Fijian (Na Vosa Vakaviti) is an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Polynesian family spoken by some 350,000–450,000 ethnic Fijians as a native language. The 2013 Constitution established Fijian as an official language of Fiji, along with English and Hindi, and there is discussion about establishing it as the "national language". Fijian is a VOS language.
|Na Vosa Vakaviti|
|339,210 (1996 census)|
320,000 second-language users (1991)
Official language in
|ISO 639-3||None (|
Standard Fijian is based on the speech of Bau, which is an East Fijian language. A pidginized form is used by many Indo-Fijians and ethnic Chinese on the islands, while Pidgin Hindustani is used by many rural ethnic indo-Fijians.
- 1 Phonology
- 2 Orthography
- 3 Morpho-syntax
- 3.1 Negation
- 3.2 Pronouns and Person Markers
- 3.3 Possession
- 4 Syntax
- 5 Grammatical Abbreviations
- 6 History
- 7 National language debate
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 Sources
- 11 External links
The consonant written ⟨dr⟩ has been described as a prenasalized trill [nr] or trilled fricative [ndr]. However, it is only rarely pronounced with a trilled release; the primary feature distinguishing it from ⟨d⟩ is that it is postalveolar, [ɳɖ], rather than dental/alveolar.
The sounds [p] and [f] occur only in loanwords from other languages. The sounds [x] and [h] only occur for speakers from certain regions of the country.
The sounds [tʃ] and [ⁿdʒ] occur as allophones of [t] and [ⁿd].
The vowel phonemes are:
In addition, there is the rising diphthong i̯u.
Syllables can consist of a consonant followed by a vowel (CV) or a single vowel (V).Word stress is based on moras: a short vowel is one mora, diphthongs and long vowels are two morae. Primary stress is on the penultimate mora of the phonological word. That is, if the last syllable of a word is short, then the penultimate syllable will be stressed, while if the last syllable contains either a long vowel or a diphthong, then it receives primary stress. Stress is not lexical and can shift when suffixes are attached to the root. Examples:
- Stress on the penultimate syllable (final short vowel): síga, "day";
- Stress on the final syllable (diphthong): cauravóu, "youth" (the stress extends over the whole diphthong).
- Stress shift: cábe, "kick" → cabé-ta, "kick-TR"
The Fijian alphabet is based on the Latin script and consists of the following letters.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w y
Among the consonants, there is almost a one-to-one correspondence between letters and phonemes:
Note that for phonological reasons ti and di are pronounced [tʃi], [ⁿdʒi] rather than [ti], [ⁿdi] (cf. Japanese chi kana, or in standard Brazilian Portuguese). Hence, the Fijian name for Fiji, Viti, from an allophonic pronunciation of [βitʃi] as [ɸidʒi].
The vowel letters a e i o u have roughly their IPA values, [a ɛ~e i ɔ~o u]. The vowel length contrast is not usually indicated in writing, except in dictionaries and textbooks for learners of the language, where it is indicated by a macron over the vowel in question; Dixon, in the work cited below, doubles all long vowels in his spelling system. Diphthongs are ai au ei eu oi ou and iu, pronounced [ɛi̯ ɔu̯ ei̯ eu̯ oi̯ ou̯ i̯u].
In order to negate a phrase or clause in Fijian, certain verbs are used to create this distinction. These verbs of negation are known as semi-auxiliary verbs. Semi-auxiliary verbs fulfil the functions of main verbs (in terms of syntactic form and pattern) and have a NP or complement clause as their subject (complements clauses within negation are introduced by relators ni (which refers to an event, which is generally a non-specific unit) or me (which refers is translated as "should", referring to the event within the complement clause should occur)).Within a complement clause, the semi-auxiliary verb qualifies the predicate.
