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Spoken in

Papua New Guinea
Official status
Official language in -
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


Kuanua (also Tolai, Gunantuna, Tinata Tuna, Tuna, Blanche Bay, New Britain Language, or Tolai Tok Ples) is the mother tongue of the indigenous Tolai people on the Gazelle Peninsula of New Britain (New Britain, colonial German : Neupommern) in Bismarck- archipelago of Papua New Guinea . It is also a second language ( commercial, linguistic and church language ) in New Britain, the Duke of York Islands and parts of the neighboring island of New Ireland (New Ireland, formerly Neumecklenburg). Kuanua belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian subgroup of the Austronesian languages .

According to the SIL ( Christian "Linguistic Summer Institute") count , there were around 61,000 native speakers and around 20,000 second speakers in 1991 (the Tolai now have over 120,000 members). The language is one of the most widely spoken languages ​​in Papua New Guinea. There are several dialects : Vunadidir, Rapitok, Raluana, Vanumami, Livuan, Matupit, Kokopo, Kabakada, Nodup, Kininanggunan, Rakunei, Rebar, Watom and Masawa. Due to the early contact with Christian missionaries , introductions to this language and Bible translations were published in Kuanua as early as the colonial times .

The current official language Tok Pisin and the English language are also common languages . The Tolai had regular contact with Europeans between 1870 and 1875 and provided a large proportion of the workforce on European plantations in the South Pacific . The lingua franca of Papua New Guinea, Tok Pisin, which originated on the plantations, therefore draws up to 10 percent of its words from the Kuanua language of the Tolai.


  • Ulrike Mosel: Tolai Syntax and its Historical Development. In: Pacific Linguistics. Volume 4, Canberra 1984 (English).
  • Karl J. Franklin, Harland B. Kerr: Tolai Language Course. 3rd, revised edition. In: Asian-Pacific Series. No. 7, Ukarumpa; SIL International , Huntington Beach 1974 (English; PDF: 4.5 MB, 72 scanned double pages on archive.org).
  • Assunto Costantini: Theoretical-practical course in the New Pomeranian Language (Bismarck Archipelago). In addition to a […] dictionary. Berlin 1907.
  • Assunto Costantini: Elementary book of the New Pomeranian language together with a German New Pomeranian dictionary. Sydney 1902.
  • Heinrich Fellmann, William H. Cox (translator): A buk tabu lua. Old testament. Selection: London 1917; Extended selection: London 1931.
  • Heinrich Fellmann (translator and new editor ): A buk tabu kalamana ure Iesu Karisito. Sydney 1901 (the complete New Testament of the Bible).
  • Richard Heath Rickard (translator): A buk tabu kalamana ure to Jesu Karisito. Parramatta 1892 (the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles).

Individual evidence

  1. a b Ethnologue entry: Kuanua - A language of Papua New Guinea. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  2. ^ Arnold Leonard Epstein: Tolai - Orientation. In: Countries and Their Cultures , Gale Group, USA 1996, accessed on July 16, 2019.