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Bhojpuri language

भोजपुरी bhōjapurī
The word "Bhojpuri" in Devanagari script
Pronunciation /bˈpʊər/[1]
Native to India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, and Fiji[citation needed]
Region Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhesh
Native speakers
40 million  (2001 census)[2]
Census results conflate some speakers with Hindi.[3]
Caribbean Hindustani (including Sarnami Hindustani)
Northern (Gorakhpuri, Sarawaria, Basti)
Western (Purbi, Benarsi)
Southern (Kharwari)
Tharu Bhojpuri
Devanagari (present), Kaithi (Historical)[4]
Language codes
ISO 639-2 bho
ISO 639-3 bhoinclusive code
Individual code:
hns – Caribbean Hindustani
Glottolog bhoj1246[5]
Linguasphere 59-AAF-sa
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Bhojpuri (Devanagari: भोजपुरी About this sound listen ) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in Bhojpuri region of North India and Nepal.[4] It is chiefly spoken in the Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh, in the western part of state of Bihar, and the northwestern part of Jharkhand in India.[6] Bhojpuri is also spoken in Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, Fiji, and Mauritius. It is one of the national languages of Guyana, Fiji, and Suriname.[7][8] The variant of Bhojpuri of the Indo-Surinamese is also referred to as Sarnami Hindustani, Sarnami Hindi or just Sarnami[9] and has experienced considerable Creole and Dutch lexical influence. More Indians in Suriname know Bhojpuri, whereas in Guyana and Trinidad the language is largely forgotten. In Mauritius a dialect of Bhojpuri remains in use, and it is locally called Bojpury.[10]

This region is bounded by the Awadhi-speaking region to the west, Nepal Bhasa and Nepali to the north, Magahi- and Maithili-speaking regions to the east, and Magahi- and Bagheli-speaking regions to the south.[4]

Writing system

Bhojpuri story written in Kaithi script, written by Babu Rama Smaran Lal in 1898

Bhojpuri was historically written in Kaithi scripts.[4] But after 1894, Devanagari has served as the primary script.

Kaithi script was used for administrative purposes in the Mughal era for writing Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Maithili, Urdu, Magahi and Hindi from at least 16th century up to the first decade of 20th century. Government gazetteers report that Kaithi was used in a few districts of Bihar through the 1960s. Bhojpuri residents of India, who signed up and moved as indentured labor in Africa and the Caribbean colonies of the British Empire in 19th century and early 20th century, used Kaithi as well as Devanagari scripts.[7]

By 1894, official works were carried out in Kaithi and Devanagari in Bihar. At present almost all the Bhojpuri works are done in Devanagari even in the overseas islands where Bhojpuri is spoken. For example, in Mauritius, both Kaithi and Devanagari scripts have been in use, since the arrival of Bhojpuri people from India. The Kathi script was considered informal in Mauritius, with the structure of Kaithi similar to Devanagari (spelled Devanagri in Mauritius). In modern Mauritius, Bhojpuri script is Devanagri.[11]



Bhojpuri vowels[12]
Front Central Back
Close i ɪ u
Close-mid e ə o
Open-mid ɔ
Open æ ɑ


Bhojpuri consonants[12]
Bilabial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n [[retroflex nasal#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.ɳ]]
ɲ ŋ
Plosive /
voiceless p ʈ k
voiceless aspirated t̪ʰ ʈʰ tʃʰ
voiced b ɖ ɡ
voiced aspirated d̪ʱ ɖʱ dʒʰ ɡʱ
Fricative s h
Rhotic plain ɾ ɽ
aspirated ɾʱ ɽʱ
Approximant l j w


Bhojpuri is, sociolinguistically, one of the seven Hindi languages namely, Haryanvi, Braj, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Bundeli. Bagheli and Kannauji.[13] Of these seven, Bhojpuri has the most allophonic variations in vowels.[14]

Robert Trammell has published the phonology of Bhojpuri.[15][16]

