Pha

babbaa

   Ba

bhabbaa

  Bha

mammaa

   Ma

 

 

yayyaa

   Ya

raaraa

   Ra

lallaa

   La

vavvaa

   Va

rhaarhaa

   Ra

 

 

shashashaa

  Sha

ਖ਼

khhakhhkhha

 Khha

ਗ਼

ghagghaa

   Ga

zazzaa

   Za

ਫ਼

 faffaa

   Fa

 

 

ਲ਼

 lallaa

   La

 

Listen to the full alphabet

 


Gurmukhi Alphabet

All letters of a script have three aspects. Every letter has a particular shape, particular name and it represent a particular sound. Sanskrit may have been one of the first languages to group the letters according to their sounds. At one time there were only thirty-five letters in the Gurmukhi script, but later, five more letters were added in order to accommodate other sounds correctly. This need arose because many lone words are used in Punjabi. More recently, an extra character ( ਲ਼ ) was introduced. The shape, name and sound of Gurmukhi alphabet is as above:

Note: ੳ, ਅ, ੲ are only vowel bearers. So they don't represent any sound independently except ਅ as mukta vowel.

It can also be noted that most of the characters have a horizontal line at the upper part. The characters are connected mostly by this line called head line to form a word. A letter in Gurmukhi script can be partitioned into three horizontal zones. The upper zone denotes the region above the head line, where the vowels reside, while the middle zone represents the area below the headline where the consonants and some sub-parts of vowels are present. The middle zone is the busiest zone. The lower zone represents the area below middle zone where some vowels and certain half-characters lie in the foot of consonants.

Three Zones Of Letters In Gurmukhi Script

Gurmukhi Script Zones

It is quite possible to learn the characters of the Gurmukhi script and sounds of the language at the same time as, by and large, Punjabi is a phonetic language. It is more accurate to call the Punjabi writing system a syllabary because each character represents a syllable. It is important to note that two phonetic features of all North Indian Languages are the system of contrasts between aspirated and unaspirated consonants and the contrast between retroflex and dental consonants. These do not occur in English. Aspirated consonants are accompanied by an audible expulsion of breath, whereas non-aspirated consonants are those produced with minimal breath.

Letters With A Dot

It is also important to note the distinction between plain letters and those letters which are marked by a dot, as shown below:

# # # # # # # # # # # #

sa

sha

kha

ḵẖa

ga

ġa

ja

za

pha

fa

la

ḷa

These letters are named by adding the words ਪੈਰ ਬਿੰਦੀ (par bindī) to the name of the letter, so is called ਸੱਸੇ ਪੈਰ ਬਿੰਦੀ (sassē par bindī), which literally means sassaa with a dot in its foot. Many Punjabi speakers do not make a distinction between ਖ ਖ਼ ਗ ਗ਼ and ਫ ਫ਼. There are two main reasons for this, first their pronunciation is quite similar and second, they are used to differentiate borrowed words from other languages, the knowledge of which is decreasing in East Punjab.

Subjoined consonants

Some Punjabi words require consonants to be written in a conjunct form, which takes the shape of a subscript to the main letter. The second consonant is written under the first as a subscript. There are only three commonly used subjoined letters and to distinguish them from their normal forms the word ਪੈਰੀਂ (pairīṃ), which means belonging to the foot, is attached under the letter.

Full Letter

Name of Full Letter

Subjoined Letter

Name of subjoined Letter

#

hāahāa

#

ਪੈਰੀਂ ਹਾਹਾ pairīṃ hāahāa

#

rāarāa

#

ਪੈਰੀਂ ਰਾਰਾ pairīṃ rāarāa

#

vāavāa

#

ਪੈਰੀਂ ਵਾਵਾ pairīṃ vāavāa

For the purpose of transliteration there is no special sign for the subjoined character so you will have to pay careful attention to the Punjabi spelling.

Nasalisation

There are five nasal consonants in Gurmukhi:

# # # # #

pha

nja

na

na

ma

As shown above, the nasal consonants belong to the five different classes of consonants. Nasalisation is produced by directing a substantial part of the breath towards the nasal cavity as the sound is being uttered. In addition there are two nasalization signs in Punjabi which accompany consonants:

#

ਬਿੰਦੀ (bindī)

#

ਟਿੱਪੀ (ṭippī)

These will be covered below.

Vowels

There are ten vowel phonemes in Punjabi in contrast to the English twenty or so. Punjabi symbols are generally as they are written following the one sign-one sound rule. They are vowels making only one sound. However, there are two forms that vowels can take. The independent vowel form which does not require a consonant and the dependent form which is attached to a consonant. All consonants use the dependent form of the vowel. First table shows the name and sound of the dependent vowels and second table shows their sound combined with the consonant .

