- Gilbertese language
nativename=Taetae ni kiribati
Kiribati, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tuvaluand Vanuatu
Kiribati Language Board
Gilbertese or Kiribati (or sometimes Kiribatese, a mixture of both) is a
languagefrom the Austronesian family, part of the Oceanian branch and of the Nuclear Micronesian subbranch. It is a verb object subjectlanguage.
The word "Kiribati" is just the modern rendition for "Gilberts", so the name is not usually translated into English. "Gilberts" comes from Captain Thomas Gilbert, who along with Captain John Marshall were the first Europeans to discover the
Gilbert Islandsin 1788. The official name of the language is "te taetae ni Kiribati", or 'the Kiribati language'.
The first complete description of this language was in "Dictionnaire gilbertin-français" of Father Ernest Sabatier (981p, 1954), a Catholic priest. This Dictionary has been translated into English later by Sister Olivia (with the help of
South Pacific Commission).
About 105,000 people speak Gilbertese, 98,000 of whom live in
Kiribati, about 97.2% of the entire population. The others are the inhabitants of Nui ( Tuvalu), Rabi Island( Fiji), Mili( Marshall Islands) and some other islands where I-Kiribati have been relocated ( Solomon Islands, notably Choiseul Province, and Vanuatu) or emigrated (to New Zealandand Hawaiimainly).
Unlike many in the
Pacificregion, the Kiribati language is far from extinct, and most speakers use it daily. Only 30% of Kiribati speakers are fully bilingual with English, meaning that the language is in no current danger of being swallowed by the latter.
sailors, farmers and people involved in the production of copracomprise the majority of Kiribati speakers.
Countries by number of Gilbertese speakers
Solomon Islands, 1,230
# The 189 remaining countries, probably less than 370 each
Linguistics and study
The Kiribati language has two main
dialects: the Northern dialect and the Southern dialect. The main differences between them are in the pronunciationof some words. The islands of Butaritariand Makinalso have their own dialect. It differs from the standard Kiribati in both vocabulary and pronunciation.
* Banaban (
Banaba Islandand Fiji)
* Northern Gilbertese (
Makin, Butaritari, Marakei, Abaiang, Tarawa, Maiana, Kuria, Abemama, Aranuka, Tabiteuea, Nonouti, Beru Islandand Nikunau)
** Butaritari/Makin (
* Nuian (
* Rabi (
* Southern Gilbertese (
Tabiteuea, Onotoa, Tamanaand Arorae)
Kiribati has 10
consonants and 10 vowels (5 short, five long) [Harvcoltxt|Blevins|1999|p=205-206]
The Kiribati language is written in the
Latin alphabet, and has been since the 1840s, when Hiram Bingham Jr, a missionary, first translated the Bibleinto Kiribati. Previously, the language was unwritten. The letter 's' does not appear in the Kiribati alphabet, instead the combination "ti" is used for that sound.
One difficulty in translating the Bible was references to words such as "
mountain", a geographical phenomenon unknown to the people of the islands of Kiribati at the time (only heard in the myths from Samoa). Bingham decided to use " hilly", which would be more easily understood. Such adjustments are common to all languages as "modern" things require creation of new words. The Gilbertese word for airplane is "te wanikiba", "the canoe that flies".
Catholic missionaries would later arrive at the islands in 1888 and translate the Bible independently of Bingham, resulting in differences (Bingham wrote
Jesusas "Iesu", while the Catholics wrote "Ietu") that would only be resolved in the 20th century. In 1954, Father Ernest Sabatierpublished the bigger and more accurate English-Kiribati Dictionary (translated into English by Sister Olivia): "Dictionnaire Gilbertin-Français", 981p. (edited by South Pacific Commission in 1971).
*Hello - Mauri
*Hello - [singular] Ko na mauri
*Hello - [plural] Kam na mauri
*How are you? - Ko uara?
*How are you? - [to several people] Kam uara?
*Thank you - Ko rabwa
*Thank you - [to several people] Kam rabwa
*Goodbye - Ti a bo ("we will meet")
title= Trimoraic Feet in Gilbertese
journal= Oceanic Linguistics
pages = 203-230
title= The Structure of Gilbertese
* [http://www.y2kleader.com/kiribati/index.html English/Kiribati and Kiribati/English translator with over 50,000 words]
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=gil Ethnologue report for Kiribati/by Amota A Merang]
* [http://www.banaban.net/supermemo/kiribatese.html Gilbertese words collection for SuperMemo]
* [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/translation/Gilbertese/ Dictionary] with Gilbertese - English Translations from [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org Webster's Online Dictionary] - the Rosetta Edition
* [http://www.trussel.com/kir/s_ling.htm Bibliography on Kiribati linguistics]
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Look at other dictionaries:
gilbertese — |gilbə(r)d.|ēz, ēs noun (plural gilbertese) Usage: capitalized Etymology: Gilbert islands in the central Pacific + English ese 1. : a Micronesian native or inhabitant of the Gilbert islands 2 … Useful english dictionary
Gilbertese — noun An Austronesian language spoken in Kiribati … Wiktionary
Gilbertese — ISO 639 3 Code : gil ISO 639 2/B Code : gil ISO 639 2/T Code : gil ISO 639 1 Code : Scope : Individual Language Type : Living … Names of Languages ISO 639-3
Gilbertese — noun 1》 a native or inhabitant of the Gilbert Islands in the SW Pacific. 2》 the Micronesian language spoken in the Gilbert Islands. adjective relating to the Gilbert Islands … English new terms dictionary
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