Shahmukhi alphabet

شاہ مکھی
Shahmukhi nastaliq.png
"Shahmukhi" written in the Nastaliq or Shahmukhi script
Script type
Directionright-to-left script Edit this on Wikidata
Related scripts
Parent systems
U+0600 to U+06FF

U+0750 to U+077F
U+08A0 to U+08FF
U+FB50 to U+FDFF

U+FE70 to U+FEFF
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

Shahmukhi (شاہ مکھی, Gurmukhi: ਸ਼ਾਹਮੁਖੀ, lit. 'from the mouth of the Shah') is a modified Perso-Arabic alphabet used by Punjabi Muslims (primarily in Punjab, Pakistan) to write the Punjabi language.[1][2][3][4] It is generally written in the Nastaʿlīq calligraphic hand,[3][4] which is also used for Urdu.[5] Perso-Arabic is one of two scripts used for Punjabi, the other being Gurmukhi, used by Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab, India.[3][6][4]

Shahmukhi is written from right to left, while Gurmukhi is written from left to right.[7][8][4] It is also used as the main alphabet to write Pahari–Pothwari in Azad Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir.

The Shahmukhi alphabet was first used by the Sufi poets of Punjab.[citation needed] It became the conventional writing style for the Muslim populace of the Pakistani province of Punjab following the Partition of India, while the largely Hindu and Sikh modern-day state of Punjab, India adopted the Gurmukhi or the Devanagari scripts to record the Punjabi language.[6]


Vowel diacritics

Though not normally written and only implied,[4] like Urdu, Shahmukhi also has diacritics, taken from the Arabic language,[9] to express short vowels.[10]

Diacritics used in Shahmukhi
Symbol Name Usage IPA Notes
ٰ Khari Zabar a [ə] Used in certain loanwords such as ‘عیسیٰ’ (‘Jesus’)
َ Zabar a [ə]
ً Zabar Tanwīn -an [ən] Used for certain loanwords such as ‘فوراً’ (‘Immediately’)
ٓ Maddah ā [ɑː] Used only for Alif Maddah (ا + ٓ = آ), usually written
ِ Zer i [ɪ] Written underneath a letter
ٍ Zer Tanwīn in [ɪn] Used for certain loanwords, written underneath a letter
ُ Pesh u [u]
ٔ Hamza varied - Used on vowels to indicate a diphthong between two vowels, examples such as: ‘ئ’, ‘ۓ’, ‘ؤ‘, and أ usually written
ّ Tashdīd Geminite [.] Doubles a consonant, goes above the letter being doubled - کّ = kk