Bhojpuri has six vowel phonemes,[16] and ten vocoids. The higher vowels are relatively tense, while lower vowels are relatively lax. The language 31 consonant phonemes, and 34 contoids (6 bilabial, 4 apico-dental, 5 apico-alveolar, 7 retroflex, 6 alveo-palatal, 5 dorso-velar and 1 glottal).[15]

According to Trammell, the syllable system is peak type. Every syllable has the vowel phoneme as the highest point of sonority. Codas may consist of one, two or three consonants. Vowels occur as simple peaks or as peak nuclei in diphthongs. The intonation system involves four pitch levels and three terminal contours.[15][17]

Universal declaration of human rights in Bhojpuri

The United Nations has published the universal declaration of human rights in Bhojpuri, one of 153 languages of the world.[18] Article 1 of the declaration in Bhojpuri, Hindi and English respectively are:

अनुच्छेद १: सबहि लोकानि आजादे जम्मेला आओर ओखिनियो के बराबर सम्मान आओर अघ्कार प्राप्त हवे। ओखिनियो के पास समझ-बूझ आओर अंत:करण के आवाज होखता आओर हुनको के दोसरा के साथ भाईचारे के बेवहार करे के होखला।[18]

अनुच्छेद १: सभी मनुष्यों को गौरव और अधिकारों के मामले में जन्मजात स्वतन्त्रता और समानता प्राप्त हैं। उन्हें बुद्धि और अन्तरात्मा की देन प्राप्त है और परस्पर उन्हें भाईचारे के भाव से बर्ताव करना चाहिये।[19]

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.[20]

Sample sentences

English sentence Bhojpuri translation
What is your name? तोहार ना का ह? Tohaar naa (/naam) kaa ha?
Come here. Hiyan aava.(yehar aava)
What are you doing? Tu kaa karat hava?
That man is going. Ooh marda jaat haan/ Ooh marda jaat aa.
How are you? का हाल बा? Kaa haal ba??
I'm fine. Hum theek haiin/baani.
I don't know. Hum naikhi jaanat./ Hamke naikhe maalum/Humra Naikhe Maaloom
He is my son. Eeh hamaar chhaura(/laika) ha.
She is my daughter. Eeh hamaar chhauri(/laiki) hiya.
What should i do? Hum kaa kari?/ Hamke kaa kare ke chahi?
What did they do? ओहनी के का करल सं? Ohni ke kaa karla san?
Did you all eat? तुहनी सब खईल सं? Tuhni sab khaila san?
He is eating an apple. Ooh ago sev khaat haan/ Ooh ago sev khaat aa.
Where were you, I was waiting for you? कहाँ रह तू, कब से तहार बाट जोहत रहीं? Kahan raha tu, kab se tahar baat johat rahin?
I saw the film last week. Hum pichhla hafta filim dekhle haiin.
They went to the mosque. Ooh sabhe mahjid gaile haan.
She slept the whole night. Ooh bhar raat suttal rahe.
I go. Hum jaat haiin./ Hum jaat aiin.
He has eaten. Ooh khailas haan./ Ooh khaa lehlas.
He will eat. Ooh khayi.
He will go. Ooh jaayi.
Why did you tell him to go? तू ओहके काहे जाए के कहले हव? Tu ohke kaahe jaaye ke kahle ha
Why is here crowded? हीयाँ मये आलम काहे जुट्टल बा/हीयाँ इतना हुजूम काहे ह? Hiyan (yehar) maye aalam kaahe juttal ha?/ Hiyan (yehar) itna hujum kaahe ha?
I have to leave for Varanasi, next early morning. Humke kaal fajire Banaras khatir nikle la haan./Humke kalh fajire Banaras khatir nikle ke ba.
Which is best Hindi newspaper. सबसे बढ़िया हिंदी अखबार कवन होवे ला? Sabse badhiya Hindi akhbar kawan howe la.
Where should i go? हम कहाँ जायीं? Hum kahaan jaai?
It is a book. Ee ago kitab ha.
Will you give me your pen? तू हमके आपण कलम देब? Tu hamke aapan kalam deba?
Yes, of course./ Why not. Haan, jarur./ Kaahe na.
Which village, you hail from? तू कवन गाँव से हव/ताल्लुक रखे ल? Tu kawan gaon se talluk rakhe la?/ Tahaar gaon kahaan ha?
Did he call you? का उह तहरा बुलवले हाँ? Kaa ooh tahraa bulavale haan?
This is our area. Ee sabh apne jageer ha.
What's going on? का चलत हाँ/का चल रहल बा? Kaa chalat haan?/ Kaa chal rahal ba?
Please say that again. Tani phir se kaha.
Pleased to meet you. Tohse mil ke badhiya lagal haan./ Tohse mil ke khusi bhayil haan.
Is everything alright? सब खैरियत से ह न? Sab khairiyat se ha na?
How was your exam? तहार इतिहान कैसन रहे? Tahaar imtihaan kaisan rahe?
Are you married? तहार बियाह भईल बा/तू शादीशुदा हव? Tahaar biyah bhail ha?/ Tu shadishuda hava?
She doesn't understand anything. Ohke jari na samajh me aave./ Oke tanko na bujhaa la.
Please speak more slowly जरी आहिस्ता बोल/तनी आहिस्ता बोलJari aahista bola/ Tani aahista bola
You are very beautiful. u badi suhnar (/khapsoorat) hava. (to male)/ Tu badi suhnar (/khapsoorat) hau. (to female)
He is looking at you. Ooh tohka taakat haan.
My life is full of problems. Hamar jinigi khalsa pareshani se bharal ba.
Come with me. Hamra saathe aava./ Hamra sange aava.
One language is never enough. Ago juban kabho kafi na hove la/ Ek bhakha kab'ho jada na hokhe la.
I'll come after you. Hum taharaa paachhe aaib.
Go there Hunva jaa.
I can do anything for you. Hum tahraa vaaste kuchhu kar sakat haiin./ Hum tahraa khaatir kuchhuwo kar saki na.

