Lesson Topics

lesson 1
lesson 2
lesson 3
lesson 4
lesson 5
lesson 6
lesson 7
lesson 8
lesson 9
lesson 10
lesson 11
lesson 12
lesson 13
lesson 14
lesson 15
lesson 16
lesson 17
lesson 18
lesson 19
lesson 20
Lesson 20 
Suggestions for further study.

These lessons were designed for Americans who would have a short period of language study just before going out to Punjab. In the time alotted for training in the United States it is seldom possible to really learn Punjabi. But it is possible to get a good start, so that the process can be continued as you work. Without some on-going effort, the time spent in studying the language will be largely wasted. Study in the field should be considered as part of the work of the course. Therefore, we give, not as an appendix but as Lesson Twenty, a few suggestions for that continued study.
20.1 Your first few days in Punjab may be a discouraging experience. As you leave the classroom you have begun to feel a little confidence in your Punjabi. You can actually communicate with your instructor and with your classmates. When you reach Punjab, you will hear Punjabi all around you. You will understand very little, far less than you expected. If you were uninterested in the language, you could shrug it off, and go find someone with whom you can talk English. But you will want to understand, feel you ought to understand, and it will be frustrating not to.
There is a treatment for this, and you should avail yourself of it. As soon as possible after you arrive, go out and seek some opportunity to use your Punjabi in a situation of your own choosing where you have a reasonable chance of success. Work at it until you do succeed. Convince yourself that you can use the language, if only in one area. Then you will know that you will be able to learn to handle others in time.
An inordinate amount of the dialogues in these lessons has been on one rather unimportant theme : making small purchases. They have varied between fruit stores, confectioners, and the vegetable market, but the basic dialogue is much the same. Strike out /kaddū/ and put in /kelā/ and you have changed one situation into another. Much of the same kind of language has been put into other lessons, in bargaining for a rickshaw, for example. This has been done deliberately. This will prepare you relatively well in at least one area where you will be able to use your Punjabi immediately. Marketing is a particularly good one. It will be easy enough to find the opportunity – wherever you go there will be merchants eager to talk with you and quite willing to be patient with your struggles. It is easy to start – you just walk in. And you will know when you have succeeded. Indeed, you are very likely to succeed the first time, though probably not briliantly.
So your first assignment in field language study is to go to the market and buy a dozen bananas or something comparable. Perhaps you will meet someone who will take you the first time and show you how it is done once. But once is enough; go off from him and try it yourself.
The first time you wil have difficulties, of course. You may pay just a little too much, but it will be worth it; charge it up to educational expense. You may even get some poor bananas. (They will be different enough from the variety you get in America that you will be a poor judge of quality at first.) You may not need bananas, but buy them anyway. Try again the next day, and the next. In a vey few days it will be easy and natural for you.



The following sentences will be useful to you in the market. Many of them have appeared in the dialogues. In some cases they are given here unaltered. In others, minor changes have been made. They are grouped by broad meanings, but individual translations are generally thought unnecessary. Parts of sentences enclosed in ( ) can be used or not as desired.

What do you want?  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
(ਆਓ ਜੀ), ਕੀ ਚਾਹੀਦਾ? (āo jī), kī čā́īdā? What do you want?
ਕੀ ਲੈਣਾ (ਜੀ)? kī lɛṇā (jī)? What would you like to have?
ਕੀ ਦੇਵਾਂ? kī dewā̃? What should I give you?

I want some.....  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
ਕੁਝ ਸੰਤਰੇ ਚਾਹੀਦੇ (ਨੇ) ৷ kúj sãtre čā́īde (ne). (I) want some oranges.
ਕੁਝ ਰਸਗੁੱਲੇ ਲੈਣੇ (ਨੇ) ৷ kúj rasgulle lɛṇe (ne). (I) want some rasgullas.
(ਚੰਗੇ) ਕੇਲੇ ਦਿਓ। (čãge) kele dio. (I) want good bananas.
(ਤਾਜ਼ੀਆਂ) ਜਲੇਬੀਆਂ ਦੇਣੀਆਂ। (tāzīā̃) jalebīā̃ deṇīā̃. Please give me fresh jalebis.
ਇਕ ਕਿੱਲੋ ਅੰਬ ਦੇਣਾ। ik killo ãb deṇā. Please give me a kilo of mangoes.

