Pijin language
Pijin is also referred to as Kanaka
Kanaka was the term for a worker from various Pacific Islands employed in British colonies, such as British Columbia , Fiji and Queensland in the 19th and early 20th centuries...

 and is a language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 spoken in the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

. It is closely related to Tok Pisin
Tok Pisin
Tok Pisin is a creole spoken throughout Papua New Guinea. It is an official language of Papua New Guinea and the most widely used language in that country...

 of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

; Bislama of Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

; and Torres Strait Creole
Torres Strait Creole
Torres Strait Creole is an English-based creole language spoken on several Torres Strait Islands , Northern Cape York and South-Western Coastal Papua...

 of the Torres Strait
Torres Strait
The Torres Strait is a body of water which lies between Australia and the Melanesian island of New Guinea. It is approximately wide at its narrowest extent. To the south is Cape York Peninsula, the northernmost continental extremity of the Australian state of Queensland...

, Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and is written in the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...


As of 1999 there were 306,984 second- or third-language speakers with a literacy rate in first language of 60%,a literacy rate in second language of 50%.


During the early 19th century, an English Jargon or Beach-La-Mar was developed and spread through the Pacific as a language between traders (Lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

) of the whaling industry at the end of the 18th century, the Sandalwood
Sandalwood is the name of a class of fragrant woods from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods they retain their fragrance for decades. As well as using the harvested and cut wood in-situ, essential oils are also extracted...

 trade of the 1830s and the bêche-de-mer
Bêche-de-mer can refer to:* Bislama; Vanuatu Pidgin English* Sea cucumber...

 trade of the 1850s.


Between 1863 and 1906, Blackbirding
Blackbirding is a term that refers to recruitment of people through trickery and kidnappings to work as labourers. From the 1860s blackbirding ships were engaged in seeking workers to mine the guano deposits on the Chincha Islands in Peru...

 was used for the sugar cane plantation labour trade in Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

 and New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

. At the beginning of the trade period, the Australian planters started to recruit in the Loyalty Islands
Loyalty Islands
The Loyalty Islands are an archipelago in the Pacific. They are part of the French territory of New Caledonia, whose mainland is away. They form the Loyalty Islands Province , one of the three provinces of New Caledonia...

 early 1860s, Kingsmill Islands and the Banks Islands
Banks Islands
The Banks Islands are a group of islands in northern Vanuatu.Together with the Torres Islands to the northwest, they make up the northernmost province of Torba. The group lies about north of Maewo, and includes Gaua and Vanua Lava, two of the 13 largest islands in Vanuatu...

 around the mid 1860's, New Hebrides
New Hebrides
New Hebrides was the colonial name for an island group in the South Pacific that now forms the nation of Vanuatu. The New Hebrides were colonized by both the British and French in the 18th century shortly after Captain James Cook visited the islands...

 and the Santa Cruz Islands
Santa Cruz Islands
The Santa Cruz Islands are a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, part of Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands. They lie approximately 250 miles to the southeast of the Solomon Islands Chain...

 in the early 1870s, and New Ireland and New Britain
New Britain
New Britain, or Niu Briten, is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. It is separated from the island of New Guinea by the Dampier and Vitiaz Straits and from New Ireland by St. George's Channel...

 from 1879 when recruiting became difficult. Around 13,000 Solomon Islanders were taken to Queensland during this labour trade period.

The (Kanaka) pidgin language was used on the plantations and became the lingua franca spoken between Melanesian workers (the Kanakas, as they were called) and European overseers. When Solomon Islanders came back to the Solomons at the end of their contract, or when they were forcefully repatriated at the end of the labour trade period (1904), they brought pidgin to the Solomon Islands. Old people today still remember the stories that were told by the old former Queensland hands many years after their return


Plantation languages continued into the 20th century even though the process of blackbirding has ceased. Due to the changing nature of labour traffic there was a divergence of Samoan plantation Pijin and New Guinea Tok Pisin
Tok Pisin
Tok Pisin is a creole spoken throughout Papua New Guinea. It is an official language of Papua New Guinea and the most widely used language in that country...

 and also other plantation Pijin and Oceanic Pijins such as Bislama and Solomon Pijin.

After 1900

In 1901, there were approximately 10,000 Pacific Islanders working in Australia, most in the sugar cane industry in Queensland and northern New South Wales, many working as indentured labourers. The Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901
Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901
The Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901 was an Act of the Parliament of Australia which was designed to facilitate the mass deportation of nearly all the Pacific Islanders working in Australia. Along with the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, enacted six days later, it formed an important part of the...

, Parliament of Australia
Parliament of Australia
The Parliament of Australia, also known as the Commonwealth Parliament or Federal Parliament, is the legislative branch of the government of Australia. It is bicameral, largely modelled in the Westminster tradition, but with some influences from the United States Congress...

 was the facilitation instrument used to deport approximately 7,500 Pacific Islanders.

