The official languages of Fiji are Fijian, English, and Fiji Hindi. Fijian is an Austronesian language and member of the Malayo-Polynesian linguistic family. Fiji Hindi ( known locally as "Hindustani") is an Indo-Aryan language which is the mother tongue of the majority of Fijian residents with Indian heritage. The Fijian alphabet consists of sixteen consonants and ten vowels. Fiji Hindi includes loan words taken from native Fijian (ie. kumaala meaning sweet potato) as well as words derived from English. Including diphthongs this language is comprised of twelve vowels and thirty one consonants.

About 350,000 people living in Fiji call Fijian their mother tongue while another 200,000 more citing it as a second language. Fijian was officially recognized as one of the archipelago’s official languages according to the country’s 1997 Constitution. Fiji Hindi is spoken by approximately 400,000 residents most of whom live on the islands of Fiji. A large percentage of these citizens can trace their roots back to Indian ancestors who came to the region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as laborers.

Useful phrases in Fijian include the good morning greeting of, “Ni sa yadra”. To wish someone a good night is to say, “Ni sa moce”. Thanking someone very much can be communicated using the words, “Vinaka vaka levu.” The question of where one is from can be achieved with, “O ni lako mai vei?” Basic words in Fiji Hindi include, “bihaan” meaning “tomorrow”, “kal” for “yesterday” and “juluum” which translates to “beautiful”.

Along with its three official languages other minority languages spoken throughout this tropical archipelago include Chinese, Rotuman, as well as an array of east and west indigenous languages. Chinese and Rotuman are most often used by immigrants to the islands. Both Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese are most often spoken in Fiji by migrant farmers who live in the rural areas of the islands. Rotuman, also known as Rotunan, Rutuman or Fäeag Rotuma, is mainly spoken by people native to the Rotuma group of islands.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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