Are we losing our Punjabi language?

My parents have always emphasized the importance of speaking Punjabi in our home. Their reasoning was that we would have the opportunity to learn English in our schools, but may never get the time to learn Punjabi again. My father was so passionate about creating an opportunity for children being raised in the West to be taught Punjabi, that he opened the first Punjabi School at the Gurdwara we attended in our town. I was grateful to my parents for sending me to the school, because it allowed me to communicate with my grandparents, and other elders who didnt speak English, and maintain my relationships with them.

Often the older generation is heard saying our language, and thus an aspect of our heritage, is being lost on the present generation. There are many young people who attend Gurdwara but have no idea what is being said. We have Gutkas with English translations. Weve become quite tech-savvy in our Gurdwara now too, where we have projectors displaying the English translations of Shabads. We watch Punjabi movies with english subtitles. In India, even Punjabis are speaking Hindi now.

Is it the responsibility of parents to teach their children or send them to Punjabi school to learn? Or is it an individuals responsibility? Some people take the initiative to learn Punjabi on their own, either through courses available at University, or from the growing number of online courses.

How can we preserve the Punjabi language?


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181 Responses to “Are we losing our Punjabi language?”

  1. hershey kaur says:

    I agree with you Donsanjh. But don't you think it's rather ironic? I mean, look around Punjab nowadays? Everyone is so modernised and westernised that you almost see very little punjabi culture left in the people. When I went to Punjab, I saw that Punjabis start to speak Hindi. Though, what you say is true, don't you think that if Punjab itself were to lose their language, then it'll become even harder to keep our language in foreign countries. For example, we punjabis ourselves came from Punjab, and in order to keep our culture, we depend greatly on punjabi migrants. However, if these punjabi migrants were to start speaking English, and less of Punjabi, what will our future generation speak? Also, I'm not only talking about the language itself. I am also talking about Sikhism as a religion. I see the trend of many sikhs nowadays converting to other religions. Especially, in Singapore, where so many youths nowadays, don't even know their own religion, even in Punjabi School, where I study Punjabi. This is appalling.

    • KattadPunjabi says:

      hi hershey, i know it feels ironic. however it is the nature of people to emulate/imitate progressive people. they are more than willing to ditch their mother culture to associate with those of 'higher class'. Latin americans are one such example. Another example is urban indians(of all kind) who kept doing things in english even after independence since the system left by the masters(british) showed results, and the masters spoke english. The movie 'monsoon wedding' showed that the trend is still in place.
      punjabis do not really have much to show for their culture, whereas hindi-speakers have bollywood and all kind of tv shows. our political leaders are too busy keeping their hold on power and the religious leaders are busy playing divide and rule policy on us. so punjabis start using hindi to guess what – associate themselves with progressive people. The same goes as regards to their attitude towards sikhism (and hinduism). They don't know sikhism 'cause nobody teaches it to them. all I hear from our elders/leaders is how hindus are doing this and that bad things to us. Please see next comment for continuation

    • kattadPunjabi says:

      ok enough complaining. The solution is to come up with 'cool' stuff in our overall culture, including literature, arts, visual arts, games etc. It is the nature of young people to associate themselves with 'cool' things and people doing cool stuff, and as they get older they stick to that. how 'bout a video game in punjabi? how about a project involving wild animals in punjab done in punjabi. That is what will get the results we want. more on this later.
      I think roop, and some other people who are already doing something about this should be greatly supported. i am yet to look at any of their works. I should be doing that. i am bookmarking this page and will be going through all their works regularly. Rab Raakhaa

      • Hershey kaur says:

        I agree, we need something to attract punjabis to love their language, not move towards other languages. I think it's time we step up and make a change, because if we don't, then who will? If we don't, probably in our future generations, what our Guru's set up for us would be almost non-exisistent. We can't let that happen. I believe one of the key reasons why youths nowadays turn away from sikhism is because they do not understand it, since sggs is written in punjabi (in fact, very deep punjabi)Therefore, we need to touch on the root of the problem, and that is punjabi. I do feel that we are already doing our utmost to teach punjabi, like we have punjabi schools, and punjabi tuition. All we need is that push factor. Like what you said, maybe games or projects or maybee even a bhangra or giddha course. Anything that teaches punjabis their culture, and makes them appreciate it.

