Fijian Phrases for Your South Pacific Vacation

Fijian People

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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, but it could also endear you to the already warm and welcoming Fijian people.

One word you will hear constantly is the infectious "bula," which is commonly used to greet someone with a "hello," but it directly translates to "life" and "good health." You might also hear "ni sa yadra" (good morning) or "ni sa moce" (goodbye). Before you can speak this language, though, you'll need to know some basic pronunciation rules.

Two people on a Fijian beach
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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 as "Nah-ndi." The letter "b" is pronounced "mb" (like in bamboo), especially when it is in the middle of a word; however, 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." The letter "c" is pronounced "th," so "moce," meaning goodbye, is pronounced as "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 (ni sahm boo-lah)
  • Goodbye: Ni sa moce (ni sa mothey)
  • Good morning: Ni sa yadra (ni sah yan dra)
  • Yes: Io (ee-o)
  • No: Sega (senga)
  • Please: Yalo vinaka (yalo vee naka)
  • Excuse me: Tolou (too low)
  • Thank you / good: Vinaka (vee naka)
  • Thank you very much: Vinaka vaka levu (vee naka vahka lehvoo)
  • I'm sorry: Vosoti au (voesah tee ow)
  • I don't understand: Au sega ni taura rawa (ow seng-ah nee too-rah rah-wah)
  • No worries: Sega na leqa (seng-ah nah len-gah)
  • What is this?: A cava oqo? (na thava on go)
  • House: Vale or bure (valey or mburey)
  • Toilet: Vale lailai (vale lie lie)
  • Village: Koro (koro)
  • Church: Vale ni lotu (vahle nee lohtoo)
  • Shop: Sitoa (seetoah)
  • Eat: Kana (kana)
  • Drink: Gunu (goo noo)
  • Coconut: Niu (new)
  • Quickly: Vaka totolo (vaka toe toe lo)
  • One: Dua (n doo ah)
  • Two: Rua (roo ah)

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. 

Languages Spoken in Fiji

Fijian, Hindustani (Fiji Hindi), and English are the three official languages of Fiji. Fijian is spoken by native Fijians, while Hindi is spoken by Indo-Fijians; it's estimated that 54 percent of locals are fluent in Fijian and 37 percent are fluent in Hindi.

English, meanwhile, is Fiji's first official language due to the British colonization of the island in 1874; even though Fiji has been independent of the British Commonwealth since 1970, English continues to be taught as a second language once school children become proficient in their first language.

However, these aren't the only languages spoken in Fiji. Less commonly spoken on the island are Rotuman, Gujarati, Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Tongan.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What language is mostly spoken in Fiji?

    English is the most commonly spoken language in Fiji, although only an estimated 1-3 percent of locals speak it as their first language.

  • How do you say "hello" in Fiji?

    To greet someone, you can say either "Ni sa bula" (ni sahm boo lah) or "bula." The latter is the more informal, commonly used version.

  • What are the top three languages spoken in Fiji?

    There are three official languages in Fiji: Fijian, Hindi, and English.

Article Sources
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  1. Fiji Luxury Vacation. "Why Does Everyone Speak English in Fiji?" Accessed September 17, 2022.