Fijian is an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Polynesian family spoken
by about 650,000 people mainly in Fiji (Viti). There are also several
thousand Fijian speakers in New Zealand. About 450,000 people speak Fijian
as their first language, particularly on Vanua Levu and the eastern half of
Viti Levu, and also on Kadavu, Nayau, Lakeba, Oneata, Moce, Komo, Namuka,
Kabara, Vulaga, Ogea and Vatoa. Another 200,000 people speak Fijian as
a second language in other parts of Fiji.
According the 1997 constituion, Fijian is an official language of Fiji,
along with English and Hindustani.
David Cargill (1809-1843), a scottish missionary and pioneer in the study
of the Fijian Language, devised a way of writing Fijian with the Latin alphabet
based on the Ba'u (Bauan) dialect. He came up with several spelling systems,
noted the reactions of the Fijians to them and abandoned the ones that didn't
work. At first he represented sounds like /mb/ and /nd/
with two letters: mb and nd, but the Fijians read these as two separate sounds.
Eventually he hit upon a spelling system that made sense to the Fijians and which
has been in use ever since.
Fijian alphabet and pronunciation
F, H, P, X and Z are only used in foreign loan words. A macron lengthens
a vowel, but is only used occasionally.
Sample text in Fijian
Era sucu ena galala na tamata yadua, era tautauvata ena nodra dokai kei na
nodra dodonu. E tiko na nodra vakasama kei na nodra lewaeloma, sa dodonu mera
veidokadokai ena yalo ni veitacini.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)