Languages of Fiji

Fiji has three official languages under the 1997 constitution (and not revoked by the 2013 Constitution): English, Fijian and Hindi. Fijian is spoken either as a first or second language by most indigenous Fijians who make up around 54% of the population.

Fijians of Indian descent make up a further 37%, mainly speaking a local variant of Hindi, known as Fiji Hindi. English, a remnant of British colonial rule over the islands, was the sole official language until 1997 and is widely used in government, business and education as a lingua franca. Considerable business is also done in Fijian, especially away from larger town centre.

A small number of other Indigenous West Fijian and East Fijian regional languages are spoken on the islands, standard Fijian belonging to the East Fijian group. Chinese and Rotuman are also spoken by immigrant populations.

Languages of Fiji
OfficialEnglish, Fijian, Fiji Hindi


Until the 19th century, Fiji's population consisted almost entirely of indigenous Fijians, who were of mixed Polynesian and Melanesian descent and generally spoke languages of the Malayo-Polynesian language family. After the islands came under British colonial rule, a number of contract workers were brought from present-day British India, spreading the use of the Hindi language.

All three of Fiji's official languages have greatly been influenced by one another, in terms of vocabulary and, in some cases, grammar because of the constant, everyday contact between these languages, now for over a century. Fiji's diverse, multiracial and multilingual makeup make these languages, as well as other unofficial, minority languages in Fiji (such as Chinese, Western Fijian, Banaban, Rotuman, Tuvaluan and other present Indian languages), influence one another.


English usage in Fiji predates the cession of Fiji to Great Britain by a few decades. English was first encountered from the first explorers and traders and found greater popularity as a lingua franca (albeit mixed with English in an early and now extinct Pidgin Fijian) between frontier settlers and the indigenous peoples. By the time of the British administration, much of the Fijian nobility were able to comprehend basic English. The English spoken in Fiji today is very different and has developed significantly over the close to 150 years of usage in the islands.

Like many former colonies of Great Britain, there are certain 'situational varieties' of English present. There is the very formal, 'Proper' English (which would resemble formal English in Australia or the United Kingdom) as it is known, which is to be used in government and any other situation deemed formal enough for its use, but it has fallen out of favor due to the popularity of the more laid back varieties and is still spoken only by the older generation that lived through the colonial days. A sort of mid-level English is used in school, church, work and in semi-formal situations and is basically English with localized grammatical innovations and words imported from Hindi and Fijian; it is quickly becoming 'formal English' in Fiji.

Very informal Fiji English, or Finglish, is used among all races with family, friends and in general conversations and in any other situation not deemed formal. Fiji English has been tentatively studied by linguists and has been suggested as a separate dialect from Standard English (as has developed in Australia and New Zealand) but the distinction is not made locally or in the constitution. Moreover, other linguists suggest it is part of a greater South Pacific English dialect because of the shared development of English within former British colonies and protectorates in the South Pacific.


Fijian is an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Polynesian family spoken in Fiji. It has 300,000 first-language speakers, which is more than half the population of Fiji, but another 300,000 speak it as a second language. The early missionaries selected the Bau dialect or Bauan (which, among the East Fijian dialects, held the place that French would in Europe, while the purer Rewa dialect would be Latin) as the standard dialect for printing and communicating. Bauan soon became the standard of communication among the indigenous iTaukei. Bauan was selected not only because of its prestige but also because it was the language of the then politically dominant island of Bau and the Mataiwelagi chiefs (and claimed King of Fiji).

By the middle to the late 19th century, with the push by missionaries, Bauan had also invaded the Western areas of Viti Levu, which spoke an entirely different set of dialects belonging to the West Fijian language, which is grouped with Polynesian and Rotuman in the West Fijian-Polynesian language family and practiced a different culture. This occurred up to the point that many Bauan words entered many western Fijian languages. Bauan was then adopted by the British administration for communication with the iTaukei. Over time, it evolved into what is today Standard Fijian which includes many English and Other Fijian Dialectal contributions, becoming quite distinct from the original Bauan Dialect.[1]


Hindi is an official language in Fiji. In the 1997 Constitution, it was referred to as "Hindustani",[2] but in the 2013 Constitution of Fiji, it is simply called "Hindi".[3]

Fiji Hindi, also known as Fijian Baat or Fijian Hindustani, is the language spoken by most Fijian citizens of Indian descent. It is derived mainly from the Awadhi and Bhojpuri varieties of Hindi. It has also borrowed a large number of words from Fijian and English. The relation between Fiji Hindi and Standard Hindi is similar to the relation between Afrikaans and Dutch. Indian indentured labourers were initially brought to Fiji mainly from districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, North-West Frontier and South India such as from Andhra and Tamil Nadu. They spoke numerous, mainly Hindi, dialects and languages depending on their district of origin.

