Punjabi/Gurmukhi/Vowels

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Punjabi Vowels[edit]

Now that you have already learnt the first five letters of the Gurmukhi script, it is time to turn attention to the vowels. Matras represent vowels in Gurmukhi. The letters ੳ, ਅ and ੲ are not consonants but are merely the matra carriers. When a consonant is not available to attach matra one of these matra carriers is used. Armed with this knowledge you can now proceed to learn the ten Gurmukhi matras.

ਅ ਆ ਇ ਈ ਉ ਊ ਏ ਐ ਓ ਔ

Here we have used letters ੳ, ਅ or ੲ only to demonstrate how matras combine with other letters. In reality they can combine with any other letter as well. However when they combine with matra carriers they individually combine with only the matra carriers as they have above. We now explain each of the above matras.

Mukta 
Mukta literally means free and therefore, has no symbol. It is equivalent to a in above or e in (British) dancer. Hence forth in this module mukta vowel will be denoted by /a/.
ਅ + ਸ = ਅਸ /as/ = us
Kanna 
Kanna is equivalent to a in alter or father. Hence forth in this module we will denote kanna vowel with /aa/.
ਸਾ /saa/ = saw
ਹਾ + ਉ = ਹਾਉ /haau/ = how
ਹਾ + ਉ + ਸ = ਹਾਉਸ /haaus/ = house
ਆ + ਇ = ਆਇ = eye
Vowels in Punjabi come in pairs, a short vowel and a long one. Here mukta and kanna form one such pair where mukta is the short vowel and kanna the long one. ਇ and ਈ; ਉ and ਊ; ਏ and ਐ; ਓ and ਔ are other pairs.
Sihari 
Sihari is equivalent to i in pin or thin. Hence forth in this module we will denote sihari vowel with /i/.
ਹਿ + ਸ = ਹਿਸ = hiss
ਆ + ਇ + ਸ = ਆਇਸ /aais/ = ice
ਆ + ਇ = ਆਇ = eye
ਉ + ਏ + ਸਿ + ਸ = ਉਏਸਿਸ = oasis
A distinct characteristic of sihari is that unlike other matras it precedes the letter it is spoken after.
Bihari 
Bihari is equivalent to ea in teacher or ee in seek. We will denote bihari vowel with /ii/ in this module. See the following examples of use of bihari.
ਸੀ = see
ਹੀ = he
Aunkarh 
Aunkarh is equivalent to u put or oo in book. We will denote aunkarh vowel with /u/ in this module. See the following examples of use of aunkarh.
ਹਾ + ਉ + ਸ = ਹਾਉਸ /haaus/ = house
ਸਿ + ਉ = ਸਿਉ = sew
Dulenkarh 
Dulenkarh is equivalent to oo in boot. We will denote dulenkarh vowel with /oo/ in this module. See the following example of use of dulenkarh.
ਹੂ /hoo/ = who
Lanv 
Lanv is equivalent to a as in hate or rate. We will denote lanv vowel with /e/ in this module.See the following examples of use of lanv.
ਏ + ਸ = ਏਸ = ace
ਹੇ = hey
Dulawan 
Dulawan is equivalent to a in matter or hat. We will denote dulawan vowel with /ae/ in this module. See the following examples of use of dulanvan.
ਅ + ਸੈ + ਸ = ਅਸੈਸ = assess
ਐ + ਸੇ = ਐਸੇ = essay
Horha 
Horha is equivalent to o sound as in English home. Horha vowel will be denoted with /o/ in this module. See the following examples of use of horha.
ਸੋ = sow
ਹੋ = hoe
NB : When horha is used with ੳ there is no space left above ੳ for placing horha and therefore whenever horha has to be used with ੳ the upper semi-circle is left open to denote horha matra. In all other cases horha is written as in ਹੋ.
Kanaorha 
Kanaorha is equivalent to o as in odd or hot. Kanaorha will be denoted with /ao/ in this wikibook. See the following examples of use of kanaorha in Punjabi words.
ਸੌ + ਸ = ਸੌਸ = sauce

Exercises[edit]

1. Read these English words written in Gurmukhi.

  1. ਸੋ
  2. ਏਸ
  3. ਆਇ
  4. ਸੌਸ
  5. ਉਏਸਿਸ
Solutions
  1. So/Sow
  2. Ace
  3. Eye
  4. Sauce
  5. Oasis

2. Write the above listed words in Gurmukhi and English alongside each.

3. Write these English words in Gurmukhi.

  1. He
  2. Sew
  3. Assess
  4. Cess
  5. Essay
Solutions
  1. ਹੀ
  2. ਸਿ + ਉ = ਸਿਉ
  3. ਅ + ਸੈ + ਸ = ਅਸੈਸ
  4. ਸੈ + ਸ = ਸੈਸ
  5. ਐ + ਸੇ = ਐਸੇ

Summary[edit]

We have devoted this lesson to learning of the ten matras which represent the vowels. However we have still not touched the diacritics which form integral part of Gurmukhi script. We will learn the diacritics in the next lesson.

First-row · Diacritics