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Bislama is the language of Vanuatu (here is an extract from the Vanuatu Tourism Site)
Because of a long history of inter island and inter village trading, many ni-Vanutau speak numerous languages. However, over 113 distinct languages and many more dialects are found throughout the group.When Europeans arrived, a lingua franca evolved. It's name, Bislama, derived from the Bech-der-mer (sea cucumber) traders who developed a form of pidgin English throughout the Pacific. It began as a simplified form of phonetic English, with Spanish, French and colloquialisms added for good measure. As with all languages, it soon took on a life of its own, borrowed then incorporated new words and evolved. Today, although similar to Solomon and New Guinea pidgin, it is nevertheless distinctive.
Bislama, though phonetically English with a broad acccent, is grammatically simpler. Everything, including women, are spoke of in the masculan (political correctness having not yet come into play !) Being a simpler language means that complex ideas or new concepts must be described functionally. The results are descriptions and stories can be a great deal longer than if told in English.
Spoken Bislama is relatively easy to understand if the speaker is slow and enunciates the phrases. Written Bislama is also relatively easy to comprehend. However, in the same way that a Welch barman may have absolutely no trouble in undertsanding your spoken English, and Australian or American may have great difficulty understanding the barman, simply because of a strong accent.
There are some key words that are used in most sentences:
In vocabulary, most object groupings are simplified.
Thus, all motorised vehicles are
truks, all birds are
pidjins, all creatures in the sea are
fis. To distinguish the differences in these groupings, their relationship to size or the enviroment is used, or a description is given, rather than a distinctive name. Example:
Personal pronouns are simplified: I, me, myself, becomes simply mi. Example:
Historically, some objects were so unfamiliar to everyday use that their functions were described in full. The classic example is a piano:
For everyday use, you will come across the following words or phrases:
There are numerous books and light hearted dictionaries on Bislama found in many gift shops and bookstores around Vila.