What is Baigan?


The word “baigan” has come into Trinidad English Creole and Standard Trinidad English from Trinidad Bhojpuri. A synonym for “baigan” is eggplant which is also used in T&T. In Surinamese Hindustani (Sarnámí) the word “baigan” also occurs, however, a synonym “bhanṭā” also exists. In Jamaican Bhojpuri, “bhanṭā” occurs more frequently for eggplant. In Trinidad we say “baigan chokhā”, but we also hear “bhanṭā ke chokhā” in Suriname and Jamaica.

The Hindi cognate of the Trinidad Bhojpuri “baigan” is “baingan” and the synonym “bhanṭā” also occurs. Adding the suffix -ī yields “bainganī” the name of the colour of the eggplant, which is purple. “Baingan” finds its roots in the Sanskrit “vātiṃgaṇa” and the Persian “bādingān”. The Persian cognate was carried to Europe by the Islamic conquest and became “brinjal” and “aubergine” which are synonym we use for eggplant in English.

“HINDI SAMJHAANA” (Explaining Hindi)
Presented by Sham G. Ali ( Official Fanpage ) with the assistance of Dr. Visham Bhimull of Caribbean Hindustani


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The Trinidad Bhojpuri Family Tree

Caribbean Hindustani presents the Trinidad Bhojpuri family tree. It illustrates the different names by which we call our various family members in the Indo-Caribbean tradition. You can see how it is more scientific than the conventional English way of naming our relatives. There are some differences that one may notice when comparing with the modern standard Hindi family tree. There may also be slight differences in the Sarnámí (Surinamese Hindustani) family tree and the Guyanese Bhojpuri family tree. Also, note that ‘swayam’, which indicates from whose perspective the tree was drawn up. The illustration is from a male perspective, and if done from a female perspective the names would change.
Like in Modern Standard Hindi, these names of kin are derived from spoken Sanskrit or Prakrit. Bhojpuri yields these names of kin from Magadhi Prakrit (the eastern vernacular of spoken Sanskrit) and Hindi from Shauraseni Prakrit (the central-western vernacular of spoken Sanskrit). This would account for the differences in Bhojpuri vs Hindi.
The Hindustani family tree is more scientific when compared to English and European languages as each kin has one word for a specific name. Where as in English you use two words to describe your “maternal grandmother” in Trinidad Bhojpuri it is specific to one word “Nani”

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think. Caribbean Hindustani is working to document and preserve all of our Indo-Caribbean traditions such as this. Please feel free to contact us if there are any special pieces of information you would like to request!


Is Caribbean Hindustani a corrupted form of Hindi

Caribbean Hindustani and its variants; like Trinidad Bhojpuri, Sarnami and Guyanese Bhojpuri, have too often been a subject of much scrutiny. After indentureship and the independence of India. Khari Boli or Modern Standard Hindi (MSH) slowly replaced the older standards of Braj Bhasha and Awadhi. This all Hindustani was compared to this new standard.
Because Caribbean Hindustani was more a spoken Hindustani  it was deemed inferior to MSH. Further, because of the high degree of lexical similarities between the two languages in contrast with their grammatical differences, Caribbean Hindustani was seen as a “broken” or “corrupted” variety of MSH. However, Bhojpuri, which formed the critical mass of Caribbean Hindustani, is of much greater antiquity than MSH. Even the famous poet Kabirdas of the 15th century composed in Baranasi Boli, a variety of Bhojpuri.
Here is an example of a Caribbean Hindustani word that is quite popularly used in the Caribbean. “Tāwā” (a flat metal griddle used to make roti) is the word known by most of the descendants of the Indian indentured laborers’ descendants. However, when they attend Hindi classes and learn the MSH cognate, “tawā”, the impression is that the Indo-Caribbean version is a corrupted form.
Reference: Mohan, Peggy Ramesar; Trinidad Bhojpuri a Morphological Study; 1978