Do you have?  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
(ਤਾਜ਼ੇ) ਅੰਬ (ਹੈ) ਨੇ (ਜੀ)? (tāze) ãb (hɛ) ne (jī)? Do you have fresh mangoes?
ਤੁਹਾਡੇ ਕੋਲ਼ ਕੇਲੇ ਨੇ? tuā̀ḍe koḷ kele ne? Do you have bananas?
ਅਜ ਸੰਤਰੇ ਹੈ ਨੇ? aj sãtre hɛ ne? Do you have today some oranges?
(ਚੰਗੇ)ਸੰਤਰੇ ਹੈ ਨੇ ਤੁਹਾਡੇ ਕੋਲ਼? (čãge) sãtre hɛ ne tuā̀ḍe koḷ? Do you have good oranges?
(ਨਵੇਂ) ਸੇਬ ਆਏ ਨੇ? (nawẽ) seb āe ne? Have fresh apples come?
ਤੇ ਨਾਰੰਗੀਆਂ? te nārãgīā̃? And Oranges?

Are the?  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
ਜਲੇਬੀਆਂ ਤਾਜ਼ੀਆਂ ਨੇ? jalebīā̃ tāzīā̃ ne? Are the jalebis fresh?
ਇਹ ਲੱਡੂ ਚੰਗੇ ਨੇ? é laḍḍū čãge ne? Are the laddos good?
ਇਹ ਬਰਫੀ ਚੰਗੀ ਏ? é barfī čãgī e? Is this barfi good?
ਅੱਛੇ ਨੇ? aččhe ne? Are they good?
ਕਿਵੇਂ ਨੇ? kiwẽ ne? What is the rate?

How much?  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
ਕਿਵੇਂ ਦਿੱਤੇ (ਨੇ)? kiwẽ ditte (ne)? What is the rate?
ਕਿਵੇਂ ਲਾਏ ਨੇ? kiwẽ lāe ne? What is the rate?
ਜਲੇਬੀਆਂ ਕਿਵੇਂ ਨੇ? jalebīā̃ kiwẽ ne? How much for the jalebis?
ਕਲਾਕੰਦ ਕਿਵੇਂ ਦਿੱਤੀ? kalākãd kiwẽ dittī? How much for kalakand?
ਕਿੰਨੇ ਪੈਸੇ? kinne pɛse? How much?(total).
ਕਿੰਨੇ? kinne? How much?

The price is.....  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
ਵੀਹ ਰੁਪੈ ਦਰਜਨ। wī́ rupɛ darjan. Twenty rupees a dozen.
ਚਾਲ਼ੀ ਰੁਪੈ ਕਿੱਲੋ। čāḷī rupɛ killo. Forty rupees a kilo.
ਸਾਢੇ ਤੀਹ ਰੁਪੈ। sā́ḍe tī́ rupɛ. Thirty and a half a kilo.
ਸਠ ਰੁਪੈ ਸਹੀ। saṭh rupɛ saī́. Let it be sixty rupees.
ਤੁਹਾਡੇ ਕੋਲ਼ੋ ਪੰਜਾਹ ਰੁਪੈ ਈ ਸਹੀ। tuā̀ḍe koḷõ pãjā́ rupɛ ī saī́. I will take fifty rupees from you.
ਤੁਹਾਥੋਂ ਦਸ ਰੁਪੈ ਲੈ ਲਵਾਂਗੇ। tuā̀thõ das rupɛ lɛ lawā̃ge. I will take ten rupees from you.
ਬਹੁਤ ਸਸਤੇ ਨੇ (ਜੀ), ਚਾਲ਼ੀ ਰੁਪੈ। bͻ́t saste ne (jī), čāḷī rupɛ. Very cheap, forty rupees.

