People and Language

Papua New Guinea

The people are largely descendants of the Papuans – Melanesians include island countries as Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Today there over seven (7) million people living in Papua New Guinea – more than a third of them in the rugged Highlands. The traditional Melanesian cultures are kept alive in elaborate rituals that accompany deaths, feasts, marriages, compensation ceremonies and initiation rites.

Variations in village construction, dialect and dress are common in country areas while annual Sing Sing shows, part of the Papua New Guinea Cultural Events Calendar, see villagers from around the country demonstrate their singing, dancing and elaborate bilas (traditional costumes). The shows at Goroka and Mount Hagen are among the country’s most impressive, attracting thousands of spectators to Papua New Guinea each year.

More than 800 local languages (in addition to many minor dialects) exist in Papua New Guinea – about a third of the world’s indigenous tongues. Pidgin (Tok Pisin) is common to most Papua New Guineans, and learning a few words can be handy, especially when travelling in more remote areas.

English Tok Pisin
Yes Yes
No Nogat
Good morning Monin
Good night Gut nait
Thank you Tenkiu
How much does it cost? Em hamas? / Hamas long em?
I would like to buy Mi laik baim
Where is the toilet? Toilet istap weh?
Please help me Halivim mi, plis
I do not like it Mi no laikim
Where are we going? Yumi go weh?
Food or to eat Kai kai
What is your name? Wanem nem bilong yu?
Where are you from? Yu bilong weh?
Hospital Haus sik
May I take a photo? Inap mi kisim piksa?