Up until 1911 approximately 30,000 Solomon Islanders were indentured labourers to Queensland, Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia. The use of Pijin by churches and missionaries assisted in the spread of Pijin.


Despite being the lingua franca of the Solomon Islands, Pijin remains a spoken language with little to no effort made thus far on the part of the national government toward standardising its orthography and grammar. This being the case Pijin remains a very flexible language where the main focus is on message delivery irrespective of the niceties of formal sentence construction.


English Sound Pijin Sound = becomes Pijin example English Origin
ch s tisa, sea, mass (haomass) teacher, chair, much (how much?)
ch si sios church
sh s sot, bus, masin short, bush, machine
th s maos mouth
th t torowe, torowem, ating, andanit throw, throw away, I think, underneath
th d deswan, diswan, this wan this one
th r nara, narawan another, another one
th t brata, barata, bro brother
z s resa razor
-er a mata, mada (mami), soa, faea matter, mother, pain sore, fire
or; ir/er o; a/e bon, bonem, bone, fastaem, festime (festaem) born, burn, borne, first time


Aftanun ol'ta! = Good afternoon everyone!

Nem blo' mi Charles = My name is Charles (The name that belongs to me is Charles)

Hao nao (iu)? (Iu hao?) = How are you

Wanem nao nem blo' iu? = What is your name?

Iu blo' wea? = Where are you from?

Mi hapi tumas fo mitim iu. = I'm pleased to meet you.

Wanem nao lanwis iu save tok? = What languages do you know?


Mi (me) olraet nomoa! = I am fine thank you!

Mi (me) gut (nomoa)! = I am fine thank you!

Alright nomoa! = Very well thank you!

Ma iu (yu) hao! = And how are you!

Personal Pronouns

Pijin English
Mi I, me
Iu, Yu You
Hem He she Him It
Mitufala We Us (Exclusive Dual)
Iumitufala We Us (Inclusive Dual)
Iutufala You (Dual)
Tufala They, Those Two (Dual)
Mifala We Us 3 or more (Exclusive Plural)
Iumi We Us 3 or more (Inclusive Plural)
Iufala You 3 or more (Plural)
Olketa They Them (Plural)
Olmere, Olketa mere They, Them, All (married) women (Plural)
Olman, Olketa man They, Them, All (married) men (Plural)
Olpikini, Olketa pikini They, Them, All children (regarless of gender) (Plural)


Wea nao ples blong/blo iu? Where is the place that belongs to you, (What is your address?)

iu stap lo wea distaem? Where are you now?


(pointing to an object)
  • Wanem nao datwan? What is that one?
  • Haomas nao bae hem kostem mi fo sendem wanfala erogram go lo' Japan How much will it cost me to send this letter to Japan?
  • Hu nao bae save helpim mifala weitim diswan rabis? = Who will/might be able to help us with this mess
  • Wea nao mi bae save paiem fea fo plen? = Where will/would I be able I buy a plane ticket?
  • Haomas pipol save fitim insaet lo' truk blo' iu? = How many people can your truck/car/van carry?

General Expressions

  • Tanggio tumas fo helpem mi = Thank you very much for helping me
  • No wariwari. Hem oraet nomoa = No worries. It is all right (no more).
  • Hem! = That's it! or That's the one!
  • Hem na ya! = Voila! or Told you so! (A lot of people smile when foreigners use this correctly)
  • Mi karange! = Wow!
  • Mi dae nau! = Literally I'm dying but used generally to express surprise or shock.
  • Iu kon man
    Con Man
    Con Man or Conman may refer to:* A con artist, or a person who uses a fraud method known as a confidence trick* Con Man, a.k.a. Freelance , starring Ian McShane...

    ! = Liar/Cheat!
  • Iu karange? = Are you mad?
  • Diswan hem bagarap. = This (thing) is broken.
  • Mi no save paiem (baem). = I can't afford it
  • Iu save gud tumas pijin! = You speak pijin very well
  • Iu save tumas! = You are very capable!
  • Mi no save. = I don't know or I can't
  • Lukim iu! = Bye! (literally: See you!)
  • bro blo' mi / sista blo' mi = my brother / my sister (used respectfully to address the person to whom you are speaking – if spoken by a foreigner it can be quite powerful for breaking the ice)
  • diswan hemi bulsit
    Bullshit is a common English expletive which may be shortened to the euphemism bull or the initialism B.S. In British English, "bollocks" is a comparable expletive, although bullshit is commonly used in British English...

    blo' waitman nomoa. = this is simply white-man nonsense

Audio examples

External links

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