iTaukei figures of speech – Part 8

WHAT is fascinating about figures of speech in the iTaukei language is the use of simple standard Fijian words, but have very deep meaning.

Sadly, though this form of language is rarely used nowadays.

The information below has been sourced and translated from the Vosavosa Vaka Viti manual, which was provided by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, iTaukei Institute of Language and Culture.

Vakanadaku o Rokola, sa ca na qalu

Qalu is a Fijian delicacy which is made from cooked root crop, precisely taro or breadfruit. It is mashed and mixed with syrup made out of melted sugar mixed with coconut milk.

In Fijian mythology, Rokola was the son of Degei and was the patron of carpenters (mataisau) and canoe builders.

The term is used when the leader of a working group is absent and the work cannot be done or it can be done but not as good as it should be.

The term is used a lot during special tasks like the building of a house. When a carpenter is missing, the labourers cannot do the work.

It can also be used during a feast when the food is tasteless, people will say:

“Sa kana ca na qalu” (The qalu does not taste good).

And the response would be:

“Vakanadaku/Yali o Rokola, sa ca na qalu” — meaning the person who was supposed to make the delicacy was not present.

Maca na wai koto na qere

When directly translated means the water has finished or run out and what is left is the gravel.

Qere or qereqere is the iTaukei word for gravel on riverbeds.

During a long drought small streams and creeks dry up with only the gravel left.

The term is used to describe the conclusion of a function or an occasion, usually at the end of a week-long function and absolutely nothing else is left.

La taki tale na i kara e Lasakau

La taki means to take something new to a place.

A kara is an oar used on a boat.

Lasakau is one of the three villages on Bau Island. In the olden days, the Bauan kingdom stretched across the Fiji Group.

It was reported at one time there was about 4000 people living on the eight-hectare island. During these days, traditional canoes lined up along the shores of the island. This is the origin of this figure of speech.

When travelling to Bau and one is taking an oar to the island when there are already so many there.

The term is used when one is taking something that is already in abundance at that place.

The last time I heard this term was in the village, which is by the coast and fish was already in abundance. A delegation arrived from one of the sub-urban areas and was bringing fish as their contribution to the function.

Madu na wavuka qai gata

Wavuka (Rubus moluccanus) is a shrub that grows a lot in the forest — up to 2-3 metres in height. The stem and leaves are armed with medium-sized spikes or thorns that often injure people when trying to walk through it.

When the shrub is young, its spike is soft but when it grows to maturity it is sharp and can cause injury.

The term is used to describe a person who at an elderly age is still strong and can still do work that is usually carried out by young people such as going to the farm.

Today the term “qase na bitu qai gata” is still used a lot.

Rai ki Beqa mate ga

At the Korovou corrections facility is the remains of where prisoners were once hanged after being handed a death sentence for heinous crimes such as murder. From the spot one can see Beqa Island. The term literally means that death is inevitable.

E dua na vatu e seuta na lolo

This term originated from the preparation of palusami, a Fijian delicacy where taro leaves are filled with coconut milk and cooked in an earth oven or lovo).

During preparation after the coconut has been scraped, a hot stone is put among the scraped copra. Every Fijian who makes palusami will know the sweet aroma that fills the air after the hot stone is put into the container with the scraped coconut meat.

This term is usually used to refer to the family of a person with a good reputation.

For example, a person becomes the first medical practitioner in the village. Villagers will utter the words “E dua na vatu sa seuta na lolo”, meaning because of his reputation people are talking about his family and they look up to his family.

Voleka na koro qai ca na kuro

When directly translated means “Just when nearing the village and the pot is damaged”.

The term is used to describe when something that is near completion is damaged or the person gives up.

The term “Tara na dike ni niu qai kevu” can also be used.

Lavi voleka ga na buka e waqa

A burning fire will still have flames but when travelling at a shorter distance to be taken some place far the fire will die out.

Lavi means to move burning firewood (buka waqa) to another spot to light another fire usually for cooking.

The term is used for single young men and women who plan to get married.

When used, it literally means to find a partner that is nearby or of the same village in order to save the family and villagers the burden of travelling.

Luku ikolo na dadatuvu

Datuvu is low self-esteem.

Luku ikolo means to pick something to throw or to protect yourself.

This term is used to describe a person who has low self-esteem.

Even before the work, game or war has begun, the person has already given up.

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