November 06, 2013

Mi Wantem Parcels (I want my Luggage). Bislama in Vanuatu

The national language of Vanuatu is Bislama, a form of pidgin English mixed with the odd French word, thanks to the islands history being ruled by the Anglo-Franco condominium. A rather unique and bizarre joint colonial rule that lasted until independence in 1980. Wonderful stories exist of the rivalry between the French and British, such as paying for an independent Swiss national to oversee all flag raisings to ensure neither countries flag was higher!

The language is wonderful, being often a phonetic representation of a word, ‘bugarup’ means broken (buggered up!). The notice above in the tiny airport at Craig Cove, Ambrym, can be literally translated as:

"Restricted Notice to the Public
The time the plane lands, please no man or woman go close up to the plane.
The reason is parcels are being lost many times as people grab them believing them to be theirs.
No more can you get close to the plane without signing a manifest to stop any confusion with the airport agent.
Time you get the parcel you do not wait very long at the office and you sign them out.

Of course it was not followed in the slightest and the local populace converged on the plane after it had landed, jostling to grab parcels and luggage from the back of the plane…

Read more about Vanuatu in this brand new guide book by Far Flung Places. 324 pages packed full of places to see, places to stay and eat, and many handy hints to allow you to see the best of this fascinating country in the most up-to-date guide available to this country. 

Accompanied by a selection of stories about places, events and people in Vanuatu which will transport the armchair traveller to this incredible Pacific nation, while giving more background and details for the intrepid visitor. Available as an ebook or paperback from all good booksellers. Buy it from here and from here.

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