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Bislama-English

Over 100 indigenous languages have evolved in Vanuatu. Bislama, a form of pidgin English is the lingua franca that allows different people to communicate. Pidgin is fun and easy to learn. Below is only a short list of some Bislama words. You can start learning to speak Bislama from the following pages:

Bislama English
Aelan kabis Island cabbage. A staple leaf vegetable comparable to spinach or silverbeet.
Alean kaekae Island food / Melanesian food.
Aelan taro A variety of taro grown at higher altitudes and widely accepted to be the tastiest taro.
Blong Belong.
Bus kabis A leaf vegetable comparable to spinach or silverbeet (more so than aelan kabis).
Breadfruit A starchy fruit from the breadfruit tree that is cooked before eating.
Copra Dried coconut flesh. Vanuatu's biggest agricultural export. Used for making coconut oil etc.
Copra Boats Small coastal ships which travel all over the islands delivering cargo and picking up copra.
Envaeromen Environment.
Gato A fried dough, similar to a donut.
Haos blong cook Kitchen house.
Haos blong swim Bathing house / shower .
Kastom Custom (traditional). More broad, it is everything that has to do with the life of the indigenous Ni-Vanuatu.
Kava An intoxicating drink made from the roots of the Kava plant Piper methysticum. Many Ni-Vanuatu men like a few "shells" of kava in the evening.
Kumala Sweet potato.
Lafet Festival (e.g. 30 July, Vanuatu's Independence Day)
Lap-lap A staple pudding-like dish, made from grated starchy root vegetables (and also banana) with coconut cooked wrapped in leaves in a 'ground oven' of hot stones.
Manioc A starchy root vegetable. Foreign names include Cassava and Tapioca.
Namba Penis sheath - a traditional dress for men in much of rural Vanuatu and still worn in Kastom Villages
Nalot The end result is similar to plain lap-lap but nalot is made by pounding roast breadfruit - a Santo specialty.
Nakamal Communal building, traditionally a meeting place for men only.
Natsaro A dancing ground used for ceremonies. Also called a nasara.
Ni-Vanuatu "of Vanuatu" - native people of Vanuatu.
Olfala Old fellow, old person. Olfala man = old man, olfala woman = old woman.
Paw-paw Papaya
Pamplemousse Sweet grapefruit. Some have red flesh, others are yellow.
Pikinini Child.
Raes wetem tin Rice with tin. Quick and easy food but most of the time not very exciting.
Rom A kastom of Ambrym. The Rom costume consists of a tall conical mask and cloak of dry banana leaves. Roms represent spirits and are much feared.
Simboro Lap-lap like, rolled up with aelan kabis.
Smol haos Toilet / WC / Bathroom.
Swim Can mean both recreational swimming or bathing. For rural Ni-Vanuatu bathing is a dip in the nearest river (a "swim").
Tan Done, cooked
Tam-Tam A slit drum carved from a log with a hollowed out section.
Taro A starchy root vegetable.
Tuluk Manioc lap-lap with a meat stuffing inside somewhat like a sausage roll.
Vanuatu "our land"
Vatu Currency of Vanuatu. Exchange Rates.
Water Taro The plant looks similar to the dry land taro but grows in swamps and the root is similar to some types of yams.
Yam A starchy root vegetable. Above ground the plant looks like a vine.

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