That's too much.  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
ਇਹ (ਤੇ) ਬਹੁਤ ਮਹਿੰਗੇ ਨੇ। é (te) bͻ́t mɛ̃́ge ne. It is too expensive.(It is too much.)
ਏਨੀ ਮਹਿੰਗੀ? enī mɛ̃́gī? So expensive?
ਇਹ ਤੇ ਬਹੁਤ ਏ। é te bͻ́t e. It is too much.
ਕੁਝ ਘਟ ਕਰੋ। kúj kàṭ karo. Please reduce a little.
(ਬਹੁਤ) ਜ਼ਿਆਦਾ ਨੇ। (bͻ́t) ziādā ne. It is too much.

I will give you only....  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
ਮੈਂ ਤੇ ਵੀਹ ਰੁਪੈ (ਦਿਆਂਗਾ) ৷ mɛ̃ te wī́ rupɛ (diā̃gā). I will give you only twenty rupees.
ਪੰਜਾਹ ਰੁਪੈ ਦਿਆਂਗਾ। pãjā́ rupɛ diā̃gā. (I) will give only fifty rupees.
ਸੱਤਰ ਲਓਗੇ? sattar lͻge? Will you take seventy?
ਨਹੀਂ, ਪੌਣੇ ਸਠ ਲੈ ਲੌ। naī̃́, pͻṇe saṭh lɛ lͻ. No, take quarter to sixty.

Anything more?  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
ਹੋਰ ਕੁਝ? hor kúj? What else?
ਹੋਰ ਕੀ ਚਾਹੀਦਾ? hor kī čā́īdā? What else do you want?
ਹੋਰ ਕੀ ਲੈਣਾ? hor kī lɛṇā? What else you would like to have?
ਕੁਝ ਹੋਰ ਦੇਵਾਂ? kúj hor dewā̃? May I give you something more?
ਹੋਰ ਕੀ ਦੇਵਾਂ? hor kī dewā̃? What else should I give you?
ਤੇ ਕੀ? te kī? And what else?


Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
ਕੋਈ ਚੀਜ਼ ਨਹੀਂ। koī čīz naī̃́. Nothing.
ਕੋਈ ਨਹੀਂ। koī naī̃́. Nothing.
ਕੁਝ ਨਹੀਂ। kúj naī̃́. Nothing.
ਹੋਰ ਨਹੀਂ। hor naī̃́. Nothing.

How much altogether?  

Gurmukhi Transcription Translation
ਕਿੰਨੇ (ਰੁਪੈ) ਹੋਏ? kinne (rupɛ) hoe? How many rupees?
ਸਾਰੇ ਕਿੰਨੇ ਰੁਪੈ? sāre kinne rupɛ? How much in all?
ਕਿੰਨੇ ਰੁਪੈ ਦੇਵਾਂ? kinne rupɛ dewā̃? How much should I give you?
ਕਿੰਨੇ ਰੁਪੈ? kinne rupɛ? How many rupees?


As you live and work in Punjab, you will hear Punjabi spoken all around you. After a while you will begin to pick up fragments of what you hear. As the topics of conversation will be various, the sentences you learn will be quite miscellaneous. Some will prove very useful, and every little bit learned is helpful. However, unless you are most fortunate, the bits and pieces will not fit together. They will be hard to use. It may be difficult to organize them in your mind and see the patterns.

This random learning is not very efficient. In addition, you must do some concentrated work on the conversation appropriate to some selected situation. Stick with one until you have not only fluency but also some flexibility. You will naturally want to be able to talk about a large number of subjects, and Punjabis will want to talk to you about even more. But it will be better to be able to talk well about a few than very poorly and haltingly about a number. Work hard to bring one subject up to appreciable usefulness, and then attack another. Perhaps if you are systematic about it, you can keep two or three going together. But do not scatter your efforts over more. Be thankful for whatever you learn incidentally, but concentrate your efforts in one or a very few places.

