Bislama Word of the Week: Tabu


Tabu adj. forbidden, prohibited 2. holy 3. n restriction, prohibition 


I hear “tabu” when:

Sitting on mats under the mango trees when my niece Marinette tries to eat a leaf or a pencil or my brother’s toe. “Tabu” can be used to mean “No”.

I hear “tabu” in church- Papa God, Jesus Son, mo Tabu Spirit. “Tabu” can also mean “Holy”.

I see the “Tabu Tri” the Namele on the Vanuatu national flag- it is a sign of peace, or when seen wrapped on poles and stuck in the water as a sign of “this is a fish sanctuary, keep out”

I hear it when referred to Mr. Ora, the man who drives a truck to the airport. He is my “Tabu Abu” which means that I am not allowed to joke around him, refer to him by his name, or touch him. 

I see “tabu” written on the wall of the school’s workshop, I suppose either it is either a holy workshop or forbidden.