No. Name[11] IPA Final glyph Medial glyph Initial glyph Isolated glyph Gurmukhi
1 الف alif /ɑː,äː, ʔ, ∅/ ـا ـا ا ا , (medial)
2 بے /b/ ـب ـبـ بـ ب
3 پے /p/ ـپ ـپـ پـ پ
4 تے /t/ ـت ـتـ تـ ت
5 ٹے ṭē /ʈ/ ـٹ ـٹـ ٹـ ٹ
6 ثے s̱ē /s/ ـث ـثـ ثـ ث
7 جيم jīma /d͡ʒ/ ـج ـجـ جـ ج
8 چے /t͡ʃ/ ـچ ـچـ چـ چ
9 وڈّی حے waḍḍi ḥē /ɦ/ ـح ـحـ حـ ح
10 خے k͟hē /x/ ـخ ـخـ خـ خ ਖ਼
11 دال dāla /d/ ـد ـد د د
12 ڈال ḍāla /ɖ/ ـڈ ـڈ ڈ ڈ
13 ذال ẕāla /z/ ـذ ـذ ذ ذ ਜ਼
14 رے /r/ ـر ـر ر ر
15 ڑے ṛē /ɽ/ ـڑ ـڑ ڑ ڑ
16 زے /z/ ـز ـز ز ز ਜ਼
17 ژے zhē /ʒ/ ـژ ـژ ژ ژ -
18 سین sīna /s/ ـس ـسـ سـ س
19 شین shīna /ʃ/ ـش ـشـ شـ ش ਸ਼
20 صاد ṣwāda /s/ ـص ـصـ صـ ص
21 ضاد ẓwāda /z/ ـض ـضـ ضـ ض ਜ਼
22 طوۓ t̤oʼē /t/ ـط ـطـ طـ ط
23 ظوۓ z̤oʼē /z/ ـظ ـظـ ظـ ظ ਜ਼
24 عین ʻaina /ə,ɑː,ɪ,iː,u,uː,oː,ɔː,eː,ɛː, ʔ, ∅/ ـع ـعـ عـ ع ਅ,ਆ,ਇ,ਈ,ਉ,ਊ,ਏ,ਐ,ਓ,ਔ
25 غین g͟haina /ɣ/ ـغ ـغـ غـ غ ਗ਼
26 فے /f/ ـف ـفـ فـ ف ਫ਼
27 قاف qāfa /q/ ـق ـقـ قـ ق ਕ਼
28 کاف kāfa /k/ ـک ـکـ کـ ک
29 گاف gāfa /ɡ/ ـگ ـگـ گـ گ
30 لام lāma /l/ ـل ـلـ لـ ل
31 لؕام ḷāma /ɭ/ ـلؕ ـلؕـ لؕـ لؕ ਲ਼
32 میم mīma /m/ ـم ـمـ مـ م
33 نون nūna /n, ɲ/ ـن ـنـ نـ ن
34 ݨون ṇūṇa /ɳ/ ـݨ ـݨـ ݨـ ݨ
35 نون غنّہ nūn ġunnah /◌̃, ŋ/ ـں ـن٘ـ ن٘ـ ں


36 واؤ wāʼoa /ʋ, uː, ʊ, oː, ɔː/ ـو ـو و و ,
37 نکی ہے
گول ہے
choṭī hē
gol hē
/ɦ, ɑː, e:/ ـہ ـہـ ہـ ہ
38 دو چشمی ہے do-cashmī hē /ʰ/ or /ʱ/ ـھ ـھـ ھ ھ varied / ੍ਹ
39 ہمزہ hamzah /ʔ/, /∅/ ء ء ء ء -
40 چھوٹی يے choṭī yē /j, iː/ ـی ـیـ یـ ی ,
41 وڈّی يے waḍḍi yē /ɛː, eː/ ـے ـے ے ے ,

No Punjabi words begin with ں‎, ھ‎, ڑ‎ or ے‎. The digraphs of aspirated consonants are as follows. In addition, ل and لؕ form ligatures with ا: لا (ـلا) and لؕا (ـلؕا).

No. Digraph[12] Transcription[12] IPA Example
1 بھ bh [bʰ] بھاری
2 پھ ph [pʰ] پھول
3 تھ th [tʰ] تھم
4 ٹھ ṭh [ʈʰ] ٹھیس
5 جھ jh [d͡ʒʰ] جھاڑی
6 چھ ch [t͡ʃʰ] چھوکرا
7 دھ dh [dʰ] دھوبی
8 ڈھ ḍh [ɖʰ] ڈھول
9 رھ rh [rʱ] No example?
10 ڑھ ṛh [ɽʱ] کڑھنا
11 کھ kh [kʰ] کھولنا
12 گھ gh [ɡʱ] گھبراہٹ
13 لھ lh [lʱ] No example?
14 مھ mh [mʱ] No example?
15 نھ nh [nʱ] ننھا
16 وھ wh [ʋʱ] No example?
17 یھ yh [jʱ] No example?
  • ے‎ (Bari ye) is only found in the final position, when writing the sounds e (ਏ) or æ (ਐ), and in initial and medial positions, it takes the form of یَ‎.
  • Vowels are expressed as follows:
Romanization Final Middle Initial
a (ਅ) ـہ ـَ اَ
ā (ਆ) یٰ ـَا آ
i (ਇ) N/A ـِ اِ
ī (ਈ) ـِى ـِيـ اِی
ē (ਏ) ـے‬ ـيـ اے
ai (ਐ) ـَے‬ ـَيـ اَے
u (ਉ) N/A ـُ اُ
ū (ਊ) ـُو اُو
o (ਓ) ـو او
au (ਔ) ـَو اَو

