Fijian is a member of the Oceanic branch of the Malayo-Polynesian family. It is spoken mainly in Fiji by about 650,000 people, and by another 20,000 in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. In Fiji about 330,000 people speak Fijian as a native language, mainly in eastern Fiji, while 320,000 people speak it as a second language, mainly in western Fiji.
Fijian became an official language of Fiji in 1997, along with English and Hindustani (Fiji Hindi). Before then, the sole official language in Fiji was English. Fijian is used in newspapers, on the radio and in schools. It is also known as Boumaa Fijian, Eastern Fijian, Fiji, Standard Fijian or Vakaviti.
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.
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)
Online Fijian lessons
Online Fijian dictionary
Online Fijian radio
Information about David Cargill
Country profile: Fiji
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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