While almost everyone in Fiji speaks English, which is the country's official language, knowing a few key phrases in the Fijian language is not only polite but will endear you to the already warm and welcoming Fijian people.
One word you will hear constantly is the infectious "Bula!" which means "hello" or "welcome."
The Fijian language does have a few idiosyncrasies in terms of pronunciation, however, so keep in mind that:
The letter "a" is pronounced "ah" as in father.
The letter "e" is pronounced "ey" as in bay
The letter "i" is pronounced "ee" as in bee
The letter "o" is pronounced "oh" as in go
The letter "u" is pronounced "oo" as in zoo
The letters "ai" are pronounced "ie" and is lie
Any word with a "d" has an unwritten "n" in front of it, so the city Nadi is pronounced "Nah-ndi."
The letter "b" is pronounced as "mb" like in bamboo, especially when it is in the middle of a word. But even with the frequently heard "Bula!" welcome, there is a slight, almost silent, humming "m."
Similarly, in certain words with a "g," there is an unwritten "n" in front of it, so sega ("no") is pronounced "senga,"
The letter "c" is pronounced "th," so "moce," meaning goodbye, is pronounced "moe-they."
Key Words and Phrases
Don't be afraid to try some common words while visiting Fiji.
Hello Ni sa bula (nee sahm boola) or bula (mboola) for short
Goodbye Ni sa moce (nee sa mo-they)
Good morning Ni sa yadra (nee sa yandra)
Yes Io (ee-o)
No Sega (senga)
Please Yalo vinaka (yalo vee-nahka)
Excuse me Tolou (too low)
Thank you / good Vinaka (vee-nahka)
Thank you very much Vinaka vaka levu. (vee-nahka vaka leyvu)
What is this ? A cava oqo? - (ah thava ongo)
It’s a… - E dua na… - (ey do-ah nah…)
House Vale/bure (valey/mburey)
Man tagane (tahng-ahney)
Woman marama (mah-rah-mah)
Toilet Vale lailai (valey lie lie)
Village Koro (ko ro)
Church Vale ni lotu (vah-ley need lohtoo)
Shop Sitoa (seetoah)
Eat Kana (karna)
Drink Gunu (goo noo)
Coconut Niu (new)
Quickly Vaka totolo (vaka toe-toe-lo)
Big levu (leyvu)
Small lailai (lie-lie)
Slowly Vaka malua (vaka mar lua)
A little/small Vaka lailai (vaka lie lie)
A lot/great Vaka levee (vaka levee)
One Dua (ndu a)
Two Rua (ru a)
About the Author
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York City–based freelance travel writer and editor who has spent her life pursuing her two main passions: writing and exploring the world.