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definition - Sindhi_language

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Sindhi language

سنڌي, सिन्धी, Sindhī
Dialects of Sindhi.PNG
Dialects of Sindhi
Spoken in Pakistan, India. Also Hong Kong, Oman, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, UAE, UK, USA, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka
Region South Asia
Native speakers 22 million  (1997–2001)[1]
Language family
Writing system Arabic, Devanagari, Khudabadi alphabet, Laṇḍā scripts, particularly Gurumukhi[2]
Official status
Official language in  Pakistan (Sindh)
Regulated by Sindhi Language Authority (Pakistan),
Indian Institute of Sindhology (India)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 sd
ISO 639-2 snd
ISO 639-3 Variously:
snd – Sindhi
kfr – Kachchi
lss – Lasi
sbn – Sindhi Bhil
Indic script
This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts. More...

Sindhi (Perso-Arabic: سنڌي, Devanagari: सिन्धी) is the language of the historical Sindh region, spoken by the Sindhi people. It is spoken by 53,410,910 people in Pakistan and some 5,820,485 people in India. It is the second most spoken language in all of Pakistan and is theoretically the official language of the province of Sindh, although Urdu and English are still the main languages for many administrative and business purposes.[3] In India, Sindhi is one of the scheduled languages officially recognized by the federal government. Abroad there are some 2.6 million Sindhis.

Sindhi is an Indo-Aryan language of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It has influences from a local version of spoken form of Sanskrit and from Balochi spoken in the adjacent province of Balochistan.

Most Sindhi speakers are concentrated in the Sindh province and in Kutch, India where Sindhi is a local language. The remaining speakers in India are composed of the Hindu Sindhis who migrated from Sindh and settled in India after partition and the Sindhi diaspora worldwide.


  Geographical distribution

  The earliest Arabic manuscripts written during the Abbasid Era.

Sindhi is spoken in Sindh and Balochistan in Pakistan. Sindhi is taught as a first language in the government schools of Sindh including some schools in Karachi It is also taught as a second language in many government schools of Karachi and Balochistan in Pakistan. It is also spoken by Sindhi tribes living in Kutch.

It it also spoken in India, especially in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra.It is also spoken in Ulhasnagar near Mumbai which is the largest Sindhi enclave in India.[4]

Sindhi has a vast vocabulary and a very old literary tradition. This trend has made it a favourite of many writers and consequently a vast volume of literature and poetry have been written in Sindhi. (See main articles Sindhi literature and Sindhi poetry).


  The first complete translation of the Qur'an was completed in 884 CE in Alwar (Sindh by the orders of Abdullah bin Umar bin Abdul Aziz on the request of the Hindu Raja Mehruk.[5]

The immediate predecessor of Sindhi was an Apabhramsha Prakrit named Vrachada. Arab and Persian travellers, specifically Abu-Rayhan Biruni in his book 'Tahqiq ma lil-Hind', had declared that even before the advent of Islam in Sindh (711 A.D.), the language was prevalent in the region. It was not only widely spoken but written in three different scripts -- Ardhanagari, Saindhu and Malwari. Biruni has described many Sindhi words leading to the conclusion that the Sindhi language was widely spoken and rich in vocabulary in his time. Over the course of centuries, Sindhi culture absorbed Arabic and Persian words which further enriched its heritage.

Sindhi became a popular literary language between the 14th and 18th centuries. This is when mystics or Sufis such as Shah Abdul Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (as well as numerous others) narrated their theosophical poetry depicting the relationship between humans and Allah.

In the year 1868, the Bombay Presidency assigned Narayan Jagannath Vaidya to replace the Abjad used in Sindhi, with the Khudabadi script. The script was decreed a standard script by the Bombay Presidency thus inciting anarchy in the Muslim majority region. A powerful unrest followed, after which Twelve Martial Laws were imposed by the British authorities.[6]

According to Islamic Sindhi tradition, the first translation of the Quran into Sindhi was completed in the year 883 CE / 270 AH in Mansura, Sindh. The first extensive Sindhi translation was done by Akhund Azaz Allah Muttalawi (1747-1824 CE / 1160-1240 AH).


