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Fiji Indians – Fiji Hindi Baat Posted by on May 31, 2021 in Hindi Language, Travel & Geography

Fiji Indian

The Language and Dialects

The Girmitiya brought the language भाषा and culture संस्कृति of their villages to Fiji.  They spoke the dialects बोलियों and languages of their state but the majority spoke Hindi which is an Indo-Aryan language. This language differed from Fijian which is an Austronesian language.

Fiji Hindi Baat

Fiji Hindi is also known as Fiji Baat. Baat बात means speak in Hindi.  The language is influenced बात क by the Bhojpuri, Maithili or Awadhi dialect, depending on where the people originated उत्पन्न हुई.  About 15% spoke Bundeli or Dehlavi Hindi which is from western India. The remainder spoke Tamil or Telegu.

Over the decades a distinct language developed among the Fiji Indians. The language was made up of native Fijian, Pacific Island, and Hindi along with some English words.

Official Hindi

In 1997 Fiji drafted a new constitution establishing three official सरकारी languages, English, Fijian, and Fiji Hindi. There are over 400,000 speakers of Fiji Hindi in Fiji along with 30,000 or more in the United States. Fiji Hindi is written using both the Latin and the Devanagari script even though the constitution संविधान is written in Devanagari.

Over the years, the native Fijians have pressured the government to prioritize Fijian over Fiji Hindi. Fiji Hindi is taught in all primary schools. In India, schools require Hindi as a second language from 2nd grade onwards.

Currently, the University of South Pacific teaches Fijian Hindi. There are also radio broadcasts in Fiji Hindi and films being made using the language.

Grammatical Features

As we know, Hindi does not have an indefinite article such as ‘a’ or ‘the’. However, Fiji Hindi the noun is modified to show the difference between ‘a’ and ‘the’. For example, a boy = ladka while the boy = ladkwa. The suffix ‘wa’ is used.

Fiji Indians write numbers in reverse order. For example, 27 twenty five in standard Hindi is pachees which is 5 and twenty, but Fiji Hindi it is written and spoken as twenty plus 5 bees aur paanch. Or 41 forty one is ektalees, but in Fiji Hindi it is challees aur ek.

Dr. Paul Geraghty writes, “My impression is there is boundless enthusiasm for Fiji Hindi among the younger generation, not just as a means of colloquial communication but as a vibrant language that only needs to be developed to serve as a language of education, government, etc.”

 

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About the Author: Nicole Herbert Dean

Language, Region and Culture Consultant


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