Take the 2-minute tour ×
Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As I understand it, French is the main common language in New Caledonia, spoken by almost everyone there, but often as a second language.

The wikipedia article doesn't seem to mention much about English though. Assuming you largely stick to the more touristy areas (eg the beaches around Nouméa), can you get by with just English? Or is a reasonable level of French needed? (Or I guess one of the Kanak languages!)

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There's a more in-depth article on Wikipedia - the Languages of New Caledonia.

However, the downside for you here is that while English was one of the three main languages until 1853, there was then a concerted effort afterwards to wipe it out.

The closest lexically was Bislama, although the words were different, so that might be an 'easier' one to learn if you wanted to learn some phrases in a non-European language, however, realistically, French is going to be your best bet here, it would appear.

However as you've no doubt noticed in your travels, even in places where you wouldn't expect it, people quite often know some English 'unofficially', and you may be surprised. It's also surprisingly easy and fun sometimes to communicate without words ;)

EDIT: Indeed, according to Wikitravel's article on the area, if you're in Noumea, you may in fact be ok:

The official language is French, and it is difficult to find English speakers outside of Noumea. In Noumea, French, English, and Japanese are widely spoken at hotels, restaurants, and shops. To enjoy a place like this, you should really endeavor to learn some French.

share|improve this answer
1  
Personally I can speak quite a bit of French, but not everyone in our planned group can, and I want to make sure the others won't miss out too much! –  Gagravarr Jan 6 '13 at 1:29
    
Nice to know of a place where I can use Japanese. As a side note, I once came across an ad in Australia for a course where you learn French in New Caledonia. –  Andrew Grimm Jan 6 '13 at 2:35
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.