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Lahnda (/ˈlɑːndə/)[3] also known as Lahndi or Western Punjabi (/pʌnˈɑːbi/), is a group of north-western Indo-Aryan language varieties spoken in Pakistani Punjab and in parts of the neighbouring Azad Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[4] These terms are exonyms and are not used by the speakers themselves.[5] The emerging languages of this dialect area are Saraiki, Hindko and Pothohari.[6] The validity of Lahnda as a genetic grouping has not been established.[7]

RegionWestern Punjab region
Standard forms
(Shahmukhi alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-2lah
ISO 639-3lah – inclusive code
Individual codes:
hnd – Southern Hindko
hno – Northern Hindko (Kagani)
jat – Inku
phr – Pahari-Potowari (Pothohari)
skr – Saraiki
xhe – Khetrani


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.[8]:883 This term has currency only among linguists.[7]


Below is a list of the varieties of Lahnda:[9]

Within Lahnda, Ethnologue also includes what it labels as "Western Punjabi" (ISO 639-3 code: pnb) – the Majhi dialects transitional between Lahnda and Eastern Punjabi; these are spoken by about 62 million people.[10]

Recently, Saraiki and Hindko are being cultivated as literary languages.[11] The development of the standard written Saraiki began in the 1960s.[12][13] The national census of Pakistan has counted Saraiki and Hindko speakers since 1981.[14]

Some of the northern dialects of what has for geographical reasons been considered Gujarati are actually closer to Lahnda.[citation needed]

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.[11]

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.[15]


  1. ^ Ernst Kausen, 2006. Die Klassifikation der indogermanischen Sprachen (Microsoft Word, 133 KB)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Lahnda". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "Lahnda". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Defined as a "macrolanguage" in Simons & Fennig (2017) and as a "series of dialects" in 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.
  5. ^ Masica 1991, p. 17–18.
  6. ^ Shackle 1979, p. 198.
  7. ^ a b Masica 1991, p. 18.
  8. ^ Grierson, George A. (1930). "Lahndā and Lahndī". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 5 (4): 883–887. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00090571.
  9. ^ Simons & Fennig 2017.
  10. ^ Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2016b.
  11. ^ a b Shackle, Christopher (2010). "Lahnda". In Brown, Keith; Ogilvie, Sarah (eds.). Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. Oxford: Elsevier. p. 635. ISBN 9780080877754.
  12. ^ Rahman 1997, p. 838.
  13. ^ Shackle 1977.
  14. ^ Javaid 2004, p. 46.
  15. ^ Lahnda at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)


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