Hiri Motu

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Hiri Motu

Spoken in

Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea Papua New Guinea
speaker 120,000 second language speakers
Official status
Official language in Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea Papua New Guinea
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


Hiri Motu , Police Motu or Motu Pidgin is a pidgin language based on the Motu language and one of the three national languages ​​of Papua New Guinea alongside Tok Pisin and English .


The language evolved from the commercial language of the province Central based Motu-people . Especially through its role as the language of the colonial police and as a commercial language, the language spread beyond the actual tribal area.

The language was also influenced by English , Tok Pisin, and Polynesian languages . However, about 90 percent of the vocabulary comes from the Motu language.

According to Ethnologue, two dialects , Austronesian Hiri Motu and Papuan Hiri Motu , have developed.

Todays situation

Depending on the information, it has between 120,000 and 200,000 speakers, mainly in the southern part of the country, the former British colony of British New Guinea . The vast majority of speakers use the language as a second or as a lingua franca . There are hardly any native speakers. About six percent of the population can both read and write the language.

Today Hiri Motu is also used in parliament. There are some broadcasts on Hiri Motu on state radio . As a lingua franca, Hiri Motu is becoming less important than Tok Pisin.

Web links

Wiktionary: Hiri Motu  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Motu, Hiri. In: ethnologue .com. Retrieved February 22, 2019 .