Learn about the Sindhi language


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Sindhi belongs to Northwestern group of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. There are different estimates of the number of speakers of Sindhi. Ethnologue estimate, based on 2001 census, puts the number of speakers at 21.3 million, whereas Wikipedia puts the number at some 42 million. Of these 35 million live in the Sindh province of Pakistan, and 5 million in the states of Gujarat, Rajastan, and Maharashtra in India. The rest represent a diaspora in United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, with smaller numbers in other countries.

Sindhi mapThe earliest written reference to Sindhi dates back to the 2nd century AD. The language is thought to have evolved from an ancient Prakrit brought to Sindh by early settlers from Northeast and Northwest India. Sindh was conquered by Dravidian-speaking invaders around 4,000 BC. As a result, Sindhi shows many signs of Dravidian influence. Around 1500 BC, Sindh was conquered by Indo-Aryan invaders who established the Vedic civilization that laid the foundation of Hinduism and the Indian culture of today.

The earliest ever translation of the Qur’an was into Sindhi in the 12th century. In the 14-18th centuries Sindhi was one of the most popular literary languages in the eastern world due to its rich vocabulary.



Sindhi is an official language of two countries.

  • Pakistan
    Sindhi is an official regional language of Pakistan, along with English and Urdu. It is used in all spheres of official and everyday communication by members of different religious sects.
  • India
    Sindi is an official language of India, along with English and 22 other languages. It is spoken, often as a second or third language. It is used as a medium of instruction or taught as a subject in schools, especially in the state of Maharashtra.



According to Ethnologue, Sindhi has numerous dialects which differ in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.

  • Kachchi
  • Lari
  • Lasi
  • Thareli
  • Vicholi (or Central Sindhi)
  • Macharia
  • Dukslinu (Hindu Sindhi)
  • Sindhi Musalmani (Muslim Sindhi)
  • Standard Sindhi spoken by educated people in Hyderabadt.



Sound system

The phonological system of Sindhi is similar to that of other Indo-Aryan languages, for instance, Sindhi has a large inventory of phonemes, i.e., sounds that make a difference in word meaning. Most Sindhi syllables end in a vowel or semi-vowel. Very few syllables end in a consonant, and consonant clusters are infrequent.



Sindhi has a large inventory of vowels. All vowels have short and long counterparts. Length is represented by a macron in the table below. In addition, all vowels have nasalized counterparts. Nasalization is represented by a tilde in the table below.

i – ī – ĩ
u – ū – ũ
e – ē – ẽ
o – ō – õ
a – ā – ã


Sindhi has a full series of consonants, more than most other Indo-Aryan languages. Consonants in parentheses are infrequent and mostly occur in loanwords.

  • There is a contrast between aspirated vs. unaspirated stops, affricates,and nasals, for instance between p—pʰ, t—tʰ, k—kʰ, b—bʰ, d—dʰ, g—gʰ, tʃ – tʃʰ, /m/—/mʰ/,/ /n/—/nʰ/, /ɳ/—/ɳʰ/. Aspirated consonants are produced with a strong puff of air.
  • There is a contrast between and apical vs. retroflex consonants, e.g., /t/ – /ʈ/, /d/ – /ɖ/, /n/ – /ɳ/, /r/ – /ɽ/. Apical consonants are produced with the tip of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth, whereas retroflex consonants are produced with the tongue curled, so that its underside comes in contact with the roof of the mouth.
  • Sindhi has an unusually large number of implosive consonants /ɓ, ɗ, ʄ, ɠ/ produced by pulling air downward with the glottis, rather than pushing it out. These sounds do not occur in other Indo-Aryan languages.
Stops unaspirated voiceless
aspirated voiceless
unaspirated voiced
aspirated voiced
implosive voiced
Fricatives voiceless
Affricates unaspirated voiceless
aspirated voiceless
m (mʰ)
n (nʰ)
ɳ (ɳʰ)
l (lʰ)
Flap or trill
ɽ (ɽʰ)
  • /ʃ/ = sh in shop
  • /tʃ/ = ch in chop
  • /x/, /ɣ/ have no equivalents in English
  • /ɲ/ = first n in canyon
  • /ŋ/ = ng in song
  • /mʰ/, /nʰ/, /ɳʰ/ have no equivalents in English
  • /ʋ/ is realized as /w/ or /v/.
  • /j/ = y in yet



Stress does not distinguish the meaning of otherwise identical Sindhi words. It typically falls on the heaviest syllable of the word. Consonant + vowel (CV) syllables are heavier than syllables consisting of a single vowel (V) and Consonant + Vowel + Vowel + Vowel (CVV) syllables are heavier than Consonant + vowel (CV) syllables.



Sindhi has retained many features of ancient Prakrit and shares major grammatical features with other Indo-Aryan languages, such as the use of postpositions which follow the noun, rather than prepositions that precede it.


Nouns, adjectives and pronouns

Sindhi nouns feature a complex system of noun stem modifications as well as post-positions.

  • Gender (masculine and feminine) determines the noun’s declension.
  • There are two numbers: singular and plural.
  • There are eight cases: nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, ablative, locative, instrumental, and vocative. Cases are marked by changes in the noun stem and by postpositions.
  • Adjectives are declined exactly like nouns and agree with them in gender, number and case.
  • Pronouns are inflected for number and case.



Sindhi verbs consist of three basic components (adverbial participle, basic verb and auxiliary verb) which appear in various combinations, depending on tense, aspect and mood. Verbs agree with their subjects in person, gender, and number. Pronoun subjects are often omitted if the context is clear. Verbs display the following categories:


Word order

The normal word in Sindhi is Subject-Object-Verb. However, these components can be rearranged to mark emphasis or focus. Adjectives and relative clauses precede the nouns they modify. Indirect objects precede direct objects. Negative/interrogative elements precede the verb. Adverbs typically follow the subject and precede the object(s) of the verb.



Most Sindhi words are derived from Sanskrit, but the language also has a large number of Persian and Arabic loanwords due to centuries of Muslim influence. In more recent times, Sindhi has come into close contact with Urdu, the dominant language of Pakistan. As a result, Sindhi has borrowed many Urdu words.

Below are Sindhi numerals 0-10 in romanization.




Sindhi is written in three different scripts: a modified Arabic script used in both Pakistan and India, and the Devanagari script used by a number of Sindhi speakers in India.

  • Modified Arabic script
    Since Sindhi has many more consonants and vowels than Arabic, extra letters have been created through the use of diacritic dots that modify the basic letter shapes. The orthography consists of 52 consonant and 10 vowel symbols, plus a number of diacritics. The Sindhi script is written from right to left, and short vowels are omitted, except at the beginning of words.
  • Devanagari script
    In 1948, the Indian government implemented the Devanagari script for writing Sindhi, but it did not gain mass acceptance. As a result, the language is written in both the modified Arabic and Devanagari scripts in India.
  • Roman alphabet
    Sindhi can also be written with the Roman alphabet which is increasingly used in electronic communications.



Language Difficulty

questionHow difficult is it to learn Sindhi?
There is no data on the difficulty of Sindhi for speakers of English.