Sindhi has a relatively large inventory of both consonants and vowels compared to other languages. Sindhi has 46 consonant phonemes and 16 vowels. The consonant to vowel ratio is around average for world's languages at 2.8.[7] All plosives, affricates, nasals, the retroflex flap and the lateral approximant /l/ have aspirated or breathy voiced counterparts. The language also features four implosives.


Consonants of Sindhi[citation needed]
Labial Dental/
Retroflex Palatoalveolar
/ Palatal
Velar Glottal
Nasal m
ɲ ŋ
Plosive and


Implosive ɓ ɗ    ʄ ~ jˀ ɠ
Fricative f   s z ʂ x ɣ h  
Rhotic r ɽ
Approximant ʋ

The retroflex consonants are apical postalveolar, as they are throughout northern India, and so could be transcribed /t̠, t̠ʰ, d̠, d̠ʱ n̠ n̠ʱ s̠ ɾ̠ ɾ̠ʱ/. The dental implosive is sometimes realized as retroflex [ɗ̠]~[ᶑ] The affricates /t̠ɕ, t̠ɕʰ, d̠ʑ, d̠ʑʱ/ are laminal post-alveolars with a relatively short release. It is not clear if /ɲ/ is similar, or truly palatal.[8] /ʋ/ is realized as labiovelar [w] or labiodental [ʋ] in free variation. /n/ occurs, but is not common, except before a stop (/nd/ etc).


The vowel phonemes of Sindhi

The vowels are modal length /i e æ ɑ ɔ o u/ and short /ɪ̆ ʊ̆ ɐ̆/. (Note /æ ɑ ɐ̆/ are imprecisely transcribed as /ɛ a ə/ in the chart.) Consonants following short vowels are lengthened: [pɐ̆tˑo] 'leaf' vs. [pɑto] 'worn'.


  Dialects of Sindhi

i. Sindhi Saraiki, a form of Saraiki language regarded as a dialect of Sindhi; spoken mainly in Upper Sindh. Shown in orange.

ii. Vicholi, in Vicholo, Central Sindh. Shown in yellow. Vicholi is the basis for standardised Sindhi.

iii. Lari, in Laru (Lower Sindh). Shown in grey.

iv. Lasi, in Lasbelo, a part of Kohistan in Baluchistan and the western part of Sindh. Shown in green.

v. Thari or Thareli, also known as Dhatki in Tharu , the desert region on the southeast border of Sindh and a part of the Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan. Shown in purple.

vi. Kachhi or Kutchi, in the Kutch region and in a part of Kathiawar in Gujarat, in southern Sindh. Shown in blue.


Before the standardisation of Sindhi orthography, numerous forms of the Devanagari and Lunda (Laṇḍā) scripts were used for trading, universally by all Sindhis. For literary and religious purposes, a modified form of Persian alphabet known as Ab-ul-Hassan Sindhi and Gurmukhi (a subset of Laṇḍā) were used. Another two scripts, the Khudabadi alphabet and Shikarpuri were attempts to reform the Landa script.[10] During British rule in the late 19th century, an Arabic-based orthography was decreed standard, after much controversy, as the Devanagari script had also been considered. However, this script has since become accepted.[11]

  Arabic script

During British rule in India, a variant of the Persian alphabet was adopted for Sindhi in the 19th century. The script is used in Pakistan today. It has a total of 52 letters, augmenting the Persian with digraphs and eighteen new letters (ڄ ٺ ٽ ٿ ڀ ٻ ڙ ڍ ڊ ڏ ڌ ڇ ڃ ڦ ڻ ڱ ڳ ڪ) for sounds particular to Sindhi and other Indo-Aryan languages. Some letters that are distinguished in Arabic or Persian are homophones in Sindhi.

