The Marshallese language

The Marshall islands comprises of 2 parallel islands. One group of islands is known as Ratak Chain while the other group of islands is known as Ralik Chain. Ratak means sunrise and Ralik translates to sunset. The island, whose main population comprises Christians, uses the US dollar as its currency. The natives of Marshall Islands are known as Marshallesse. Marshallese and English are the two languages spoken in the islands. The name of the national anthem is ‘Forever Marshall Islands’, while the Islands main motto is ‘Accomplishment through Joint Effort’. The island generally has a tropical climate that is characterized by heat and humidity. Most of the terrain in the island comprises of sand and coral limestone. The Marshall islands are famous for their coconut and papaya plantations and breadfruit trees.

Marshallese is a Micronesian language that falls under the Austronesian language family. About 23,000 people in the Marshall Islands speak the language. Speakers can also be found in the United States and Nauru. Marshallese is also used as a language of instruction in primary schools. The origin of the language is not known but Marshallese resembles languages that are spoken in South East Asia. Marshallese stands out from other Micronesian languages as it has tens of thousands of speakers. Most Micronesian languages only have a few speakers. Marshallese is closely related to Chuukese, Kosraen, Gilbertese, Pohnpeian and Nauruan.

The language is written using the Latin alphabet. The spelling system was recently modified even though some people still use the old spelling system. The old orthography was introduced by missionaries in the 17th century. However, it is considered to be highly inconsistent with the sounds produced. Initially, Marshallese was an oral language before the missionaries came up with a written language. The old orthography is mainly used by newspapers and as street signs. The new orthography has become more popular among young people and is widely used in schools. It is difficult to translate Marshallese into English as the two languages have different consonant and vowel systems. There is a Bible translation in Marshallese and a language dictionary.

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