Punjabi – 1. Gurmukhi – 1. Introduction

Gurmukhi is an abugida, where a consonant-vowel pair is written using the character for that consonant and optionally a vowel modifier. Here I have compiled the romanisation notes, which, if you follow, you will be on your way to pronouncing Punjabi perfectly, although there are a few things we will cover later.

Consonants
  • "h" is pronounced in a slightly turbulent way.
  • A "h" marks a preceding consonant as aspirated, as "th" in "Thailand".
  • "c" is pronounced as "ch", for romanisation convenience.
  • "ny" is pronounced with your tongue fully against your palate.
  • A "." marks a preceding consonant as retroflex, i.e. pronounced with your tongue curled up. In two exceptions, it represents the Gurmukhi foreign-sound marker, namely, "k.h", which is pronounced as "ch" in "loch", and "g.", which is the "g" version of the former.
  • The two "r" sounds are flaps, and the one without a dot can optionally be trilled.
  • "v" is between "v" and "w".
  • A duplicate letter indicates gemination, as the difference between "unaimed" and "unnamed".
Vowels
  • "a" is "a" as in "about".
  • "aa" is "a" as in "car".
  • "i" is "i" as in "it".
  • "ii" is "i" as in "litre".
  • "u" is "u" as in "put".
  • "uu" is "oo" as in "boot".
  • "ee" is "e" as in "sell" but elongated.
  • "ae" is "a" as in "cat" but elongated.
  • "oo" is "o" as in "not" but elongated.
  • "au" is "aw" as in "dawn".
  • "~" marks the preceding vowel as nasalised.
  • "'" separates consecutive consonants or consecutive vowels.
Punjabi keyboard
To install the Punjabi keyboard on Windows, go to the language settings and add the Punjabi keyboard, and on Linux, run "sudo apt-get install ibus-m17n". The Punjabi keyboard will take a short while to learn. View this chart here. Note how the nasals are all at the bottom, the rows of consonants are in fact columns, the vowels are all on the top left, and how "ਕ" conveniently coincides with "k".

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