Na vosa vaka-Viti

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Vosa vaka-Viti
Native toFiji
Native speakers
(339,210 cited 1996 census)[1]
320,000 second-language users (1991)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1fj
ISO 639-2fij
ISO 639-3fij
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
A Fijian speaker, recorded in Fiji.

Na vosa vaka-Viti ni Yanuyanu na Ceva ga e Viti, ka sa ikoya talega na ivosavosa e Viti, me ikuri ni Vosa Vakavalagi kei Na Vosa FijiHindi, kei na vaka-Jaina nei Viti. Na vosa vaka-Viti e dua na vosa VOS.

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 Chinese on the islands, while Pidgin Hindustani is used by many rural ethnic Fijians and Chinese in areas dominated by Indo-Fijians.

Phonology[veisau | edit source]

The consonant phonemes of Fijian are as shown in the following table:

Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless (p) t (tʃ) k (ʔ)
prenasalized ᵐb ⁿd (ⁿdʒ) ᵑɡ
Fricative voiceless (f) s (x) (h)
voiced β ð
Trill plain r
prenasalized ᶯɖʳ
Approximant w l j

The consonant written Template:Angle bracket 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 Template:Angle bracket is that it is postalveolar, [ɳɖ], rather than dental/alveolar.[2]

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].

Note the difference in place of articulation between the voiced-voiceless fricative pairs: bilabial [β] vs. labiodental [f], and dental [ð] vs. alveolar [s].

The vowel phonemes are:

Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a
Falling diphthongs
Second component
/i/ /u/
First component /e/ ei̯ eu̯
/o/ oi̯ ou̯
/a/ ai̯ au̯

In addition, there is the rising diphthong i̯u.

Syllables can consist of a consonant followed by a vowel (CV) or a single vowel (V).[3] 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"[4]

Orthography[veisau | edit source]

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 z

Among the consonants, there is almost a one-to-one correspondence between letters and phonemes:

  • b = [ᵐb]
  • c = [ð]
  • d = [ⁿd] (di = [ⁿdʒi])
  • f = [f]
  • g = [ŋ]
  • h = [h] ~ [x]
  • j = [tʃ] ~ [ⁿdʒ]
  • k = [k]
  • l = [l]
  • m = [m]
  • n = [n] (nr = [ᶯɖ])
  • p = [p]
  • q = [ᵑɡ]
  • r = [r]
  • s = [s]
  • t = [t] (ti = [tʃi])
  • v = [β]
  • w = [ɰ]
  • y = [j] or silent
  • z = [ⁿdʒ]

In the 1980s, scholars compiling a dictionary added several more consonants and a few consonant clusters to the alphabet. These newcomers were necessary to handle words entering Standard Fijian from not only English, but from other Fijian languages or dialects as well. These are the most important additions: z (nj), as in ziza 'ginger' and h (h), as in haya 'hire'.[5]

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].

In addition, the digraph dr stands for postalveolar [ⁿd̠], or a prenasalized trill [ⁿᵈ̠r̠] in careful pronunciation, or more commonly for some people and in some dialects.

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].

Morpho-syntax[veisau | edit source]

Negation[veisau | edit source]

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[6] (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)).[7] Within a complement clause, the semi-auxiliary verb qualifies the predicate.[6]

Semi-auxiliary verbs[veisau | edit source]

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.[8] In terms of numerical expression, sega is also used to express the quantity "none".[9] This negator can be used in almost all situations, with the exception of the imperative or in a me (classifier) clauses.[8] When sega takes a NP as its subject, the meaning “there are no-” is assumed:

(1)[8] e sega a ‘olii (i+na ‘oro yai)
3sg not ART dog IN+ART village THIS
“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.[8] 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)”.[8] An example of this construction is shown here:

(2)[8] e sega [ni la'o o Jone]
3sg not THAT go ART John
“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.[8] 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.[8] 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:

NP as subject of sega
(3)[8] e sega a ‘olii
3sg not ART dog
“there is no dog”
Ni as the subject of sega
(4)[8] e sega ni ‘olii
3sg not THAT dog
“it isn’t a dog (it may be a cat)”

Additionally, sega can also work with relator se which introduces interrogative clauses.[10] This combination creates a form translatable as "or not":

(5)[11] au tovele-a se 'ana vina'a a 'aa.'ana yai (se sega)
1sg test-TR WHETHER eat good ART food THIS 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”.[6] 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.[12] ‘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.[12] ‘Ua~waa’ua can take a NP as its subject, but most commonly takes the ni complement as a subject,[13] which is demonstrated below:

(6)[13] e aa taqo.-ma’ini au o Jone me+u ‘ua ni lau-.vacu
3sg PAST defend-TR 1sg ART Person should+1sg not THAT PASS-punch
“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:

