Marshallese is a member of the Micronesian group of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. Marshallese is spoken mainly on the Marshall Islands in the North Pacific. In 2001 there were about 42,500 speakers of Marshallese in the Marshall Islands, and another 18,500 elsewhere, particularly in Nauru and the USA.
Marshallese is related to Kiribati and Chuukese, and contains some loanwords from Spanish, German, Japanese and English.
Marshallese is an official language of the Marshall Islands, along with English, and is used as the language of instruction in most primary schools.
There are two main dialects of Marshallese: Rālik (western), which are spoken in the western Ralik chain of islands, and Ratak (eastern), which is spoken in the eastern Ratak chain of islands. They are mutually intelligible, and differ mainly in pronunciation and vocabulary.
Marshallese is written with the Latin alphabet. There are two orthographies: an old one, which was devised by missionaries, and a new one, which is promoted by the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and is used in the Marshallese-English dictionary by Takaji Abo, Byron W. Bender, Alfred Capelle and Tony DeBrum.
Armij otemjej rej rujlok ilo anemkwoj im jonon utiej eo im maron ko air wot juon. Emwij lelok non ir maron in bukot non ir make im bareinwot boklikot kin men ko rej tomaki im bwe jerbal non dron ilo juon jitobon jimpenjatin.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about the Marshallese languages
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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