What Language Do They Speak in Fiji?
Fiji, known for its exotic islands, has a variety of languages spoken throughout the country. English, Fijian, and Hindi are the official languages of Fiji. Most native Fijians speak Fijian as their first language, while Indo-Fijians speak Hindi as their first language. However, both groups commonly use English as a second language, making communication relatively easy for English-speaking tourists. Visitors can expect to see English used widely in media, business, and even on restaurant menus. So, whether you are a native English speaker or not, you won’t have trouble communicating in Fiji. Just relax and embrace “Fiji time”!
5 Fun Facts About the Fiji Languages
Discovering the Languages of Fiji: 5 Fascinating Facts
- Fijian language comprises various dialects that differ from one island to another. These dialects incorporate a blend of Polynesian, Melanesian, and other Pacific languages.
- Today, standard Fijian, which is widely used, is derived from the dialect spoken on Bau Island, which was once politically dominant.
- Indo-Fijians have their own version of the Hindi language known as Fiji Hindi, which has several differences from standard Hindi spoken in India.
- Rotuman, spoken on the island of Rotuma, is a distinct language that is neither Fijian nor Indo-Fijian.
- Written Fijian language contains many silent letters, which can be a challenge for beginners learning the language.
If you’re fascinated by languages, Fiji is a unique destination where you can explore various dialects and even learn a few words in Fijian or Hindi.
English in Fiji
English is widely spoken and understood in Fiji, primarily as a second language. Most Fijians are taught English in school after they become proficient in their first language, which makes it easier for English-speaking tourists to communicate with locals. English is the language used for most communications, including media, signage, and business dealings.
Why Do People Speak English in Fiji?
But why is English the most common language in Fiji, with native Fijians and Indo-Fijians comprising the majority of the population? The English language was first introduced to the islands during the trading and exploring days around 150 years ago. However, its dominance in Fiji increased significantly after the country was colonized by the British in 1874, with all government communication being in English. Even after gaining independence in 1970, Fiji remained a British colony until 1997, which had a significant impact on the country’s language and culture.
Fijian in Fiji
Fijian, also known as the Fijian language, is spoken by over half of the population in Fiji as a first or second language. It is a Malayo-Polynesian language, belonging to the Austronesian language family, with similarities to other languages spoken in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. In this guide, we’ll go through some interesting facts about the Fijian language, including its history and pronunciation.
Before colonisation, the Fijian islands had various dialects. Nowadays, there is a “standard Fijian” used mainly for administrative purposes and is the most commonly spoken version. Despite this, there are still some slight variations in dialects between different regions in Fiji.
Fijian Language Pronunciation
Fijian words have different vowel sounds than in English, and there are some differences in how letters are pronounced. For example, the letter “D” has an unwritten “n” in front of it, making “Nadi” pronounced “Nandi”. The letter “G” also has an unwritten “n” in front, making “Sigatoka” pronounced “Singatoka”. The letter “C” is pronounced “th”, making “Mamanucas” pronounced “Mamanuthas”.
Even with these differences in pronunciation, many English speakers will find communication easy when talking to the locals in Fiji. With the majority of the population able to understand and speak English as a second language, tourists won’t face much of a language barrier when visiting Fiji.
Hindi in Fiji
Hindi is an official language in Fiji and is spoken as a first or second language by around 37% of the population. The language is known as Fijian Hindi due to its variations from the Hindi spoken in the Indian subcontinent. Fijian Hindi combines elements of the Hindi dialects from Awadhi and Bhojpuri, along with Fijian, Arabic and English words.
Why Do People Speak Hindi in Fiji?
Fiji’s history of British colonisation saw the arrival of indentured labourers from India for the sugar trade. The labourers spoke different Hindi dialects, which led to the formation of a common language, Fiji Hindi, for workplace communication and to facilitate communication among young children in daycare centres. Today, Hindi is a widely spoken language in Fiji and is an important part of the country’s linguistic and cultural diversity.
Other Languages Spoken in Fiji
In addition to the three official languages, Fiji is home to a diverse population of immigrants, each bringing their own language and culture to the country. Apart from English, Fijian, and Fiji Hindi, other languages commonly spoken in Fiji include Rotuman, Gujarati, Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Tongan. The Rotuman language is spoken by the people living on the Fijian island group of Rotuma, while Gujarati and Punjabi are spoken by Indian immigrants. Cantonese and Mandarin are spoken by Chinese immigrants, and Tongan is spoken by Tongan immigrants and Fijians of Tongan descent. With such linguistic diversity, Fiji is truly a melting pot of cultures and languages.