It might be well to continue working on marketing for a while until this becomes easy and natural, and until you are able to function effectively in a variety of types of stores and under a range of conditions. You have a head start here. It is an easy area to get ahead in. Dialogues with merchants are seldom complex, so there is less to learn before you can really make use of it. The following are a few suggestions :

Ask questions. Learn the names of all the fruits and vegetables in the market. Don't worry about their English names. Many of the fruits and vegetables will be new to you. Why bother learning two new words? The Punjabi names will be much more useful. At first /é kī e?/ will get you much of the information you need. After a while you will learn a number of other useful questions that will help you get more difficult things.

Listen. Go into a busy store. Eavesdrop while another customer is shopping. Wander around the market just listening to what people are saying. At first you will get very little of it. Not only is the language more varied than you heard in the classroom, but the hearing conditions are poorer. Many people are talking all at once and there are many other sources of noise. But if you keep at it, you will learn to hear. After a while you will begin to pick up familiar bits. Then you will come to the point where you can follow the drift of the whole conversation, even if you miss some of it. The missed pieces will gradually diminish. Even before you are able to hear everything you will begin to pick up new sentences and be able to guess (roughly at first) what they mean. Once you reach that level, you will begin to learn much more rapidly than you realize. Before long your own command of bazar language will be adequate to cope with any situation.

Watch. A good deal of communication is in mannerisms and gestures. Observe how a Punjabi behaves in the market. Try to associate the gestures you see and the words you hear. This will help you immensely in learning the meanings of both.
20.4 Very soon you will want to get started learning Punjabi in some field more directly connected with your work. You must use much the same tactics, but here you may have to start from scratch. It may be very difficult to learn the first few sentences. But just as with the market language, it will get easier as you go along. The hard part is at the beginning when you do not yet catch enough of what is said to follow the thread of the conversation. This makes it difficult or impossible to pick up new things. But if you persist through the difficult days and weeks at the beginning, you will find your progress accelerating.

Let's assume that you are an agriculturist and will be working in a village. You have a small start from dialogues 15 and 16. But this is much less than what you have already learned about marketing, and conversations with farmers about their lands and crops will be much more complex. It will certainly be more difficult. But the same advice holds.

Ask questions. Learn the names of all the crops. Many of them will be new to you. Learn what you can about them. Learn about the agricultural implements, their names, the names of their parts, their uses. Learn what verbs are appropriate to use with them. In the dialogues you have had /aj haḷ wagde ne/ and /merā khū́ wagdā e/ Of what other things is it appropriate to use the verb /wag/? Just what does it mean in each case? If you ask questions about each of the tools you will slowly learn.

Do not try to take a short cut by asking abstruse questions, however. Ask only simple direct questions about simple easy matters until your Punjabi is very good. It will be up to you to fit the pieces together and try to get the general picture. Punjabis won't be able to tell you, because some of the things that puzzle you seem so self-evident to them that they will never realize what is troubling you.

There may be some people in the village who speak English and can answer some of your questions before you are already to ask them in Punjabi. They will probably be glad to help you if you do not make a nuisance of yourself. Remember that for many of them their English will be very limited. Some perhaps have had only a few years in school. (Remember your own ability in French from high school !) Some may be very highly educated and speak English well. But even these may never have had opportunities to talk about crops, agricultural implements, or village life in English. They may not understand even simple questions on such subjects even though they could discuss English literature with ease. Above all, don't ask anybody a question like ‘How do you say mold-board in Punjabi?’ When you see a Punjabi plough you will know why, if you know what a mold-board is on an American plough. Instead, ask him to give you the names of the parts by pointing to them on a plough. But if you do that, you will not have to ask in English : /é kī e?/ will do most of the work.

Listen. Go out to the /khū́/ when the men gather and sit with them. It will be difficult at first. There are few things that are harder than listening to a conversation when you understand almost nothing. But keep at it As time goes on you will hear more and more. In time you will be able to understand their interests and their view-points. Listen not just for the language, but to learn some of their agricultural wisdom. The Punjabi farmer can teach you a great deal that you can never get in an agricultural college, and that you will never get from experience on an American farm.

