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Chapter Seven: Fiji Hindi

January 2, 2021

When I was younger I would listen to my parents speak to our family and then speak to Indians from India. I heard the switch from what they called “broken-Hindi” to “proper-Hindi.” I never took time to think about why our Hindi was different, or why we called it “broken.” I was just amazed that they could speak one language in different ways.

With Girmit (Indentured Slavery) came communication barriers, not just among the British and the Indians but within the Indian community themselves. Girmitiyas came from all over India, and spoke several different dialects from the Hindi Belt. Of course the need to communicate with one another was crucial as Girmitiyas had to work together, live together and raise their families together.

As children were born during the Girmit era, they began to learn what is called Fiji Hindi. A mix of Hindi, Fijian and English. As the Indian population grew in Fiji, so did the language. It was spoken by Indo-Fijians and even native Fijians. Fiji has three official languages: English,  iTaukei (native Fijian) and Hindi.

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