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Bislama

Bislama, previously also spelled Bichelama and Beach-la-Mar, is a creole language spoken in Vanuatu. It is closely related to Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea; Pijin of the Solomon Islands; and Broken of the Torres Strait, Queensland, Australia.

"Yumi, Yumi, Yumi", the Vanuatu national anthem, is in Bislama.

History

Thousands of Ni-Vanuatu were recruited to work mainly on Queensland, Australia, as well as Fiji plantations in the 1870s and 1880s. With several languages being spoken in these plantations, a pidgin was formed. The word has no connection with Islam.

Over the past century or so, this language has evolved to what is currently spoken.

Related languages are Pijin of the Solomon Islands, Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea, and the Torres Strait Creole.

Name

The name of Bislama comes via the nineteenth-century word "Beach-la-Mar" from the French "bÍche de mer" sea cucumber. In the mid-1800s, sea cucumbers were also harvested and dried at the same time that sandalwood was gathered. The name came to be associated with the kind of pidgin that came to be used by the local laborers between themselves, as well as their English-speaking overseers.

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Last updated: 05-09-2005 20:46:10