Diminishing Punjabi

Punjabi (Gurmukhi: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ; Devanagari: पंजाबी; Shahmukhi: : پنجابی) Is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by 130 million native speakers worldwide, making it the 10th most widely spoken language in the world. It is the native language of the Punjabi people who inhabit the historical Punjab region of Pakistan and India. Punjabi emerged as an independent language in the 12th century.

Punjabi emerged as an independent language in the 12th century. The Sikh religion originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region and Punjabi is the predominant language spoken by Sikhs. Guru Nanak himself composed Punjabi verse incorporating vocabulary from Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic and other Indic languages as characteristic of the Gurbani tradition. In India, Punjabi is one of the 22 scheduled language of India. It is the first official language of the Indian State of Punjab.

In Pakistan, Punjabi has not been granted official status at the national level though it is the most spoken language and is the provincial language of Punjab, Pakistan, the second largest and the most populous province of Pakistan. Punjabi is becoming more acceptable among Punjabis in modern media and communications. Punjabi has always been an integral part of Indian Bollywood cinema. In recent years a trend of Bollywood songs written totally in Punjabi can be observed. Punjabi pop and folk songs are very popular both in India and Pakistan at the national level.

A number of television dramas based on Punjabi characters are telecast by different channels. Punjabi cinema in India has also seen a revival and more and more Punjabi movies are being produced. Punjabi music is very popular today throughout the world. Punjabi is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where Punjabi people have emigrated in large numbers, such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, where it is the second-most-commonly used language and Canada, where it is the fourth-most-spoken language.

There were 76 million Punjabi speakers in Pakistan in 2008, 33 million in India in 2011, 1.3 million in the UK in 2000, 368,000 in Canada in 2006, and smaller numbers in other countries. But now-a-days the trends have changed in India. Western Languages are proving very influential. People try to learn different languages like Spanish, German, French and to prove themselves superior they speak English in gatherings. Even Sikh families have stopped speaking Punjabi because their children learn Hindi and English in their schools and they are not taught Punjabi. Parents when asked that why don’t you speak Punjabi, they have a very simple excuse “ School mein toh hindi sikhate hain bacho ko….punjabi kaha aati hain inhe.”

Parents do not take initiative of teaching their child themselves rather put blames on schooling system. Even in Gurdwara’s we find Sikh people talking to each other in Hindi. Whereas this is not the scenario in any other country or even any other States of India. When we go to South of India people speak their native language to everyone they meet. There hardly anyone knows Hindi. In Foreign Countries like France, Spain people speak French and Spanish respectively . They even do not speak English amongst themselves.

And this is the only reason why people of different culture and language try and learn their language. Punjabi was very widely spoken in older days when people knew the value of Punjabi Boli. But now number of Punjabi speakers have reduced. If this remains the scenario the time is not far away when Punjabi will be one of the extinct language in the next 15-20 yrs. It should be the responsibility of parents and grandparents to teach children their Mother Tongue and they should not rely only on school and tutions. This will bring children close to their culture and will save Punjabi from becoming extinct.

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