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An Introduction To Punjabi Grammer, Coversation And Literature - Book By Gurinder Singh Mann, Gurdit Singh, AMI P. Shah, GIBB Schreffler and Anne Murphy

An Introduction To Punjabi Grammer, Coversation And Literature - Book By Gurinder Singh Mann, Gurdit Singh, AMI P. Shah, GIBB Schreffler and Anne Murphy 



Punjabi (Panjabi) is spoken in the Punjab, a geographical-cultural region that connects South Asia with the Middle East and Central Asia (Map I). Bounded by the Himalayan foothills on the north, the region stretches between Delhi, the capital of India, in the southeast, Multan, a major city of Pakistan, in the southwest, and Peshawar, at the gateway to the subcontinent from Afghanistan, in the northwest. The name punj-ab (Farsi, five-waters) came into currency during the mid-Io" century and refers to the fertile basin of five rivers, traditionally counted as Satluj, Ravi, Chenab, Jehlam, and Sindh/Indus. In addition to these five rivers, there are also other rivers that comprise the region. In the East, the Ghaggar swells up during the rainy season; in the central part, the Beas runs for a hundred miles or so before flowing into the Satluj; and in the Northwest, the Suan eventually merges with the Indus. Thus, the description of Punjab as the 'land of five rivers' is a metaphorical rather than geographic designation.

Historically, the city of Lahore (founded in the 9th century C.E.) on the left bank of the river Ravi served as the political and cultural center of the region. Situated on the primary trade route, Lahore was a thriving city during medieval times (Map 2). In terms of the size of its population and its political, economic, and cultural importance, Lahore was as cosmopolitan as contemporary cities such as London and Paris. Amritsar, established in the 1570s as the seat of the early Sikh community, also developed as a major city in the region by the early 19th century. With the creation of India and Pakistan as independent nation states in 1947, the Punjab was partitioned along religious lines, with Muslims moving to West Punjab (Pakistan) and Hindus and Sikhs coming to East Punjab (India). As a result, Chandigarh (designed by Le Corbusier in the 1950s) became the political center of East Punjab while Lahore remained the political center of West Punjab. Due to internal political developments after 1947, East Punjab was further divided into the Indian states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Punjabi is a New Indo-Aryan language, a status it shares with other languages such as Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, etc., all of which had reached a comfortable state of evolution by I 000 C.E. The core of these languages had descended from Sanskrit, the Prakrits, and the Apabhramsha languages that developed in North India beginning around 1000 B.C.E.1 Compared to other modern Indian languages, Punjabi has three distinctive features. First, its lexicon has closer ties with early Vedic Sanskrit that had developed in this region prior to 1000 B.C.E. Secondly, given the Punjab’s proximity to the Middle East and Central Asia, and the formative presence of Islam in the region dating from 1000 C.E., Punjabi has absorbed a wide array of words and expressions from Arabic and Farsi. Finally, Punjabi is the only North Indian language· that employs tones; the evolution of this linguistic feature has yet to be fully examined.

With the Punjabi-speaking region spreading over 150,000 square miles, an area distinguished by many culturally distinct regions, Punjabi possesses significant dialectical variations. In the East, Puadhi is spoken between the area northwest of Delhi and the Ghaggar; Malwai is spoken between the Ghaggar and the Satluj; Doabi between the  Satluj and the Beas; Majhi on both sides of the upper Ravi; and Dogri in the northern hills around Jammu. The term Laihindi encompasses a range of dialects in the West Punjab, including Pothohari (spoken in the northwestern Pothohar Plateau), Jhangi (in the western plains), and Multani/Siraiki (in the southwestern areas). The Majhi dialect is generally considered to be the standard Punjabi for written communication, and for this reason the present book is based on it.

