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Punjabi language

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 15-Feb-2007, 02:41 AM
badmash's Avatar badmash badmash is offline
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Punjabi language

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I was wondering, how many Sikhs born or raised abroad feel they speak and understand spoken punjabi? How many feel there is need for a western based approach taught by professionals who have learnt punjabi for the first (or even second) time to teach others? It is obvious to any of us who attend gurudwaras in the US that very few younger people or children have any idea of what is being said during Bani, and having said that, how many really even understand Punjabi itself? This is a topic I think is more important than even sikhi itself if you will. If we or our next generation cannot understand and speak punjabi, they are left with a very bland version of sikhism which is chopped away from its roots. As the famous quote goes, if you want to kill a people, do away first with their language.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network




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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 15-Feb-2007, 12:09 PM
Akashdeep Singh's Avatar Akashdeep Singh Akashdeep Singh is offline
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Re: Punjabi language

It's very important to be in touch with ones culture, history and roots no matter how far a person is from the origins in distance. It's also a matter of personal choice whether one takes interest in it or not, but I believe if one likes to be called a Punjabi she/he has to take interest in the culture otherwise one is not Punjabi at all.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network

A Punjabi is someone whose mother tongue is Punjabi, who speaks it with a sense of pride and teaches it to her or his children. Moreover, this person should be proud of the Punjabi culture, its heritage and seeks to actively promote the interests of Punjab and Punjabis in general.[1]

Punjabi becomes even more important due to the reason that it is very close to Gurmukhi in which Guru Granth Sahib is written. Away we go from Punjabi, away we go from the bani of our Gurus. People will say that there are translations available; I will like to mention here that no matter how hard one tries to keep the original meaning of the text intact while translating to another language, it is not possible to take the whole 100% of the emotions and meanings from one language to the other. And when it comes down to the hymns in Gurbani, one cannot afford to go off the track even slightly.

Regarding what the western Sikhs should do:
  • I think people can start to volunteer time in their Gurudwara's to teach Punjabi. A friend of mine who has a tough and time demanding job in a multinational company already travels about 45 miles per weekend to teach Punjabi to kids in Gurudwara.
  • Additionally, small donations from Westen Sikhs for Punjabi essay, poem, debate competitions etc. in schools in India can also do good for Punjabi language. A small amount like $ 10.00 US will be ~Rs. 430.00 for Indian kids which is an attractive amount of money.
  • A US $ 10.00 per month scholarship for a best Punjabi writer in a school in India will ~ Rs 430.00/ month for the kid. Believe me, this is huge money to literally encourage every kid in the school to love Punjabi.
These are very small, do-able and simple steps which (I believe) can do wonders for Punjabi language. If we cannot do even this small endeavor I think we should stop thinking for the development of Punjabi language and also be prepared to see future generations which will understand/follow very less of the Gurmat.

Chardi Kala,
-Akashdeep Singh

[1] Dr. Baldev Singh, "Who is a Punjabi?"
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Old 15-Feb-2007, 18:37 PM
MKAUR1981's Avatar MKAUR1981 MKAUR1981 is offline
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Re: Punjabi language


Adding onto your point Akashdeep Ji, parents should make a conscious effort to speak Punjabi with children at home.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network

(I can speak, read and write Punjabi because of this, however I find certain phrases in the Guru Granth Sahib difficult to understand.)
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Old 15-Feb-2007, 18:53 PM
dalsingh's Avatar dalsingh dalsingh is offline
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Re: Punjabi language

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This is a very important topic.

It is a shame that many parents do not put a serious importance in encouraging their children to learn to read and write Panjabi. Often these same people will really push their kids to do well in academic studies but seem to neglect the clutural education that I feel is so important for personal identity and development. In this light it is no wonder that some of these people grow up and convert to other religions or remain indifferent to their own heritage.

I personally see no wrong with bilingual services in Gurdwaras also. I think this will be essential for our survival outside of India. Maybe we should also acknowledge that modern Panjabi as we know it today is somewhat different to that contained in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Maybe we need some form of curriculum that all Gurdwaras should adhere to that build up to scriptual understanding.

Today, of all things, bhangra seems to be keeping the language alive with many youth. But from my observations (being 2nd generation), I see a big gap between the language abilities of the 2nd and 3rd generation. This makes bilingual services in Gurdwaras even more important.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network

But all of this being said, much work is being done to develop the Panjabi language, especially at teh university in Patiala. Today we have dictionaries from Panjabi to English as well as English to Panjabi. Also software is available that can help learn. All in all however what is needed the most is a strong desire to impart the knowledge to the younger generation. Speaking to a relative who just spend some time in Canada, I was informed that the language abilities there amongst the youth were much stronger than their equivalents in the UK, maybe we can learn from them?
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