Ask the TAFEA Tourism Office


Vanuatu is a group of islands lying in the South-Pacific ocean, approximately one-quarter of the distance from Australia to Hawaii. To view a map of Vanuatu, click on this link to


Vanuatu’s official languages are Bislama, English and French. There are 106 ‘mother tongues’ in common use – the world’s highest concentration of different languages per head of population; a different language for every 2,000 people! English is widely spoken, and most people speak some Bislama. Business communication is conducted in English, French or Bislama – more often in all three languages simultaneously resulting in some interesting board meetings!  

Bislama is a form of pidgin practised as the ‘linking’ language for all Vanuatu indigenous people. It is a mixture of phonetic English woven in a loose French sentence structure spoken with ‘local sound’ producing some comical outcomes e.g., ladies brassieres or bathing top is called "Basket blong titi"; no offense intended. An excellent Bislama dictionary is available from good book shops: ‘A New Bislama Dictionary,’ by the late Terry Crowley.

Some common Bislama words/phrases include:

  • Me / you – mi / yu
  • Him / her / it (neither masculine nor femenin) – this here – hem/ hemia
  • Us /we / all of us – mifala / mifala evriwan
  • You / you (plural) – yu / yufala
  • I do not know/understand – mi no save
  • See you later / ta ta – Lukim yu/ tata
  • I am going now – ale (French derivation of allez) mi go 
  • One/ two / three – wan / tu / tri
  • How much (is that) – hamas (long hem)
  • Plenty or many – plenti
  • Filled to capacity / overfilled – fulap / fulap tumas (too much)
  • Day / evening / night – dei / sava (literally supper) / naet
  • Hot / cold – hot / kol
  • What / what is that – wanem / wanem ia (literally wanem here?)
  •  Why / why did you – frowanem (for why?)
  • Please / thank you / sorry (very sorry) – plis / tangkyu / sori (sori tumas) – sorry too much
  • Do you know – yu save (pronounced savee)

For a more complete list download the pdf from

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