language fact file: Punjabi

Spoken in: India and Pakistan.

Number of native speakers: 113 million.

Learn some: The general greeting, which you can use at any time of day, is ‘sat sri akaal’.

Fast facts:

  • The region where Punjabi originates is called Punjab, which means ‘five rivers’: panj means five, aab means water. This refers to the rivers Beas, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi and Sutlej, which give the region its incredibly fertile land, making it now as the wheat bowl of India.
  • Punjab is where the Sikh religion was founded in the 15th century. It is home to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest site for Sikhs. Included in the temple is a huge langar hall, a place where hundreds are fed for free every day.
  • Punjabi people have a reputation for being fun, lively and hospitable. An important word in the language is masti, which means ‘intoxicated with life’.