Gurmukhi Alphabet - Introduction
Learning how to read and write Gurmukhi text . . .
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Unlike Roman characters, Gurmukhi is written below the line. The letters are structured so that they form neat, easily readable words. Gurmukhi is quite attractive to look at and has even been imitated in some ASCII display fonts but using Roman characters for people who cannot read Gurmukhi. Real Gurmukhi shapes have to be learned although there are some similarities between Gurmukhi and Roman script such as: 'B' and 'ਬ'; 'K' and 'ਕ'; 'W' and 'ਵ' - the latter having a sound that is cross between a 'W' and a 'V'. Once you start writing it, you will find it fairly easy.

The Gurmukhi alphabet has 35 letters in it and whilst this might seem like a lot, it is not as daunting as it at first sounds.

On the right, you can see the links you will use to the 35 letters and some additional letters (only two of which you will encounter with any regularity). You can see that they are arranged in rows of five letters instead of a single line like we have with the Roman alphabet that we use to make up English words. There is a good reason for this.

Thehover the mouse over the letter to find the name and sound. first three letters in the first row are vowels. If you hover your mouse above the letters (without clicking it), you should - depending upon your browser - get a tool-tip that looks like the screen-grab on the left (this is a quick and easy reference to which letter you want). The first three letters represent the basic, short vowel sounds 'u', 'a' and 'e'.

Taking just the main 35 letters and looking at the rows, the first and last rows contain some special letters (as already mentioned) and oddments that at first don't seem to fit anywhere else. The five rows in the middle are organised quite cleverly and understanding what is going on here will help you learn them easier (it is easier than learning the alphabet used to write English).

Vowel holders. See vowels page for more details
Odd letters - 's' & 'h' - making the row up to five.
General position of mouth
Use vocal chords - think of the difference between 'K' (ਕ) and 'G' (ਗ)
With nose opened as in 'N'
2 Back of tongue on roof of mouth - think 'K'
3 Middle of tongue on gum ridge and tip of tongue just touching base of upper front teeth - think 'J'
4 Tip of tongue on roof of mouth behind gum ridge - no equivalent in English
5 Tip of tongue on back of upper teeth - think 'T' as in 'tin'
6 Both lips together - think 'P'
Raised tone - These are like the previous letter with a paer hahha,
ie:     ਗ੍ਹ = ਘ;     ਜ੍ਹ = ਝ;     ਡ੍ਹ = ਢ;     ਦ੍ਹ = ਧ;   and,     ਬ੍ਹ = ਭ.
Aspirated - think of the difference between 'ck' in 'lock' (ਕ) and aspirated 'ch' in a Scottish 'loch' (ਖ)
Remaining letters - 'y', 'r', 'l', 'w' & 'rd' - finishing off the 35 letters.
Hold the mouse over the letter to see its name and sound only show middle five rows

The following pages . . .

You can access the letter pages by clicking on the letters in the menu at the top-right of the page.

Each Letter page.letter page is laid out in the same way so that you can learn consistently.

They each display the letter's: name; shape; spelling; and sound. There is also an animation showing you how to draw the letter and a section describing what you need to do in order to make the sound, in terms of: tongue, soft palette and lips positions; and, whether it is alternative ways of writing.aspirated and if you use your vocal chords.

Some letters have alternative ways of drawing them. When this is the case, an additional link opens on the right, next to the animated drawing.


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