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Useful Words and Phrases

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Useful Words, Phrases and concepts for the Visitor

  • yes – io
  • no – sega                        Reminder: G here represents the ng in sing.
  • work – cakacaka           Reminder: C here represents the th in then, not thin.
  • bad – cā                         This is an example of a long vowel.
  • beer – bia                      Don’t forget the m in front of the b: mb.
  • big, many – levu
  • bird – manumanu vuka    The v-sound is close to the English v, but made with both lips.
  • boy, male – tagane
  • cassava, tapioca – tavioka
  • child – gone
  • comb – i-seru
  • cup – bilo
  • eat – kana
  • fish – ika
  • food – kākana              Note the long vowel. This word has two accents.
  • girl, female – yalewa
  • handsome, beautiful – totoka – (toe-toe-kah)
  • happy, satisfied – mārau
  • house – vale
  • kava – yaqona              Reminder: the q is pronounced as the ng in finger.
  • kava bowl – tānoa
  • man – tagane
  • man – tūraga
  • matches – māsese
  • money – ilavo
  • pot – kuro
  • sleeping house – bure
  • small – lailai
  • smart – mātai
  • stone – vatu
  • stupid or crazy – lialia
  • taro – dalo
  • tobacco – tavako
  • today – nikua
  • toilet – vale lailai
  • tomorrow – ni mataka
  • tree – vū ni kau
  • village – koro
  • whale’s tooth – tabua
  • woman – marama
  • yesterday – nanoa

Some Useful Concepts

  • killing time, fooling around – moku siga
  • wandering around – gade
  • go slowly, take your time – vaka malua
  • eat heartily – kana vaka levu
  • taboo, forbidden – tabu
  • exclamation of regret or joy– isa, isa lei
  • ashamed, shy – maduā
  • go ahead and try – tovolea mada
  • a request – kerekere

Some Useful Phrases

  • Where are you going? (Interestingly enough there are no literal equivalents for ‘How are you?’ Instead, Fijians might ask a friend they see on the street this, which is as much a greeting as it is a question.) – O sā lako i vei?
  • Good day (a polite greeting and one of the first Fijian phrases you will hear). – Nī bula.
  • A less formal greeting (literally ‘health’ and ‘life’). – Bula.
  • Good morning. – Nī sā yadra.
  • Goodbye/Good night (literally, ‘sleep’). – Nī sā moce.
  • Come here. – Lako mai ekē.
  • Good/Thank you. – Vinaka.
  • Thank you very much. – Vinaka vaka-levu.
  • Where do you come from? – O nī lako mai vei?
  • I come from New Zealand. – Au lako mai Niu Siladi.
  • What’s this? A cava oqō?
  • It’s a _____. – E dua na _____.

Top photo of Mr Roko Nubutautau courtesy of Rob Rickman