Fiji Hindi
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Fiji Hindi

Fiji Hindi
Fiji Baat o Hindustani
(Devanagari script)
(Kaithi script)
Native toFiji
EthnicityIndo-Fijians and the Indo-Fijian diaspora
Native speakers
(460,000 cited 1991)[1]
Signed Hindi
Official status
Official language in
Language codes

Fiji Hindi or Fijian Hindi (Fiji Hindi: ), also known locally as simply Fiji Baat or Hindustani, is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by most Indo-Fijians, though a few speak other languages at home.[1] 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 Standard Hindi-Urdu. 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.[2] 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 Bhojpuri, Magahi, 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.

Language/Dialect Number Percentage
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.[3]

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


Pidgin Hindustani
Fiji Hindi-based pidgin
Language codes
None (mis)

Later, approximately 15,000 Indian indentured labourers, who were mainly speakers of Dravidian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Tulu, 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. Many Hindu schools teach the hindi script while the Muslim schools teach the Perso-Arabic script.

Language Number of households in 1956 Number of households in 1966
Fijian 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. 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 Devan?gar? has also been used.[7][8]

A Fiji Hindi movie has also been produced depicting Indo-Fijian life and is based on a play by local playwright, Raymond Pillai.[9]


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 is replaced with (for example, saadi instead of shaadi) and replaced with (for example, bid-es instead of videsh). There is also a tendency to ignore the differences between the consonants and (In Fiji Hindi a fruit is fal instead of phal) and between and (in Fiji Hindi land is jameen instead of zameen). The consonant is used in Fiji Hindi for the nasal sounds , and in Standard Hindi. These features are common in the Eastern Hindi dialects.[10] Some other characteristics of Fiji Hindi which is similar to Bhojpuri and Awadhi 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 epenthetic vowels. For example, dharm (religion) is pronounced as dharam.
  • Shortening of long vowels before a stressed syllable. For example, Raajen (a common name) is pronounced as Rajen.[11]


Pronoun Fiji Hindi Standard Hindi
I Hum () Main ()
You (Informal) Tum () Tu/Tum (/)
You (Formal) Aap () Aap ()
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: ? / ? "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 ? ? "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? ? "Kisaan ganna katees raha." (The farmer cut the sugarcane). ? / ? ? "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: ? "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 siffix -ega. Example? ? "Hum karaa, tum karega." (I did, you will do).

The origin of the imperative suffix -o can be traced to the Magahi dialect. Example: "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? "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 ? ? ? ? ? "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
To come Aana (?n?)
Come! Aao! ! (?o!)
(I) am coming () Ham aat (aawat) hai ? (ma?i ? rah? h)
(I) came Ham aaya raha (ma?i ?y?)
(I) will come Ham aayega (ma?i g?)
(I) was coming () Ham aat (aawat) raha ? (ma?i ? rah? th?)
(I) used to play ? Ham khelat raha ? ? (ma?i khel? kart? th?)
(He/she/they) is/are coming ? / ? ? oo aawe hai/oo logan aat hai ? / ? / ?
(vo ? rah? hai/vah ? rah? hai/ve ? rahe ha?i)
(He/she) came ? Oo Aais / (vah ?y?/vah )
(They) came ? ? Oo logan Aain (ve ?ye)

Grammatical features

  • Fiji Hindi does not have plurals. For example, one house is ek gharr and two houses is dui gharr. 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) but 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
Latin Script Devan?gar? Script Fijian origin Meaning
nangona yaqona kava
tabale tavale wife's brother
bilo ? 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 taken from cane-top means slap or associated with beating.

Semantic shifts

Indian languages

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.[12] 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 what is today the former Bombay Presidency
fokatiyaa useless bankrupt
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)"
palla door shutter
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
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)
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 Bihari dialects such as Bhojpuri. The number two, consequently, is (do) in standard Hindi, while in Fiji Hindi it is dui (), 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 (ikk?s), 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 ( ), without any additional morpho-phonological alteration. Similarly, while the number thirty-seven in standard Hindi is (saint?s), for saat aur tiis or "seven-and-thirty", the number would be 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.[example needed]

Numeral English Hindi Fiji Hindi
21 twenty-one (ikk?s) bis aur ek
22 twenty-two ? (bs) bis aur dui
23 twenty-three ? (te?s) bis aur teen
31 thirty-one ? (ikatt?s) tiis aur ek
32 thirty-two (batt?s) tiis aur dui
33 thirty-three (taint?s) tiis aur teen
41 forty-one ? (ikt?l?s) chaalis aur ek
42 forty-two (bay?l?s) chaalis aur dui
43 forty-three (taint?l?s) 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[13]
New Zealand 27,882[14]
Australia 27,542[15]
United States 24,345[16]
Canada 22,770[17]
Tonga 310[18]


  • 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).
  • Raman Subramani, professor in literature at the University of the South Pacific, who wrote the first Fiji Hindi novel, Duaka Puraan (Devanagari , 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 (sacred texts) but in a humorous way. 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 (Devanagari? ?, "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)[19]

See also


  1. ^ de facto official script
  2. ^ Written in the Nastaliq calligraphic hand using the Urdu alphabet.
  1. ^ a b Fiji Hindi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "Hindi Diwas 2018: Hindi travelled to these five countries from India".
  3. ^ Wright, Percey (1910). Seventy-two years in Australia and the South Pacific. Sydney: Mitchell Library.
  4. ^ Burton, John W. (1910). The Fiji of Today. London: Charles H. Kelly.
  5. ^ Lenwood, F. (1917). Pastels from the Pacific. London: Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ Hands, W. J. (1929). Polynesia. Westminster: Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.
  7. ^ Dauka Puran by Subramani
  8. ^ "Academic backs Indo-Fijian 'mother tongue' over formal Hindi". RNZ. 5 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Fiji Hindi film set to be released soon". Fijilive. 9 February 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  10. ^ Barz, Richard K.; Jeff Siegel (1988). Language transplanted: the development of overseas Hindi. Wiesbaden: OttoHarrassowitz. p. 127. ISBN 3-447-02872-6.
  11. ^ South Asian bilingualism: Hindi and Bhojpuri
  12. ^ Barz, Richard; Jeff Siegel (1988). Language Transplanted: The Development of Overseas Hindi. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-02872-6.
  13. ^ Fiji - 2007 census Archived 9 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "New Zealand - 2006 census". Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  15. ^ "Australian Government - 2006 census" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 September 2006. Retrieved 2011.
  16. ^ United States - 2000 census
  17. ^ Migration Facts Stats and Maps
  18. ^ Tonga census 2006
  19. ^ "Bible using 'Fiji Hindi' sparks debate". Agence France-Presse. 9 August 2002.



  • 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).
  • Siegel, Jeff (1977). Say it in Fiji Hindi. Sydney: Pacific Publications (Aust) Pty Ltd. ISBN 0-85807-026-X.
  • Moag, Rodney F. (1977). Fiji Hindi: A basic course and reference grammar. Canberra: Australian National University. ISBN 0-7081-1574-8.
  • Barz, Richard K.; Jeff Siegel (1988). Language transplanted: the development of overseas Hindi. Wiesbaden: OttoHarrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-02872-6.

External links

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