|Fiji Baat • Fiji Hindustani|
|फ़िजी हिंदी (Devanagari script) |
𑂣𑂺𑂱𑂔𑂲⸱𑂯𑂱𑂁𑂠𑂲 (Kaithi script)
فجی ہندی (Perso-Arabic script)
|Ethnicity||Indo-Fijians and the Indo-Fijian diaspora|
|(460,000 cited 1991)|
Official language in
Fiji Hindi (Devanagari: फ़िजी हिंदी; Kaithi: 𑂣𑂺𑂱𑂔𑂲⸱𑂯𑂱𑂁𑂠𑂲; Perso-Arabic: فجی ہندی) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by Indo-Fijians. It is an Eastern Hindi language, considered to be a dialect of Awadhi that has also been subject to considerable influence by Bhojpuri, other Bihari dialects, and Hindustani. It has also borrowed some words from the English and Fijian languages. Many words unique to Fiji Hindi have been created to cater for the new environment that Indo-Fijians now live in. First-generation Indians in Fiji, who used the language as a lingua franca in Fiji, referred to it as Fiji Baat, "Fiji talk". It is closely related to Caribbean Hindustani and the Bhojpuri-Hindustani language spoken in Mauritius and South Africa. It is largely mutually intellegible with the languages of Awadhi, Bhojpuri, etc. of Bihar and the dialects of Hindi of eastern Uttar Pradesh, but differs in phonetics and vocabulary with Modern Standard Hindi.
These are the percentages of each language and dialect spoken by indentured labourers who came to Fiji.
|Bihari dialects (Mainly Bhojpuri as well as Maithili and Magahi)||17,868||39.3%|
|Eastern Hindi dialects (Mainly Awadhi as well as Bagheli and Chhattisgarhi)||16,871||37.1%|
|Western Hindi dialects (Hindustani, Bundeli, Braj Bhasha, Haryanvi, etc.)||6,903||15.2%|
|Rajasthani dialects (Marwari)||1,111||2.4%|
|Dravidian languages (Tamil, Telugu, etc.)||2,186||4.8%|
Indian indentured labourers mainly spoke dialects from the Hindi Belt. Initially, the majority of labourers came to Fiji from districts of central and eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, while a small percentage hailed from North-West Frontier and South India such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Over time, a distinct Indo-Aryan language with an Eastern Hindi substratum developed in Fiji, combining elements of the Hindi languages spoken in these areas with some native Fijian and English. The development of Fiji Hindi was accelerated by the need for labourers speaking different languages to work together and by the practice of leaving young children in early versions of day-care centers during working hours. Percy Wright, who lived in Fiji during the indenture period, wrote:
Indian children born in Fiji will have a mixed language; there are many different dialects amongst the Indian population, and of course much intercourse with the Fijians. The children pick up a little of each language, and do not know which is the one originally spoken by their parents.
Other writers, including Burton (1914) and Lenwood (1917), made similar observations. By the late 1920s all Fiji Indian children born in Fiji learned Fiji Hindi, which became the common language in Fiji of North and South Indians alike.
Fiji Hindi-based pidgin
|ISO 639-3||None (|
Later, approximately 15,000 Indian indentured labourers, who were mainly speakers of Dravidian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam), were brought from South India. By this time Fiji Hindi was well established as the lingua franca of Indo-Fijians and the Southern Indian labourers had to learn it to communicate with the more numerous Northern Indians and their European overseers. After the end of the indenture system, Indians who spoke Gujarati and Punjabi arrived in Fiji as free immigrants. A few Indo-Fijians speak Tamil, Telugu, and Gujarati at home, but all are fluently conversant and able to communicate using Fiji Hindi. The census reports of 1956 and 1966 shows the extent to which Fiji Hindi (referred to as 'Hindustani' in the census) was being spoken in Indo-Fijian households. Hindu schools teach the Devanagari script while the Muslim schools teach the Nastaliq script.
|Language||Number of households in 1956||Number of households in 1966|
Fiji Hindi is also understood and even spoken by Indigenous Fijians in areas of Fiji where there are large Indo-Fijian communities. A pidgin form of the language is used by rural ethnic Fijians, as well as Chinese on the islands, while Pidgin Fijian is spoken by Indo-Fijians.
Following the recent political upheaval in Fiji, many Indo-Fijians have emigrated to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, where they have largely maintained their traditional Indo-Fijian culture, language, and religion.
Some writers have begun to use Fiji Hindi, until very recently a spoken language only, as a literary language. The Bible has now been translated into Fiji Hindi, and the University of the South Pacific has recently begun offering courses in the language. It is usually written in the Latin script though Devanāgarī has also been used.
A Fiji Hindi movie has also been produced depicting Indo-Fijian life and is based on a play by local playwright, Raymond Pillai.
