As veteran travellers know, one of the most interesting aspects of travel is the unique languages and customs at every different destination. These things can change from country to country, and even within regions and can be completely different on one side of a river compared to the other.
Why Learn Foreign Phrases as A Traveller?
It’s impossible to be prepared for the myriad of cultural nuances that each new location presents, but no matter where you go, it is good to do a quick study of common phrases and particular customs that could impact upon you as a traveller.
Just a little preparation can go a long way toward circumventing difficult situations and knowing some of the language – however little – can often help to smooth over any misunderstandings with the locals, no matter where in the world you are.
Do You Need To Learn The Language To Travel In Fiji?
Fiji is one of those countries that are great for the spur of the moment traveller, as it is pretty easy to get around – even for the most inexperienced traveller as most of the population, especially on coastal areas, have a good command of basic English. Road signs, newspapers and radio stations are also in English, or have English alternatives.
In saying that, Fijian people love to hear foreigners use the Fijian language with respect – if for nothing more than a chuckle – and so it is well worth it to learn a few simple phrases.
It is overall a simple language to pronounce as it doesn’t have some of the confusing tonal aspects that certain languages do and it is generally phonetic – well the ones below are.
The Fijian language has a very rounded and sometimes guttural sound, so keep that in mind when attempting to pronounce the words.
I have included some basic pronunciation guides in writing, but to listen to how each word is actually said, please play the short clips beneath each description.
Common Fijian Phrases For Travellers
This is the most common Fijian word you will hear and it means “Hello”. It also means ‘Health’, so saying ‘Bula’ is not only an all-purpose greeting, but it is more particularly a way of wishing health upon the person you are saying it to.
I like that.
Say it like this: ‘mBOOL-AH’
On your first morning in Fiji you are likely to hear it. It means “Good Morning” and you are likely to hear at least one of the hotel staff using it. But remember, unlike the all-purpose greeting “Bula”, “Yadra” is only used in the morning.
It is pronounced with a long ‘a’ and as though it has an ‘n’ in it – like ‘YAAN-DRA’
“Io” means “Yes”.
How to say it? Say the letter ‘E’ then begin to say the word ‘or’, but don’t pronounce the ‘r’.
(Probably ‘No’ is a more important word to remember, especially if you find yourself in the vicinity of a bar like I always seem to ;-))
On that note…
‘Sega’ means ‘No’. It is a very useful word, and you will need it a lot if you will be getting out of your hotel and venturing into the markets and travelling to the different towns.
If you don’t want to board a taxi, aren’t interested in that souvenir that is being waved in front of you, or don’t like the advances of one of the local men, this word is your ticket.
Say it like this: ‘SENG-A’
Here’s another really important word in every language. The word is ‘Vinaka’ and it means ‘Thank You’.
Protip: Another reason it is a good idea to remember this word in the Fijian language is because it can be added to the word Bula to emphasize it further.
So…if you want to wish someone a ‘Very Good Day’, you can say Bula Vinaka. Which also equates to wishing someone good health (we all need that, right!)
It is simply an more emphatic and meaningful greeting. It also is less casual, a tad more respectful – and in Fiji respect is central to the culture, so you will get brownie points for remembering and appropriately using this.
Say it like this: ‘VIN-AAKAA’
Yaqona is the Fijian name for the traditional Fijian drink that is known most popularly in the West as ‘Kava’ or ‘kava kava’.
Yaqona is inextricably entwined in the Fijian culture and respect needs to be shown around the beverage.
There are casual occasions for kava drinking that don’t require ceremony, but much kava drinking is ritualistic and as a traveller, definitely err on the side of respect and accept a small serving of kava if it is offered to you.
Say it like this: ‘YAANG- GONA’
So, I hope you enjoyed that quick rundown and feel a little more prepared for your trip to Fiji.
Are you planning on heading there soon? Or have you already visited? Did you notice some useful Fijian words that helped you get through your trip.
Let us know in the comments below!