A language soon developed in Fiji that combined the common elements of the Hindi dialects spoken in these areas with Fijian, Arabic, and English words; this has diverged significantly from the varieties of Hindi spoken on the Indian sub-continent. The development of Fiji Hindi was accelerated by the need for labourers speaking different dialects and sub-dialects of Hindi to work together and the practice of young children being left during working hours in early versions of day care centers.

Later, approximately 15,000 Indian indentured labourers, who were mainly speakers of Dravidian languages (Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam), were brought from South India. By this time Fiji Hindi was well established as the lingua franca of Fiji Indians and the South Indian labourers had to learn it to communicate with the more numerous North Indians and European overseers. Inward migration of free Gujarati and Punjabi settlers further contributed to Fiji Hindi.


Fiji is also home to many smaller minorities which make up its multicultural and multilingual populace.

Rotuman, also referred to as Rotunan, Rutuman or Fäeag Rotuma, is an Austronesian language spoken by the indigenous people of the South Pacific island group of Rotuma, an island with a Polynesian-influenced culture that was incorporated as a dependency into the Colony of Fiji in 1881 and later chose to remain with Fiji in 1970 upon independence and in 1987, when Fiji became a republic. The rotuman language is spoken by more than 2000 people on the island of Rotuma and a further 10,000 people who live or work in the Republic of Fiji.

Other Indian languages are spoken in Fiji. After the indenture system, Indians who spoke Gujarati and Punjabi arrived in Fiji as free immigrants. At present, many free settler descendants in Fiji and their families speak Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi and Gujarati at home, but all speak and communicate with each other in English.

Two significant languages that are seeing growth are Cantonese Chinese and Mandarin Chinese. Many Chinese settlers, especially from southern China speak Cantonese, which is quickly incorporating many Fijian and English words. Many of these migrants are farmers and are constantly exposed to the Fijian and Hindi dominated areas of rural Fiji.

Furthermore, sizeable minorities of Micronesians and Polynesians mean that Fiji is also home to various Micronesian and Polynesian languages. Significant among them are the Banaban, which is the language of the former residents of Ocean Island, which was decimated through British phosphate mining. They were given Rabi Island in North-Eastern Fiji as a new homeland and number 2000-3000. Also, Kioa, which was given to former Tuvaluans, who migrated as the consequence of overcrowding on Vaitupu. They speak Tuvaluan, a Polynesian language and number around a thousand. Also, there are many Tongan residents and Fijians of Tongan descent in Fiji. These groups speak the Tongan language or a mix of Tongan and Fijian.

See also


  1. ^ "Orientation - Bau". Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  2. ^ "Section 4 of Fiji Constitution". Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  3. ^ "- Ooops! -". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
Awadhi language

Awadhi (IPA: [əʋ.ɖʱiː]; अवधी; 𑂃𑂫𑂡𑂲) is a major dialect of the Eastern Hindi branch of Indo-Aryan languages spoken in northern India. It is primarily spoken in the Awadh region of present day Uttar Pradesh, India. The name Awadh is connected to Ayodhya, the ancient town, which is regarded as the homeland of Śrī Rāma. It was, along with Braj Bhasha, used widely as a literary vehicle before being ousted by Standard Hindustani in the 19th century.From a linguistic point-of-view, Awadhi is a distinct language that has its own grammar. In sociopolitical context, however, Awadhi is viewed simply as a style or spoken variety of Hindi and is not used as a medium of instruction in any institution, it’s literary heritage is included as a part of Hindi literature though. Awadhi is generally viewed as a rural tongue yet people in urban areas tend to speak a mixed form of Awadhi with Standard-Hindi.

The dialect is also referred as Pūrbī literally meaning Eastern, as well as Baiswāri.

Central–Eastern Oceanic languages

The over 200 Central–Eastern Oceanic languages form a branch of the Oceanic language family within the Austronesian languages.

Culture of Fiji

The culture of Fiji is a tapestry of indigenous Fijian, Indian, European, Chinese, and other nationalities. Culture polity, traditions, language, food, costume, belief system, architecture, arts, craft, music, dance, and sports which will be discussed in this article to give you an indication of Fiji's indigenous community but also the various communities which make up Fiji as a modern culture and living. The indigenous culture is an active and living part of everyday life for the majority of the population.

Fijian culture has evolved with the introduction of cultures including Indian, Chinese and European culture, and various cultures from the Pacific neighbors of Fiji; in particular the Tongan and Rotuman cultures. The culture of Fiji, including language, has created a unique communal and national identity.The inhabitants of modern Fiji are of indigenous Fijian background, as well as of Indian, Chinese and European ancestry. Indigenous culture has shaped the nation and is an active and living part of everyday life for the majority of the happy folk that live here. Our unique blend of cultures can be seen throughout Fiji, and in virtually every aspect of your stay - from the food, festivals, rituals and the arts.

