Tuvaluan – A language that is spoken in the most remote part of the world

Tuvalu is one of the smallest and most remote countries on earth. It is an island that is located in Oceania, that is, halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Tuvalu has 5 coral atolls and 4 reef islands, none of them are above 5 meters above sea level. Tuvalu has attracted global attention due to the threat against it as a result of rising sea levels, brought about by global warming. The atolls are also starting to sink due to erosion caused by sea waves. Home flooding and soil salination are some of the biggest challenges that residents face. Soil salination has made it harder to get clean drinking water, due to the salty water and it is also making it difficult for crops to grow. In most cases, rain water is collected for use. One of the ways that Tuvalu has exploited its sources of income is by selling its Internet suffix .tv to a Californian company for millions of dollars every year, in continuing revenue. The company then sells the suffix to other television broadcasters.

There are different languages spoken in Tuvalu. This includes Tuvaluan, English, Kiribati and Samoan. Tuvaluan is a Polynesian language. It is distantly related to other Polynesian languages such as Hawaii, Tongan, Maori, Samoan and Tahitian. Tuvaluan has loan words from the Samoan language. There are approximately 13,000 people who speak Tuvaluan worldwide. Tuvaluan is divided into 2 major groups. Northern Tuvaluan consists of dialects that are spoken on the islands of Niutao, Nanumaga and Nanumea. The southern Tuvaluan groups consists of dialects spoken in the islands of Nukulaelae, Vaitupu, Funafuti and Nanumaga. Even though there are dialectical differences in terms of phonology, lexicon and morphology all the dialects are mutually intelligible.

Tuvaluan is largely an unwritten language. Tuvaluans have a long standing oral tradition. The first time Tuvaluan ever appeared in writing was in the 1860s, when missionaries from the London Missionary Society began converting the islanders to Christianity. As of now, there is no standard Tuvaluan orthography as there are several systems in use. These systems were designed by missionaries and linguists. The Latin script is used.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.