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Sindhi ( , ,Devanagari script: सिन्धी, Sindhī) is the language of the Sindhmarker region of Pakistanmarker. It is spoken by 24,410,910 people in Pakistanmarker, and is also spoken in Indiamarker by 2,535,485 speakers. It is the third most spoken language of Pakistan, and the official language of Sindhmarker in Pakistan. It is also an official language of India. The government of Pakistan issues national identity cards to its citizens only in two languages, Sindhi and Urdu.

It is an Indo-Aryan language of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family, though it also shows signs of heavy Dravidian influence.

Most Sindhi speakers in Pakistanmarker are concentrated in the Sindhmarker province. The remaining speakers are found in India and amongst the Sindhi diaspora community which are scattered throughout the world. The Sindhi language has spread as the Hindu Sindhis left Sindhmarker to migrate to the Hindu-majority India, during the time of the independence of Pakistanmarker in 1947.

Geographical distribution

Sindhi is spoken in Sindhmarker, southern Punjabmarker, Balochistanmarker, Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan (NWFP) in Pakistan. Sindhi is taught as a first language in the schools of Sindh and as a second language in Balochistanmarker in Pakistan. It is also spoken in many states of India and Ulhasnagarmarker near Mumbaimarker is largest Sindhi enclave in Indiamarker.

In Indiamarker, especially in the states of Rajasthanmarker, Gujaratmarker, Maharashtramarker and in many educational institutions Sindhi is taught either as the medium of instruction or as a subject.

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.


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, all variations of Devanagari. Biruni has described many Sindhi words leading to the conclusion that the Sindhi language was widely spoken and rich in vocabulary in his time.

Sindhi was a very popular literary language between the 14th and 18th centuries. This is when 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 God.

During the British period, traders and common people—including Khojas and Memons -- were using Devanagari, Modi or Khudabadi Script (later known as Vanika script), without any vowels for writing Sindhi, while government employees used some kind of Arabic script.The Khudabadi script was invented by Khudabadi Sindhi Swarankar community. The members of the Swarnakar community, while residing in Khudabad, around 1550, felt it necessary to invent a very simple script so that they can send written messages to their relations, who were living far away from them in their own home towns. This necessity mothered the invention/creation of a new script. The new script had no vowels and to be written from left to right (like Sanskrit) and continued to be in use for very long period of time among Khudabadi Sindhi Swarankar. Due to its simplicity, the use of this script spread very quickly and got acceptance in other sindhi communities, for sending written communications. Even, The Education Department of Sindh, on advice of Directors of British East India Co., directed Hindu Sindhi Schools to employ Khudabadi Script for teaching. Because it was originated from Khudabadmarker, it was called Khudabadi script and later on, was known as Vanika and Hatkai, because it was mainly used by traders and shopkeepers, till 1947. The Khudabadi Script could not survive because it had no vowels.

In 1849 the first English-Sindhi dictionary was written in the Devanagari script.

According to Sindhi tradition, the first translation of the Quraan into Sindhi was made by in 270/883 by an Arab scholar. The first extant Sindhi translation was done by Akhund 'Azaz Allah Mutta'lawi (1160-124011747-1824) and first published in Gujratmarker in 1870. The first to appear in print was by Muhammad Siddlq (Lahore 1867).

Basic Phrases

  • Keeyan aahyo?- "how are you?" (general greeting)
  • Aaon/Maan theek aahiyan - "Very well".
  • Allah Saen ji meherbani - "By the grace of God".
  • Tawhanjo naalo chha aahe - "What is your name?"
  • Munhnjo naalo ______ aahaye. - "My name is _____."
  • Tawhaan ker aahyo - "Who are you?"
  • Mehrbani - "Thank you"
  • Tawhaan jee Mehrbani - "Please"
  • Ha - "Yes"
  • Na - "No"
  • Keeyan aahyo/Kehra haal aahin - "How are you?"
  • Aaon/Maan theek ahyaan - "I'm fine"
  • Allah wahi - "Goodbye" (used to end a conversation by Muslim Sindhis)
  • Theek aahe- "Okay" (used to end a conversation by Sindhis)
  • Hik - "One"
  • Ba - "Two"
  • Tey - "Three"
  • Aaon/Maan Sindh jo aahyan/ Aaon/Maan Sindh maan ahyaan - "I am from Sindh"
  • Aaon/Maan musulman aahyan / hindhu aahyann - "I am Muslim / Hindu"
  • Aaon/Maan Sindhi aahyan / Assin/Assan Sindhi aahyun - "I am Sindhi" / "We are Sindhis"
  • Tokhe chha khape-"what do you want"
  • Chup kare veh-"keep quiet"
  • Jeay Sindh- "Long Live Sindh"
  • Bhali Karay aaya-"well come"


Sindhi has 46 consonant phonemes and 16 vowels. All plosives, affricates, nasals, the retroflex flap and the lateral approximant /l/ have aspirated or breathy voiced counterparts. The language also features four implosives.


Retroflex Palatoalveolar

/ Palatal
Velar Glottal
Nasal m



ɲ ŋ
Plosives and










Implosives ɓ ɗ    ʄ ~ jˀ ɠ
Fricatives f   s z ʂ x ɣ h  
Taps r ɽ

Approximants ʋ


The retroflex consonants are apical postalveolar, as they are throughout northern Indiamarker, and so could be transcribed . The dental implosive is sometimes realized as retroflex / The affricates are laminal post-alveolars with a relatively short release. It is not clear if is similar, or truly palatal. is realized as labiovelar or labiodental in free variation. occurs, but is not common, except before a stop ( etc).


The vowels are modal length and short . (Note are imprecisely transcribed as in the chart.) Consonants following short vowels are lengthened: 'leaf' vs. 'worn'.


Before the standardisation of Sindhi orthography, numerous forms of the Devanagari and Lunda scripts were used for trading, both by Hindus and Ismaili Muslims. For literary and religious purposes, a modified form of Perso-Arabic known as Ab-ul-Hassan Sindhi and Gurmukhi (a subset of Laṇḍā) were used. Another two scripts, Khudawadi and Shikarpuri were attempts to reform the Landa script. 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.

Arabic Script

In Pakistanmarker, Sindhi is written in a variant of the Persian alphabet, which was adopted under the encouragement of the British when Sindh fell to them in the 19th century. 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
ڙ ر ذ ڍ ڊ ڏ ڌ د خ ح ڇ چ ڃ
ق ڦ ف غ ع ظ ط ض ص ش س ز ڙھ
ي ه و ڻ ن م ل ڱ گھ ڳ گ ک ڪ
* *

Devanagari Script

In Indiamarker, 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 [41277]. Diacritical bars below the letter are used to mark implosive consonants, and dots called nukta are used to form other additional consonants.
ə a i e o
ख़ ग॒ ग़
ज॒ ज़
ड॒ ड़ ढ़
फ़ ब॒


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 Sanskrit, 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.

See also


  1. The Sindhu World
  2. The IPA Handbook uses the symbols , 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 and further remarks that " is often a slightly creaky voiced palatal approximant" (caption of table 3.19).


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