Fiji Hindi

Fiji Hindi

Infobox Language
name=Fiji Hindī
caption=Fiji Hindi
states=Fiji, with significant minorities in the Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada
speakers= 460,000
script=Latin, Devanagari script

Fiji Hindi, also known as Fijian Hindi or Fiji Hindustani [ cite web |url= |title=Fijian Hindustani|accessdate=2007-10-13 |format= |work= ] , is a language which is spoken in Fiji by most Fijian citizens of Indian descent. It is derived mainly from the Awadhi and Bhojpuri language or dialects of Hindi and also contains words from other Indian languages. It has also borrowed a large number of words from Fijian and English. The relation between Fiji Hindi and Hindi is similar to the relation between Afrikaans and Dutch. A large number of words, unique to Fiji Hindi, have been created to cater for the new environment that Fiji Indians now live in. First generation Fiji Indians, who used the language as a lingua franca in Fiji, referred to the language as "Fiji Baat" (Fiji Talk). Recent studies by linguists have confirmed that Fiji Hindi "is a distinct dialect based on Hindi as spoken in India but with its own special grammar and vocabulary suited for Fiji." [cite book
last =Siegel
first =Jeff
title =Say it in Fiji Hindi
publisher =Pacific Publications
date =1977
location =Sydney
id = 0-85807-026-X


Indian indentured labourers were initially brought to Fiji mainly from districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They spoke numerous, mainly Hindi, dialects and languages depending on their district of origin. These have been grouped, into related dialects and summarised in the table below:

Dialects spoken by indentured labourers from North India
Eastern Hindi16,87137.1%
Western Hindi6,90315.2%
Other Languages1,5463.4%
Overseas Colonies6401.4%
Note that Bhojpuri, spoken by 35.4% of north Indian migrants, has been included in the Bihari group and Awadhi, spoken by 32.9%, has been included in the Eastern Hindi group.

A language soon developed in Fiji that combined the common elements of the dialects of Hindi spoken in these areas as well as some Fijian and English words to form a unique language known as Fiji Hindi, which has diverged significantly from the varieties of Hindi and Urdu spoken on the Indian sub-continent. The development of Fiji Hindi was accelerated by the need for labourers speaking different dialects and sub-dialects of Hindi to work together and the practice of young children being left during working hours in early versions of day care centers. 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. [ cite book |title= Seventy-two years in Australia and the South Pacific|last= Wright|first= Percey|authorlink= |coauthors= |year= 1910|publisher= Mitchell Library|location= Sydney|isbn= ]
Other writers, who included Burton [cite book |title= The Fiji of Today|last= Burton|first= John W.|authorlink= |coauthors= |year= 1910|publisher= Charles H. Kelly|location=London |isbn= ] (1914) and Lenwood [cite book |title=Pastels from the Pacific |last= Lenwood|first= F.|authorlink= |coauthors= |year= 1917|publisher= Oxford University Press|location=London |isbn= ] (1917) made similar observations. By the late 1920s, Fiji Hindi was being learned by all Fiji Indian children born in Fiji becoming the common language of North and South Indians alike. [ cite book |title=Polynesia. Westminister: Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts |last=Hands |first=W. J. |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1929 |publisher= |location= |isbn= ]


Later, approximately 15,000 Indian indentured labourers, were brought from South India, who were mainly speakers of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam languages. By this time Fiji Hindi was well established as the lingua franca of Fiji Indians and the South Indian labourers had to learn it to communicate with the more numerous North Indians and European overseers. After the end of the indenture system, Indians who spoke Gujarati and Punjabi arrived in Fiji as free immigrants. At present a few Indians in Fiji speak Tamil, Telugu and Gujarati at home but all speak and communicate with each other in Fiji Hindi. The census reports of 1956 and 1966 shows the extent to which Fiji Hindi (named as Hindustani in the census) was being spoken in Fiji Indian households.

Counting in Fiji Hindi

Counting in Fiji Hindi, though based on Hindi, has undergone a number of changes in the past 125 years. It has been greatly influenced by English, and for larger numbers the Hindi numbers have been adapted to the English counting system.

For numbers less than ten, the Hindi words are used with slight changes in pronunciation, and for numbers larger than 10, English words are used. Most older Fiji Indians, and those living in rural areas, are able to count up to 20 in Hindi. The number two in standard Hindi is "do" (दो), while in Fiji Hindi it is "dui" (दुइ), and the number six in standard Hindi is "chhah" (छह) while in Fiji Hindi it is pronounced "chhe" (छे).

between twenty and ninety-nine are formed irregularly, but Fiji Hindi simplifies the method of their formation. The names of these numbers are made up of a combination of the Hindi multiple of ten plus the Hindi number between one and nine. For example, the number twenty-one in Fiji Hindi is literally "twenty and one". Thus, in Fiji Hindi twenty-one in "biis aur ek" (बिस और एक), where Standard Hindi uses "ikkiis" (इक्कीस) and thirty-seven is "tiis aur saat" (तिस और सात), contrasted with Hindi's "saintiis" (सैंतीस). Hindi numbers "lakh" (100,000) and "karor" (10 million) are not used.

Spread of Fiji Hindi overseas

With political upheavels in Fiji beginning with the first coup in 1987, large numbers of Fiji Indians have migrated overseas and at present there are significant communities of these Fiji Hindi speaking people in Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada. Smaller communities live in England and other Pacific islands.

Writers in Fiji Hindi

* Rodney F. Moag who had lived in India before joining the University of the South Pacific as a lecturer. He analysed Fiji Hindi and informed the nation that it was a language with its own grammar, rather than "broken Hindi", as it used to be known before. He documented his findings and wrote lessons in Fiji Hindi in the book, "Fiji Hindi : a basic course and reference grammar" (1977).
* Jeff Siegel, in his thesis on "Plantation languages in Fiji" (1985), his written a detailed account of the development of Fiji Hindi and its different forms as used by Fiji Indians and the native Fijians. Earlier Siegel had written a quick reference guide called "Say it in Fiji Hindi" (1976).
* Subramani, professor in literature at the University of the South Pacific, who wrote the first Fiji Hindi novel, "Duaka Puraan" (2001), which is the story of Fiji Lal (an old villager) as told by him to a visiting scholar to his village. The book is written in the style of the "Puraans" but in a humorous way ("Puraan" being a sacred text also known as Purana; 18 Puraans have come out of India). He received a Government of India award for his contribution to Hindi language and literature for this novel. In June 2003, in Suriname at the Seventh World Hindi Conference, Professor Subramani was presented with a special award for this novel.
* Raymond C. Pillai wrote the story for the first Fiji Hindi movie,"Adhura Sapna" (Shattered Dream) produced in 2007.
* Urmila Prasad, who helped translate the Gospels of Mark, Luke, Matthew and John in Fiji Hindi , written in Roman script, known as "Susamaachaar Aur Romiyo" (2002)

See also

* Fiji
* India
* Hindustani
* Indo-Fijian



* Siegel Jeff, "Plantation Languages in Fiji", Australian National University, 1985
*cite book |title=Fiji Hindi: A basic course and reference grammar |last=Moag |first=Rodney F.|authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1977 |publisher=Australian National University |location=Canberra |isbn=0708115748
* R. F. , "", , 1977

External links

* [ Fiji Hindi Dictionary]
* [ The first ever novel written in Fiji Hindi]
* [ Fiji Hindi version of the Gospels and Romans]
* [ Robert Kay's Fiji Guide]
* [ An expired lease]
* [ Hindustani, Fijian]
* [ Adhura Sapna - Movie in Fiji Hindi]

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