Note that the above table is mostly based on talking to a male who is older or of the same age. At other times, "tahaar" tends to be "tohaar" and "tor" (for a younger person). While talking to someone, people often use the word "falan" or "falana" to refer to someone unnamed or unknown, like, "Falana ke babuji hiyan aail rahen" which means, His (which is unnamed or he who can not be named) father has come here.


Bhojpuri syntax and vocabulary reflects a three-tier system of politeness. Any verb can be conjugated as per these tiers. For example, the verb "to come" in Bhojpuri is "aana" and the verb "to speak" is "bolna". The imperatives "come!" and "speak!" can thus be conjugated five ways, each marking subtle variation in politeness and propriety. These permutations exclude a host of auxiliary verbs and expressions which can be added to these verbs to add even greater degree of subtle variation. For extremely polite or formal situations, the pronoun is generally ignored.

Literary [tu] āō [tu] bōl
Casual and intimate [tu] āō [tu] bōl
Polite and intimate [tu] āv' [tu] bōl'
Formal yet intimate [rau'ā] āīñ [rau'ā] bōlīñ
Polite and formal [āp] āīñ [āp] bōlīñ
Extremely formal āyā jā'e bōlā jā'e

Similarly, adjectives are marked for politeness and formality. For example, "your" has several words (or synonym) but with a different tone of politeness: "tōr" (casual and intimate), "tōhār" (polite and intimate), "t'hār" (formal yet intimate), "rā'ur" (polite and formal) and "āp ke" (extremely formal).


The known dialects, per world language classification system, are Bhojpuri Tharu, Domra, Madhesi, Musahari, Northern Standard Bhojpuri (Basti, Gorakhpuri, Sarawaria), Southern Standard Bhojpuri (Kharwari), and Western Standard Bhojpuri (Benarsi, Purbi).[4]

Bhojpuri has the following dialects, the first three being the major child dialects:[8]

  1. Southern Standard Bhojpuri
  2. Northern Standard Bhojpuri
  3. Western Standard Bhojpuri[21]
  4. Nagpuria Bhojpuri[22]