One semi-auxiliary verb used to express negation in Fijian is sega. This semi-auxiliary can be translated as either “there are no-” or “it is not the case that”, depending on the subject it relates to. In terms of numerical expression, sega is also used to express the quantity "none". This negator can be used in almost all situations, with the exception of the imperative or in a me (classifier) clauses. When sega takes a NP as its subject, the meaning “there are no-” is assumed:
|“there are no dogs (in this village)”|
Predicate clauses can also be negated in Fijian with the semi-auxiliary verb sega. This can only be completed when the predicate is placed into a complement clause. The subject of sega must also be ni, which introduces the complement clause. It is then translated as “it is not the case that (predicate clause)”. An example of this construction is shown here:
|“John is not going (lit: it is not the case that John is going)”|
Hence, the only way a verb (which is generally the head of a predicate phrase) can be negated in Fijian is when it forms part of the [e sega ni VERB] construction.  However, in Fijian the head of a predicate phrase may belong to almost any word class. If another word (e.g. a noun) is used, the structure of negation alters. This distinction can be shown through diverse examples of the negating NPs in Fijian. The below examples show the difference between a noun as the head of a NP and a noun as the head of a predicate in a complement clause, within negation:
|“there is no dog”|
|“it isn’t a dog (it may be a cat)”|
Additionally, sega can also work with relator se which introduces interrogative clauses.  This combination creates a form translatable as "or not":
|"I'll test whether this food tastes good or not"|
Another common negator is ‘ua~waa’ua, which is translatable as “don’t, not”. Differently to sega, this semi-auxiliary verb is used for imperatives and in me clauses. Therefore, these semi-auxiliaries are fixed, and cannot be used interchangeably. ‘Ua and waa’ua semantically have the same meaning, however waa’ua may be regarded as having a higher intensity or stronger sense; in most instances either semi-auxiliary verb can be used. ‘Ua~waa’ua can take a NP as it's subject, but most commonly takes the ni complement as a subject, which is demonstrated below:
|“John defended me from being punched (lit: that I should not be punched)”|
An example of ua~waa’ua used in imperative structure can be seen here:
|"I repented (of hunting pigs on the sabbath) so that i wont ever again do this activity on Sunday"|
It is important to note that in the case of pronouns, they can only be negated when they form part of the NP, when acting as the predicate head. Therefore, pronouns cannot be the NP subject of semi-auxiliary verbs sega or ‘ua~waa’ua in the way that general nouns can 
Combining semi-auxiliary verbsEdit
Sega and ‘ua~waa’ua can be combined with other auxiliary verbs to produce diverse constructions. Both sega and ‘ua~waa’ua can connect with semi-auxiliary rawa ("can") to negate the concept of possibility which is attached to the verb 'can' (resulting in constructions such as "can't" and "should'nt"). 
Modifiers in negationEdit
Two main modifiers, soti ('a lot') and sara ('very; (go) right on, immediately’) play key roles in negation in Fijian, and work in conjunction with semi-auxiliary verbs. Soti is added after negators sega and ‘ua~waa’ua, and functions as an intensity marker.  The construction sega soti is translatable as ‘not a lot of, not very’. The sega soti construction requires an adjective (or an adverb which results from an adjective), and must take ni (complement clause) as it’s subject in order to function.  Soti can be found in position immediately after sega, but may also be found after the ni relator without changing the meaning of the phrase.  The primary construction is shown below:
|“I’m not as clever as Sepo (lit: I am not clever, to be the same as Sepo)”|
Similarly, to soti, the modifier sara (‘very; (go) right on, immediately’) can also be used in conjunction with sega and ua~waa’ua. This combination is used to stress the negative sense and aspect of a phrase:
|“don’t get held up at Viidawa (a place en route, where there may be some enticing event in progress), go straight on to ‘Orovou!”|
Pronouns and Person MarkersEdit
The pronominal system of Fijian is remarkably rich. Like many other languages, it recognises three persons; first person (speaker), second person (addressee), and third person (all other). There is no distinction between human, non-human, animate, or inanimate. Four numbers are represented; singular, dual, paucal, and plural—'paucal' refers to more than two people who have some relationship, as a family or work group; if none, 'plural' is used. Like many other Oceanic languages, Fijian pronouns are marked for number and clusivity.
Forms and FunctionEdit
Each pronoun can have five forms, but some person-number combinations may have the same form for more than one function, as can be seen in the table above.
The forms are:
Cardinal – used when a pronoun occurs as the head of a NP. A cardinal pronoun is usually preceded by the proper article 'o', except when preceded by a preposition:
"They are going"
"I gave [the coconut] [to them]
Subject – the first constituent of a predicate, acts as person marking. Examples can be seen in examples (1) and (2) above: 'era' and 'au', and (3) below: 'o'
Object – follows the -i-final form of a transitive verb:
"You left them"
Possessive suffix – attaches to inalienable nouns, and
Possessive – precedes the NP head of the 'possessed' constituent in a possessive construction.