East Fijian languages

The East Fijian languages are a subgroup of the Central Pacific (Fijian–Polynesian) languages. They are four: Fijian, Gone Dau, Lauan and Lomaiviti all spoken within Fiji.

The West Fijian languages are more closely related to Rotuman and East Fijian to the Polynesian, than they are to each other, but contact has caused them to converge.

English language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse (a North Germanic language), and to a greater extent by Latin and French.English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years. The earliest forms of English, a group of West Germanic (Ingvaeonic) dialects brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the 5th century, are collectively called Old English. Middle English began in the late 11th century with the Norman conquest of England; this was a period in which the language was influenced by French. Early Modern English began in the late 15th century with the introduction of the printing press to London, the printing of the King James Bible and the start of the Great Vowel Shift.Through the worldwide influence of the British Empire, and later the United States, Modern English has been spreading around the world since the 17th century. Through all types of printed and electronic media, and spurred by the emergence of the United States as a global superpower, English has become the leading language of international discourse and the lingua franca in many regions and professional contexts such as science, navigation and law.English is the largest language by number of speakers, and the third most-spoken native language in the world, after Standard Chinese and Spanish. It is the most widely learned second language and is either the official language or one of the official languages in almost 60 sovereign states. There are more people who have learned it as a second language than there are native speakers. It is estimated that there are over 2 billion speakers of English. English is the most commonly spoken language in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, and it is widely spoken in some areas of the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia. It is a co-official language of the United Nations, the European Union and many other world and regional international organisations. It is the most widely spoken Germanic language, accounting for at least 70% of speakers of this Indo-European branch. English has a vast vocabulary, though counting how many words any language has is impossible. English speakers are called "Anglophones".

Modern English grammar is the result of a gradual change from a typical Indo-European dependent marking pattern, with a rich inflectional morphology and relatively free word order, to a mostly analytic pattern with little inflection, a fairly fixed SVO word order and a complex syntax. Modern English relies more on auxiliary verbs and word order for the expression of complex tenses, aspect and mood, as well as passive constructions, interrogatives and some negation. The variation among the accents and dialects of English used in different countries and regions—in terms of phonetics and phonology, and sometimes also vocabulary, grammar and spelling can often be accommodated by the speakers of different dialects but in extreme cases can lead to confusion or even mutual unintelligibility between English speakers.

Fiji Hindi

Fiji Hindi or Fijian Hindi (Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी हिंदी), also known locally as "Hindustani", is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by most Fijian citizens of Indian descent, though a small number speak other languages at home. It is an Eastern Hindi language, generally considered to be an older dialect of the Awadhi language spoken in central and east Uttar Pradesh that has been subject to considerable influence by Bhojpuri, Magahi and other Bihari languages. It has also borrowed some words from the English and Fijian languages. A large number of words, unique to Fiji Hindi, have been created to cater for the new environment that Indo-Fijians now live in. 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 Hindustani spoken in Mauritius and South Africa.

Fijian language

Fijian (Na Vosa Vakaviti) is an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Polynesian family spoken by some 350,000–450,000 ethnic Fijians as a native language. The 2013 Constitution established Fijian as an official language of Fiji, along with English and Hindi, and there is discussion about establishing it as the "national language", though English remains the official language. Fijian is a VOS language.

Standard Fijian is based on the speech of Bau, which is an East Fijian language.

A pidginized form is used by many Indo-Fijians and ethnic Chinese on the islands, while Pidgin Hindustani is used by many rural ethnic indo-Fijians.

Gilbertese language

Taetae ni Kiribati or Gilbertese, also Kiribati (sometimes Kiribatese), is a Micronesian language of the Austronesian language family. It has a basic verb–object–subject word order.

Gone Dau language

Gone Dau is an East Fijian language spoken by about 700 people on the islands of Gone and Dau, Fiji.

Hindustani language

Hindustani (Hindi: हिन्दुस्तानी, Urdu: ہندوستانی), also known as Hindi-Urdu and historically also known as Hindavi, Dehlavi and Rekhta, is the lingua franca of Northern India and Pakistan. It is an Indo-Aryan language, deriving its base primarily from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi. The language incorporates a large amount of vocabulary from Prakrit, Sanskrit (via Prakrit and Tatsama borrowings), as well as Persian and Arabic (via Persian). It is a pluricentric language, with two official forms, Modern Standard Hindi and Modern Standard Urdu, which are its standardised registers.

