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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheClawFather

Why does Fiji have Hindi as an official language?

Apparently Hindi is an official language in Fiji

I've heard about the British exporting (?) people from India but did that many go that's an important language

January 23, 2020

10 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ueck1

The British had many sugar plantations scattered throughout their colonies, including on Fiji. After slavery was abolished in the British Empire in the 1830's, the British turned to indentured Indian laborers as an alternative source of labor. About 2 million Indians participated in the program. Ostensibly an Indian laborer would sign a five-year contract to work on a plantation somewhere else in the British colonies, and later to the colonies of other European powers. This lasted from the 1830's to the 1910's. The system was rife with abuse, such as poor working conditions. While some indentured laborers decided not to return home, others were not allowed to go home. Thus Fiji, the Caribbean, and several other parts of the Empire got large Indian populations. You can read more about the system here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_indenture_system.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheClawFather

Then why is Fiji the only one like this? Shouldn't a couple places in the Caribbean have Hindi as an official language as well?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ueck1

Some places in the Caribbean do still have native Hindi speakers, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. Why they don’t have official recognition I don’t know. Maybe the population isn’t high enough to make the demand.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/The_Ankh

Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, apart from their official languages have a large number of speakers of a dialect normally known as Caribbean Hindustani. It's not really the same as Hindi spoken in India, and although very similar, it is not easy for speakers of the two languages to understand each other. The same applies to Fiji Hindi, which has many differences from the Hindi spoken in India.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheClawFather

Are there large communities in places like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand or even Britain (y'know cause they're larger places eh?)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ueck1

Yes. But aside from South Africa none of those places got Indians due to the indentured labor system. And Indians make up less of the overall population (4.7% in NZ and 2.3% in the UK compared to 40% in Fiji).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ueck1

Indians did come to South Africa as part of the indentured labor system and for other reasons, and are now ~2% of the South African population. Gandhi famously lived there and practiced as a lawyer for a while earlier in his life.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheClawFather

I'm guessing South Africa didn't cause the British employed the local African population? But they did have people from India when building the railway in Tsavo. Sorry if this seems pushy I just never really thought about it so I have questions


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/belstar128

A lot of indian people moved to Fiji during the British empire now around half of the population of Fiji speaks hindi.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheClawFather

Half? That's way more than I thought, I kinda assumed it was more a connection to their past

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