Gurmukhi (ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ; [ˈɡʊɾᵊmʊkʰiː]) is a type of Abugida script used to write the Punjabi language spoken mostly in the Indian state of Punjab. In the 16th century, the Sikh Guru, Guru Angad Dev, standardised Gurmukhi script. The Punjabi speakers in Pakistan use a version of Urdu alphabet known as Shahmukhi (شاہ مکھی) to write a punjabi language.
Gurmukhi is the official script for writing Punjabi language in India. The Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, is written in Gurmukhi. Because of this, the Gurmukhi Script plays an important part in Sikh Culture.
The Gurmukhi script is also used to write other languages such as Sanskrit, Sindhi and Saraiki. This article doesn't cover variations of a script used to adapt these additional languages.
Gurmukhi vowels, also called Sur (ਸੁਰ), can be classified into dependent and independent vowels.
There are 10 independent vowels and are constructed using three vowel bases. They are Ura (ੳ), Aira (ਅ) and Iri (ੲ).
Dependent vowels, on the other hand, are represented by accents and are added either in the front, or after, on the base or on the top of base characters to form different vowel sounds and diphthongs.
Consonant in Gurmukhi are also called Akhar (ਆਖ਼ਰ). Together with 3 vowel base (also called vowel holders), there are in total 35 consonants. Each consonant character represents a phonetic sound and are combined with either dependent or independent vowel to make a final sound.
In Gurmukhi, there are six consonants created by placing a dot (also bindi) at the foot of the consonant. These dot symbol at the bottom of the consonants represent borrowed sound.
Gurmukhi script uses its own numerals system, which was used extensively in older texts to denote numerical values and doing mathematical calculation. Now-a-days these traditional characters have been replaced either by Latin or Hindi numerals.
Although not used when writing Punjabi in Gurmukhi, Halant character is used in Sanskritised text to represent the suppression of the inherent vowel. For e.g. when halant is added to ਕ (Ka) it will be transformed into ਕ੍ (K).
Ek Onkar is the most important symbol used in Sikh literature which means `one God`.
Visarg is used either to represent an abbreviation in English or like a Visarg in Sanskrit where a voiceless `h` sound is pronounced after the vowel letter.
There are 45 distinct letters in Gurmukhi script. Out of them, 10 are vowel letters and remaining 35 letters are consonants. Consonants characters also includes 3 vowel bases.
In addition to these letters, there are 6 additional consonants letters with a dot at the foot of the character. Furthermore, there are 1 Halant, 1 Ek Onkar, 1 Visarg, and many other special characters.
In Gurmukhi, there are 10 vowel and 35 consonant letters.
Gurmukhi is spoken mainly in the Punjab region of India & Pakistan. It should be noted that in Punjab region of Pakistan, Punjabi language is written using a version of Perso-Arabic alphabet script called `Shahmukhi (شاہ مکھی)`.
Gurmukhi is spoken by over 36 million people around the world. In the Indian states of Punjab, it is spoken by 33 million native speakers as a first language and another 3 million use it as a second language in the Punjab region of Pakistan and other parts of the world.