According to Ethnologue's 2019 estimates, if Hindi and Urdu are taken together as Hindustani, the language would be the 3rd most spoken language in the world, with approximately 409.8 million native speakers and 785.6 million total speakers.The colloquial registers are mostly indistinguishable and even though the official standards are nearly identical in grammar, they differ in literary conventions and in academic and technical vocabulary, with Urdu adopting stronger Persian and Arabic influences, and Hindi relying more heavily on Sanskrit. Before the partition of India, the terms Hindustani, Hindi and Urdu were synonymous; they all covered what would be mostly called Hindi and Urdu today. The term Hindustani is still used for the colloquial language and the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan, for example for the language of Bollywood films, as well as for several languages of the Hindi-Urdu belt spoken outside the Indian subcontinent, such as Fijian Hindi of Fiji and the Caribbean Hindustani of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, and the rest of the Caribbean. Hindustani is also spoken by a small number of people in Mauritius and South Africa.


Indo-Fijians or Indian-Fijians (Fiji Hindi: भारतीय फ़ीजी), are Fiji citizens who are fully or partially of Indian descent, which includes descendants who trace their heritage from various regions of the Indian subcontinent. Although Indo-Fijians constituted a majority of the Fijian population from 1956 through the late 1980s, discrimination and the resulting brain drain has resulted in them numbering 313,798 (37.6%) (2007 census) out of a total of 827,900 people living in Fiji today.They are mostly descended from indentured labourers, girmitiyas or girmit, from districts of central and eastern Uttar Pradesh, as well as Bihar. They were brought to the islands as indentured servants by Fiji's British colonial rulers between 1879 and 1916 to work on Fiji's sugar cane plantations. Mahendra Chaudhry became Fiji's first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister on 19 May 1999.

Lauan language

Lauan is an East Fijian language spoken by about 16,000 people on a number of islands of eastern Fiji.

Lomaiviti language

Lomaiviti is an East Fijian language spoken by about 1,600 people on a number of islands of Fiji.

Namosi-Naitasiri-Serua language

Namosi-Naitasiri-Serua is an Oceanic language spoken in Fiji by about 1,600 people.

Oceanic languages

The approximately 450 Oceanic languages are a well-established branch of the Austronesian languages. The area occupied by speakers of these languages includes Polynesia, as well as much of Melanesia and Micronesia.

Though covering a vast area, Oceanic languages are spoken by only two million people. The largest individual Oceanic languages are Eastern Fijian with over 600,000 speakers, and Samoan with an estimated 400,000 speakers. The Kiribati (Gilbertese), Tongan, Tahitian, Māori, Western Fijian and Kuanua (Tolai) languages each have over 100,000 speakers.

The common ancestor which is reconstructed for this group of languages is called Proto-Oceanic (abbr. "POc").

Outline of Fiji

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Fiji:

Republic of Fiji – sovereign island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean east of Vanuatu, west of Tonga and south of Tuvalu. The country occupies an archipelago of about 322 islands, of which 106 are permanently inhabited, and 522 islets. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population.

Rotuman language

Rotuman, also referred to as Rotunan, Rutuman or Fäeag Rotuma, is an Austronesian language spoken by the indigenous people of the South Pacific island group of Rotuma, an island with a Polynesian-influenced culture that was incorporated as a dependency into the Colony of Fiji in 1881. Classification of Rotuman is difficult due to the large number of loan words from Samoan and Tongan, as a result of much cultural exchange over the history of the Pacific. Linguist Andrew Pawley groups the language with the West Fijian languages in a West Fijian – Rotuman branch of the Central Pacific sub-group of Oceanic languages.

The Rotuman language has sparked much interest with linguists because the language uses metathesis to invert the ultimate vowel in a word with the immediately preceding consonant, resulting in a vowel system characterized by umlaut, vowel shortening or extending and diphthongisation.

Unlike its Pacific neighbours, Rotuman is typically considered an AVO (agent–verb–object) language.


Tahiti (; French pronunciation: ​[ta.iti]; previously also known as Otaheite (obsolete) is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia. The island is located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the central Southern Pacific Ocean, and is divided into two parts: the bigger, northwestern part, Tahiti Nui, and the smaller, southeastern part, Tahiti Iti. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. The population is 189,517 inhabitants (2017 census), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.7% of its total population.

Tahiti is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity (sometimes referred to as an overseas country) of France. The capital of French Polynesia, Papeete, is located on the northwest coast of Tahiti. The only international airport in the region, Fa'a'ā International Airport, is on Tahiti near Papeete.

Tahiti was originally settled by Polynesians between 300 and 800 AD. They represent about 70% of the island's population, with the rest made up of Europeans, Chinese people, and those of mixed heritage.

The island was part of the Kingdom of Tahiti until its annexation by France in 1880, when it was proclaimed a colony of France, and the inhabitants became French citizens. French is the only official language, although the Tahitian language (Reo Tahiti) is widely spoken.

Western Fijian language

Western Fijian, also known as Wayan is an Oceanic language spoken in Fiji by about 57,000 people.

It is distinct from Eastern Fijian (also known as Bauan or Standard Fijian), though it is not taught in schools. Colonial linguists considered Eastern Fijian to be superior, and thus marginalized Western Fijian.


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