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An article by Om Parkash Kahol

Late Prof. Om Parkash Kahol was one of the very few Hindu scholars, who believed that the Hindus of Punjab who had, all of a sudden, started disowning their mother tongue, were committing an ‘unpardonable sin’ against the motherland. For him, the Punjabi language was the ‘most precious gem in the treasure called the Hindu heritage’. Himself a staunch Hindu, Kahol believed that Punjabi was more akin to Sanskrit than any other language of India. (Professor Kahol was Dr. S.S. Sodhi’s professor of physics in S.D. College, Ambala Cantt (1948-1950.)

The Philological survey of Punjabi written by late Prof. Kahol in the fifties, is reproduced here for the benefit of our readers. The vicus expressed by the late Prof. Kahol will falsify many misconceptions, deliberately created by the vested interests.


PUNJABI AND EUROPEAN LANGUAGES

The structural peculiarities of a language cannot be surveyed in a short note. Comparative philology is a science almost as exact as mathematics and its laws are very similar to those of statistics. In the limited space available to us, we can only touch the outer-most fringes of this vast subject, so as to arouse popular interest in it.

Punjabi is not a dialect

There has been a good deal of discussion, of late, whether Punjabi is a full-fledged language or a mere dialect. The question has been discussed more often by political propagandists than by scholars and the objectivity of the problem has been completely masked by the heaps of vile propaganda, indulged in by the supporters as well as opponents of Punjabi.

Philological importance of Punjabi

Punjabi is a language and not a dialect of any other language. It leads an independent life, like other well-known languages - Hindi, Bengali, English or German. The study of this language is important, not only because it is one of the most widely spoken languages of India, but also because Punjabi has preserved some of the rarest phonological and structural peculiarities of the ancient Aryan speech, from which have sprung up the majority of Indian and European languages of today. No student of Aryan philology can, therefore, afford to ignore Punjabi.

Teutonic and Romance Languages

The evolution of Punjabi from the original Aryan speech, of which Sanskrit is the best representative extant, has followed exactly the same rules of transformation, as governed the evolution of modern Teutonic and Roman languages from the parent speech. The main Teutonic languages are German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and English and owe their birth to a common source. The family of Romance languages includes French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian. They are more or less direct descendants of Latin. Both old Teutonic and Latin, along with Slavonic, Armenian and Sanskrit, are believed to have originated from a common parent speech, called by German scholars, the Ursprache.

Process of Evolution

The transformation of the parent language into its derivatives follows certain general physical trends, or speech habits, of the speakers, and as a rule, similar geographical or ethnological factors produce similar changes in the language. Our business today is to show that transformation of Sanskrit into Punjabi has followed the same lines, more or less, as the transformation of Latin into its modern off-shoots, principally Italian. The change from the classical to the modern language has taken place in accordance with certain rules, which have, of course, a number of exceptions. Let us now examine some of these rules.#

Some Philological Rules exemplified

Rule I

The conjunct ‘ct’ or ‘kt’ in the classical language changes into ‘it’ in the modern language.


Rule I. The conjunct ‘ct’ or ‘kt’ in the classical language changes into ‘it’ in the modern language.
(a) EUROPEAN LANGUAGES
Latin Italian Meaning
Victoria Vittoria Victoria
Octo Otto Eight
Noctis Nitte Night
October Ottobre October
Lactis Latte Milk
(b) INDIAN LANGUAGES
Sanskrit Punjabi Meaning
Bhukta Bhatta Allowance (Rice)
Saktu Sattu Barley flour
Rakta Ratta Blood (Red)
Tikta Titta (or Teet) Bitter (Sour)


Rule II

The conjunct ‘pt’ in the classical language changes into ‘tt’ in the modern language. This rule, as well as the one exemplified above, can be combined into one generalization, viz. simplification of the conjuncts and reduplication of the succeeding consonants.


Rule II. The conjunct ‘pt’ in the classical language changes into ‘tt’ in the modern language.
(a) EUROPEAN LANGUAGES
Latin Italian Meaning
Optimus Ottimo Best (Sanskrit: ttama)
Septem Setto Seven
Scriptum Scritto Written
September Settembre September
Sceptre Scettro Sceptre
(b) INDIAN LANGUAGES
Sanskrit Punjabi Meaning
Sapta Satt-a Seven
Supta Sutta Asleep
Tapta Tatta Hot
Dugdha Duddha Milk
Gupta (concealed), Lupta (vanished) and Tripta (satisfied) are important exceptions. These words have come from Sanskrit, without undergoing any modification.


Rule III

The conjunct ‘x’ or ‘ksh’ in the classical language into ‘cc’ (pronounced as ‘ch’ in ‘church’), ‘ss’ or ‘chh’ in the modern language.

