Punjabi Language – An Introduction
Punjabi language is one of the oldest known languages of India. It belongs to the Indo-Iranian part of Indo-European family of languages, which basically originated from “Pak-Prakrit ” rather than Sanskrit. There are about 15 known names of Punjabi language. It was earlier called Sapta-Sindhu but since the Mughal rule in Punjab, it has been known as ‘Punjabi’. Its script originated from the ‘Brahmi script’. At present, there are two scripts in Punjabi – Gurmukhi script and Shahmukhi script. Gurmukhi script is used in Indian Punjab and Shahmukhi script in Pakistani Punjab. According to Principal Sant Sekhon, the first work in Punjabi language was Adneman’s (Abdur-Rahman) ‘SnehRasak’, which was written in the 9th century. Punjabi is one of the 10 most spoken languages in the world.
Punjabi language in the 21st century
In today’s technological world, digitization is the name of the game. That is why it is so important for each language to be on a digital platform. This not only widens the scope of its users but also makes the language grow with the latest trends and updates. Punjabi is one of the leading languages in this regard. The 21st century is a century of minimization in which everything is viewed only in terms of usage. At present Punjabi language is in a strong position in all respects. It is making progress in various fields.
Tools in Punjabi language
The Punjabi language is making great strides on digital platforms. Therefore, various tools have been developed in the Punjabi language focusing on education and other research activities. These tools are used for various purposes, which includes regular office work, education and research work. They have been developed by various institutions.
1. Website for online Punjabi Teaching
2. Dictionaries and Linguistic Resources
3. Typing and Proofing Tools (Sodhak)
4. Hindi to Punjabi and Punjabi to Hindi Machine Translation Tools
Apart from this, there are online encyclopedias like ‘Vikas Pedia’ developed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India as well as open content encyclopedias like ‘Punjabi Pedia’ and ‘Wikipedia’.
Social Media and Punjabi Language
Along with the economic reforms of 1990, reforms in other sectors have been and continue to be rapid. These reforms have taken place in a very fast and revolutionary way in the communication resources. Social media came into being at the beginning of the 21st century. Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter are some of the major social networks. About 70% of the total population of Punjab uses the internet, and almost all of them are on these social media platforms and prefer to use them in the Punjabi Language.
Punjabi language and NLP
Here we are talking about ‘NLP’, which is called Natural Language Processing. It is a part of Artificial Intelligence and its main objective is to teach human language to computers. Government agencies and private agencies are working hard on the Punjabi language in this field. Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa are examples of ‘NLP’. A variety of tools have been developed in the Punjabi language which is useful for machine translation and NLP.
1. Grammar Checker
2. Morphological Analysis
3. POS Tagger
4. Phrase Chunker
5. Morph Entry
6. Lex Entry
8. Natural Language Toolkit for Indic Languages (iNLTK)
Above mentioned tools are used for language processing in different parts of NLP.
Localization and the Punjabi language
‘Localization’ is turning out to be a game changer in the 21st century. This means translating one language into another in such a way that even a 6 years old child can understand. While ‘localization’ is helpful for language users, it has also become a necessity for various industries working in the digital field. Because today every field has entered the digital world. Now you can buy/sell almost everything from home and pay for it. Various shopping and payment related apps have been developed. So various companies are working on the ‘localization’ of these apps in order to establish a personal connection with the users. One of the big names in this field is Google. Many of its products are being localized. Because of ‘localization’, now ordinary merchants can sell their goods and services by advertising them in the local language and buyers can buy the product in their local language. Other payment related apps that are used for payment are online payment platforms like Paytm, BHIM which are available in Punjabi language. With Android phones having the option to choose their own language, it has become very easy to operate a smartphone for people who know only the local Language ‘Punjabi’. Therefore, we can say that very commendable work is being done in the Punjabi language on ‘localization’.
Punjabi language and the world
The Punjabi language is not limited to the Indian Punjab or the Pakistani Punjab. It has gained a unique identity all over the world. There are about 140 million Punjabi-speaking people around the world. Punjabi has become the second language in Canada. Similarly, In England, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Arab countries there are many Punjabi speakers. Today we can see that Punjabi language representatives are being elected in the parliaments of different countries, due to which the Punjabi language is progressing day by day. Punjabi language has the necessary materials for all kinds of studies for example Science, Technology, Medical, and a lot of work is being done in this direction.
Above mentioned points clearly indicate that Punjabi language is evolving in modern technology and its use is also moving in new directions. The number of Punjabi speakers and users are constantly increasing. There are various tools available in the Punjabi language which confirm the modernization of the language. NLP is the most widely used technical linguistics project today and a lot of work is being done in ‘Punjabi language’ in regards to NLP. The large presence of the ‘Punjabi language’ on social media is a testament to its adaptation to modern communication resources. We can say without any doubt that in the technological world of the 21st century, the Punjabi language is modern, and in the next few years, it will emerge in another important form.
April 8, 2021 — magnon