Language facts sheet by Niklas Jonsson
©2001 POLLI & Niklas Jonsson
A bibliography of works refered to in this file may be found in the
Polynesian Literature List.
Country/territory where spoken
Niuafo'ou island 'Eua islands in Tonga.
NUM (Grimes 1996: Ethnologue);
NFU (Biggs 1971)
Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Eastern
Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Central-Eastern Oceanic, Remote Oceanic, Central
Pacific, Eastern Fiji-Polynesian, Polynesian, Nuclear Polynesian, Samoic-
Niuafo'ou speaking population
680 (Moseley / Asher 1994) or more (Besnier 1992). 680 total or more.
Status of language
The similarities between Niuafo'ou and Tongan is probably due to borrowing from
Tongan to Niuafo'ou over the past 400-500 years (Kirch 1988). Its closeness to
East Uvean needs investigation. Niuafo'ou may be a dialect of East Uvean.
Niuafo'ou island is the original home of the language, but in 1946 following a
serious volcanic eruption on Niuafo'ou the 1300 inhabitants were removed to 'Eua
- many have since returned to Niuafo'ou (Biggs 1971).
Data last updated
4 July 2001
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAFY - NIUAFO'OU
1971 edition. The Languages of Polynesia (in: Sebeok, Thomas A.
(editor); Current Trends in Linguistics, vol 8, p 466-505). The Hague. Mouton
1922. The speech of Niua Fo'ou (in: Journal of the Polynesian
Society, vol 31, p 185-9). Wellington. Polynesian Society
DYE, THOMAS S.
1980. The linguistic position of Niuafo'ou (in: Journal of the
Polynesian Society, vol 89, no 3, p 349-357). Wellington. Polynesian Society