Ponapean is a Micronesian language that is spoken in the Caroline Islands, in Australia. There are about 29,000 people who speak this language. The majority of the speakers can be found in Pohnpei, which is one of the islands in Caroline Islands. Pohnpei was formerly known as Ponape. Out of the total population of speakers, 3,000 of them live in the outer Islands of Pohnpei. One feature of the Ponapean language is the fact that it has some specialized vocabulary that is normally used when addressing people who have a high rank in society.
The Ponapean language is closely related to Trukic languages. The language has various dialects. This includes the Kitti dialect and the Sapwuahfik dialect. There are other dialects, which some linguists classify as closely related languages rather than dialects. These include Ngatikese Creole, Mokilese and Pingelapese. The Ponapean language shares some vocabularies with these closely related languages. The Ngatik language is a creole form of Ponapean. The language was developed as a result of the Ngatik massacre that took place in 1837. During the massacre, the crew belonging to the Australian captain C.H Hart and some Ponapean warriors combined forces to wipe out the male population in the Ngatik tribe. As a result, some Ponapean and Europeans settled in the islands and married Ngatik women and repopulated the island. This resulted in the development of a new culture and language in the island. A mixture of the English language and the Sapwuahfik dialect of Ponapean were spoken.
Ponapean is also written as Pohnpeian. The Ponapean language has loan words from different languages such as English, German, Spanish and Japanese. The language is written using 20 letters of the alphabet. Out of this, there are 16 single letters and 4 digraphs-a combination of 2 letters. This alphabet was designed by German missionaries.