World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Fiji Hindi

Article Id: WHEBN0006198008
Reproduction Date:

Title: Fiji Hindi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hindustani language, Indians in Fiji, Fiji, Bundeli language, Haryanvi language
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Fiji Hindi

Fiji Hindi
फिजी बात Fiji Baat
Native to Fiji, with significant minorities within Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Native speakers
unknown (380,000 in Fiji cited 1990)[1]
Latin, Devanagari script
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 hif
Glottolog fiji1242[2]

Fiji Hindi or Fijian Hindi, known locally as "Hindustani", is the language spoken by most Fijian citizens of Indian descent, though a small number speak other languages at home.[1] Despite its name, it is not derived from the Hindustani language, but rather is a variety of Awadhi that was influenced by Bhojpuri and other Bihari languages. It has also borrowed a large number of words from the non-Indic Fijian and English. A large number of 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".


Indian indentured labourers were initially brought to Fiji mainly from districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, North-West Frontier and South India such as from Andhra and Tamil Nadu in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They spoke numerous 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
Language/Dialect Number Percentage
Bihari 17,868 39.3%
Eastern Hindi 16,871 37.1%
Western Hindi 6,903 15.2%
Rajasthani 1,111 2.4%
Other languages 1,546 3.4%
Overseas colonies 640 1.4%
Unknown 500 1.1%
Total 45,439 100%

Note that Bhojpuri, spoken by 35.4% of North Indian migrants, is a Bihari language and Awadhi, spoken by 32.9%, is an Eastern Hindi language.

Over time, a distinct Indo-Fijian language developed in Fiji, which combined the common elements of the Hindi dialects spoken in these areas with native Fijian, Urdu, Arabic, and English, Tamil words; this has diverged significantly from the varieties of Hindi and Urdu spoken on the Indian subcontinent. The development of Fiji Hindi was accelerated by the need for labourers speaking different languages 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.
— [3]

Other writers, who included Burton[4] (1914) and Lenwood[5] (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.[6]


Later, approximately 15,000 Indian indentured labourers, who were mainly speakers of Dravidian languages (Telugu, Tamil 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.

Language Number of households in 1956 Number of households in 1966
Hindustani 17,164 30,726
Hindi 3,644 783
Tamil 1,498 999
Urdu 1,233 534
Gujarati 830 930
Telugu 797 301
Punjabi 468 175
Malayalam 134 47
Other 90 359

Fiji Hindi is also understood and even spoken by Indigenous Fijians in areas of Fiji where there are large Indo-Fijian communities. Following the recent political upheaval in Fiji, a large number of 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. Fiji Hindi is written using both the Latin script and the Devanagari script.

A Fiji Hindi movie has also been produced depicting Indo-Fijian life and is based on a play by local playwright, Raymond Pillai.[7]


The phonemes of Fiji Hindi are very similar to Indian Hindi, but there are some important distinctions. As in Bhojpuri and Hindi spoken in rural India - Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh - the consonant "sh" is replaced with "s" (for example, saadi instead of shaadi) and "v" 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 "j" and "z" (In Fiji Hindi land is jameen instead of zameen). The consonant "n" is used in Fiji Hindi for the nasal sounds "ṅ", "ñ" and "ṇ" in Indian Hindi. These features are common in the Eastern Hindi dialects.[8] Some other characteristics of Fiji Hindi which is similar to Bhojpuri are:

  • Pronunciation of the vowels ai and au as diphthongs, rather than monophthongs (as in standard Hindi). For example, bhauji (sister-in-law) and gaiya (cow).
  • Coda clusters are removed with the use of vowels. For example, dharm (religion) is pronounced as dharam.
  • Shortening of long vowels before a stressed symbol. For example, Ra:jen (a common name) is pronounced as Rajen.[9]




In Fiji Hindi verb forms have been influenced by a number of Indian Hindi dialects. 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. The use of the first and second person imperfective suffixes -taa, -at are of Awadhi origin, while the third person imperfective suffix -e is of Bhojpuri origin. The third person perfective suffixes (for transitive verbs) -is and -in are also derived from Awadhi. The third person definite future suffix -ii is found in both Awadhi and Bhojpuri. The influence of Urdu, which was widely used in the urban areas of Eastern India in the late 19th century, is evident in the first and second person perfective suffix -aa and the first and second person future siffix -ega. The origin of the imperative suffix -o can be traced to the Magahi dialect, 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. The suffix -be, from Bhojpuri, is used in Fiji Hindi in emphatic sentences. Another suffix originating from Awadhi is -it, but is at present going out of use.

Grammatical features

  • Fiji Hindi does not have plurals. For example, one house is ek gharr in Fiji Hindi and two houses is dui gharr in Fiji Hindi. In this example, the number is used to denote plurality. Plurals can also be stated with the use of log. For example, ee means "this person" (singular) and ee log means "these people" (plural). Sabb (all) and dHerr (many) are also used to denote plural. There are some exceptions, however. For example, a boy is larrka (single) and boys are larrkan (plural). Older generations still use a similar form of plural, for example, admian, for more than one man (singular: admi).
  • There is no definite article ("the") in Fiji Hindi, but definite nouns can be made by adding the suffix wa; for example, larrka (a boy) and larrkwa (the boy). Definite nouns are also created using the suffix "kana"; for example, chhota (small) and chhotkana (the small one). Another way of indicating a definite article is by the use of pronouns: ii (this), uu (that) and wahii (the same one).