(For more information on the form and function of these possessive pronouns, see Possession.)
The major clausal structure in Fijian minimally includes a predicate, which usually has a verb at its head. The initial element in the predicate is the subject form pronoun:
"I am going"
"They are going"
This 'subject marker + verb' predicate construction is obligatory, every other constituent is optional. The subject may be expanded upon by an NP following the predicate:
"[the children] are going"
"They [the children] are going"
The subject pronoun constituent of a predicate acts mainly as a person marker.
Fijian is a verb–object–subject language, and the subject pronoun may be translated as its equivalent in English, the subject NP of a clause in Fijian follows the verb and the object if it is included.
The social use of pronouns is largely driven by respect and hierarchy. Each of the non-singular second person pronouns can be used for a singular addressee. For example, if one's actual or potential in-laws are addressed, the 2DU pronoun should be used. Similarly, when a brother or sister of the opposite sex is addressed, the 2PA pronoun should be used, and it can also be used for same-sex siblings when the speaker wishes to show respect. The 2PL pronoun can be used to show respect to elders, particularly the village chief.
Possession is a grammatical term for a special relationship between two entities: a "possessor" and a "possessed". The relationship may be one of legal ownership, but in Fijian, like many other Austronesian languages, it is often much broader, encompassing kin relations, body parts, parts of an inanimate whole and personal qualities and concepts such as control, association and belonging.
Fijian has a complex system of possessive constructions, depending on the nature of the possessor and of the possessed. Choosing the appropriate structure depends on knowing whether the possessor is described by a person or placename; a pronoun; or a common noun (with human or non-human animate, or inanimate reference) and also on whether the possessed is a free noun or a bound noun.
Only an animate noun may be a possessor in the true possessive constructions shown below, with possession marked on the possessed NP in a number of ways. For personal and place name possessors, the possessive construction may be made by affixing the possessive suffix –i to the possessed noun, bound or free. If the possessor is a pronoun, the possessed noun must be marked by one of the pronominal markers which specify person, number and inclusivity/exclusivity (see table). If the possessor is inanimate, the possessive particle ni is usually placed between the possessed NP and the possessor NP. The particle ni then indicates association, rather than formal possession, but the construction is still regarded as a possessive construction.
Free nouns can stand alone and need no affix; most nouns in Fijian fall into this class. Bound nouns require a suffix to complete them and are written ending in a hyphen to indicate this requirement. Tama- (father) and tina- (mother) are examples of bound nouns. The classes of free and bound nouns roughly correspond with the concept, common in Austronesian languages, of alienable and inalienable possession, respectively. Alienable possession denotes a relationship in which the thing possessed is not culturally considered an inherent part of the possessor, and inalienable possession indicates a relationship in which the possessed is regarded as an intrinsic part of the possessor.
Body parts and kin relations are typical examples of inalienable possession. Inanimate objects are typical examples of alienable possession.
The alienable nature of free nouns is further marked by prefixes, known as classifiers, indicating certain other characteristics. Some common examples are me- when the possessed noun is something drinkable, ke- (or ‘e) when the noun is something edible and we- when the referent of the possessed noun is personal property.
The word order of a possessive construction for all except inanimate possessors is possessed NP-classifier(CLF) + possessive marker (POSS) + possessor NP.
For an inanimate possessor, the word order is possessed NP + ni + possessor NP.
|POSSESSOR||bound noun||free noun|
|personal or place name||suffix -i (example 1)||classifier plus suffix -i; or suffix -i (example 2)|
|pronoun||pronominal suffix; or suffix -i (example 3a, b)||classifier plus possessor pronoun (example 4a, b)|
|human noun||pronominal suffix, expanded by post-head possessor NP; or suffix -i; or NP ni NP (example 5)||classifier plus possessor pronoun, expanded by post-head possessor NP (example 6)|
|animate noun||NP ni NP ; or pronominal suffix, expanded by post-head possessor NP||NP ni NP; or classifier plus possessor pronoun, expanded by post-head possessor NP|
|inanimate noun||NP ni NP (example 7, 8)||NP ni NP (example 7, 8)|
Note that there is some degree of flexibility in the use of possessive constructions as described in this table.
