Top 4 Languages of Micronesia

October 27, 2015 |

By Sarah-Claire Jordan

Micronesian languageMicronesia, or the Federated States of Micronesia, is an interesting country in many ways. For one, it has an agreement with the U.S. that gives it some of the same rights as a state would. Before it entered into this agreement in 1986, it was still under U.S. control but through the United Nations. The country is made up of four states, which include over 600 islands.

Almost half of the population of Micronesia identifies as Chuukese, an ethnic group on the islands that has its own language as well. A few other ethnic group/language pairs are present in the population, and most of these make up the most commonly spoken languages in Micronesia, besides the official language, which is English. Here are the four most common languages of the Federated States of Micronesia:

1. Chuukese

Sometimes spelled “Trukese”, this is the native language for almost half of the population of Micronesia. It is spoken mostly in the Chuuk state, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia. Some speakers can be found in Guam and other island territories nearby. In Micronesia alone, there are an estimated 45,900 speakers. One particular feature of the language is the presence of words that start with double consonants, something that many Micronesian languages used to have as well.

2. Kosraean

Kosraean is spoken mainly in the state of Kosrae, which is made up of many islands. With about 8,000 speakers in Micronesia, Kosraean is still better off than many languages, as it is used both in and out of school and in other sectors as well. The language has 11 consonants and 12 vowels, with many different ways to string words together to form the same sentence. Interestingly enough, there are different possessive adjectives used depending on what the noun in question is, like a drink or a shelter.

3. Yapese

Predominantly spoken in the state of Yap in Micronesia, Yapese may be part of the Admiralty Islands group of the Austronesian languages. The number of speakers is unknown, but could be around 7,000 or more. An interesting feature of the language is that most words that begin with a vowel also begin with a glottal stop. There are various other places where glottal stops happen as well in words, as this is a distinguishing feature of the language.

4. Pohnpeian

Pohnpeian is spoken in the state of Pohnpei by over 30,000 people. This makes it the second most spoken language in Micronesia, after Chuukese. It is closely related to Chuukese, but is not by any means a dialect of it. Its modern alphabet only uses 20 letters and the orthography was designed by a German, so it makes for some interesting letter combinations in words. Pohnpeian has a “high language”, or a version of the language that is only used when speaking about people of a certain rank. This includes different vocabulary as well as different grammar.

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Category: Foreign Language

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