Vowel Sign

Sound

Name Of Vowel

   (invisible)

a

ਮੁਕਤਾ

muktā

#

āa

ਕੰਨਾ

kannā

#

i

ਸਿਹਾਰੀ

sihārī

#

ee

ਬਿਹਾਰੀ

bihārī

#

u

ਔਂਕੜ

auṅkaṛ

#

oo

ਦੁਲੈਂਕੜ

dulaiṅkaṛ

#

ē

ਲਾਂਵਾਂ

lāvā

#

ai

ਦੁਲਾਂਵਾਂ

dulāvā

#

ō

ਹੋੜਾ

hōṛā

#

au

ਕਨੌੜਾ

kanauṛā


Consonant and
Vowel Sign

Sound

Pronunciation

sa

a in about

ਸਾ

saa

a in part

ਸਿ

si

i in it

ਸੀ

see

ee in see

ਸੁ

su

u in put

ਸੂ

soo

oo in food

ਸੇ

se

a in cake

ਸੈ

sai

a in man

ਸੋ

o in show

ਸੌ

sau

o in bought

You may note that the vowels are divided into five pairs. In the firstthree, the distinction is between a short and long sound, for example between u and oo. In the last two pairs distinctionis between closed and open sounds so e is closed and ai is open sounding.

IndependentVowels

The independent form of vowels can occur in three ways. First, when the vowel comes at the beginning of a word or a syllable, second in those instances where two vowel sounds are required as a consonant cannot support two vowels, and third, in a diphthong-when two vowels arepresent in one syllable. In fact one of the features of Punjabi is the presence of many diphthongs, sometimes with three vowel sounds in one word with no consonant, for instance

Independent vowels are represented by dependent vowels carried by the first three letters of the Gurmukhi alphabet.

#

oorhaa

    Ou

#

 airhaa

    Aa

#

 eerhee

    Ie

Oorhaa and eerhee are never used on their own. These three vowel signs do not represent any consonant sounds. They must be accompanied by their allocated vowel signs. Their main function is to denote their own respective vowel sounds. They are founder, basic or parent vowel bearers representing the ten sounds. However, the pronunciation of both independent and dependent vowels is the same.

Formula

#

'u' is added to

#

to give 'au'

#

'oo' is added to

#

to give 'au'

#

'o' is added to consonant letters (when added to consonant sign k - gives 'ko')

#

to give 'a'

(invisible sign)

#

'e'

#

'aa' is added to

#

to give 'ew'

#

'ai' is added to

#

to give 'ey'

#

'au' is added to

#

to give 'eo'

#

'i' is added to

#

to give 'ie'

#

'ee' is added to

#

to give 'ei'

#

'e' is added to

#

to give 'ey'


Auxiliary Signs

1. Nasal Signs

a) ਬਿੰਦੀ (bindī)

Bindi serves to add a nasal sound to a particular vowel. Bindi is used with kannā, lāvā, dulāvā, bihārī, hōṛā and kanauṛā and the independent forms of vowels where 'a' is the bearer. Its sound is the same as 'n' in band, grand, slang, grant. For example,

kāṃ (crow) = ਕਾਂ

gāṃ (cow) = ਗਾਂ


b) ਟਿੱਪੀ (ṭippī)

It serves to add a nasalsound to a particular vowel. Tippee is used with muktā, sihārī, auṅkaṛ, dulaiṅkar only. It is not used upon 'a' (instead bindī is used with this letter) and last letter of a word. Its soundis same as 'n' in punch, lunch. For example;

amb (mango) = ਅੰਬ

pañchī (bird) = ਪੰਛੀ

jhaṇḍā (flag) = ਝੰਡਾ


2. ਅਧਕ (adhak)


The function of ਅਧਕ (adhak) is toallocate a double sound to the particular letter that it is assigned to. It should be placed above the preceding letter that isto be read twice, however, in practice it is placed between the two letters. Therefore, when the adhak occurs between two letters, it is the second of the twothat is to be repeated. For example, in the Punjabi word for boundary ਹੱਦ (hadd), the adhak affects the letter (d) changing the sound of the word from had to hadd. In some cases another vowel sound may come in between the two letters, but the adhak still affects the second letter, for example in the word ਬੱਚਿਓ (bacciō), the adhak comes before the sihari vowel but still affects the letter (c), so it is pronounced chch. The adhak is a very important, though subtle device, as two letters without an adhak give rise to completely different meanings. For example ਕਦ (kad) means 'when', whereas ਕੱਦ (kadd) means 'height'.

Tones

One ofthe unique features of Punjabi, in the variety of modern South AsianLanguages, is the presence of pitch contours. These change the meaning of the word depending on the way it sounds. In technical terms these are called ‘tones' and there are three types: low, high andlevel. The Punjabi tone system is far less complex than Chinese, thebest known tone language. The low tone is characterised by lowering the voice below the normal pitch and then rising back in the following syllable. In the high tone the pitch of the voice rises above its normal level falling back at the following symbol. The level tone is carried by the remaining words. Tones are not represented by any letters or symbols in the Gurmukhiscript.

The following are good examples of similiar words (sounding the same) but with different tones. The sound files are different for each word, see if someone can test you guess which are which (without looking at the screen).

Low tone

Level tone

High tone

ਝਾ

jhā

peep

ਚਾਅ

cāa

desire

ਚਾਹ

cāh

tea

ਘੋੜਾ

ghōṛā

horse

ਕੋੜਾ

kōṛā

whip

ਕੋਹੜਾ

kōhṛā

leper

ਘੜੀ

ghaṛī

watch

ਕੜੀ

kaṛī

link of a chain

ਕੜ੍ਹੀ

kaṛhī

turmeric curry








Guide To Discover Sikhism