Bhojpuri language

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भोजपुरी (bhōjpurī)
Bhojpuri word in devanagari script.jpg
The word "Bhojpuri" in Devanagari script
Native to India and Nepal
Region Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh in (Bhojpuri region and Purvanchal region) in India and Terai region and Madhesh region in Nepal
Ethnicity Bhojpuri people
Native speakers
51 million, partial count (2011 census)[1]
(additional speakers counted under Hindi)
  • Northern (Gorakhpuri, Sarawaria, Basti)
  • Western (Purbi, Benarsi)
  • Southern (Kharwari)
  • Tharu Bhojpuri
  • Madheshi
  • Domra
  • Musahari
  • Caribbean Hindustani
  • Fiji Hindi
Devanagari (more used)
Kaithi (less used)[2]
Official status
Official language in
 India (Jharkhand[3])
Language codes
ISO 639-2 bho
ISO 639-3 bhoinclusive code
Individual codes:
hns – Caribbean Hindustani
hif – Fiji Hindi
Glottolog bhoj1246[4]
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. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Bhojpuri (/ˌbˈpʊəri/;[5] About this soundभोजपुरी ) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in the North-Eastern part of India and the Terai region of Nepal.[2] It is chiefly spoken in western Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.[5][6] Bhojpuri is sometimes considered one of the Hindi dialects[7] although it officially belongs to the geographic Bihari branch of Eastern Indo-Aryan languages. Fiji Hindi, an official language of Fiji, is a variety of Bhojpuri. Bhojpuri is one of the recognized official languages of Nepal and Fiji. It is also a recognized minority language in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Mauritius.[8][9]

Bhojpuri is also spoken by the first generation immigrants who migrated from the UP region which now encompasses parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in India to the newly created Pakistan.[citation needed] It is, however, slowly dying out in Pakistan as the next generation prefers to speak Urdu, Pakistan's national language and lingua franca.

The variant of Bhojpuri of the Indo-Surinamese people is also referred to as Sarnami Hindustani, Sarnami Hindi or just Sarnami[10] and has experienced considerable Sranan Tongo Creole and Dutch lexical influence. In Mauritius, a distinctive dialect of Bhojpuri remains in use, locally called Bojpury. The day-to-day usage of the language in Mauritius is dropping and today, it is spoken by approximately 5% of the population, according to latest census.[11]

Geographic distribution

Bhojpuri Speaking Region in India

Bhojpuri speaking region bounded by the Awadhi-speaking region to the west, Nepali speaking region to the north, Magahi- and Maithili-speaking regions to the east, and Magahi- and Bagheli-speaking regions to the south.[2]

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.

Bhojpuri is a major language spoken in Nepal.[9]

Outside South Asia

Bhojpuri is also spoken by people who were brought as indentured labourers in the 19th century and early 20th century, for work in sugarcane plantations during British colonial era, to Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Fiji, other parts of the Caribbean, Jamaica, and South Africa.[8][9][12]

Countrywise Bhojpuri speakers in the world
Country Speakers
India 50,579,447
Nepal 1,584,958
Mauritius 66,893
Trinidad and Tobago 15,600[13]
Guyana 300,000[14]


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).[2]

Bhojpuri has the following dialects, the first three being the major child dialects:[9]

  1. Southern Standard Bhojpuri
  2. Northern Standard Bhojpuri
  3. Western Standard Bhojpuri[15]
  4. Nagpuria Bhojpuri[16]

Southern Standard Bhojpuri is prevalent the areas of Shahabad (Buxar, Bhojpur, Rohtas and Kaimur districts) and Saran region (Saran, Siwan and Gopalganj districts) in Bihar, and eastern Azamgarh (Ballia and Mau district) and Varanasi regions (eastern part of Ghazipur district) in Uttar Pradesh. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Kharwari’. It can be further divided into 'Shahabadi', 'Chapariyah' and 'Pachhimahi'.[17]

Northern Bhojpuri is common in the areas of Gorakhpur (Deoria, Kushinagar, Gorakhpur and Maharajganj districts) and Basti regions (Basti, Sidhartha Nagar and Sant Kabir Nagar districts) in Uttar Pradesh, western Tirhut region (East and West Champaran districts) in Bihar and other districts in Nepal.[18] 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 Gorakhpur and Champaran has a local name Pachhimahwa.[citation needed].

