The official languages of Papua New Guina are English, Hiri Motu, sign language, and Tok. All four of these languages were adopted in 1975 after the country gained independence from Australia. The official languages of the country serve to promote communications between citizens as well as somewhat of a nationalistic unity among the population. Tok is the language used for domestic business and government in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country in the world with over 850 living languages, and amazingly, the nation accounts for almost an eighth of the world's total languages. Tok is spoken by roughly 12.5% of the country as a fluent language, but up to 5 million people (62.5%) use the language on a daily basis. Although English is an official language of the nation only 1-2% of the population speak it natively.

Phrases in the Tok language are relatively easy to learn and pronounce as the tongue has evolved from English. Hello, written as gude and pronounced as "goo-day", is a very common greeting in the country. Thank you is written as tenkyu, pronounced as "tenk-yoo", is a great way to let someone from Papua New Guinea know appreciation for their hospitality. Nice to meet you, is written as gutpela long bungim yu and pronounced as "goot-peh-lah long boong-im yoo".

With 850 languages in the country, Papua New Guinea is home to many methods of communication. Minority languages in the country include Austronesian languages that developed as far away as Taiwan and Madagascar, Papuan languages that are also spoken in East Timor, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands, as well as Unserdeutsch, which is this only creole language to develop from colonial German. The language families of Papua New Guinea are highly regionalised, for example, Austronesian languages are often spoken in the eastern part of the country.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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