Palauan language
Overview
 
Palauan is one of the two nationally recognized official languages spoken in the Republic of Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

 (the other being English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

). It is a member of the Austronesian family of languages
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

, and is considered to be one of two languages in Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

 (the other being Chamorro
Chamorro language
Chamorro is a Malayo-Polynesian language, spoken on the Mariana Islands by about 47,000 people Chamorro (Chamorro: Fino' Chamoru or simply Chamoru) is a Malayo-Polynesian (Austronesian) language, spoken on the Mariana Islands (Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan) by about 47,000 people Chamorro...

) belonging to the Sunda–Sulawesi group; all others are considered to be members of either the Micronesian
Micronesian languages
The family of Micronesian languages is a branch of the Oceanic languages. It consists of twenty languages, the nineteen Micronesian Proper languages and Nauruan...

 or Polynesian outlier
Samoic languages
The Samoic–Outlier languages, also known as Samoic languages, are a purported group of Polynesian languages, encompassing the Polynesian languages of Samoa, Tuvalu, American Samoa, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, and Polynesian outlier languages in New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New...

 subgroups of Oceanic.
Palauan is not a Micronesian
Micronesian languages
The family of Micronesian languages is a branch of the Oceanic languages. It consists of twenty languages, the nineteen Micronesian Proper languages and Nauruan...

 or Polynesian
Polynesian languages
The Polynesian languages are a language family spoken in the region known as Polynesia. They are classified as part of the Austronesian family, belonging to the Oceanic branch of that family. They fall into two branches: Tongic and Nuclear Polynesian. Polynesians share many cultural traits...

 language like most of its neighbors; rather, like Chamorro
Chamorro language
Chamorro is a Malayo-Polynesian language, spoken on the Mariana Islands by about 47,000 people Chamorro (Chamorro: Fino' Chamoru or simply Chamoru) is a Malayo-Polynesian (Austronesian) language, spoken on the Mariana Islands (Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan) by about 47,000 people Chamorro...

, it constitutes a possibly independent branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages
Malayo-Polynesian languages
The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. These are widely dispersed throughout the island nations of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, with a smaller number in continental Asia...

.
Encyclopedia
Palauan is one of the two nationally recognized official languages spoken in the Republic of Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

 (the other being English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

). It is a member of the Austronesian family of languages
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

, and is considered to be one of two languages in Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

 (the other being Chamorro
Chamorro language
Chamorro is a Malayo-Polynesian language, spoken on the Mariana Islands by about 47,000 people Chamorro (Chamorro: Fino' Chamoru or simply Chamoru) is a Malayo-Polynesian (Austronesian) language, spoken on the Mariana Islands (Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan) by about 47,000 people Chamorro...

) belonging to the Sunda–Sulawesi group; all others are considered to be members of either the Micronesian
Micronesian languages
The family of Micronesian languages is a branch of the Oceanic languages. It consists of twenty languages, the nineteen Micronesian Proper languages and Nauruan...

 or Polynesian outlier
Samoic languages
The Samoic–Outlier languages, also known as Samoic languages, are a purported group of Polynesian languages, encompassing the Polynesian languages of Samoa, Tuvalu, American Samoa, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, and Polynesian outlier languages in New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New...

 subgroups of Oceanic.

Classification

Palauan is not a Micronesian
Micronesian languages
The family of Micronesian languages is a branch of the Oceanic languages. It consists of twenty languages, the nineteen Micronesian Proper languages and Nauruan...

 or Polynesian
Polynesian languages
The Polynesian languages are a language family spoken in the region known as Polynesia. They are classified as part of the Austronesian family, belonging to the Oceanic branch of that family. They fall into two branches: Tongic and Nuclear Polynesian. Polynesians share many cultural traits...

 language like most of its neighbors; rather, like Chamorro
Chamorro language
Chamorro is a Malayo-Polynesian language, spoken on the Mariana Islands by about 47,000 people Chamorro (Chamorro: Fino' Chamoru or simply Chamoru) is a Malayo-Polynesian (Austronesian) language, spoken on the Mariana Islands (Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan) by about 47,000 people Chamorro...

, it constitutes a possibly independent branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages
Malayo-Polynesian languages
The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. These are widely dispersed throughout the island nations of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, with a smaller number in continental Asia...

. Its origins are thus somewhat obscure. A 2008 analysis of the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database suggested at 85% confidence level that it is closest to the Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages.