See also: Hindi–Urdu phonology
The phonemes of Fiji Hindi are very similar to Standard Hindi, but there are some important distinctions. As in the Bhojpuri and Awadhi dialects of the Hindi Belt spoken in rural India, mainly Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh — the consonant /ʃ/ is replaced with /s/ (for example, saadi instead of shaadi) and /ʋ/ replaced with /b/ (for example, bid-es instead of videsh). There is also a tendency to ignore the differences between the consonants /pʰ/ and /f/ (In Fiji Hindi a fruit is fal instead of phal) and between /d͡ʒ/ and /z/ (in Fiji Hindi land is jameen instead of zameen). The consonant /n/ is used in Fiji Hindi for the nasal sounds /ŋ/, /ɲ/ and /ɳ/ in Standard Hindi. These features are common in the Eastern Hindi dialects. Some other characteristics of Fiji Hindi which is similar to Bhojpuri and Awadhi are:
|Pronoun||Fiji Hindi||Standard Hindi|
|We||Hum log||Hum/Hum log|
In Fiji Hindi verb forms have been influenced by a number of Hindi dialects in India. First and second person forms of verbs in Fiji Hindi are the same, there is no gender distinction and number distinction is only in the third person past tense. Although, gender is used in third person past tense by the usage of "raha" for a male versus "rahi" for a female.
The use of the first and second person imperfective suffixes -taa, -at are of Awadhi origin. Example: तुम मन्दिर जाता हैं / तुम मन्दिर जात हैं। "tum Mandir jaata hai/tum Mandir jaat hai." (You are going to the Temple).
While the third person imperfective suffix -e is of Bhojpuri origin. Example: ई बिल्ली मच्छरी खावे हैं। "Ee billi macchari KHAWE hai." (This cat is eating a fish).
The third person perfective suffixes (for transitive verbs) -is and -in are also derived from Awadhi. Example: किसान गन्ना काटीस रहा। "Kisaan ganna katees raha." (The farmer cut the sugarcane). पण्डित लोगन रामायण पढ़ीन रहा/पण्डित लोगन रामायण पढ़े रहीन। "Pandit logan Ramayan padheen raha/padhe raheen." (The priests read the Ramayana).
The third person definite future suffix -ii is found in both Awadhi and Bhojpuri. Example: प्रधानमंत्री हमलोग के पैसा दई। "Pradhanamantri humlog ke paisa daii" (The prime minister will give us money).
The influence of Hindustani is evident in the first and second person perfective suffix -aa and the first and second person future suffix -ega. Example: हम करा। तुम करेगा। "Hum karaa, tum karega." (I did, you will do).
The origin of the imperative suffix -o can be traced to the Magahi dialect. Example: तुम अपन मुह खोलो। "Tum apan muh khulo." (You open your mouth). Spoken in the Gaya and Patna districts, which provided a sizeable proportion of the first indentured labourers from Northern India to Fiji.
Fiji Hindi has developed its own polite imperative suffix -naa. Example: आप घर के सफा कर लेना। "Aap ghar ke sapha kar Lena." (You clean the house (polite)).
The suffix -be, from Bhojpuri, is used in Fiji Hindi in emphatic sentences.
Another suffix originating from Awadhi is -it. Example: ई लोगन पानी काहे नहीं पीत हैं। "Ee logan paani kahey nahi peet hai." (Why aren't these people drinking water?), but is at present going out of use.
Fiji Hindi tenses are relatively similar to tenses in Standard Hindi. Bhojpuri and Awadhi influence the Fiji Hindi tenses.
|Sentence||Fiji Hindi||Standard Hindi|
|(I) am coming||
हम आत (आवत) हैं
Ham aat (aawat) hai
मैं आ रहा हूँ
ma͠i ā rahā hū̃
हम आया रहा
Ham aaya raha
|(I) will come||
|(I) was coming||
हम आत (आवत) रहा
Ham aat (aawat) raha
मैं आ रहा था
ma͠i ā rahā thā
|(I) used to play||
हम खेलत रहा
Ham khelat raha
मैं खेला करता था
ma͠i khelā kartā thā
|(He/she/they) is/are coming||
ऊ आवे हैं / ऊ लोगन आत हैं
oo aawe hai / oo logan aat hai
वो आ रहा है / वह आ रही है / वे आ रहे हैं
vo ā rahā hai / vah ā rahī hai / ve ā rahe ha͠i
वह आया / वह आई
vah āyā / vah āī
ऊ लोगन आईन
Oo logan Aain
Indo-Fijians now use native Fijian words for those things that were not found in their ancestral India but which existed in Fiji. These include most fish names and root crops. For example, kanade for mullet (fish) and kumaala for sweet potato or yam. Other examples are:
|Latin Script||Devanāgarī Script||Fijian origin||Meaning|
|bilo||बिलो||bilo||cup made of coconut, used to drink kava|
Many English words have also been borrowed into Fiji Hindi with sound changes to fit the Indo-Fijian pronunciation. For example, hutel in Fiji Hindi is borrowed from hotel in English. Some words borrowed from English have a specialised meaning, for example, garaund in Fiji Hindi means a playing field, geng in Fiji Hindi means a "work gang", particularly a cane-cutting gang in the sugar cane growing districts and tichaa in Fiji Hindi specifically means a female teacher. There are also unique Fijian Hindi words created from English words, for example, kantaap taken from cane-top means slap or associated with beating.