Southern Standard Bhojpuri is prevalent the areas of Bhojpur, Rohtas, Saran, Bhabua, Buxar, Siwan, Gopalganj in Bihar, and Ballia and eastern Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Kharwari’. It can be further divided in to 'Shahabadi' and 'Chapariyah'.[23]

Northern Bhojpuri is common in the areas of Deoria, Gorakhpur and Basti in Uttar Pradesh, north Bihar and Nepal.[24] Local names include ‘Gorakhpuri’ for the language in Deoria and eastern Gorakhpur, and ‘Sarwariya’ in western Gorakhpur and Basti. The variety spoken cast of Gandak river between Gorakhpuri Bhojpuri and Maithili in Champaran has a local name Pachhimahwa.[citation needed] Northern Bhojpuri has Maithili influence.

Western Bhojpuri is prevalent the areas of Varanasi, Azamgarh, Ghazipur and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh. ‘Banarasi’ is a local name for the Banaras Bhojpuri. Western Bhojpuri is also referred to as "Purbi" or "Benarsi".[25]

Nagpuria Bhojpuri (not to be confused with Nagpuri) is southern most dialect, found in Chhotanagpur region of Jharkhand, particularly parts of Palamau and of Ranchi. It has more Magahi influence.[22][24] It is sometimes referred to as 'Sadani'.[26]


Ravikant Dubey has petitioned that bhojpuri language be one of the official languages of India.[27] For cultural reasons, it is usually seen as a dialect of Hindi. Due to the persistent demand from Bhojpuri language activists to recognize it as an official language, P Chidambaram, Home Minister, Government of India announced to Lok Sabha speaker a few lines in Bhojpuri : “hum rauwa sabke bhavna samjhatani (I understand your feelings)”, proposing to include Bhojpuri in 8th Schedule of the Constitution and accorded the official status.[28]

Bhojpuri literature

Lorikayan, or the story of Veer Lorik, is a famous Bhojpuri folklore of Eastern Uttar Pradesh.[29]

Bhojpuri media

Many Bhojpuri magazines and papers are published in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. Parichhan is a contemporary important literary-cultural Maithili-Bhojpuri magazine, published by Maithili-Bhojpuri academy, Delhi government and edited by Parichay Das. The Sunday Indian, Bhojpuri[30] is a regular national news magazine in Bhojpuri published by Planman Media, owned by Prof. Arindam Chaudhary and edited by Onkareshwar Pandey. Aakhar is a monthly online Bhojpuri literature magazine.[31] It is published by Sanjay Singh, Shashi Mishra, Navin Kumar and designed-edited by Ashwini Rudra. Other media in Bhojpuri include Lok Lucknow,[32] Mahuaa TV and Hamar TV as Bhojpuri language channels, and a weekly paper in Bhojpuri published from Birgunj, Parsa of Nepal whose publisher is Dipendra Prasad Kanu.

Bhojpuri outside India

South Asia

After separation of Pakistan and India in 1947, many Bhojpuri-speaking Muslims migrated to Pakistan and Bangladesh. Some of those who moved to Pakistan, settled in Karachi. Bhojpuri is currently spoken by elderly people, whereas the younger generation speak Urdu and those living in Punjab region of Pakistan have become fluent in Punjabi. Bhojpuri is also known as Bihari in Pakistan.[33]

In Bangladesh, there are also Bhojpuri-speaking Muslims. However, their total number is estimated to be smaller than the number of Bhojpuri speakers in Mauritius, African, Caribbean, and South American nations. They are considered refugees of Pakistan in Bangladesh, since the 1971 war and separation of Bangladesh and Pakistan.[34]

Bhojpuri is a major language spoken in Nepal with official status.[8]