Rule III. The conjunct ‘x’ or ‘ksh’ in the classical language into ‘cc’ (pronounced as ‘ch’ in ‘church’), ‘ss’ or ‘chh’ in the modern language
(a) EUROPEAN LANGUAGES
Latin Italian Meaning
Excellentia Eccellenza Excellence (-y)
Exception (em) Eccezione Exception
Proximo Prossimo Proximo (next)
Exactement (French) Esettaemte Exactly
(b) INDIAN LANGUAGES
Sanskrit Punjabi Meaning
Lakshmi (Laxmi) Lacchhmi Goddess of wealth
Kaksha Kacchhi-a Armpit
Pakshi (Paxi) Panchhi Bird
Riksha Ricchh-a Bear
Vritsha Bircchh-a Tree
Lakshana Lacchhan-a Symptoms


Punjabi is a language and not a dialect of any other language. It leads an independent life, life other well-known languages - Hindi, Bengali, English or German. The study of this language is important, not only because it is one of the most widely spoken languages of India, but also because Punjabi has preserved some of the rarest philological and structural peculiarities of the ancient Aryan speech, from which have sprung up the majority of Indian and European languages of today. No student of Aryan philology can, therefore, afford to ignore Punjabi.


Rule IV

The hard consonants in the classical language tend to soften in the modern language. This is a modification of the well-known Grimm’s law in Indo-European philology. For purposes of this law, hard consonants mean the first and second rows of the Nagri consonants and soft mean the third and fourth rows.


Rule IV. The hard consonants in the classical language tend to soften in the modern language.
(a) EUROPEAN LANGUAGES
Latin Italian Meaning
Catta Gatto (Spanish: Gato) Cat
Aqua Agua (Spanish) Water
Aequalis Eguale Equal
Sabatum Sabado (Spanish) Sabbath
Aprilis Abril (Spanish) April
(b) INDIAN LANGUAGES
Sanskrit Punjabi Meaning
Loka Log-a People
Shoka Sog-a Grief
Pancha Panja Five
Kanta Kanda Thorn
Danta Dand-a Tooth
Api Bi (or vi) Also


Rule V

The sound of ‘p’ in classical language tends to change into that of ‘v’ in modern language. The best example of it in European languages is the change of Latin ‘Aprilis’ into French ‘Avril’ (English ‘April’). Among Indian languages, the examples of this transformation are numerous. Examples.

Rule V. The hard consonants in the classical language tend to soften in the modern language.
(b) INDIAN LANGUAGES
Sanskrit Punjabi Meaning
Dipa Diva Lamp
Dipawali Divavali A festival (-Diwali)
Kotapala Kotval A police officer
Gopala Govala Cowherd
Kacchhapa Kachhuva Tortoise
Mandapa Manduva Stage
Api Vi Also


Rule VI

The sound of ‘sh’ in the classical language is very often changed into ‘kh’ in the modern language. The rule immediately reminds one of the two ways of pronouncing ‘ch’ in different parts of Germany, the first pronunciation approximating to that of ‘sh’ and the second, to that of ‘kh’. The following examples from German will make the point clearer.

Rule VI. The sound of ‘sh’ in the classical language is very often changed into ‘kh’ in the modern language.
(a) EUROPEAN LANGUAGES
German Pronunciation Meaning
Ich ish or ikh Nichi
Misht or Nikht Not Mich, Mish or Mikh Me
Richt Risht or Rikht Right
The following examples of interchangeability of ‘sh’ and ‘kh’ sounds in the Iranian group are striking.
First Form Second Meaning
Pushta Pukhta Strong
Pushto Pukhto A language
Pashtoon Pakhtoon A pathan
The examples of change of ‘sh’ into ‘kh’ in the study of Punjabi are almost numberless.
Sanskrit Punjabi Meaning
Lak-sha Lak-kh-a Lac
Pak-sha Pak-kh-a Side (or Fan)
Tik-sha (na) Tik-kha Sharp
Mrak-shana Mal-khan-a Butter
Ak-shi Ak-khi Eye
Drak-sha Dakh-a Grapes
Parik-sha Parikhya Examination
Bhik-sha Bhik-kh-a Alms


Some isolated Words of Interest

The following words furnish an extremely interesting study as they bring out certain rare features of similarity between Indian and European languages.

Some isolated Words of Interest
Meaning Sanskrit Punjabi Latin Italian
Today Adya. Ajj-a Hodie Oggi
Youth Yovan Javan Juvenis Giovane
Widow Vidhava Vidhava Viduus Vedova
Eye Akshi Akkhi Oculus Occhio


An Important rule reversed

A very important rule of transformation from Sanskrit to Punjabi is the complete suppression of ‘r’ in a conjunct and reduplication of the second component of the conjunct.

An Important rule reversed.
(b) INDIAN LANGUAGES
Sanskrit Punjabi Meaning
Karna Kann-a Ear
Nakra Nakka-a Nose
Chakra Chakka Wheel
Parna Panna Leaf
Karma Kamm-a Work (action)
Charma Chamm-a Leather
Karpura Kapur-a Camphor

But in the following cases, ‘r’ has been imported into Punjabi, when it was absent in the original Sanskrit; in these cases, it simply fills the gap before an accented syllable.

Rule not reversed here - The ‘r’ has been imported into Punjabi, when it was absent in the original Sanskrit.
(b) INDIAN LANGUAGES
Sanskrit Punjabi Meaning
Sam-bandha Sar-bandh-a Relation
Vi-lapa Vir-lap-a Wailing
Tik-shana Tir-khan-a Carpenter
Shapa Shrap-a Curse

The evolution of Punjabi verbs and case-endings forms a very interesting study, and our survey of it will be incomplete without comparing it with its Indian relatives, principally Hindi and Sanskrit.

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