The two official languages of Palau are English and Palauan. The only exceptions to this are in the states of Sonsorol and Hatohobei where the native languages of Sonsorolese and Tobian as well as Palauan are recognized as official languages. Palauan is a member of the linguistic family known as Austronesian. Its alphabet is comprised of six vowels and ten consonants.

73% of people living in Palau are native Palauans with mixed Melanesian and Austronesian ethnic origins. The Palauan language is regulated by the Palau Language Commission which is dedicated to standardizing and preserving this indigenous language. Palauan is spoken not only in the nation of Palau but also in Guam as well as the Northern Mariana Island. A total of approximately 17,000 people currently speak Palauan.

Useful Palauan phrases commonly heard throughout the island nation include the greeting of “Alii”. A good morning wish can be achieved with; “Ungil Tutau” while “Good Evening” can be translated to, “Ungil Kebsengei”. Useful questions include, “Ke ua ngarang?” which means “How are you?” and “Ng techa ngklem?”, which is used when asking someone their name.

Minority languages in Palau include English and Japanese. Older citizens living on the islands are most likely to speak Japanese. This foreign tongue also has the status of being one of the three co-official languages of the Palauan island of Angaur (along with English and Palauan). Angaur, which has a population of about 119 people, is the only place in the world where Japanese is the only official language recognized by the state. The nation of Japan cites Japanese as being its de facto national language.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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