Language of Fiji - Learning About Fiji
This is the common Fijian greeting used when meeting friends or welcoming guests. It goes beyond the simple hello, though, to incorporate spirit and literally means “life”. So Bula! And Welcome to the Fijian language section.
Fiji has three official languages that are recognized by their constitution; English, Bau Fijian and Hindustani.
English is the main medium of communication. It is the language the government uses and is the main language of education, commerce and the courts. Fijians do, however, have a constitutional right to communicate with the government in any one of the three official languages.
Fijian belongs to the Austronesian family of languages. There are many dialects, but the official standard is the speech of Bau. The Austronesian languages are a family of languages that are found throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific and continental Asia. It is one of the largest language families in the world. The word Austronesian comes from the Greek word Austronesia meaning southern islands.
The Fijian alphabet is made up of all of the English letters, except ‘x’. The letters ‘h’ and ‘z’ are rarely used and are usually found only in borrowed words.
Some Fijian Words and Phrases
Mother – nana
Father – tata
Grandmother – bubu yalewa (mother’s mother)
- bubu yalewa (father’s mother)
Grandfather – bubu tagane (father’s father)
- bubu tagane (mother’s father)
Son – luvequ tagane
Daughter – luvequ yalewa
Sister – tuakaqu yalewa (older sister)
- taciqu yalewa (younger sister)
Brother – tuakaqu tagane (older brother)
- taciqu tagane (younger brother)
Aunt – nana levu (mother's older sister)
- nana lailai (mother's younger sister)
- nei (father’s sister)
Uncle – tata levu (father's older brother)
- tata lailai (father's younger brother)
- momo (mother's brother)
What is your name? - o cei na yacamu(ni)?
My name is _____ - o yau o _______
_____ - na yacaqu o _______
Pleased to meet you - ia (ni) bula
Where are you going? - o sa lako ki vei?
Goodbye - ni sa moce
yes - io
no - sega
Hello – bula*
Good morning - andra vinaka
How are you? - o lai vei?
Please - kere kere
Thanks - vinaka
Excuse me – tulou
Eat – kana
Come – lako mai
Go – lako tani
Coconut - niu
- Vowels are pronounced as they are in Spanish, German or Italian
while most consonants are pronounced as in English.
‘b’ & ‘d’ are pronounced with preceding nasal consonant. ‘b’ sounds like ‘mb’ and d like ‘nd’.
- ‘k’, ’p’ and ’t’ are the same as in English but there is no puff of breath that often follows them. For example the ‘t’ sounds like ‘ch’ when it occurs before ‘i’, therefore you would pronounce ‘tiko’ like ‘jiko’.
- ‘r’ is the same as in English
- ‘v’ is pronounced as you would say it in the word ‘verify’
- ‘c’ is pronounced as the ‘th’ of ‘this’
- ‘j’ is pronounced as the ‘ch’ of ‘loch’
- ‘q’ is pronounced as the ‘ng’ of ‘sing’