A rich tradition in Punjabi literature began to emerge at the turn of the second millennium. The poetry attributed to the Nath Yogis, Gorakh Nath and Charpat Nath, represents early extant examples of this literature.' We have references to bardic literature of this period, but no examples of this oral tradition have survived. 3 In an effort to make literature available to a majority of the population, Sufi poets, Shaikh Farid (1175-1266), Shaikh Sharaf (c.1271-1332), Shah Hussain (1539-1599), Bulleh Shah (1680-1758), and Varis Shah (1735-1784), wrote in Punjabi as opposed to Farsi, the language of political administration. Beginning with the compositions of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the Sikh Gurus, and later Sikh writers, literature written in Punjabi was

_given even greater emphasis. Some outstanding names among twentieth century Punjabi poets include Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957), Dhani Ram Chatrik (1876-1954), Mohan Singh (1905-1978), Amrita Pritam (1919-2005), Shiv Kumar Batalvi (1937-1973), and Surjit Patar (1945-) in East Punjab and Ahmad Rahi (1923-2002), Munir Niazi (1928- - 2006), Najm Hosain Syed (1936-), anJ Ahmad Salim (1946-) in West Punjab.4

The earliest extant Punjabi manuscripts are inscribed in a script named Gurmukhi ('of the Gurmukhs/Sikhs'). The nascent Sikh community systematized the script to record its sacred literature in the early 1500s, and, at present, it is recognized as the official script for Punjabi in East Punjab. However from the early 1 J1h century, there is evidence of Punjabi being written in the Nastaliq script, commonly used for Farsi and Urdu. In recent decades, this script has been modified to fully accommodate Punjabi sounds and is referred to as Shahmukhi ('of the Shahs/Muslims') and is predominantly used in West Punjab. Thus, literature in Punjabi can be found in both Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi scripts. Had the early Punjabi literature created by the Nath Yogis and the bards been ever committed to writing, it would have been in Sharada, Takari, or Devanagari, the scripts in use in medieval North India. However, there is no surviving written tradition of Punjabi literature in these scripts. The present book will teach Punjabi through the Gurmukhi with the intention of providing an edition in Shahmukhi in the future.

There are over 100 million Punjabi speakers at present. Muslims living in West Punjab constitute the largest segment (approximately 60 million) of these people. The remaining speakers include Hindus and Sikhs (around 20 million each), and a small number of Jains and Christians, most of whom live in East Punjab. While the presence of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions can be dated prior to the first millennium, Islam achieved a foothold in the area during the early 8th century C.E. and eventually emerged as the faith of majority population by 1500. The Sikhs represent an indigenous Punjabi religious community, and as a result, they have developed a unique bond with both the land and its language. The arrival of the British in the early 19th century introduced Christianity to the region. Like the Jains, the number 'Of Punjabi Christians has remained small, but both of these communities have contributed significantly toward the enrichment of Punjabi culture.

Punjabi traders began to migrate out of the region in medieval times and, as a result, they established settlements over a wide geographical swath, ranging from Assam in the East, Tamil speaking areas in the South, Kashmir in the North, Sindh in the southwest, to Balakh in the Northwest. The post-British period opened further opportunities for Punjabi emigration to the rest of the world. At the turn of the twenty­first century, approximately four million Punjabis have shifted their homes overseas, with pockets of concentration in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Iran, Kenya, England, and North America. This movement has interesting implications for the future of Punjabi. First, some of these immigrants have literary interests and Punjabi literature is thus beginning to be created in these newly adopted cultural contexts. Secondly, the teaching of Punjabi language to the children born and brought up outside the Punjab has emerged as the centerpiece of their parents' effort to help them retain cultural roots. Finally, some Western scholars' recognition of the importance of the Punjab and its heritage and their affection for the region has resulted in developments that in all likelihood will have a long-lasting impact on Punjab Studies. 5

These factors have combined to produce academic initiatives around the teaching of Punjabi language in North American Universities. The University of British Columbia, Vancouver (1987 ,), the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1989-), and the University of California, Santa Barbara ( 1999-), have established regular positions with the responsibility to teach Punjabi. In addition, classes in Punjabi are also offered at Columbia University, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, - the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, Seattle, and Hofstra University. Given the large number of Punjabi speakers in areas such as Queens (New York City), Yuba City (California), and Vancouver (British Columbia), instruction in Punjabi language is now available in high school curricula. Outside of North America, Punjabi is also taught in Hayes and Slough, two suburbs of London, along with some other towns of England, and has been part of school curriculum in Singapore since 1995.

