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Gurmukhi - The Sikh Alphabet

The word 'Gurmukhi' literally means from the mouth of the Guru. Gurmukhi has some similarities to older Indian scripts of the times, but it's thirty five characters and vowel modifiers were standardized by Guru Angad. Rather than use the Hindu scripts such as Sanskrit, Guru Angad Dev chose to make a new script the standard for the Sikhs. Sanskrit was only restricted to the priestly Hindu class, but the Gurus did not believe in this elitism. Guru Angad Dev spent his lifetime teaching the Gurmukhi script to the common people of Punjab. Gurmukhi is not only used by Sikhs but by Hindus as well as Muslims living in Punjab to represet their common spoken language, Punjabi. Sikhs are expected to make an effort at learning the Gurmukhi script and teaching it to their children in order to read the Guru Granth Sahib in its original written form.

Gurmukhi has 35 letters as well as nine vowel modifiers. In addition there are five special sound modifiers symbols. A vertical bar is used to indicate the end of a sentences. Two vertical bars indicate a longer pause between sentences or paragraphs. The table below presents the letters, numbers and vowel modifiers. The vowel modifiers are presented with english words, the sounds that they make being emphasized in capital letters.

The Gurmukhi Alphabet

Sound Modifying Symbols

Sound Effect: reinforces the following letter.
Sound Effect: partial NUNNA character sound.
Sound Effect: nasal sound of the vowel modifier is appears with.
Sound Effect: produces partial RARA sound following the letter.
Sound Effect: produces partial HAHA sound following the letter.


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