Why Fiji Hindi?


Why Fiji Hindi?

It can simply be said that, if we were to look at the Fiji Hindi – Standard Hindi debate from a historical and a linguistic perspective, then there would be no real reason to stop the nationalization of Fiji Hindi. Before I delve into the history of Indo-Iranian languages, I would like readers to speculate whether a language has ever been created out of literature? Or it is that a language is created out of contact with other substratum and spoken until it has its own distinct features and grammar.

Regardless, the Indo Iranian languages begin with two distinct descendants of Proto Indo European, Avestan (Zend) and Vedic Sanskrit. The Avestan language is the ancestor of modern day Persian however it is very much an extinct language. Vedic Sanskrit on the other hand, although it too being an extinct language, still continues to exist in a literary form which was standardized by grammarian Panini as ‘classical Sanskrit’ in the Aṣṭādhyāyī . This was believed to have been for preservation as Sanskrit was no longer the spoken language, rather it was Prakrit. The colloquial form of Vedic Sanskrit is Prakrit and that was the mother tongue of Northern South Asia during this period. As centuries progressed and human migrated and settled in different regions within the subcontinent, Prakrit gained its own variations. This included Maharashtri, Gandhari, Sauraseni and Magadhi, which were all distinct dialects or even languages which were based of Prakrit. It is from this Sauraseni dialect of Sanskrit from the Delhi region, we have the roots of Standarized Old Hindi. The different dialects of modern day Hindi was formed over a thousand years after Sanskrit was standardized (7th Century CE) and the first Hindi literature emerged almost five hundred years after somewhere around the 12th century. The Hindi language was first spoken over a thousand years after the first words of the Ramayana were ever written, hence you could say it is an absolutely absurd and illogical argument how one could possibly think the Ramayana cannot be preserved without Standard Hindi.

By this comparison, the ancestors of Indo Fijians have only been out of South Asia for 140 years, yet we have a complete form of communication for which even literature is available. Each language finds its roots in another language, there have been no languages that have fallen out of the sky in recent years, so why not allow the language of our forefathers to evolve and take its own light. As the nation heads towards unity, why are we refusing to use a language that finds its roots in a casteless undivided community that does not discriminate on race or religion? A community that was forged by force through slavery but through perseverance emerged an identity that many of us cherish today, particularly those who leave their adopted motherland. History tells us that it is not literature that defines language but the language of the people that define literature, so where does that put Fiji Hindi if it is not the spoken language of the people.

Shiva Goundan.






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