When in Fiji… Learn a little Fijian!

CultureExplore South Pacific
24 January 2019

It’s always useful to learn a little local lingo when visiting a new country – so we’ve compiled a handy list of helpful phrases, Q&As and nifty responses that will hold you in good stead while exploring Fiji!

Fiji’s culture and language is as diverse as its natural beauty and worthy of a quick learning! Familiarising yourself quick phrases will help you navigate your holiday with ease. Not only that, it will also help you win hearts of the friendly locals. So, we’ve made quick lists of greetings, short questions and answers, pronunciation and so on and so forth. Have a read and sally forth!

Fijian pronunciation

As with any language, pronunciations play a big role in conveying what you mean correctly. Here is a handy list of what sounds and intonations in Fijian differ from what you would normally read and enunciate.

“a” is pronounced ‘ah’ as in ‘bah’

“e” is pronounced ‘ey’ as in ‘nay’

“I” is pronounced ‘ee’ as in ‘knee’

“o” is pronounced ‘oh’ as in ‘go’

“u” is pronounced ‘oo’ as in ‘too’

“ai” is pronounced ‘ie’ as in ‘lie’

“c” is pronounced as ‘th’

Greetings

Bula: Pronounced ‘boo-lah’, it is by far the most common greeting. It means ‘hello’ but can also be used in a number of permutations as shown below.

Ni sa bula/Ni sa bula Vinaka: The first can be used as a more formal greeting. The latter extends on ‘bula’ and wishes the person good health and life.

Yadra: While a cheery bula can work any time, ‘yadra’ is how you greet someone in the mornings.

Moce: It means goodbye. Pronounced as ‘mo-thay’.

Sota tale: Instead of a formal goodbye, sota tale means ‘see you later’.

Replies

Now that we’ve grasped the greetings in and around the day, what about some replies and thank-you’s?

Io: Pronounced ‘ee-oh’, it means yes.

Sega: for ‘no’.

Vinaka: Thank you! Often shortened to just ‘naka’, feel free to use ‘vinaka’ after being served food, drinks or after any service being rendered. For example, if you’re out and about exploring the Naviti Resort’s excellent reefs, thank the tour desk fellow for the complimentary snorkels with a ‘vinaka’!

Vinaka vakalevu: A more formal way of proffering gratitude, it means ‘thank you very much’.

Kerekere: means ‘please’. You’ll hear it being dished around liberally around as Fijian hospitality is very courteous.

Vacava tiko: This means ‘How are you?’ To which the reply is ‘Daumaka tiko’, which mean all’s well!

Shopping

Learn this and surprise your Fijian host! #travel4real

How much for this: turns into “E ya vica(vi-tha-ah) qo?” This is informal, though. For a more formal tone, it will be, “E vica (vi-tha-ah) na kena i-sau” whose translation will be ‘how much does it cost?’

‘I need a bag ‘will become ‘Au gadreva e dua na taga’

At a restaurant, ‘check, please’ turns into ‘kerea na bili kerekere’!

General tidbits

‘Where’s the loo?’ becomes “E vei na vale-lailai?”

Can I have a glass of water? becomes “kerea e dua na bilo wai

‘Excuse me?’ becomes ‘Vosoti au’ (It works sort of like an apology, like ‘I’m sorry?’)

‘Where am I?’ becomes ‘Au tiko qo i vei

‘What’s the way to …’ becomes ‘I vei na sala ki…

‘Where’s the nearest market?’ translates to ‘I vei na Makete voleka tau dua

‘Is there a pharmacy nearby?’ will turn into ‘E dua na kemesi voleka

Emergencies

Stop: Kele

Help: Kere veivuke

Call the police: Qirita na ovisa

Fire: Kama!

Something interesting which you’ll hear is ‘Sega, la neqa’. Pronounced as ‘sega-h, na-h lenga’, it is basically hakuna matata – don’t worry, be happy! It is the quintessential embodiment of embracing ‘island time’, where rushing about is just so passé.

Not that you’ll need the babies below, but it is always better to be prepared.

And that’s all for today’s fiji lingo lesson! This is by no way a complete list, but hey– you’re on holiday, not to pass local! Sure, these quick phrases will help you communicate more effectively when out and about. Plus, you’ll win brownie points saying the right thing (daumaka tiko, remember!) whenever a friendly local greets you with a bula!

Have fun in Fiji (check out our signature all-inclusive Fiji holiday packages and deals) and Vinaka vakalevu for reading through to the very end. Share this around if you think it’s interesting or comment below to help us add more useful things to learn and know when in Fiji!

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