Everyone picks up at least a few Fijian words or phrases when they visit Fiji. You just can’t help but do so when everyone says “BULA” and “VINAKA” to you a hundred times a day!
Why not make an effort to go beyond those few common words, and extend yourself a little? It will impress your friends and locals alike! I have made multiple trips to Fiji, with some extended stays of up to four months, so I have managed to pick up a few more words than the average tourist. What follows are some of the words and phrases that I found to be useful (leaving out a few that really can’t be published on a family friendly website).
A Few Simple Pronunciation Rules
One thing I could never get the hang of (and still can’t) is the way Fijians roll or trill their R’s. Some people can do it, some can’t and I happen to be in the latter group.
The vowels: These are short, A E I O U are pronounced the same way as most Pacific island vowels. That includes Teo Reo, the Maori language in NZ.
- an A is like the A in Cat
- an E is like the E in effort
- an I is like an E in Eek
- an O is like the O in Orange
- U is like the U in You
Consonants: While many of these are very similar to English, there are a few differences that you need to be aware of.
- B is pronounced with an M in front of it. Example, Bula should be pronounced mBula, even though hardly anyone does.
- C is pronounced as TH. Exampl e, Mamanuca is pronounced as Mamanutha
- D is pronounced with an N in front of it. Example, Nadi is pronounced Nandi
- G also has an N in front of it. Example, Sega is pronounced Senga
- Q is pronounced as a G. Example, Beqa is pronounced as mBenga
- R is rolled or trilled. But don’t worry if you can’t get that, I can’t either!