Tongan language

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Tongan (lea faka-Tonga)

Spoken in

speaker Total: 105,319 (as of 1998), 2010 estimate: 200,000
  • Austronesian
    Malayo Polynesian
    Central Eastern Malayo Polynesian
    East Malayo Polynesian
    Central East Ocean
    Distant Oceanic Languages
    Central Pacific
    East Fiji Polynesian
Official status
Official language in TongaTonga Tonga
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


The Tonga language (Tonga lea faka-Tonga ) is one of the Polynesian languages , which is a branch of the Austronesian languages . It is spoken by the Tongans and is the official language in Tonga .

Position within Polynesian

Tongan deserves special mention among the Polynesian languages. Tonga lies in the Melanesian-Polynesian border area. As a result, Tongan differs from the other Polynesian languages ​​in some points of phonetic and syntactic nature and approaches the language of Fiji . This rapprochement with Fiji goes beyond the extensive correspondence between this language and Polynesian and is explained by the later influence of Tongan on Fiji. Such an influence is certainly present, but is not yet sufficient to explain older forms of language that are found in both languages.

Tongan is important for the development of Polynesia for another reason. The Tongans pursued a lively colonial policy , in the course of which the surrounding islands were settled. This explains the great similarity between the languages ​​of Tonga and Uvéa (Valais). Uvea, in turn, populated the island of the same name in Melanesia . Tongan belongs to the oldest ascertainable developmental layer of Polynesian. A particular peculiarity of Tongan is the prefixing of an h in several words, which in the other Polynesian languages ​​lack the equivalent s or h, which is due to an earlier nasal connection.

  • 'up': Tg.hake / Uvea ake / Futuna ake, sake
  • 'down': Tg.hifo / Uvea ifo / Niue hifo
  • 'nine': Tg.hiva / Uvea hiva / Futuna iva
  • 'how much?': Tg. fiha / Niue fiha / Futuna fia
  • 'Sea': Tg.tahi / Uvea tai / Niue tahi
  • 'sleep': Tg.mohe / Uvea moe / Niue mohe / Futuna moe

Niuean , like Tongan, has the definite article he. On the other hand, the uvea, which corresponds almost entirely to Tongan in its vocabulary, lacks both the aforementioned h and the equivalent for an original Indonesian h. As an article, Uvea te. On all these points, the language of Niue agrees with Uvea.

Language development

Even after the arrival of the first European, the Dutchman Jakob Le Maire in 1616, Tonga was able to maintain its independence through clever tactics to this day, only from 1900 to 1970 it was under British protectorate . Today Tonga has a constitutional monarchy based on the British model.

During all this time, Tongan culture was able to retain its identity, but foreign influences were found in the modern language, e.g. B. through English , again.

This can be seen from the example of a mythological text that has been written recently:

koe taimi nae ogomai ae fefine?
Did you hear of a woman at that time? (taimi = engl. time)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Tongan Language Guidelines. Ministry of Education, New Zealand, Wellington 2012, ISBN 978-0-7903-4154-5 ( Online , PDF)