Fijian loan words

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:
Fiji Hindi in Latin Script Fiji Hindi in Devanagari Script Fijian origin Meaning
nangona नंगोना yaqona kava
tabale तबाले tavale wife's brother
bilo बिलो bilo cup made of coconut, used to drink kava

Words derived from English

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 means cane-top.

Semantic shifts from Indian languages to Fiji Hindi

Many words of Hindi/Urdu/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 Indian Hindi anymore or has evolved a different meaning altogether.[10] Some examples are:

Fiji Hindi word Fiji Hindi meaning Original Hindustani meaning
baade flood flooding
bekaar bad, not good, useless unemployed, nothing to do, or useless
bhagao elope abduct
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 city of Mumbai
fokatiyaa useless bankrupt
gap lie gossip, idle talk, chit chat
jaati native Fijian caste
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
konchi what from kaun cheez 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)"
palla door shutter
Punjabi Sikh native of Punjab, whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh
taharo stroll wait

Semantic shift from English to Fiji Hindi

Many words of English origin have shifted meaning in Fiji Hindi.
English word Fiji Hindi meaning
purse wallet
theatre cinema
teacher female teacher
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)


Though broadly based on standard Hindi, counting in Fiji Hindi reflects a number of cross-language and dialectal influences picked up 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 do (दो) in standard Hindi, while in Fiji Hindi it is dui (दुइ), just as it is in Bhojpuri. Similarly, the number six in standard Hindi is chhe (छे) while in Fiji Hindi it is pronounced as chhah (छह).

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 Indian Hindi is 'ikkiis' (इक्कीस), an internal sandhi of 'ek aur biis', or 'one-and-twenty', in Fiji Hindi it would reverse the order, and simply be 'biis aur ek' (बिस और एक), without any additional morphophonological alteration. Similarly, while the number thirty-seven in standard Hindi is 'saintiis' (सैंतीस), for 'saat aur tiis' or 'seven-and-thirty', the number would be तिस और सात, 'tiis aur saat', or 'thirty-and-seven' in Fiji Hindi.

Additionally, powers of ten beyond ten-thousand, lakh (100,000) and karor (10 million) are not used in Fiji Hindi.

Number in English Number in Standard Hindi Devanagri Script Number in Standard Hindi Roman Script Number in Fiji Hindi Roman Script
twenty-one इक्कीस ikkiis bis aur ek
twenty-two बाईस baaiis bis aur dui
twenty-three तेईस teiis bis aur teen
thirty-one इकत्तीस ikatiis tiis aur ek
thirty-two बत्तीस battiis tiis aur dui
thirty-three तैंतीस taintiis tiis aur teen
forty-one इकतालीस ekatalis chaalis aur ek
forty-two बयालीस bayaalis chaalis aur dui
forty-three तैंतालीस taintaalis chaalis aur teen

Spread overseas

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
Fiji 313,798[11]
New Zealand 27,882[12]
Australia 27,542[13]
United States 24,345[14]
Canada 22,770[15]
Tonga 310[16]


  • Rodney F. Moag, who had lived in India before joining the University of the South Pacific as a lecturer. He analysed Fiji Hindi and concluded that it was a unique language with its own distinct grammar, rather than "broken Hindi", as it had been previously referred to. Moag documented his findings and wrote lessons using the Fijian Hindi dialect in the book, Fiji Hindi: a basic course and reference grammar (1977).
  • Jeff Siegel, in his thesis on Plantation languages in Fiji (1985), has written a detailed account of the development of Fiji Hindi and its different forms as used by Indo-Fijians and Indigenous 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 (Incomplete Dream), produced in 2007.
  • Urmila Prasad, who helped translate the Biblical Gospels of Mark, Luke, Matthew and John into Fiji Hindi, written using Roman script, known as Susamaachaar Aur Romiyo (2002)

See also


  1. ^ a b Fiji Hindi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ South Asian bilingualism: Hindi and Bhojpuri
  10. ^
  11. ^ Fiji - 2007 census
  12. ^ New Zealand - 2006 census
  13. ^ Australian Government - 2006 census
  14. ^ United States - 2000 census
  15. ^ Migration Facts Stats and Maps
  16. ^ Tonga census 2006


  • Siegel Jeff, Plantation Languages in Fiji, Australian National University, 1985 (Published as Language Contact in a Plantation Environment: A Sociolinguistic History of Fiji, Cambridge University Press, 1987, recently reprinted in paperback).
  • R. F., ', 1977

External links

  • Fijian Hindi Dictionary
  • The first novel written in Fijian Hindi (archive link)
  • Fijian Hindi version of the Gospels and Romans
  • Adhura Sapna - Movie in Fijian Hindi
  • Ghar Pardes - Another movie in Fijian Hindi, 2009
  • Trailer of Ghar Pardes
  • Fijian Hindi-to-Hindi Dictionary
  • Fijian Hindi words on Wiktionary
  • Texan talks the talk

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.