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
ELL (Grimes 1996: Ethnologue);
ECE (Biggs 1971)
Alternate language names
Tuvalu, Ellicean, Ellice
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-
South Tuvaluan (on the islands of Nukufetau, Vaitupu, Funafuti, Nukulailai),
North Tuvaluan (on the islands of Nanumanga, Nanumea, Niutao)
Tuvaluan speaking population
8,440 in Tuvalu (1987), 97% of the population in Tuvalu; 607 in Nauru (1979);
500 in New Zealand (Voegelin/Voegelin 1977); 357 in Fiji (1977); 11,000 total
A, E, I, O, U, F, NG, H, K, L, M, N, P, T, V (Biggs 1971) - may be incomplete.
Also S? - see Stanley (1989:425). Loss of an unstressed vowel between identical
consonants may occur (Biggs 1971:482).
Not intelligible with Samoan, which was formerly used as a mission language.
Tuvaluan and Tokelauan are mutually intelligible. The southern dialect is
official. Most speakers are literate in Tuvaluan, but little reading material is
available. The Micronesian language Ikiribati (Gilbertese) is spoken on the
Tuvaluan atoll of Nui (Stanley 1989:422 and 424).
Data last updated
19 December 1998
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY - TUVALULAN
1988. The linguistic relationships of spoken and written Nukulaelae registers (in: Language, vol 64, p 707-36)
1995. Literacy, emotion, and authority: reading and writing on a Polynesian atoll. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press
2000. Tuvaluan: a Polynesian language of the Central Pacific (in series: Descriptive Grammar Series). London. Routledge
KENNEDY, DONALD GILBERT.
1946. Te ngangana a te tuvalu: Handbook on the language of the Ellice Islands. Suva. Government Printer
KUNZ, E. F.
1959. An Annotated Bibliography of the Languages of the Gilbert Islands, Ellice Islands and Nauru
No date. A vocabulary of the Nanuma dialect of the language of the Ellice Islands
1980. A Nanumea lexicon (in series: Pacific Linguistics, series C, no 65). Canberra
1987. The Bible
1977. New Testament
1969. Portions of the Bible