Sounds

The phonemic
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

 inventory of Palauan consists of 10 consonants and 6 vowels. Phonetic
Phonetics
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs : their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory...

 charts of the vowel and consonant phonemes are provided below, utilizing the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).
EWLINE
Vowel Phonemes
  Front Central Back
High i   u
Mid ɛ ə o
Low   a  
EWLINE
Consonant Phonemes
  Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Voiceless
stops
  t k ʔ
Voiced
stops
b d    
Voiceless
fricatives
  s    
Nasals m   ŋ  
Liquids   l, ɾ    


While the phonemic inventory of Palauan is relatively small, comparatively, many phonemes contain at least two allophone
Allophone
In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

s that surface as the result of various phonological processes
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 within the language. The full phonetic inventory of consonants is given below in IPA (the phonemic inventory of vowels, above, is complete).
EWLINE
Surface Consonants
  Labial Interdental Alveolar Post-Alveolar Velar Glottal
Voiceless
stops
p
  t
  k
ʔ
Voiced
stops
b   d   ɡ  
Voiceless
fricatives
  θ s      
Voiced
fricatives
  ð        
Nasals m   n   ŋ  
Liquids     l, ɾ, r      
Approximants w     j    

Diphthongs

Palauan contains several diphthongs (sequences of vowel
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

s within a single syllable
Syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

). A list of diphthongs and corresponding Palauan words containing them are given below, adapted from .
EWLINE
Diphthongs
IPA Example English Translation
/iɛ/ babier "paper" (German loan)
/ɛi/ mei "come"
/iu/ chiukl "(singing) voice"
/ui/ tuich "torch"
/io/ kikiongel "dirty"
/oi/ tekoi "word"
/ia/ diall "ship"
/ai/ chais "news"
/ɛu/ teu "width"
/uɛ/ sueleb "afternoon"
/ɛo/ Oreor "Koror" (former capital of Palau)
/oɛ/ beroel "spear"
/ɛa/ beached "tin"
/aɛ/ baeb "pipe" (English loan)
/uo/ uos "horse"
/ou/ merous "distribute"
/ua/ tuangel "door"
/au/ mesaul "tired"
/oa/ omoachel "river"
/ao/ taod "fork"


The extent to which it is accurate to characterize each of these vowel sequences as diphthongs has been a matter of debate, as in , , , . Nevertheless, a number of the sequences above, such as /ui/, clearly behave as diphthongs given their interaction with other aspects of Palauan phonology like stress shift and vowel reduction. Others do not behave as clearly like monosyllabic diphthongs.

Writing system

In the early 1970s, the Palau Orthography Committee worked with linguists from the University of Hawaii
University of Hawaii
The University of Hawaii System, formally the University of Hawaii and popularly known as UH, is a public, co-educational college and university system that confers associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees through three university campuses, seven community college campuses, an employment...

 to devise a common writing system
Writing system
A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language.-General properties:Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that the reader must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to...

 based on the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

. The resulting orthography was largely based on the "one phoneme/one symbol" notion, yielding an alphabet
Alphabet
An alphabet is a standard set of letters—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme in a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic...

 of ten native Palauan consonants (plus two double consonants), five consonants used exclusively in borrowed words, and five vowels (plus four double vowels). The 20 vowel sequences listed above under the heading Diphthongs are also all officially recognized in the orthography.

On May 10, 2007, the Palauan Senate passed Bill No. 7-79, which mandates that educational institutions recognize the Palauan orthography laid out in and . The bill also establishes an Orthography Commission to maintain the language as it develops as well as to oversee and regulate any additions or modifications to the current official orthography.
EWLINE
Native consonants
Palauan letter IPA Example word
b [b], [p], [pʰ] bai "community house"
ch [ʔ] charm "animal"
d [d], [t], [ð], [θ] diall "ship"
k [k], [ɡ], [kʰ] ker "question"
l [l] lius "coconut"
ll [lː] llel "leaf"
m [m] mad "died"
ng [ŋ], [n] ngau "fire"
r [ɾ] rekas "mosquito"
rr [r] rrom "liquor"
s [s] sechelei "friend"
t [t], [tʰ] tuu "banana"
EWLINE
Foreign consonants
Palauan letter IPA Example word
f [f] fenda "fender (Eng.)"
h [h] haibio "tuberculosis (Jpn. haibyoo 肺病)"
n [n] sensei "teacher (Jpn. sensei 先生)"
p [p] Papa "the Pope (Span. Papa)"
ts [ts] tsuingam "chewing gum (Eng.)"
z [z] miuzium "museum (Eng.)"
EWLINE
Vowels
Palauan letter IPA Example word
a [a] chad "person"
e [ɛ], [ə] sers "garden"
ę [ə] ngalęk "child"
ee [ɛː] kmeed "near"
i [i] sils "sun"
ii [iː], [ji], [ij] iis "nose"
o [o] ngor "mouth"
oo [oː] sekool "playful"
u [u] bung "flower"
uu [uː], [wu], [uw] ngduul "mangrove clam"

