Nauruan – The language of the pleasantly obese

Nauruan is one of the least known Micronesian languages. Nauruan is spoken in Nauru, which is one of the smallest republics in the world. Nauru is located in the South Pacific, north of the Solomon Islands. After the Vatican city, Nauru is the second least populated countries in the world. Over 90% of the people who live in Nauru, which was popularly referred to as the Pleasant Island, are obese. This island does not have a capital city nor a regular publication. Nauru is currently a top tourist destination. It is considered to be among the most westernized countries in the world.

Nauruan is an Austronesian language that is spoken by approximately 7,000 people. 96% of the Nauru population speak the language. The Nauruans also speak English as Nauruan is not well known outside the Islands. English is the official language of the government and commerce. Nauruan pidgin English came up as a result of mixing Chinese with other Melanesian languages. Nauruan Pidgin English is exclusively spoken in Nauru. Before the coming of the Germans to the islands in 1888, there were different dialects spoken in the region. However, due to the increasing influence of foreigners and the fact that foreign languages found their way into the islands, the different dialects were unified into a standardized dialect that is currently spoken all over the islands. The dialect spoken around Yaren District slightly differs from the dialect that is spoken in the rest of the island.

Nauruan was initially written using 17 letters of the alphabet. Due to close contact with other languages such as Kiribati, Germany and Tok, the number of letters in the alphabet were increased. Due to the 1938 reforms on the language, it is easier for foreigners to learn Nauruan. The Nauruan language committee came up with different symbols to represent the different sounds in the language so that Americans and Europeans can easily understand and learn the language. The relationship between Nauruan and other Micronesian languages has not been fully explored and understood by linguists. There is not a lot of literature available in the language, which has made it a bit more challenging to come up with a comprehensive grammar of the language.

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