Watch. You will have to learn a new gesture system. This is just as important as the language in communicating. The two should be learned together. In addition, you will have to learn a whole new system of etiquette. You must learn where to sit and how (some ways that are easy and natural for you are highly insulting !), when you should come and when you should go, when to say yes and when to say no, how to eat if you are given food, and how to hold a tea cup. These things are important ! Only observation will teach many of the things that you must know.

Keep records. Make lists of useful sentences. The list in 20.2 is a model. There will always be alternative ways of saying things. Collect them. The kind of transcription we have used in this book will serve very well. Even when you are not quite sure what you heard, record it and mark it to indicate your doubt. Build yourself a little vocabulary of the important terms you need. Draw pictures and label them.

Obviously, you cannot go around with a notebook and pencil writing furiously all the time. Nor is it necessary. Wait till you get back to your room and then write what you can remember. When you have gotten well acquainted, you can take notes when you are asking questions. but do not take notes when you are listening in on conversation!
20.5 Punjabi people speak a different language than Americans. That is obvious enough, but it is likely to divert your attention from another important difference : they talk about different things, and when they talk about the same things, they say different things about them. You will have to learn not only how to say things, but what to say.

For example, Americans talk a great deal about the weather. Punjabis do so much less often. Most American discussion of the weather is of no moment. It is a safe topic that you can always discuss with a stranger when it seems necessary to talk. For a Punjabi farmer, however, weather is vital. He talks about it when he is concerned. You must learn not to switch to the weather when you can think of nothing else to talk about.

There will be times when Punjabi people will just sit. You will feel uncomfortable because American etiquette would require you to converse. The patterns of good American manners are long established and deep seated, and you will be uneasy about going against them. But Punjabi patterns are different. You must learn in this, as in other things to follow Punjabi etiquette. Talk when Punjabis would talk, about the things they would talk about, and in the way they would.
20.6 Perhaps it will be possible to make arrangements for regular language instruction from some Punjabi. For this you will want to pay him, of course. If you do make such an arrangement, make full use of it by being regular and systematic about it. There is no use in paying for casual instruction when you can get plenty of that free !

Do not let your instructor talk about Punjabi. Very few people in Punjab can do so in a way that will be helpful to you. His job is to talk in Punjabi. Ask him how to say things, what to say in a situation, but do not ask him why.

Have him help you build a collection of useful sentences. First ask him to say a sentence a couple of times. Then have him say it and you repeat it after him. Until you have practiced this way a few times, do not try to say anything new unless he has just said it for a model. Be sure he listens carefully and corrects any mistake. Encourage him to be strict with you. His natural tendency will be to be polite, and this often means to be too easy. After you have practiced a sentence several times, write it down, and write down some indication of what it means or when it is used.

Do your work with your instructor off by yourselves. It will be much harder for him to correct you in the presence of others. Find a quiet place where you can both hear well and where you will not be interrupted. (At least not very much. Absolute privacy in a village is a rare thing!)
20.7 The language in these lessons is of Majhi dialect, spoken around Amritsar and Lahore. It is widely acknowledged as the standard variety of the language. Moreover, an effort has been made to avoid forms that are not widely used in Punjab, But do not expect the dialect to be exactly like this wherever you go. Even within the Majhi area there will be minor variations. We hope that what you have already learned will be understood anywhere, but it will not be exactly like what you will hear.

Remember that dialect differences will sound much greater to you than to Punjabis. They have a flexibility in hearing their language that you will not have for years. Two people from very different areas can understand each other with little difficulty. But you may have great difficulty with the dialect from twenty miles away. Do not worry too much that they will not understand you. It will be far easier for them to understand you than for you to understand them.

You will naturally pick up the speech patterns of your area. That will be quite all right. Any kind of genuine Punjabi is better than an artificial language that you might learn by trying to do otherwise. Learn to speak as nearly like the people you are working with as you can.
20.8 Punjabi is written in two quite different ways, one is Bharat and one is Pakistan. You may want to learn to read and write. After a while it might be an excellent thing to do. But do not start too early ! To learn to read is immensely difficult for one who does not speak the language easily. If you have some fluency it will be very much easier. Wait until you are quite at home in spoken Punjabi. But then, by all means, try it.