Bislama (unspoken) Word of the Week

About 1/4 of all conversations in Vanuatu are conducted without a sound. I was so excited yesterday when I conducted an entire conversation from across the school yard with a stranger without opening my mouth. It was like passing a final exam or a coming of age ceremony.

Here’s a transcript of our silent toktok:

Youngfella: Raises hands and shoulders "Afta? Yu go wea?" (What are you doing? Who are you? Why are you here?)

Me: Point to myself, then the school, then my house "Mi kam blo wok olsem wan pis kops, long skul ia" (I’ve come to work as a Peace Corps Volunteer at this school)

Youngfella: Gives me the thumbs up, pauses, then cups his hands and pretends to take a drink “Nambawan, bae yu drink kava lo naet?” (Nice, are you drinking Kava tonight?)

Me: Shake my head with a frown and click my mouth, point to myself then shake my hand side to side. “Na, mi mi no drink kava” (No, I don’t drink kava, only on special occasions as an integration tool. Besides, my mama doesn’t approve and I like my mama. Kava is also disgusting. Thanks for the offer though)

Youngfella: Gives me the thumbs up and then the wave "I stret, lukum yu" (No problem, see you later)


You should try this out on some friends of yours and see how far you can get without speaking a word. 

  1. lynnovermyer posted this