Word order

The word order
Word order
In linguistics, word order typology refers to the study of the order of the syntactic constituents of a language, and how different languages can employ different orders. Correlations between orders found in different syntactic subdomains are also of interest...

 of Palauan is usually thought to be verb–object–subject (VOS), but this has been a matter of some debate in the linguistic literature. Those who accept the VOS analysis of Palauan word order generally treat Palauan as a pro-drop language
Pro-drop language
A pro-drop language is a language in which certain classes of pronouns may be omitted when they are in some sense pragmatically inferable...

 with preverbal subject
Subject (grammar)
The subject is one of the two main constituents of a clause, according to a tradition that can be tracked back to Aristotle and that is associated with phrase structure grammars; the other constituent is the predicate. According to another tradition, i.e...

 agreement
Agreement (linguistics)
In languages, agreement or concord is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. Agreement happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates....

 morpheme
Morpheme
In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word,...

s, final pronominal subjects are deleted (or null
Null morpheme
In morpheme-based morphology, a null morpheme is a morpheme that is realized by a phonologically null affix . In simpler terms, a null morpheme is an "invisible" affix. It is also called a zero morpheme; the process of adding a null morpheme is called null affixation, null derivation or zero...

).

Example 1: Ak milenga er a ringngo pro. (means: "I ate the apple.")

In the preceding example, the null pronoun pro is the subject "I," while the clause-initial ak is the first person singular subject agreement morpheme.

On the other hand, those who have analyzed Palauan as SVO necessarily reject the pro-drop analysis, instead analyzing the subject agreement morphemes as subject pronouns. In the preceding example, SVO-advocates assume that there is no pro and that the morpheme ak is simply an overt subject pronoun meaning "I." One potential problem with this analysis is that it fails to explain why overt (3rd person) subjects occur clause-finally in the presence of a co-referring 3rd person "subject pronoun" --- treating the subject pronouns as agreement morphemes circumvents this weakness. Consider the following example.

Example 2: Ng milenga er a ringngo a Olilai. (means: "Olilai ate the apple.")

Proponents of the SVO analysis must assume a shifting of the subject a Alan "Alan" from clause-initial to clause-final position, a movement operation that has not received acceptance cross-linguistically, but see for discussion.

Palauan phrases

Some common and useful words and phrases in Palauan are listed below, with their English translations.
Palauan English Palauan English
Alii! Hello! Ak mlechell ęr a ___. I was born in ___.
Ungil tutau. Good morning. Ng tela rekim? How old are you?
Ungil sueleb. Good afternoon. Ng ___ a rekik. I am ___ years old.
Ungil kebesengei. Good evening. Ng tela a dengua ęr kau? What's your phone number?
A ngklek a ___. My name is ___. A dengua ęr ngak a ___. My phone number is ___.
Ng techa ngklem? What's your name? Kę kiei ęr kęr? Where do you live?
Kę ua ngerang? How are you? Ak kiei er a ___. I live ___.
Ak mesisiich. I'm fine. Chochoi. Yes
Ak chad ęr a ___. I'm from ___. Ng diak. No
Belau Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

Adang. Please.
Merikel U.S.A. Sulang. Thank you.
Ingklis England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

Kę mo ęr kęr? Where are you going?
Siabal Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

Mechikung. Goodbye.
Sina China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

Meral ma sulang! Thank you very much!
Kę chad ęr kęr ęl beluu? Where are you from? Ungilbung pretty flower.
Kę mlechell ęr kęr ęl beluu? Where were you born?
Olilai House In Ngarchelong

Palauan numerals

1 through 10
  1. Tang
  2. Cherung
  3. Chedei
  4. Cheuang
  5. Cheiim
  6. Chelolm
  7. Cheuid
  8. Cheiai
  9. Chetiu
  10. Machod
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