Difference Between Urdu and Punjabi (With Table)

It is common to see people confuse between Urdu and Punjabi. To bring some clarity to the matter, first understand what they mean. Urdu is a language from India, whereas Punjabi is a language from Pakistan. They share similar massive origins and are cousins of one another. However, they are different from each other.

Urdu vs Punjabi

The difference between Urdu and Punjabi is that the written language of Urdu borrows heavily from Arabic as it is based upon the Perso-Arabic script, while Punjabi, on the other hand, uses the Gurmukhi script, which is derived from the Landa alphabet. This gives Punjabi an edge over Urdu in terms of the written word, as it has fewer complications when it comes to writing down words on paper since there are not that many characters involved.

Urdu belongs to the Indo-Iranian language family, which is spread all across Central Asia, South, West, and Southeast Asia. It is spoken by close to 250 million native speakers and is learned by over 100 million more as a second language. It is the official language of Pakistan and one of two official languages in India. It is an official language in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, as well as having a large number of native speakers in Bangladesh, Iran, Nepal, Mauritius, and Suriname as well as Fiji with smaller populations throughout Canada, Russia, and the United States.

Punjabi belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family, which is spread all across India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia. It is spoken by close to 90 million native speakers and is learned by over 10 million more as a second language. It is one of the 22 official languages in Pakistan and one of the official languages in India, as well as having a large number of native speakers in Bangladesh and Nepal.

Comparison Table Between Urdu and Punjabi

Parameters of Comparison Urdu Punjabi
OriginCreated by a Muslim scholar, Mir Ameer Ali Khan Shere Ali. Created by Guru Angad Dev Ji.
Derived fromArabic which is based upon the Perso-Arabic scriptGurmukhi script which is derived from the Landa alphabet
Ethenic backgroundPersia India
Native background Indo-Iranian language familyIndo-Aryan language family
SpeakersPakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Iran, Nepal, Mauritius, Suriname Fiji, and India India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal

What is Urdu?

Urdu is the general term for the South Asian language, written in a variety of Arabic, Persian, and Indic scripts. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan group of languages, which means it is related to other languages such as Hindi, Punjabi, and Gujarati. In Pakistan, Urdu speakers form about 75% of the population, with about an equal number in India. Urdu has been used as a lingua franca for Muslims in South Asia since mid 18th century due to its proximity with Arabic.

Urdu was referred to by Muslims in India after the establishment of Pakistan when it became grounds for criticism among them due to its connection with Islam and Arab culture. In Pakistan, too, Urdu became a divisive issue when other ethnic groups such as Punjabis and Sindhis began to criticize it for its affiliation with Islam, and their language was criticized for being associated with Hinduism.

Urdu is a mixture of Persian language and Arabic used as the main languages of Muslim culture. It is considered by many to be a genius linguistic masterpiece. With its rich vocabulary, it has been able to adapt over time to the regional languages and culture of South Asia. The Urdu language was created in 1844 by a Muslim scholar, Mir Ameer Ali Khan Shere Ali, who wanted to make the Arabic script workable for the different languages of India with an aim for unification. This resulted in creating a new alphabet from scratch from English letters. Urdu is predominantly a spoken language with an emphasis on written literature. In Pakistan, it is used as a language of government, education, and culture. While in India, it is mainly used for cultural purposes.

What is Punjabi?

Punjabi is one of the languages of the Indo-Aryan language family, with millions of speakers mainly in India and Pakistan. It is written in the Gurmukhi script, which was developed by Guru Angad Dev Ji for Punjab. Punjabi has various dialects like Majhi, Jandaviya, Dogri, Hindko, and Shahpuri. It has three main varieties Punjabi that is widely used in India, Dogri, which is mostly spoken in Jammu and Kashmir, and Hindko or Pothohari, which is spoken by around 25% of the people living in Pakistan.

The meaning behind this word has been debated throughout history. Its literal meaning describes it as the language of the Punjab, which means the “land of five rivers,” referring to the Indus River and its four tributaries. The main view states that it originally meant this until it was later reinterpreted to mean “the language of the Punjab,” which is a Persian word meaning “five glasses of water.” This change in meaning is believed to have occurred after India’s partition from Pakistan, as those who wanted Punjabi to be recognized as a language separate from Hindi didn’t want it associated with Pakistan, which uses Urdu as its official state language. In addition, those who spoke Punjabi were spread out across India, especially after British colonization.

Punjabi is a language spoken by millions of people in over ten countries, mainly in the northern region of South Asia. It is one of the national languages of India and Afghanistan as well as, to a lesser extent, Pakistan and Nepal. The first evidence of Punjabi dates back to the 5th century BC, making it one of the oldest living languages on Earth. Almost half of Punjabis speak their native language, most notably those who live in India, but there are still plenty left who speak nothing else but Punjabi.

Main Differences Between Urdu and Punjabi

  1. The Urdu language was created by a Muslim scholar, Mir Ameer Ali Khan Shere Ali, whereas the Punjabi language was Created by Guru Angad Dev Ji for Punjab.
  2. Urdu is derived from Arabic which is based upon the Perso-Arabic script, whereas the Punjabi Gurmukhi script is derived from the Landa alphabet.
  3. The ethnic background of the Urdu language is from Persia, whereas the ethnic background of the Punjabi language is from India.
  4. The native background of the Urdu language is from the Indo-Iranian language family whereas, the native background of the Punjabi language is from the Indo-Aryan language family.
  5. The Urdu language has speakers from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Iran, Nepal, Mauritius, Suriname Fiji, and India whereas, the Punjabi language has speakers from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Conclusion

The article covers the differences between Urdu and Punjabi, two languages that are closely related. The article also covers the history of both languages, the similarities they share with other Indo-Aryan languages, their scripts, and their grammar. Urdu is not only spoken in Pakistan but all over South Asia. It is much more widely understood than Punjabi. Urdu and Punjabi share close linguistic similarities as well as cultural ones with each other, which can be seen through their shared history and literature. However, they still maintain their differences in terms of literature and culture, which contribute to their significant distinctions in spoken language as well as written form as well as grammar difference between the two tongues.

References

  1. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1267100
  2. https://www.indianjournals.com/ijor.aspx?target=ijor:zijmr&volume=3&issue=11&article=023
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