Many words of Hindustani origin have shifted meaning in Fiji Hindi. These are due to either innovations in Fiji or continued use of the old meaning in Fiji Hindi when the word is either not used in Standard Hindi anymore or has evolved a different meaning altogether. Some examples are:
|Fiji Hindi word||Fiji Hindi meaning||Original Hindustani meaning|
|bekaar||bad, not good, useless||unemployed, nothing to do, or useless|
|bigha||acre||1 bigha = 1600 square yards or 0.1338 hectare or 0.3306-acre (1,338 m2)|
|bihaan||tomorrow||tomorrow morning (Bhojpuri)|
|Bombaiyaa||Marathi/Gujaratis (Indians)||from what is today the former Bombay Presidency|
|gap||lie||gossip, idle talk, chit chat|
|jaati||race||caste (more often misused/misunderstood as a term to reference a native Fijian)|
|jhaap||shed||temporarily built shed|
|jor||fast, quick||force, strength, exertion|
|juluum||beautiful||tyranny, difficulty, amazing (Hindustani zalim, meaning "cruel", is metaphorically used for a beautiful object of affection)|
|kal||yesterday||yesterday or tomorrow|
|kamaanii||small spear (for prawns)||wire, spring|
|khassi||male goat||castrated animal|
|konchij||what||from kaun chij (Awadhi), literally meaning what thing or what stuff|
|maalik||god||employer/owner or god|
|Mandaraaji||South Indian||original word, Madraasi, meant "from Madras (or Tamil Nadu)"|
|Punjabi||Sikh||native of Punjab, whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh|
Many words of English origin have shifted meaning in Fiji Hindi.
|English word||Fiji Hindi meaning|
|engine||locomotive (in addition to usual vehicle/boat engines)|
|pipe||tap (faucet) (in addition to artificially made tubes)|
|cabbage||Chinese cabbage or bok choy|
|set||everything is ok (used as a statement or question)|
|right||ok (used as a statement)|
Though broadly based on standard Hindi, counting in Fiji Hindi reflects a number of cross-language and dialectal influences acquired in the past 125 years.
The pronunciation for numbers between one and ten show slight inflections, seemingly inspired by Eastern Hindi dialects such as Bhojpuri. The number two, consequently, is दो (do) in standard Hindi, while in Fiji Hindi it is dui (दुइ), just as it is in Bhojpuri.
Words for numbers between 10 and 99 present a significant difference between standard and Fiji Hindi. While, as in other north Indian languages, words for numbers in standard Hindustani are formed by mentioning units first and then multiples of ten, Fiji Hindi reverses the order and mentions the tens multiple first and the units next, as is the practice in many European and South-Indian languages. That is to say, while "twenty-one" in Standard Hindi is इक्कीस (ikkīs), an internal sandhi of ek aur biis, or "one-and-twenty", in Fiji Hindi the order would be reversed, and simply be biis aur ek (बिस और एक), without any additional morpho-phonological alteration. Similarly, while the number thirty-seven in standard Hindi is सैंतीस (saintīs), for saat aur tiis or "seven-and-thirty", the number would be tiis aur saat (तिस और सात), or 'thirty-and-seven' in Fiji Hindi.
Additionally, powers of ten beyond ten thousand, such as lakh (100,000) and crore (10 million), are not used in Fiji Hindi.
|21||twenty-one||इक्कीस (ikkīs)||bis aur ek|
|22||twenty-two||बाईस (bāīs)||bis aur dui|
|23||twenty-three||तेईस (teīs)||bis aur teen|
|31||thirty-one||इकत्तीस (ikattīs)||tiis aur ek|
|32||thirty-two||बत्तीस (battīs)||tiis aur dui|
|33||thirty-three||तैंतीस (taintīs)||tiis aur teen|
|41||forty-one||इकतालीस (iktālīs)||chaalis aur ek|
|42||forty-two||बयालीस (bayālīs)||chaalis aur dui|
|43||forty-three||तैंतालीस (taintālīs)||chaalis aur teen|
Main article: Fiji Indian diaspora
With political upheavals in Fiji, beginning with the first military coup in 1987, large numbers of Indo-Fijians have since migrated overseas and at present there are significant communities of Indo-Fijian expatriates in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Smaller communities also reside on other Pacific Islands and Britain. The last census in each of the countries where Fiji Hindi is spoken (counting Indo-Fijians who were born in Fiji) provides the following figures:
|Country||Number of Fiji-born Indo-Fijians|