Thursday, September 29, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism
The Vowels
Punjabi has twice as many vowels as English, namely ten, which are all pronounced exactly as they are written. There are two types of vowels. Independent ones and dependent ones. The latter require a consonant for support. In dependent vowels can begin words and syllables. They are also used when a consonant cannot support two vowels or a diphthong. The latter that is the use of two vowels within a syllable is very common in Punjabi. In the case of independent vowels three principle letters are used which require accents for support. These are:

a (O),     A  (A),      e   (E)

Dependent vowels are a little more complex, so the table below compares both types to provide the reader with a feel for their use.

Dependent Vowels

Accent Example Vowel English
 - a

s sa

mukqw Muktaa
 w aa

vw vaa

kMnw Kannaa
 i i

iz zi 

ishwrI Sihaaree
 I ee

eI ee

ibhwrI  Bihaaree
  u u

au oh

AONkV Aunkarh
 aUuU oo

aU oo

dulYNkV  Dulainkar
 y  e

ly le

lWv Laanv

sY sai

dulWv Dulaanvaan
  o o

ro ro

hoVw Horhaa
  O au

gO gau

knOVw  Kanaurhaa

Independent Vowels

Accent Example Transliteration English
A a AsIN    assi     us
Aw aa  AwlU alloo potatoe
ie i ie~k eik one
eI ee eIst eesat East
au oh auh  ohho They
aU oo aUT ooth Camel
ey e     ey eis is
AY ai AYqvwr aitavaar Sunday
o O AwE ahaaoh come
aO au AOto auto auto
This brings us onto two subjects regarding accents. Primarily Punjabi is an intoned language like that of the Chinese, but with a low pitch, high pitch and levelled out one. Secondly,  the behaviour of the letter or symbol is dependant upon the carried accent (mainly vowels). The most alien one to the English speaker is the Mukhta or invisible a. Whereas in English the silent n is written but not heard, in Punjabi the soft a is heard but not written. So mar is spelt mr, that is mr.
In the next lesson we'll learn about the rules governing the use of these vowels.

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