Introduction . . .

We've looked at the alphabet and the vowel sounds. Now, there are only a few markings left to learn (apart from the numbers). Although they are all covered by this part of the site, they effectively fall into three groups:


In addition to the explicit 'n's (ਨ and ਣ) used in Punjabi, there is also a partial/implicit 'n'. Imagine the nasalised 'n' in the 'ah' sound as in the end of the French word for 'naturally'; 'naturellement'.

There are two markings used to represent this:

  • ਟਿੱਪੀ (Tippee) - (the mark at the top of ਨੂੰ that looks like the bottom half of a ਨ); and,
  • ਬਿੰਦੀ (Bindi) - n (the dot at the top-right of ਨੌਂ just to the right of the kanaurdaa).


In English, we put emphasis on certain syllables (interestingly, Japanese doesn't so a word like 'Sudoku' has the emphasis equal on all syllables). The emphasis on a particular word root can change, according to what it represents thus: 'Chromatograph' (the machine) and 'Chromatogram' (the paper chart that represents its output) are different to 'Chromatography' (the subject as a whole). Also, the emphasis can change according to where it is spoken so in English it is 'Laboratory' whereas in Americanised English it is 'Laboratory'.

Gurmukhi has the ability to define emphasis and it does this with an Adhak. An adhak gives a doubling of the length of a sound, in a similar way to the stereotyped way that the Welsh say the word 'middle' - ie, 'mid-dle'. This is called a geminate and there are prescious few of them in English. One example is 'unnecessary'. If you deliberately say it with the 'n' having the same duration as the other syllables, it sounds so very wrong.

Combining consonants without the implicit 'a' sound

Not every word needs to have an implicit 'a' after every letter and this is a way of doing it. In modern Punjabi there are three letters that you can add to the letter - ਹ ਰ and ਵ - the first of the three modifying the pitch of the letter and the last allowing for better support of foreign (non-Punjabi) words.

They are written like this:ਨ੍ਹ (ਹ); ਪ੍ਰ (ਰ); and, ਸ੍ਵ (ਵ) thus, we can have words like . . .

In Punjabi:

  • ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ (these),
  • ਪ੍ਰਵੀਣ (perfect); and,
  • ਸ੍ਵੱਯੇ (a kind of poetry).

In English:

  • ਵ੍ਹਾਇਟ (white),
  • ਪ੍ਰੋਗ੍ਰੈਮ (program); and,
  • ਸ੍ਵੀਟ (sweet).

Some fonts support virtually every letter but their use is very restricted.

Copyright ©2007-2023 Paul Alan Grosse.