How to Speak the Fijian Language

Common Words and Phrases Used in the Fiji Islands

Fijian People
••• Fijian People. Cultura RM Exclusive / Stuart Westmorland / Getty Images

Fiji is one of the major island groups in the South Pacific, and while almost everyone in Fiji speaks English, the country's official language, many locals still use the Fijian language.

If you're planning to visit the island of Fiji, it's not only polite to familiarize yourself with some common words and phrases in this language, it could also 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." You might also hear "ni sa yadra," which means "good morning" or "ni sa moce," which means "goodbye." Before you can speak this language, though, you'll need to know some basic pronunciation rules.

Pronouncing Words in Traditional Fijian

When it comes to speaking other languages, it's important to remember that some vowels and consonants are pronounced differently than in American English. The following idiosyncrasies apply to pronouncing most words in Fijian:

  • 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

Additionally, any word with a "d" has an unwritten "n" in front of it, so the city Nadi would be 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 an almost silent, humming "m" sound.

Similarly, in certain words with a "g," there is an unwritten "n" in front of it, so sega ("no") is pronounced "senga," and 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, whether you're talking to a tagane (man) or a marama (woman) and saying "ni sa bula" ("hello") or "ni sa moce" ("goodbye").

The Fiji locals are sure to appreciate that you took the time to try to learn their language. 

  • Hello: Ni sa bula or just bula
  • Goodbye: Ni sa moce
  • Good morning: Ni sa yadra
  • Yes: Lo
  • No: Sega
  • Please: Yalo vinaka
  • Excuse me: Tolou
  • Thank you / good: Vinaka
  • Thank you very much: Vinaka vaka levu
  • What is this?: A cava oqo?
  • It’s a…: E dua na
  • House: Vale or bure
  • Man: tagane
  • Woman: marama 
  • Toilet: Vale lailai 
  • Village: Koro
  • Church: Vale ni lotu
  • Shop:  Sitoa
  • Eat: Kana
  • Drink: Gunu
  • Coconut: Niu
  • Quickly: Vaka totolo
  • Big: Levu
  • Small: Lailai
  • Slowly: Vaka malua
  • A little/small: Vaka lailai
  • A lot/great: Vaka levee
  • One: Dua
  • Two: Rua

If you forget, you can always just ask a local for help. As most islanders speak English, you should have no trouble communicating on your trip—and you might even get the opportunity to learn! Remember to always treat the culture of the islands with respect, including the language and the land, and you should be sure to enjoy your trip to Fiji.