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The Micronesian languages are descended from the Austronesian language group. The most important indigenous languages are: Marshallese on the Marshall Islands, Palauan on Palau, Chamorro on Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Kiribatic on Kiribati and Nauru on Nauru. There are also many languages and dialects on the remote islands, sometimes spoken by as few as a hundred people.

The major languages developed independently of each other and are therefore completely different. English is spoken throughout Micronesia but often only serves as a means of communication between the different states. On each individual island, the use of their own language dominates.

English is the official language on Kiribati, but Kiribatic, an Austronesian language, predominates in conversations between the islanders. Both Micronesian and Polynesian features can be found in Kiribatic. On South Tarawa many know only a mouthful of English and on the remote islands the situation is even worse. On some remote islands, such as Butaritari and Makin, a slight variant of the standard language is spoken, but in general the same words are used with a slight accent. Kiribati is a transcription of "Gilberts".

The written alphabet has only thirteen letters.

Some examples of Kiribati are:

Mauri - hello
Ko raba - thank you
Eng - yes
Tiaki - no
Te iriko - meat
Te ben - coconut
Te ika - fish


Galbraith, K. / Micronesia
Lonely Planet

Levy, N.M. /Micronesia handbook Moon

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info