Difference from Persian and Urdu

Shahmukhi has more letters added to the Urdu base to represent sounds not present in Urdu, which already has additional letters added to the Arabic and Persian base itself to represent sounds not present in Arabic. Characters added which differ from Persian but not Urdu include: ٹ to represent /ʈ/, ڈ to represent /ɖ/, ڑ to represent /ɽ/, ں to represent /◌̃/, and ے to represent /ɛ:/ or /e:/. Furthermore, a separate do-cashmi-he letter, ھ, exists to denote a /ʰ/ or a /ʱ/, this letter is mainly used as part of the multitude of digraphs, detailed below. Characters added which differ from Urdu include: to represent /ɭ/ and ݨ to represent /ɳ/.


In Punjabi, there are many Arabic and Persian loanwords. These words contain some sounds which were alien to South Asian languages before the influence of Arabic and Persian, and are therefore represented by introducing dots beneath specific Gurumukhi characters. Since the Gurmukhi alphabet is phonetic, any loanwords which contained pre-existing sounds were more easily transliterated without the need for characters modified with subscript dots.

Shahmukhi Letter Gurmukhi Letter
ذ ਜ਼
ض ਜ਼
ظ ਜ਼
غ ਗ਼
ژ ਜ਼
خ ਖ਼
ز ਜ਼
ف ਫ਼
ق ਕ਼
ع variable

ژ‎ is pronounced 'j' in French or as vision in English

ع‎ is often transliterated in many ways due to its changing sound in various Arabic and Persian words.


See also


  1. ^ Evans, Lorna Priest; Malik, M.G. Abbas (1 May 2019). "Unicode Proposal for ArLaam" (PDF). Unicode. Punjabi Parchar. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 April 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  2. ^ Singh Saini, Tejineder; Singh Lehal, Gurpreet; S Kalra, Virinder (August 2008). "Shahmukhi to Gurmukhi Transliteration System". Aclweb.org. Coling 2008 Organizing Committee. p. 177. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 August 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Sharma, Saurabh; Gupta, Vishal (May 2013). "Punjabi Documents Clustering System" (PDF). Journal of Emerging Technologies in Web Intelligence. 5 (2): 174. doi:10.4304/JETWI.5.2.171-187. S2CID 55699784. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e Dhanju, Kawarbir Singh; Lehal, Gurpreet Singh; Saini, Tejinder Singh; Kaur, Arshdeep (October 2015). "Design and Implementation of Shahmukhi Spell Checker" (PDF). Learnpunjabi.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  5. ^ Malik, Muhammad Ghulam Abbas; Boitet, Christian; Bhattcharyya, Pushpak (27 June 2012) [2010]. "ANALYSIS OF NOORI NASTA'LEEQ FOR MAJOR PAKISTANI LANGUAGES". King AbdulAziz University. Penang, Malaysia. p. 4. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 August 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b Dorren, Gaston (2018). Babel: Around the World in Twenty Languages. Profile Books. ISBN 978-1782832508.
  7. ^ Sharma, Saurabh; Gupta, Vishal (May 2013). "Punjabi Documents Clustering System" (PDF). Journal of Emerging Technologies in Web Intelligence. 5 (2): 174. doi:10.4304/JETWI.5.2.171-187. S2CID 55699784. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  8. ^ Handbook of Literacy in Akshara Orthography. Springer. 2019. p. 142. ISBN 978-3030059774.
  9. ^ Bhardwaj, Mangat (2016). Panjabi: A Comprehensive Grammar. Routledge. p. 378. ISBN 978-1317643265. It is an ancient Arabic writing tradition (carried on in Persian, Urdu and Shahmukhi) to omit the diacritics (except the Hamza) in ordinary writing and to depend on the context to interpret a word.
  10. ^ "Punjabi - Shahmukhi Script". sanlp.org. Archived from the original on 19 September 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  11. ^ Delacy 2003, p. XV–XVI.
  12. ^ a b "Urdu romanization" (PDF). The Library of Congress.

External links

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