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Fiji Language & Basic Phrases

What language is spoken in Fiji?

There are 3 official languages in Fiji: English, Fijian and Hindi (a variety much different from what is spoken in India). Native Fijians speak in Fijian as their first language, Indo-Fijians speak Hindi as their first language, and both groups speak English as a second language.

While many of its Pacific relatives, such as Hawaiian and Māori, have been struggling for survival, Fijian has never been in serious danger of extinction, even though it was ignored for a long time in schools. The vast majority of Fijians have always used it as their everyday language, and most Indians understand at least some. In rural communities like Levuka, Taveuni and Savusavu, the Indians all speak Fijian fluently.

Fijian Bau

The traditional Fijian language is made up of many different dialects throughout the islands. With the official language based on Bau Fijian. It is estimated that 54% of the population is fluent in Fijian (a first or second language). An Austronesian language, Fijian is spoken by the indigenous inhabitants of Fiji. The first inhabitants arrived 3500 years ago from either Vanuatu or the Solomon Islands.

English

The primary language in Fiji is English, being the main language of business, government, education system and daily conversation. Fiji was declared a British colony in 1874 (gained independence in 1970), the impact of British influence has remained. Fijians embrace English and the positive impact it has on tourism. Just as the common language helps visitors communicate their questions and concerns, English gives Fijians the opportunity to ask questions and have conversations with visitors.

Fiji Hindi

The British brought Indian laborers to Fiji during the colonial rule of Britain in India and Fiji. Soon, these laborers started settling down in Fiji, and the language they spoke came to be known as Fijian Hindustani or Fijian Baat. The Indians came from various parts of India and spoke several dialects of Hindi. Roughly 37% of people living in Fiji speak Hindi. However, words from Fijian and English have become part of the Hindi dialect here in Fiji to create a variant of the traditional Hindi you would hear in New Delhi and other parts of India.

Other common languages spoken in Fiji

Rotuman – spoken by the people living on the Fijian island group of Rotuma, it is not a dialect but its own separate language.
Gujarati & Punjabi – spoken by Indian immigrants.
Cantonese and Mandarin – spoken by Chinese immigrants.
Tongan – spoken by Tongan immigrants and Fijians of Tongan descent.

Fijian Language Pronunciation

Fijian words have different vowel sounds to how you read words in English. On top of that, there are a few differences worth mentioning between how to pronounce letters in Fijian compared to English. For example:

“D” has an unwritten “n” in front of it, so Nadi is pronounced “Nandi or the tasty marinated seafood dish called kokoda, is pronounced kokonda”.
“G” has an unwritten “n” in front, so “Sigatoka” pronounced “Singatoka”.
“C” is pronounced “th”, so the “Mamanucas” is pronounced “Mamanuthas”.
“B” has an unwritten “m” in front for some words, so Toberua is pronounced “Tomberua”.

Basic Phrases in Fijian

Hello – bula
Yes – io
No – sega
Please – yalo vinaka, mada
Thank you – vinaka
Thank you very much – vinaka vakalevu
Good morning – (ni sa) yadra
Excuse me – tulou
I’m sorry – lomana
Goodbye – (ni sa) moce
Toilet – vale lailai

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