Learn Fijian – Speak Like a Polynesian Local

in Oceania

When you’re vacationing in Fiji you’ll hear many unfamiliar words. While English is the predominant language, several Fijian words have made it into the everyday vernacular.

Learning these key terms and phrases will help you feel like a local in no time.

Bula is the most common greeting in Fiji. By repeating this word to a friendly local you are wishing them health and a good life. You may occasionally hear Fijians say the longer forms of the greeting, "Ni sa bula" or "Sa bula," but simply responding with the word bula is acceptable.

While bula is an acceptable greeting at any time of day, there are more specific salutations if you can remember them. "Ni sa yadra," or more informally "yadra," means good morning. Note that yadra is pronounced like "yandra," with an n sound.

fiji photo

The national flag of Fiji

If you're saying goodbye at the end of a big night of cocktails you might use the phrase "Ni sa moce." It translates as "sleep," but is used in place of goodbye or good night. If that phrase is a bit of a mouthful, you can always use the more informal shortened one, moce. Note that the c in moce has a th sound.

When you're interacting with Fijian resort staff, remember to say vinaka, which means "good" or "thank you." If you're particularly impressed by the service you receive you might say the more enthusiastic "Vinaka vaka-levu," which means "thank you very much."

Talanoa is the Fijian word for storytelling, one of the favorite pastimes of the friendly Fijian people. Don't be afraid to sit down with anyone asking you to join them for a talanoa tea. The locals are not nosey when they enquire about your origins and relationships; they simply want to learn about your culture the way you're learning about theirs!

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