Since the teaching of Punjabi as a foreign language is a relatively recent phenomenon, the materials needed to accomplish this task are yet to be fully developed. This fact dawned on me when I began teaching Punjabi at Columbia University in 1989. The first Summer Program in Punjab Studies, held in Chandigarh in 1997, created the setting for Gurdit Singh, Ami P. Shah, and myself to address this need. During 1997-98, we created a core of lessons. Anne Murphy, then a doctoral student at Columbia University, a participant in the Summer Program in 1998, and a teacher of Punjabi in the Program in 1999, joined us between 1998-2000 in drafting the opening lessons of the book. While she was not able to participate in the subsequent development of the book, we have kept her name in recognition of her early contribution. During 2000-04, Gurdit Singh used these lessons in his teaching at the University of California, Santa Barbara and, in the process, strengthened the text considerably. This book is the result of our experiences of classroom teaching for well over a decade at UC Santa Barbara, the Summer Program in the Punjab, and ColumbiaUniversity.

In 2005, the Punjab Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara, in collaboration with the UC Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching, UC Davis, received a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education to create materials for the teaching of Punjabi on the Internet. This development resulted in my returning to the text and working toward its completion. In the fall of 2005, Gibb Schreffler joined the team and helped us shape the book in its present form. Though each one of us has contributed in our own ways, Gurdit' s commitment to this project has been singularly important for its completion and we are very grateful to him for his dedication.

We are indebted to Kulbir Singh Thind of the Bay Area, California, for creating and Gurpreet Singh Lehal of Punjabi University, Patiala, for refining the Gurmukhi-­UCSB, a special font that we believe comes closest to the shapes of letters available in the early Gurmukhi manuscripts; to Amarjit Chandan, a Punjabi poet based in London, and H. S. Bhatti of Punjabi University, Patiala, and. Om Parkash Vasishta of Panjab University, Chandigarh, for their help with the standardization of spellings; to R.M. Singh of Chandigarh for the sketches that appear in the book; and to Mohan Singh of Panjab University for the maps. Robert Blake and Kathleen E. Dillon of the UC Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching deserve thanks for their support in procuring and then keeping track of the Title VI grant. Ravi Dhillon of Stanford University and Olga Kegan of UC, Los Angeles, provided helpful feedback on the opening section of the book. We are also thankful to Steven M. Poulos and the South Asia Language Resource Center, the University of Chicago, for their encouragement in our creating a Shahmukhi version of this text. We deeply appreciate the thorough and encouraging review of this manuscript by Christopher Shackle, author of seminal works such as A Guru Nanak Glossary, The Sacred Language of the Sikhs, and Teach Yourself Punjabi. And finally, we want to thank all the students who used these lessons at UCSB, Columbia, and the Summer Program in Punjab Studies in Chandigarh during the past years.

The sequence of lessons in this book is intended for two years of class work. Part One of this manual explores the grammatical structure of Punjabi through descriptions, targeted exercises and vocabulary lists. Students should focus on each new lesson while simultaneously continuing to review the previous ones. In addition to the grammatical information provided, every chapter includes dialogues and readings. The dialogues are not designed to solely reflect the grammar covered in any given chapter. Rather, they are an attempt to expose students to the use of Punjabi in plausible real life settings in the Punjab and abroad. Similarly, the expository framework of the reading passages will familiarize students with the historical, religious, and cultural landscape of the Punjab. Through practice and memorization of the grammar, vocabulary, and conversation. provided in Part One, students should develop a significant level of confidence and comfort with the language. Part Two builds upon the grammatical structures outlined in Part One by providing students with an opportunity to encounter the language through poetry, short stories, and popular songs in Punjabi. Thus, in addition to teaching Punjabi, we hope that this book will also provide a comprehensive introduction to the history, culture, and literature of the Punjab.  

Punjabi orthography is in the process of standardization and, as a result, scholarly consensus on this issue has not yet emerged. In this book, we have spelt the indigenous Punjabi words as they are spoken in the Majhi dialect, which is considered to be the standard for written communication in Punjabi. As for the borrowed words from Sanskrit, Arabic, Farsi, and English, we have recorded them as Punjabis who have some degree of familiarity with their original forms pronounce them. Although every effort is made to explain linguistic concepts, this manual is intended to function as part of a class-based setting under the· guidance of a language instructor. Practice, both in the classroom with an instructor and with native speakers, will be invaluable for acquiring the correct accent and intonation. We are confident that upon completion of the course, students will be able to read, write, and converse in Punjabi.

Santa Barbara, December 2010

Gurinder Singh Mann 

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An Introduction To Punjabi Grammer, Coversation And Literature - Book By Gurinder Singh Mann, Gurdit Singh, AMI P. Shah, GIBB Schreffler and Anne Murphy

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