Each time, I noticed that the language of the conversation would change from an indigenous language to something they knew I could understand, Bislama
It is spoken entirely in another native language of Vanuatu, Bislama
, and--like Tanna --depicts struggles surrounding romance and being a woman in a patriarchal society.
Among her topics are phonology, noun phrases, sentences without verbs, subordinate clauses, coordination, negation, topic and focus, and Unua and Bislama
There is also an official Vanuatuan language: Bislama
, which is a rough and ready English with a dash of French, all wrapped around a simple Polynesian grammar.
All the versions of the stories I use here are abridged and paraphrased from the versions told to me by Papa in August 2011, and translated by me from a mix of Bislama
The Australian Foreign service actually ranks languages by how hard they are for native English speakers, and the five hardest are Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic - they give two years' full time learning these languages to get to a working level proficiency, whereas the main language of Vanuatu, Bislama
, took me six weeks.
37 low candidature languages being taught in Australian universities, including Pitjantjatjara, were noted by Muhlhausler (1996) who commented on the scant attention paid to Indigenous languages as well as the absence of (Australian) regionally significant languages such as Bislama
, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu.
The local language is Bislama
, but English and French are widely used too.
French l'auto 'the car' is borrowed in Bislama
(the pidgin of Vanuatu) as loto 'car'.
Other tribesmen in nambas surround us as the chief welcomes us in Bislama
, his native tongue.
In Vanuatu, for example, there are three official languages--English, French and Bislama
(Pidgin), English (official), French (official), over 100 tribal languages.