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left-cor1.jpg (1241 bytes) Lesson prepared by: Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon
Please contact us at: punjabi@5abi.com

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Lesson 4: The Basic Greetings
Punjabi does not have a European system of greeting. That is, no one says ' Good morning, 'afternoon' or evening'. Indian culture is seeped in religion and the formal greetings reflect one's faith. In the Sikh community it is Sat Sri Akaal. In the Muslim one, it is Aslam alaikam and in the Hindu, Namaste. The informal greetings is Kiddha ( the respectable one being Pranaam), which roughly translates as hello, or what's up? The response to the above varies within Sikhs, from saying Sat Sri Akaal or Kiddha, to Valaikam Asslaam within the  Muslim community. To say goodbye the Sikhs say Rab Rakka and the Muslims Khudaa haafiz. It is polite for each culture to address each other with that community's chosen phrase. So below:

musq&w, A~slwm Alykm[ Hello Mustafa.
Mustapha asslaam alaikam.
gurdIp, siq sRI Akwl[ Hello Gurdeep.
Gurdeep sat(i) sree akaal.
Ainl nmsqy jI[ Hello Anil.
Anil namaaste jee.

Note that in the phrase Sat(i) Sri Akaal, Sat(i) is a religious spelling, and thus includes a silent 'i' or Sihaaree. This is a religious convention, and drastically alters meanings. Also the sound 'r' is supporting in sRI , as has been seen in the Vowel section. The rule with accents on the letter's foot is; they are pronounced before the one's to either side or on the letter's head. So lets expand our Greetings.

^uSvIr isMG: siq sRI Akwl [ Hello
Khushveer Singh: Sat Sri Akaal.

jIvn isMG: siq sRI Akwl [ Hello
Jeevan Singh: Sat Sri Akaal.

^uSvIr isMG: quhwfw hwl TIk hY? How is your health? ( How are you?)
Khushveer Singh: Tuhaada haal theek ha?

jIvn isMG: hW jI, myrw hwl TIk ey[ Yes sir, I am fine.
jeevan Singh: Han ji, meraa haal theek e.

^uSvIr isMG: ieh myrw doSq hY[ This is my friend.
Khushveer Singh: ih meraa doshat hai.

jIvn isMG: A~Cw! quhwfw kI nwm hY? Okay! What is your name?
Jeevan Singh: Achaa! Tuhaada naam ke ha?

fyivf: jI myrw nwm fyivf hY [ Sir, my name is David.
David: Ji, meeraa naam david ha.

^uSvIr isMG: SwbwS! qusIN bhuq suhxI pMjwbI boldy ho!  Well Done! You speak really good Punjabi!
Khushveer Singh: Shaabaash! Tuseen bahut suhnhee punjabee bolte han!

fyivf: SukrIAw, mY AMgryz hW Aqy mY pMjwbI bolI is`KI hY[ Thank you, I am English and I have learnt to speak the Punjabi language.
David: Shukreeaa, main Angrerz han, ate mai punjabee bolee sikhi hai.

jIvn isMG: kI quhwfw pirvwr TIk hY? Is your family fine?
Jeevan Singh: kee tuhaadaa parvaar theek ha?

^uSvIr isMG: jI swfw pirvwr TIk hY[ Yes, my family is well.
Khushveer Singh: Ji, saadaa parveer theek ha.

jIvn isMG: A`Cw! AsIN dono iPr jWdy hW[ Okay! Us two are both going then.
Jeevan Singh: Achchaa. Aaseen dono phir  jande han.

^uSvIr isMG: cMgw jI, siq sRI Akwl[ goodbye.
Khushveer Singh: Sat sri akaal.

jIvn isMG: siq sRI Akwl[ goodbye.
Jeevan Singh: Sat sri akaal.

fyivf: siq sRI Akwl[ goodbye.
David: Sat sri akaal.


As can be seen,  this conversation is very formal. There is an informal way to speak as well. Below we shall briefly look at tense, word order and expand our greetings. This area will be returned to in detail in later sections. Note also from the above how each letter is written and how each accent makes it carry a sound as a consequence. The next stage is to understand how Punjabi adjectives and verbs work. These too will be dealt with in detail later. Punjabi greetings can be informal and formal depending upon whom you speak to. Like Spanish there is a yours respectable, and a familiar. So,
nInw: quhwfw pirvwr TIk hY? Is your family well?
Nina: Tuhada parvaar theek ha?

pRwB: jI, swfw pirvwr TIk hY[ Yes, our family is fine.
Prab: Jee, saadaa parvaar theek ha.

Compare this with:

nInw: qyrw pirvwr TIk hY? Is your family well?
Nina: tera parvaar theek ha?

pRwB: jI, myrw pirvwr TIk hY[ Yes, our family is fine.
Prab: Jee, mere parvaar theek ha.

It is the tuhada and tera that makes the sentence less formal. Formality is usually for respecting elders and strangers.

Punjabi sentence word order.
Unlike English, the Punjabi sentence is very loose in structure and extremely flexible. For example, David could say " How are you?" equally semantically correct as " You are how?".
tYSw: ie`Qo bu`k cu`k[ Pick the book from here.
Tasha: iththo book chukk

Or

tYSw: bu`k ie`Qo cu`k[ Pick the book from here.
Tasha: book iththo chukk

In the second example, the English transliteration would be " the book pick from here". Note the word in italic blue. This is because this is a Diaspora Punjabi word, adopted in the Western World Punjabi. All such words will be in italics from now. More on sentences later.

Diaspora Punjabi and Traditional Punjabi.
Essentially many traditional words in Punjabi have been forgotten or fallen out of use in the West. In their place, words from English, Spanish and other languages have been adopted. Mainly from the English language, because most immigrants were the less well educated in India, and did not know the Indian equivalent of the many Western words they have adopted. In terms of classifying animals and things not familiar in India, English words have thus prevailed in Punjabi spellings and spoken language. More obscure words, such as names of Animals that do not exist in the Punjab, are now being classified with European words or English ones. An example of this American English to British English like phenomenon, is Mez (table ) being now called table in Punjabi households here. So myz is now tybl.

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