Tongan
Language facts sheet by Niklas Jonsson
©1997-1999 POLLI & Niklas Jonsson

A bibliography of works refered to in this file may be found in the Polynesian Literature List.


Country/territory where spoken
Tonga

Geografical region
Tongan Islands

Language codes
TON (POLLI); TOV (Grimes 1996: Ethnologue); TON (Biggs 1971)

Alternate language names
Tonga

Genetic affiliation
Austronesin, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Central-Eastern Oceanic, Remote Oceanic, Central-Pacific, Eastern Fiji-Polynesian, Polynesan, Tongic

Dialects
There are slight dialect differences from north to south (Grimes 1992).

Tongan speaking population
103,200 in Tonga (1987), 98.3% of the population in Tonga; possibly 300 to 1,000 in Fiji; 3,965 in New Zealand (1976); 576 in American Samoa; several tens of thousands native speakers in Hawaii, California, and Utah (Besnier 1992); 110,000 total (1991) or more.

Subsistence type
Agriculturalists

Status of language
Official language in the Kingdom of Tonga.

Media
Tongan is used in newspapers and radio.

Alphabet
A, E, I, O, U, ', F, NG, H, K, L, M, N, P, S, T, V (Shumway 1988).

Word order typology
VSO

Remarks
Closely related to Niue. 86% lexical similarity with East Uvean (probably due to borrowing), 66% with Samoan (Grimes 1992).

Data last updated
19 December 1998



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY - TONGAN
BROSCHART, JÜRGEN.
1997. Why Tongan does it differently: Categorial distinctions in a language without nouns and verbs (in: Linguistic Typology, no 1/1997)

CHURCHWARD, CLERK MAXWELL.
1953. Tongan grammar. Oxford. Oxford University Press

CHURCHWARD, CLERK MAXWELL.
1959. Tongan dictionary (Tongan-English and English- Tongan)

CHURCHWARD, CLERK MAXWELL.
1985 edition. Tongan grammar. Nuku'alofa. Vava'u Press

HAMBLIN, CHARLES.
1984. Languages of Asia and the Pacific (contains info on Tongan, including useful short vocabularies). North Ryde, Australia. Angus & Robertson Publications

SCHNEIDER, THOMAS
1996 (?). Functional Tongan-English, English-Tongan dictionary. Burwood. Dellasta

SHUMWAY, ERIC B.
1988. Intensive course in Tongan

TU'INUKUAFE, EDGAR.
1992. A simplified dictionary of modern Tongan. Auckland. Polynesian Press

[TRAD.].
1862-1966. The Bible

[TRAD.].
1849, in press (1991). New Testament

[TRAD.].
1844. Portions of the Bible



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