Western Bhojpuri is prevalent the areas of Varanasi (Varanasi, Chandauli, Jaunpur and Western part of Ghazipur districts), Azamgarh (Azamgarh district) and Mirzapur regions (Mirzapur, Sant Ravidas Nagar and Bhadohi districts) in Uttar Pradesh. ‘Banarasi’ is a local name for the Banaras Bhojpuri. Western Bhojpuri is also referred to as "Purbi" or "Benarsi".[19]

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.[16][18] It is sometimes referred to as 'Sadari'.[20]



Bhojpuri vowels[21]
Front Central Back
Close i ɪ u
Close-mid e ə o
Open-mid ɔ
Open æ ɑ


Bhojpuri consonants[21]
Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɳ ɲ ŋ
Stop voiceless p ʈ k
voiced b ɖ ɡ
aspirated t̪ʰ ʈʰ tʃʰ
breathy voiced d̪ʱ ɖʱ dʒʱ ɡʱ
Fricative s h
Rhotic plain ɾ ɽ
aspirated ɾʱ ɽʱ
Approximant ʋ l j


Bhojpuri is, sociolinguistically, one of the seven Hindi languages (Haryanvi, Braj, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Bundeli, Bagheli and Kannauji).[22] Of these seven, Bhojpuri has the most allophonic variations in vowels.[23]

Robert Trammell has published the phonology of Bhojpuri.[24][25]

Bhojpuri has six vowel phonemes,[25] and ten vocoids. The higher vowels are relatively tense, while lower vowels are relatively lax. The language has 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).[24]

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.[24][26]

Writing system

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

Bhojpuri was historically written in Kaithi scripts,[2] but since 1894, Devanagari has served as the primary script. Kaithi is used rarely right now.

The word "Bhojpuri" written in kaithi script.

Kaithi script was used for administrative purposes in the Mughal era for writing Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Maithili, Magahi and Hindustani from at least the 16th century up to the first decade of the 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 labour in Africa, Mauritius, Fiji, and the Caribbean colonies of the British Empire in 19th century and early 20th century, used Kaithi as well as Devanagari scripts.[8]

By 1894, official texts in Bihar were written in Kaithi and Devanagari. At present almost all Bhojpuri texts are written 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 Devanagari.[27]


Bhojpuri syntax and vocabulary reflect 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 omitted.

Literary [teh] āō [teh] bōl
Casual and intimate [tu] āō [tu] bōl
Polite and intimate [tum] āv' [tum] bōl'
Formal yet intimate [rau'ā] āīñ [rau'ā] bōlīñ
Polite and formal [āpne] āīñ [āp] bōlīñ
Extremely formal āwal jā'e bōlal jā'e

Similarly, adjectives are marked for politeness and formality. For example, "your" has several forms with different tones of politeness: "tum" (casual and intimate), "tōhār" (polite and intimate), "t'hār" (formal yet intimate), "rā'ur" (polite and formal) and "āp ke" (extremely formal). Although there are many tiers of politeness, Bhojpuri speakers mainly use the form "tum" to address an individual who is younger and "ap" for individuals who are older than themselves or hold a higher position in workplace situations.


There have been demands for greater official recognition of Bhojpuri, such as via its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.[28]

Bhojpuri is being taught in various universities of India. Universities like Veer kunwar Singh University [29] , Banaras Hindu University[30], Nalanda Open University[31]. Teach Bhojpuri.


Lorikayan, or the story of Veer Lorik, is a famous Bhojpuri folklore of Eastern Uttar Pradesh.[32] Bhikhari Thakur's Bidesiya is another famous book.

A modest number of novels have been published in Bhojpuri since 1956.[citation needed]


Many Bhojpuri magazines and papers are published in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. Parichhan is a contemporary literary-cultural Maithili-Bhojpuri magazine, published by Maithili-Bhojpuri academy, Delhi government and edited by Parichay Das. The Sunday Indian, Bhojpuri[33] is a regular national news magazine in Bhojpuri. Aakhar is a monthly online Bhojpuri literature magazine.[34] Other media in Bhojpuri include Lok Lucknow,[35]

Mahuaa TV and Hamar TV are Bhojpuri language channels.