(7)[14] au saa vei-.vutuni.-ta'ina sara me+u saa waa'ua ni va'a-.yaco-ra tale a ca''a yai i+na siga.tabu
"I repented (of hunting pigs on the sabbath) so that I won't 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.[15] Therefore, pronouns cannot be the NP subject of semi-auxiliary verbs sega or ‘ua~waa’ua in the way that general nouns can [15]

Combining semi-auxiliary verbs[veisau | edit source]

Sega and ‘ua~waa’ua can be combined with other auxiliary verbs to produce diverse constructions.[16] 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 "shouldn't"). [17]

Modifiers in negation[veisau | edit source]

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.[18] 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 its subject in order to function.[18] 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.[19] The primary construction is shown below:

(8)[18] au sega soti ni vu’u me tautauvata ‘ei Sepo
1sg not LOT THAT clever should same WITH Person
“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:[19]

(9)[19] ‘ua ni la’i taaoo tale i Viidawa, la’o sara i ‘Orovou!
DON’T THAT GO held up AGAIN AT Place go MODIF TO Place
“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 markers[veisau | edit source]

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.[20] 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.[21]

Fijian Pronouns[22]
Person Number
singular dual paucal plural
1INCL subject (e)taru tou (e)ta
object 'eetaru 'etatou 'eta
cardinal 'eetaru 'etatou 'eta
1EXCL subject au~u 'eirau 'eitou 'eimami
object au 'eirau 'eitou 'eimami
cardinal yau 'eirau 'eitou 'eimami
2 subject o (o)mudrau
object i'o 'emudrau 'emudou 'emunuu
cardinal i'o 'emudrau 'emudou 'emunuu
3 subject e (e)rau (e)ratou (e)ra
object 'ea rau iratou ira
cardinal 'ea (i)rau (i)ratou (i)ra

Forms and function[veisau | edit source]

Each pronoun can have five forms, but some person-number combinations may have the same form for more than one function,[23] 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.)

Use[veisau | edit source]

The major clausal structure in Fijian minimally includes a predicate, which usually has a verb at its head.[24] 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.[23]

Possession[veisau | edit source]

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[25] 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.

Possessor[veisau | edit source]

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.

Possessed[veisau | edit source]

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.

Fijian possessive pronominal suffix markers[26][veisau | edit source]

Person Single Dual Paucal Plural
1 excl -qu -irau -itou -imami
1 incl -- -daru -datou -da
2 -mu -mudrau -mudou -muni
3 -na -drau -dratou -dra

Possessive constructions[27][veisau | edit source]

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.

Examples[veisau | edit source]

  1. a liga-i Paula
    ART Hand-POSS Paula
    "Paula's hand"
  2. a waqona me-i Paula
    ART kava CLF.DRINK-POSS Paula
    "Paula's kava"
    1. a tama-mudrau
      ART father PRON.SUFF.2DUAL
      "The father of you two"
    2. a liga-qu
      ART hand – PRON.SUFF.1SG
      "My hand"
    1. a me-na ti
      "His / her tea"
    2. a 'e-mu uvi
      "Your (SG) yam (for eating)."
  3. a liga-na
    ART Hand- PRON.3SG
    His / her hand
  4. a we-irau waqa o yau ei Jone
    John's and my boat (thing owned).
  5. na yaca ni waqa
    ART name POSS.PART boat
    The name of the boat (The name associated with the boat)
  6. a vale ni kana
    ART house POSS.PART eat
    "A house of eating (A house associated with eating)" = "A restaurant"

Syntax[veisau | edit source]

The normal Fijian word order is VOS (verb–object–subject):

  • 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.)

Veitikina[veisau | edit source]

  1. Template:Ethnologue18
  2. Template:SOWL p 122, 131. The authors use the transcription Template:Angle bracket, where the sub-dot is their convention for a postalveolar stop that is not prototypically retroflex.
  3. Dixon 1988:15.
  4. Dixon 1988:17
  5. Schütz, Albert J., 1936- (2003). Say it in Fijian : an entertaining introduction to the standard language of Fiji. Textbook Wholesalers Ltd. ISBN 1862730385. OCLC 156199054.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 279
  7. Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 268-271
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 40
  9. Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 141
  10. Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 270
  11. Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 271
  12. 12.0 12.1 Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 281
  13. 13.0 13.1 Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 282
  14. Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. p. 294
  15. 15.0 15.1 Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 67
  16. Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 284
  17. Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 285
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 96
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Dixon, Robert M. W. 1988. A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 97
  20. Dixon 1988: 52
  21. 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.
  22. Dixon 1988: 54–55
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 Dixon 1988: 53
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Dixon 1988: 33
  25. Dixon 1988: 119
  26. Schütz 1985: 449
  27. Dixon 1988: 120

Taudaku Isema[veisau | edit source]