Caribbean Hindustani

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Caribbean Hindustani
Caribbean Hindi-Urdu
Native speakers
75,500 in Suriname [1]
  • Trinidadian Hindustani (Trinidadian Bhojpuri)
  • Guyanese Hindustani (Aili Gaili)
  • Sarnami Hindoestani
Perso-Arabic (Urdu alphabet)
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3hns

Caribbean Hindustani is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by Indo-Caribbeans and the Indo-Caribbean diaspora. It is based on Bhojpuri with influences from Awadhi.[3] These were spoken by indentured laborers who came as immigrants to the Caribbean from the Indian subcontinent. It is closely related to Fijian Hindi and the Hindustani spoken in Mauritius and South Africa.

Because a majority of people came from the Awadh region in Uttar Pradesh and the Bhojpur region in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, Caribbean Hindustani is most influenced by Bhojpuri, Awadhi, and other Eastern Hindi-Bihari dialects. It has a very minor influence from Tamil, Telugu, and other Dravidian languages. It has also borrowed many words from Dutch in Suriname and other Dutch colonies, and English and French in former British colonies and French colonies. Many words unique to Caribbean Hindustani have been created to cater for the new environment that Indo-Caribbeans now live in.

Like the Hindustani spoken in the Indian subcontinent, Caribbean Hindustani is broken up into two registers Caribbean Hindi and Caribbean Urdu. Hindustani refers to both Hindi and Urdu. Caribbean Hindi is spoken by Hindus and people of Hindu descent, whereas Caribbean Urdu is spoken by Muslims and people of Muslim descent. Caribbean Hindi has more influence from Sanskrit and Prakrit, while Caribbean Urdu has more influence from Arabic, Chagatai, and Persian. Hindi is written in the Devanagari, Devanagari Braille, and Kaithi script, whereas Urdu is written in the Perso-Arabic script and Urdu Braille, although in more recent times they both are written in the Latin script and English Braille.

Chutney music, chutney soca, chutney parang, baithak gana, folk music, classical music, some Hindu religious songs, some Muslim religious songs, and even some Indian Christian religious songs are sung in Caribbean Hindustani, sometimes being mixed with English in the Anglophone Caribbean or Dutch in Suriname and the Dutch Caribbean.

Guyanese Hindustani

The Caribbean Hindustani of Guyana is known as Aili Gaili (Aaye-Gaye [I] Came-Gone) The word is a misnomer because the language is related to the Bihari languages, separate from Hindustani and is different from its meaning as the language which is the lingua franca of India and Pakistan. It is spoken by some members in a community of 300,000 Indo-Guyanese.

Trinidadian Hindustani

The variant that is spoken in Trinidad and Tobago is known as Trinidadian Hindustani, Trinidadian Bhojpuri, Plantation Hindustani, or Gaon ke Bolee (Village Speech).[4] A majority of the early Indian immigrants spoke the Bhojpuri and Awadhi dialect of Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu), which later formed into Trinidadian Hindustani. In 1935, Indian movies began showing to audiences in Trinidad. Most of the Indian movies were in the Standard Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) dialect and this modified Trinidadian Hindustani slightly by adding Standard Hindi and Urdu phrases and vocabulary to Trinidadian Hindustani. Indian movies also revitalized Hindustani among Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians.[5] Around the mid to late 1970s the lingua franca of Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonians switched from Trinidadian Hindustani to a sort of Hindinized version of English. Today Hindustani survives on through Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian musical forms such as, Bhajan, Indian classical music, Indian folk music, Filmi, Pichakaree, Chutney, Chutney soca, and Chutney parang. Presently there are about 26,000 people, which is 5.53% of the Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian population, who speak Trinidadian Hindustani. Many Indo-Trinidadians and Tobagonians today speak a type of Hinglish that consist of Trinidadian and Tobagonian English that is heavily laced with Trinidadian Hindustani vocabulary and phrases and many Indo-Trinidadians and Tobagonians can recite phrases or prayers in Hindustani today. There are many places in Trinidad and Tobago that have names of Hindustani origin. Some phrases and vocabulary have even made its way into the mainstream English and English Creole dialect of the country.[6][7][8][9][4]

Sarnami Hindustani

Sarnami Hindustani meaning Surinamese Hindustani is the most widely spoken language in Suriname after Dutch, Sranan Tongo (the two lingua francas) and English. It is a distinct dialect of the Bhojpuri language (the language spoken in north Indian states Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand) with heavy lexical influence from other languages spoken in Suriname. It is mainly spoken by and within Suriname’s Indo-Surinamese (ca. 27% of the population) community and therefore it is not considered to be a third lingua franca.

Baithak Gana is the most famous form of the song being sung in Sarnami Hindustani.


  1. ^ “Hindustani, Sarnami.” Ethnologue,
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Caribbean Hindustani". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Caribbean Hindustani at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  4. ^ a b Jayaram, N.; Atal, Yogesh (24 May 2004). The Indian Diaspora: Dynamics of Migration. ISBN 9780761932185.
  5. ^ Gooptar, Primnath (2014). Bala Joban: The First Indian Movie in Trinidad (1935). ISBN 9789766483227.
  6. ^ "Hindustani, Sarnami". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  7. ^ "The Languages spoken in Trinidad and Tobago".
  8. ^ "10,000 students graduate in Hindi".
  9. ^ Mahabir, Kumar (December 1999). "The Impact of Hindi on Trinidadian English". Caribbean Quarterly. 45 (4): 13–34. doi:10.1080/00086495.1999.11671866.

External links

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