Outside South Asia

Bhojpuri is also spoken by people who were brought as indentured laborers in the 19th century and early 20th century, for work in sugarcane plantations during British colonial era, to Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa.[7][8][35] In Trinidad, Guyana, Mauritius and South Africa, the language is already moribund or spoken only by members of older generation.[36]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Pronunciation Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press
  2. ^ Bhojpuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Caribbean Hindustani at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Language Demographics Census, Government of India (2001)
  4. ^ a b c d e Bhojpuri Ethnologue World Languages (2009)
  5. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Bhojpuric". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  6. ^ Detailed language map of western Nepal, see disjunct enclaves of language #9 in SE
  7. ^ a b c Rajend Mesthrie, Language in indenture: a sociolinguistic history of Bhojpuri-Hindi in South Africa, Routledge, 1992, ISBN 978-0415064040, pages 30-32
  8. ^ a b c d Bhojpuri Language Materials Project, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
  9. ^ Hindustani, Caribbean Ethnologue (2013)
  10. ^ William J. Frawley, International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Volume 1, ISBN 0-19-513977-1, Oxford University Press, Bhojpuri, page 481
  11. ^ Sarita Boodho, Bhojpuri traditions in Mauritius, Mauritius Bhojpuri Institute, 1999, ISBN 978-9990390216, pages 47-48 and 85-92
  12. ^ a b Trammell, R. L. (1971). The Phonology of the Northern Standard Dialect of Bhojpuri. Anthropological Linguistics, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 126–141
  13. ^ Diwakar Mishra and Kalika Bali, A COMPARATIVE PHONOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE DIALECTS OF HINDI, ICPhS XVII, Hong Kong, 17–21 August 2011, pp 1390
  14. ^ Diwakar Mishra and Kalika Bali, A COMPARATIVE PHONOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE DIALECTS OF HINDI, ICPhS XVII, Hong Kong, 17–21 August 2011, pp 1390-1393
  15. ^ a b c Robert L. Trammell, The Phonology of the Northern Standard Dialect of Bhojpuri, Anthropological Linguistics, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Apr., 1971), pp. 126-141
  16. ^ a b Verma, Manindra K. (2003), Bhojpuri, In Cardona et al. (Editors), The Indo-Aryan Languages, 515-537. London: Routledge
  17. ^ Shukla, Shaligram (1981), Bhojpuri Grammar, Washington, D. C., Georgetown University Press
  18. ^ a b Universal Declaration of Human Rights Bhojpuri language (United Nations)
  19. ^ Universal Declaration of Human Rights Hindi language (United Nations)
  20. ^ Universal Declaration of Human Rights English language (United Nations)
  21. ^ Parable of the prodigal son in Benares Bhojpuri, A Recording in May, 1920 by Rajaji Gupta, Linguistic Survey of India, Digital South Asia Library, University of Chicago, USA
  22. ^ a b Parable of the prodigal son in Nagpuria Bhojpuri, A Recording in 1920 by Shiva Sahay Lal, Linguistic Survey of India, Digital South Asia Library, University of Chicago, USA
  23. ^ Map of Southern Standard Bhojpuri Digital Library of Language Relationships (2012)
  24. ^ a b Shaligram Shukla (1981), Bhojpuri Grammar, Georgetown University School of Language, ISBN 978-0878401895
  25. ^ Western Standard Bhojpuri Digital Library of Language Relationships (2012)
  26. ^ Monika Horstmann (1969), Sadani, Indologia Berolinensis, Otto Harrassowitz - Weisbaden, Germany, pp 176-180
  27. ^ "'Recognition' of Bhojpuri sought". The Times Of India. Jan 23, 2012. Retrieved July 20, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Chidambaram speaks a surprise". Chennai, India. The Hindu. May 17, 2012. Retrieved June 5, 2012. 
  29. ^ Traditions of heroic and epic poetry - Google Books. 1969-12-04. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  30. ^ Bhojpuri - The Sunday Indian Newspaper
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Bhelari, Amit (2011-06-16). "Bhojpuri singer popular in Pakistan". Calcutta, India: Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  34. ^ Iftekharul Bashar, Unresolved Statelessness: The Case of Biharis in Bangladesh, Journal of International Affairs: A Quarterly Publication of the Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs, Volume 10, 2006, pages 89-98
  35. ^ "Forced Labour". The National Archives, Government of the United Kingdom. 2010. 
  36. ^ Richard Keith Barz and Jeff Siegel (Editors), Language Transplanted: The Development of Overseas Hindi, Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447028721, page 198

External links

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