Western Punjabi

"Lahnda" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Laṇḍā.

Western Punjabi
لہندا پنجابی
Region Western Punjab region
Ethnicity Punjabis
Native speakers
ca. 117 million (2016 (estimate))[1]
Standard forms
(Shahmukhi alphabet)
Official status
Official language in


Punjab (Provincial)
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2 lah
ISO 639-3 lahinclusive code
Individual codes:
hnd  Southern Hindko
hno  Northern Hindko (Kagani)
jat  Inku (Jakati)
phr  Pahari-Potwari (Pothohari)
pnb  Western Punjabi proper (Majhi)
skr  Saraiki
xhe  Khetrani
Glottolog lahn1241[3]

Western Punjabi (لہندا پنجابی /pʌnˈɑːbi/), Lahnda (/ˈlɑːndə/)[4] or Lahndi, is a "macrolanguage" consisting of a series of dialects spoken in Pakistani Punjab, and parts of Azad Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[5] These terms are exonyms and are not used by the speakers themselves.[6] The emerging languages of this dialect area are Saraiki, Hindko and Pothohari.[7] The literary language of the speakers of Lahnda dialects has traditionally been Standard Punjabi.[8]:2 The validity of Lahnda as a genetic grouping is not established.[9]


Lahnda means "western" in Punjabi. It was coined by William St. Clair Tisdall (in the form Lahindā) probably around 1890 and later adopted by a number of linguists — notably George Abraham Grierson — for a dialect group that had no general local name.[10]:883 This term has currency only among linguists.[9] The southern varieties are locally called Saraiki, and northwestern varieties Hindko or Panjistani. The main identifier of Lahnda is use of 'ahā' in the past instead of the Standard Punjabi "sì sì'gē and sàn,"


Below is a list of Western Punjabi's dialects as well as the number of speakers:[1]

Within Lahnda, Ethnologue also includes what it labels as "Western Punjabi" – the Majhi dialects transitional between Lahdna and Eastern Punjabi; these are spoken by about 62 million people.[11]

Recently, Saraiki and Hindko are being cultivated as literary languages.[12] The development of the standard written Saraiki began in the 1960s.[13][14] The national census of Pakistan has counted Saraiki and Hindko speakers since 1981.[15]

Khetrani is commonly included, but may be a remnant of a Dardic language.[16] Some of the northern dialects of what has for geographical reasons been considered Gujarati are actually closer to Lahnda. There is also a Lahnda language in Afghanistan and Ukraine in the form of Jakati.

Lahnda has several traits that distinguish it from Punjabi, such as a future tense in -s-. Like Sindhi, Siraiki retains breathy-voiced consonants, has developed implosives, and lacks tone. Hindko, also called Panjistani or (ambiguously) Pahari, is more like Punjabi in this regard, though the equivalent of the low-rising tone of Punjabi is a high-falling tone in Peshawar Hindko.[12]

Sindhi, Lahnda, Punjabi, and Western Pahari form a dialect continuum with no clear-cut boundaries. Ethnologue classifies the western dialects of Punjabi as Lahnda, so that the Lahnda–Punjabi isogloss approximates the Pakistani–Indian border.[17]


  1. 1 2 3 Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2016a.
  2. Ernst Kausen, 2006. Die Klassifikation der indogermanischen Sprachen (Microsoft Word, 133 KB)
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Lahnda". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. "Lahnda". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. For "macrolanguage", see Lewis, Simons & Fennig (2016); for "series of dialects", see Masica (1991, pp. 17–18); for the difficulties in assigning the labels "language" and "dialect", see Shackle (1979) for Punjabi and Masica (1991, pp. 23–27) for Indo-Aryan generally.
  6. Masica 1991, p. 17–18.
  7. Shackle 1979, p. 198.
  8. Tolstaya, Natalya I. (1981). The Panjabi Language. Routledge. ISBN 9780710009395.
  9. 1 2 Masica 1991, p. 18.
  10. Grierson, George A. (1930). "Lahndā and Lahndī". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 5 (4): 883–887. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00090571.
  11. Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2016b.
  12. 1 2 Shackle, Christopher (2010). "Lahnda". In Brown, Keith; Ogilvie, Sarah. Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. Oxford: Elsevier. p. 635. ISBN 9780080877754.
  13. Rahman 1997, p. 838.
  14. Shackle 1977.
  15. Javaid 2004, p. 46.
  16. Masica 1991, pp. 18, 433.
  17. Western Punjabi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)


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