- a liga-i Paula
- ART Hand-POSS Paula
- "Paula's hand"
- a waqona me-i Paula
- ART kava CLF.DRINK-POSS Paula
- "Paula's kava"
- a tama-mudrau
- ART father PRON.SUFF.2DUAL
- "The father of you two"
- a liga-qu
- ART hand – PRON.SUFF.1SG
- "My hand"
- a tama-mudrau
- a me-na ti
- ART CLF.DRINK-POSS.PRON.3SG tea
- "His / her tea"
- a 'e-mu uvi
- ART CLF.EAT-POSS-PRON.2SG yam
- "Your (SG) yam (for eating)."
- a me-na ti
- a liga-na
- ART Hand- PRON.3SG
- His / her hand
- a we-irau waqa o yau ei Jone
- ART CLF.PROPERTY-POSS.PRON.1DUAL boat I and John
- John's and my boat (thing owned).
- na yaca ni waqa
- ART name POSS.PART boat
- The name of the boat (The name associated with the boat)
- a vale ni kana
- ART house POSS.PART eat
- "A house of eating (A house associated with eating)" = "A restaurant"
- E rai-c-a (1) na no-na (2) vale (3) na gone (4).
- 3-sg.-sub. see-trans.-3-sg.-obj. (1) the 3-sg.-poss. (2) house (3) the child (4).
- (The child sees his house.
Fijian was introduced 3,500 years ago by early settlers. For a long time, it was the only language spoken in Fiji.
In 1835, Methodist missionaries from Australia worked in Fiji and developed a written version of the Fijian language. By 1840, they had invented a spelling system and published various books in different dialects of the language.
Since Fiji's independence in 1970, Fijian has been used on radio and television and in schools, books and newspapers.
National language debateEdit
In May and June 2005, a number of prominent Fiji Islanders called for the status of Fijian to be upgraded. It was not an official language before the adoption of the 1997 Constitution, which made it co-official with English and Fiji Hindi. It is still not a compulsory subject in schools, however; the present[when?] Education Minister, Ro Teimumu Kepa, has endorsed calls for it to be made so, as has Great Council of Chiefs Chairman Ratu Ovini Bokini. Similar calls came from Misiwini Qereqeretabua, the Director of the Institute of Fijian Language and Culture, and from Apolonia Tamata, a linguistics lecturer at Suva's University of the South Pacific, who both said that recognition of the Fijian language is essential to the nation's basic identity and as a unifying factor in Fiji's multicultural society.
Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry also endorsed the call for Fijian to be made a national language and a compulsory school subject if the same status be given to Fiji Hindi, a position echoed by Krishna Vilas of the National Reconciliation Committee.
- Fijian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Fijian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
-  WALS – Fijian
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Pidgin Fijian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4. p 122, 131. The authors use the transcription ⟨nḍ⟩, where the sub-dot is their convention for a postalveolar stop that is not prototypically retroflex.
- Dixon 1988:15.
- Dixon 1988:17
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 279
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 268-271
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 40
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 141
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 270
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 271
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 281
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 282
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 294
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 67
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 284
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 285
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 96
- Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 97
- Dixon 1988: 52
- Cysouw, Michael (2013). "WALS Online – Feature 39A: Inclusive/Exclusive Distinction in Independent Pronouns". The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
- Dixon 1988: 54–55
- Dixon 1988: 53
- Dixon 1988: 33
- Dixon 1988: 119
- Schütz 1985: 449
- Dixon 1988: 120
- Dixon, R. M. W. (1988). A Grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-15428-9.
- Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (eds.) 2013. The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (Available online at http://wals.info, Accessed on 2015-05-04.)
- Schütz, Albert J. (1985). The Fijian Language. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1005-8.
|Fijian edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
- Fijian language, alphabet and pronunciation at Omniglot
- Fijian–English / English–Fijian Dictionary
- Na Soqoni Tabu: Na Veitarataravi Ni Noda Veiqaravi Kei Na Kalou Anglican Holy Communion in Fijian
- A collection of open access Fijian recordings in Kaipuleohone.
- Index cards of plant and animal names, labeled 'Fiji [plants]' archived with Kaipuleohone
- Materials on Fijian are included in the open access Arthur Capell collections (AC1 and AC2) held by Paradisec.
- Paradisec also holds an open access collection of Fijian music Fijian manuscripts in the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau collection,
- George Grace's manuscript collection at the University of Hawai'i includes Fijian