Caribbean Hindustani

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Caribbean Hindustani
Caribbean Hindi-Caribbean Urdu
Ethnicity Indo-Caribbeans and their diaspora (American Indo-Caribbeans, British Indo-Caribbeans, Canadian Indo-Caribbeans, Dutch Indo-Caribbeans, and others)
Native speakers
(150,000 in Suriname cited 1986)[1]
16,000 in Trinidad (1996); a few elders in Guyana
  • Trinidadian Hindustani (Trinidadian Bhojpuri)
  • Guyanese Hindustani (Aili Gaili)
  • Sarnami Hindoestani
Devanagari,[2] Kaithi,[3] Perso-Arabic, Latin script, Devanagari Braille, Urdu Braille, English Braille
Signed Hindustani
Language codes
ISO 639-3 hns
Glottolog cari1275[4]

Caribbean Hindustani[1] is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by Indo-Caribbeans in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. It is based on Bhojpur and has been influenced by Awadhi.[5] The language is spoken by the descendants of emigrants from the Hindi Belt in North India and the Madhesh region in Nepal. It is closely related to Fiji Hindi and the Hindustani spoken in Mauritius and South Africa.

Because a majority of people came from the Bhojpuri region of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and Rajasthan, Caribbean Hindustani is most influenced by Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Braj Bhasha, Rajasthani, and other Bihari varieties. It has also borrowed a large number of words from Dutch in Suriname and other Dutch colonies, and English and French in former British colonies and French colonies. A large number of words, unique to Caribbean Hindustani, have been created to cater for the new environment that Indo-Caribbeans now live in.

Caribbean Hindustani is the lingua franca of most Indo-Caribbeans, although Tamil and Telugu is the lingua franca for Indians in countries like Martinique and Guadeloupe; where a majority of the Indians are of Dravidian (South Indian) descent.

Like the Hindustani spoken in India, Caribbean Hindustani is broken up into Caribbean Hindi and Caribbean Urdu. Hindustani refers to both Hindi and Urdu. Hindi is spoken by Hindus or people of Hindu descent, whereas and Urdu is spoken by Muslims and people of Muslim descent. Hindi has more Sanskrit influence, while Urdu has more Arabic and Persian influence. 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.

Guyanese Hindustani[edit]

The Caribbean Hindustani of Guyana is known as Aili Gaili or Guyanese Hindustani and is spoken by some members in a community of 300,000 Indo-Guyanese.

Trinidadian Hindustani[edit]

The variant spoken in Trinidad and Tobago is known as Trinidadian Hindustani or Trinidadian Bhojpuri. After Trinidadian English and Trinidadian Creole it is the third most widely spoken language of Trinidad and Tobago. In 1996, it was spoken by 15,633 people.[1]

Sarnami Hindustani[edit]

After Dutch and Sranan Tongo, Sarnami Hindustani is the most widely spoken language of Suriname.


  1. ^ a b c Caribbean Hindustani at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Caribbean Hindustani". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  5. ^ Sarnami Caribbean Hindustani at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)