جھ ڄ ج پ ث ٺ ٽ ٿ ت ڀ ٻ ب ا
ɟʱ ʄ ɟ p s t̪ʰ t ɓ b *
ڙ ر ذ ڍ ڊ ڏ ڌ د خ ح ڇ چ ڃ
ɽ r ð ɖʱ ɖ ɗ d x ħ c ɲ
ق ڦ ف غ ع ظ ط ض ص ش س ز ڙھ
k f ɣ ʐ ʈ z ʂ ʃ s z ɽʱ
ي ه و ڻ ن م ل ڱ گھ ڳ گ ک ڪ
* h * ɳ n m l ŋ ɡʱ ɠ ɡ k

  Devanagari script

In India, the Devanagari script is also used to write Sindhi. A modern version was introduced by the government of India in 1948; however, it did not gain full acceptance, so both the Sindhi-Arabic and Devanagari scripts are used. In India a person may write a Sindhi language paper for a Civil Services Examination in either script [1]. Diacritical bars below the letter are used to mark implosive consonants, and dots called nukta are used to form other additional consonants.

ə a ɪ i ʊ e ɛ o ɔ
ख़ ग॒ ग़
k x ɡ ɠ ɣ ɡʱ ŋ
ज॒ ज़
c ɟ ʄ z ɟʱ ɲ
ड॒ ड़ ढ़
ʈ ʈʰ ɖ ɗ ɽ ɖʱ ɽʱ ɳ
t d n
फ़ ब॒
p f b ɓ m
j r l ʋ
ʃ ʂ s h


In addition to a stock of native words inherited from Sanskrit, Sindhi has borrowed numerous words of Arabic and Persian origin. In addition, Sindhi has borrowed from English and Hindi-Urdu. Today, Sindhi in Pakistan is heavily influenced by Urdu, with more borrowed Perso-Arabic elements, while Sindhi in India is influenced by Hindi, with more borrowed tatsam Sanskrit elements.[12][13]

  Example extract

The following extract is from the Sindhi Wikipedia about the Sindhi language and is written in the 52-letter Sindhi-Arabic script, Devanagari and transliterated to Latin.

Sindhi-Arabic script: سنڌي ٻولي انڊو يورپي خاندان سان تعلق رکندڙ آريائي ٻولي آھي، جنھن تي ڪجھه دراوڙي اھڃاڻ پڻ موجود ‏آهن. هن وقت سنڌي ٻولي سنڌ جي مک ٻولي ۽ دفتري زبان.

Devanagari script: सुणी उली इदू ईओरपी ख़ानदान सान ताअलुक रकनद आरीआइई उली आ्ही, जन्हन ती झ्ह दरावी अ्हा प मौजूद ‏आ्हन. हन वकत सुणी उली सन जी मुक उली दफ़तरी ज़बान.

Transliteration (IAST): suṇī ulī idū ī'ōrapī ḵẖānadāna sāna tā'aluka rakanada ārī'ā'i'ī ulī āhī, janhana tī jhha darāvī ahā pa maujūda ‏āhana. hana vakata suṇī ulī sana jī muka ulī dafatarī zabāna.

  See also


  1. ^ Sindhi language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. ^ http://www.sindhilanguage.com/script.html
  3. ^ The Urdu-English Relationship and Its Impact on Pakistan's Social Development, "Sindhi became an official language of Sindh, but little has happened in real terms for giving its due official status".... (p.5)
  4. ^ The Sindhu World
  5. ^ http://www.monthlycrescent.com/understanding-the-quran/english-translations-of-the-quran/
  6. ^ http://www.omniglot.com/writing/sindhi.htm
  7. ^ Nihalani, Paroo. (1999). Handbook of the International Phonetic Association (Sindhi). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ The IPA Handbook uses the symbols c, cʰ, ɟ, ɟʱ, but makes it clear this is simply tradition and that these are neither palatal nor stops, but "laminal post-alveolars with a relatively short release". Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:83) confirm a transcription of [t̠ɕ, t̠ɕʰ, d̠ʑ, d̠ʑʱ] and further remarks that "/ʄ/ is often a slightly creaky voiced palatal approximant" (caption of table 3.19).
  9. ^ http://tdil.mit.gov.in/sindhidesignguideoct02.pdf
  10. ^ Khubchandani (2003:633)
  11. ^ Cole (2001:648)
  12. ^ Cole (2001:652–653)
  13. ^ Khubchandani (2003:624–625)


  External links



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