With over 800 languages, it was impossible to get everyone to communicate with one another. Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu grew up in this region, and when the Anglophones married the Hulis and their children learnt the one language they had in common, Tok Pisin became a creole. Tok Pisin may seem phonetically to be English (“Yu dring; yu draiv; yu dai” meaning “You drink; you drive; you die”), but it is not; it contains more personal pronouns than English and its own syntax.
Tok Pisin is widely spoken across the nation, and short, cheap guidebooks on learning Tok Pisin can be found in many book shops.
Hiri Motu is spoken in Port Moresby and other areas of Papua, although since it is the capital, Tok Pisin speakers are more likely to be found in the airport, banks, or government. When addressing locals, try to speak English first; using Tok Pisin or another language may give the impression that you assume they don’t know English.
Because the natives talk so quietly, you may have difficulty hearing what they are saying at times. Some local tribes consider it impolite to stare someone in the eyes and talk loudly.