  2. Deep says:

    Chete Rakheyo Maa Boli Panjaabi Nu … the language of love … of the heart … e boli nirmal neeran di … guruan di, peer, fakiran di … gal kardi sachiyan pareetan di … boli e ranjheyan heeran di :o)

  3. Deep says:

    Chete Rakheyo Maa Boli Panjaabi Nu … the language of love … of the heart … e boli nirmal neeran di … guruan di, peer, fakiran di … gal kardi sachiyan pareetan di … boli e ranjheyan heeran di :o)

  4. hershey kaur says:

    I frankly feel that parents are the MAIN CAUSE OF IT!! they have the greatest influence on their kids (:

    anyways, i heard of this school called miri pira academy! it's awesome (: you'll should probably look up on it, its a school for children all over the world, that emphasises in the all-rounded development of a punjabi child. As such, the children wake up in the morning, go to Golden Temple to do sewa, have normal education lessons with professors teaching them, and learn bhangra, giddha, sikhism, punjabi etc! (:

  5. hershey kaur says:

    I frankly feel that parents are the MAIN CAUSE OF IT!! they have the greatest influence on their kids (:

    anyways, i heard of this school called miri pira academy! it's awesome (: you'll should probably look up on it, its a school for children all over the world, that emphasises in the all-rounded development of a punjabi child. As such, the children wake up in the morning, go to Golden Temple to do sewa, have normal education lessons with professors teaching them, and learn bhangra, giddha, sikhism, punjabi etc! (:

  6. nitin deep singh says:

    "oorha & joorha na sambhaloge tan sikhi kithon bhaloge" if u dont sustain the root of gurmukhi script i-e oorha & the crest of human body i-e joorha it will'nt be possible to sustain punjabi language gurmukhi script sikhi and sikhism.

  7. nitin deep singh says:

    "oorha & joorha na sambhaloge tan sikhi kithon bhaloge" if u dont sustain the root of gurmukhi script i-e oorha & the crest of human body i-e joorha it will'nt be possible to sustain punjabi language gurmukhi script sikhi and sikhism.

    • PindDiKuri232 says:

      One thing I like is the saying is that You're not a true sikh if you don't speak Punjabi! (Although their are Pathan Sikhs too, but they probably speak it too!) if only the Punjabi Muslim community was like that! I've even noticed a lot of Punjabi Christians choosing to read the bible in Punjabi which is wonderful!

  8. […] thing. We’ve discussed the importance of preserving Panjabi several times on this blog (here and here). We live in a global community and deal with a global economy – I believe that […]

  9. PindDiKuri232 says:

    I think in Pakistan we are, most Punjabi Pakistani diasporas like their Indian brothers come from rural areas and speak Punjabi with their kids, but I've noticed that high class/big city folk like ones from Lahore don't teach their children their own mother tongues in favour of Urdu/Hindi which isn't even a Pakistani language to begin with. If you walk down a street in Lahore you will hear Punjabi everywhere, but go into one of the rich areas and you will hear urdu/hindi and yes I've noticed this with my Indian friends too. My Sikh Indian Punjabi friend's Punjabi is even worse than mine (and I'm pretty white washed lol) and my father's business parter is a Indian Punjabi Hindu from Dehli and he only speaks Urdu/Hindi with his family for some reason. I think it's important that the Punjabi community keep our beautiful language alive. Although even though most Punjabis are Pakistanis and Muslims, my side of the community isn't doing as much as the Sikh Indian community, so I have to give you guys props for that :)

    • Daniel Choudhury says:

      nice to know someone isn't operating under any illusory concept of heritage and ethnicity. classism is an inescapable predator within indian society, but unlike the wise and witty pakis, the indian punjabis have thoroughly integrated their language into the different streams and strata of the punjab. Punjabi will NEVER die out in india, as long as sikhism never dies out (which it wont). pakistan can kiss this lovely language goodbye, and can say hello to the resentment and anger of its minority ethnic groups. the sindhis and Pashtuns want sovereignty, and you can be DAMN sure that once they get it, they will toss out urdu (and the pakis that adore it so greatly) for their native languages.

  10. Kam says:

    Check out http://www.wordzplay.com – get a box of these and keep the language alive! Don't think about it – do it now ….

  11. SUCH A GREAT POST KEEP IT UP.