There are three official languages in Vanuatu: English, French and Bislama, which is an English-based Creole language much like Tok Pisin. Urban “ni-Vanuatu,” people of Vanuatu, are most likely to speak Bislama. All of the 100 or so local languages in Vanuatu are Austronesian. According to Wikipedia’s “Languages of Vanuatu” entry, “Vanuatu is considered to be the country with the highest density of languages per capita in the world, with an average of about 2,000 speakers for each indigenous language; only Papua New Guinea comes close.”

If you want to speak Bislama like a pro go to’s Bislama language page, where you’ll learn some important vocabulary and even pick up a few sentences. Just in case you find yourself stranded in Vanuatu and know how to say nothing in French but Ooh la la, let’s take a moment and learn little Bislaman grammar. Since there’s no verb meaning “to be” in Bislama, when you want to say “I am a teacher” you say, “Mi tija,” and if you want to say “You are hungry” it comes out as “Yu hanggre.” When you want to say someone is doing something, the verb comes after the pronoun or noun, separated by “i.” So, “The students read the book” becomes “Ol student oili ridim buk.” If you want to say the students have already read the book, put “finis” at the end of the sentence–“Ol studen oli ridim buk finis.” Oh, and if you want to teach your kids how to be possessive over toys using Bislama, the preposition “blong” can do the trick, as in “hoas blong mi,” which translates as “my house!”

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