Culture

Monday, 12 June 2017 10:00 Written by 
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Culture

When visiting a Fijian village it is customary to present a gift of ‘yaqona’ (Piper methysticum), which is also known as kava. The gift, called the ‘sevusevu’, is not expensive; half-a-kilo (which is appropriate) costs approximately $20.
It is presented to the Turaga ni Koro, the executive head of the Fijian village. The presentation is usually in his house and will generally be attended by some of the older men who happen to be in the vicinity at the time and can quickly turn into a social occasion. Pounded into powder, the ‘yaqona’ will be mixed with water and served.
Fijians are known as the friendliest people in the world. Your respect for their customs and traditions will not only make you a welcome guest in their villages and homes, but add another dimension to your Fijian holiday.

Let’s Speak Fijian

 

Almost everyone in Fiji speaks English - as it is the official language of Fiji, but the Fijian language is preserved and widely spoken in many different dialects. Almost everyone is bilingual and many Fijian terms are included in everyday English usage. It is handy to know some of the more common words and phrases, and the Fijians will be delighted to know you picked up some of their language. Some Hindu is also spoken.
Fijian pronunciation is similar to English, but with a few changes to the phonetic alphabet. Below is a brief guide which will bring you close to the correct pronunciations. The best way to learn, since there are many subtleties, is to have a Fijian instruct you and then listen closely.

  • "a" is "ah" as in father, but shorter. The correct pronunciation of Nadi, is closer to "Nahn-di" than "Nan-di".
  • "b" is "mb" as in bamboo. you'll hear "bula" or "hello" many times. You may notice the slight humming "m", almost silent at the beginning. When something precedes the "b", then the "m" sound becomes more pronounced. The formal "hello", Ni Sa Bula, is pronounced "ni sahm" boola".
  • "c" is "th" as in "this". So "moce" meaning goodbye is pronounced "moe-they".
  • "d" is "nd" as in candy.
  • "g" is "ng" as in singer.
  • "i" is"i" as in sit or "ee" as in routine.
  • "q" is "ngg" as in finger. The island of Beqa is pronounced "Mbeng-gah".
  • "u" is"oo" as in bamboo or "u" as in put. 
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