Vanuatu Language and Culture - Official Vanuatu Region Guide

Vanuatu Language

Vanuatu has three official languages, English, French and Bislama, a creole language similar to pidgin. In addition, however, there are over one hundred local languages spread throughout the islands as each Island and Village have their own dialect. The trick to understanding Bislama is to allow the words to blend together and listen to them phonetically.

Simple Bislama - tok blong ni-vanuatu phrases

English Word Bismala Word
The Best Nambawan (Number One)
Please Plis
Thank You Tangkyu
Sorry sori
Very Sorry Sorry Tumas
One Wan
Two Tu
Three Tri
Plenty Plenti
Filled to Capacity Fulap
Overfilled Fulap Tumas
Me Mi
You Yu
Him Her It (No Masculine or Femenin) Hem
This Here Hemina
Us or We Mifala
All of Us Mifala Evriwan
You Yu
You (Plural) Yufala
Day Dei
Evening Sava
Night Naet
Hot Hot
Cold Kol
We have a short wait Weit smol
I am ill Mi haren no Gud
My stomach is sore Bel blong mi i soa
What Wanem
What is that Wanem ia
Why Forwanem
Water Wota
Drinking Water Freswoto
Cold Water Kolwata
Ocean Solwata
How much is that Hamas
Do you know Tu save
I do not know mi no save
This is broken Samting ia hemi bugarap (Something here is buggered up)
Can you take me to Port Vila Yu save sakem mi long Port Vila
I am very happy Mi glad tumas
See you later Mi go

Kava

Trying Tannese kava is quite an experience. If you haven't already tried kava, it's a strong herbal drink made from kava root that is a major component of traditional Melanesian culture.

It will be served to you in a coconut half-shell. It tastes like dirt and plant roots and leaves your mouth feeling like you have just had an injection at the dentist. Don't be fooled by how easy it is to gulp down. After a few minutes, you'll be heavily sedated and wonder how this innocent concoction could have had such an effect. Kava bars are a common sight in Vanuatu, identified by the lantern or red light hanging from the roadside. Traditionally, kava huts were men only but now it is accepted as a quiet place for men and women to gather at the end of the day. Often constructed from pieces of loose tin and dirt floors, the atmosphere within these huts is one of peace, quiet and calmness. Tannese kava is known for its potency, so be careful how much you have in one sitting.

Black Magic

Black Magic is a part of NiVanuatu culture and the power of village chiefs and medicine men ('klevers') is still strong. Does it work? Definitely. Like the Australian Aboriginal 'pointing of the bone' there are too many documented cases of magic working for it to be ignored. Black Magic is strongly believed and feared throughout the Vanuatu and the Ni Vanuatu will blame "Black Magic" for almost every illness, death, weather pattern and other unexplained occurrences.

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