Tongan is a member of the Polynesian branch of the Austronesian languages spoken mainly in Tonga, where it is the official language. In 2017 there were about 106,000 Tongan speakers in Tonga. Tongan is also spoken in New Zealand by about 31,800 people, in the USA by about 31,400 people, in Australia by about 17,700, and also in Amerian Samoa and Fiji.
Tongan was first written by missionaries in the early 19th century using a number of different spelling systems. The first book in Tongan was a grammar and dictionary of the Tongan language published in 1817 by William Mariner. The current system was promulgated by the Privy Council of Tonga in 1943. There are a number of weekly and monthly newspapers in Tongan, and some books and translations of religious works, such as The Bible.
Hear how to pronounce Tongan:
Ko e kotoa 'o ha'a tangata 'oku fanau'i mai 'oku tau'ataina pea tatau 'i he ngeia mo e ngaahi totonu. Na'e fakanaunau'i kinautolu 'aki 'a e 'atamai mo e konisenisi pea 'oku totonu ke nau feohi 'i he laumalie 'o e nofo fakatautehina.
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)
Online Tongan dictionary
News from Tonga (in Tongan and English)
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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