The following is Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Bhojpuri, Hindi, Sarnámi and English:[36]

अनुच्छेद १: सबहि लोकानि आजादे जन्मेला आउर ओखिनियो के बराबर सम्मान आओर अधिकार प्राप्त हवे। ओखिनियो के पास समझ-बूझ आउर अंत:करण के आवाज होखता आओर हुनको के दोसरा के साथ भाईचारे के बेवहार करे के होखला।[36]

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।[37]

Aadhiaai 1: Sab djanne aadjádi aur barabar paidaa bhailèn, iddjat aur hak mê. Ohi djanne ke lage sab ke samadj-boedj aur hierdaai hai aur doesare se sab soemmat sè, djaane-maane ke chaahin.[38]

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.[39]

See also


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bhojpuri Ethnologue World Languages (2009)
  3. ^ Sudhir Kumar Mishra (22 March 2018). "Bhojpuri, 3 more to get official tag". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 22 March 2018.
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bhojpuric". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ a b Bhojpuri entry, Oxford Dictionaries Archived 8 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Oxford University Press
  6. ^ Ethnologue's detailed language map Archived 16 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. of western Madhesh; see the disjunct enclaves of language #9 in SE.
  7. ^ Diwakar Mishra and Kalika Bali, A COMPARATIVE PHONOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE DIALECTS OF HINDI Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine., ICPhS XVII, Hong Kong, 17–21 August 2011, pp 1390
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ a b c d Bhojpuri Archived 25 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Language Materials Project, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
  10. ^ Hindustani, Caribbean Archived 13 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Ethnologue (2013)
  11. ^ William J. Frawley, International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Volume 1, ISBN 0-19-513977-1, Oxford University Press, Bhojpuri, page 481
  12. ^ "Forced Labour". The National Archives, Government of the United Kingdom. 2010. Archived from the original on 4 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Bhojpuri speakers in Trinidad and Tobago".
  14. ^ "Bhojpuri speakers in Guyana".
  15. ^ Parable of the prodigal son in Benares Bhojpuri Archived 8 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine., A Recording in May 1920 by Rajaji Gupta, Linguistic Survey of India, Digital South Asia Library, University of Chicago, USA
  16. ^ a b Parable of the prodigal son in Nagpuria Bhojpuri Archived 8 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine., A Recording in 1920 by Shiva Sahay Lal, Linguistic Survey of India, Digital South Asia Library, University of Chicago, USA
  17. ^ Map of Southern Standard Bhojpuri Archived 1 March 2014 at Digital Library of Language Relationships (2012)
  18. ^ a b Shaligram Shukla (1981), Bhojpuri Grammar, Georgetown University School of Language, ISBN 978-0878401895
  19. ^ Western Standard Bhojpuri Archived 1 March 2014 at Digital Library of Language Relationships (2012)
  20. ^ Monika Horstmann (1969), Sadari, Indologia Berolinensis, Otto Harrassowitz - Wiesbaden, Germany, pp 176-180
  21. ^ a b Trammell, R. L. (1971). The Phonology of the Northern Standard Dialect of Bhojpuri. Anthropological Linguistics, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 126–141
  22. ^ Diwakar Mishra and Kalika Bali, A COMPARATIVE PHONOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE DIALECTS OF HINDI Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine., ICPhS XVII, Hong Kong, 17–21 August 2011, pp 1390
  23. ^ Diwakar Mishra and Kalika Bali, A COMPARATIVE PHONOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE DIALECTS OF HINDI Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine., ICPhS XVII, Hong Kong, 17–21 August 2011, pp 1390-1393
  24. ^ a b c Robert L. Trammell, The Phonology of the Northern Standard Dialect of Bhojpuri Archived 10 May 2018 at the Wayback Machine., Anthropological Linguistics, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Apr. 1971), pp. 126-141
  25. ^ a b Verma, Manindra K. (2003), Bhojpuri, In Cardona et al. (Editors), The Indo-Aryan Languages, 515-537. London: Routledge
  26. ^ Shukla, Shaligram (1981), Bhojpuri Grammar, Washington, D. C., Georgetown University Press
  27. ^ Sarita Boodho, Bhojpuri traditions in Mauritius, Mauritius Bhojpuri Institute, 1999, ISBN 978-9990390216, pages 47-48 and 85-92
  28. ^ "Chidambaram speaks a surprise". Chennai, India. The Hindu. 17 May 2012. Archived from the original on 20 May 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  29. ^ "Bhojpuri in VKSU".
  30. ^ "Bhojpuri in BHU".
  31. ^ "Bhojpuri in NOU" (PDF).
  32. ^ Traditions of heroic and epic poetry - Google Books. 4 December 1969. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  33. ^ Bhojpuri - The Sunday Indian Newspaper Archived 30 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from url:// the original Check |url= value (help) on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  36. ^ a b Universal Declaration of Human Rights Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Bhojpuri language (United Nations)
  37. ^ Universal Declaration of Human Rights Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Hindi language (United Nations)
  38. ^ UDHR Sárnami - "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 May 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  39. ^ Universal Declaration of Human Rights Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine. English language (United Nations)

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