The Marshallese Language
Marshallese is one of the official languages of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It is a Malayo-Polynesian language, so it’s somewhat related to well-known Polynesian languages such as Tongan and Samoan. However, it is more closely related to the lesser known languages of Micronesia such as Kiribati from the Gilbert Islands and Chuukese from the Chuuk Islands.
The people of the Marshall Islands have spoken their language since before the first western explorers arrived around 1520. Since this first contact with the west, it has been influenced by languages such as Spanish, German, Japanese and English. However, the influences of these other languages has been strictly lexical, meaning that it has borrowed words from other languages but its grammatical structures and phonetic characteristics have been left almost entirely unaffected.
Today, native speakers may be found in the Marshall Islands, of course, but also in Arkansas, Hawaii, Oklahoma and other places in the United States. Marshallese.org is meant to provide tools for all those interested in learning about the language and culture. The Dictionary at Marshallese.org is a searchable database that includes lexical data provided by Nik Willson, from the College of the Marshall Islands, and bilingual text that is meant to show how specific words were translated before.
Everything you need to know about the Marshall Islands in one place. News, events, recreation, arts and entertainment, culture, resources.
The Marshallese-English Online Dictionary (MOD) is a revised and expanded electronic edition of the Marshallese-English Dictionary, developed in 2009.
Naan Dictionary by Nik Willson
Naan is an excellent dictionary by Nik Willson which is not as comprehensive as the Marshallese-English Dictionary but is very accesible and includes alternative spellings to make it easier to search.
Practical Marshallese by Peter Rudiak-Gould
This is a freely distributed, full-length textbook for learning the native language of the Marshall Islands. It has been used since 2004 as the official language manual for all volunteers in the WorldTeach Marshall Islands program, and it has formed the basis of language classes for Americans at Kwajalein Atoll. The 102 short lessons describe the grammar of the language in practical and familiar terms, and a glossary presents 1500 useful words.
Vocabulary exercises on Quizlet
Vocabulary from the language-learning guide Practical Marshallese by Peter Roudiak-Gould.
The Marshall Islands Story Project seeks to preserve the rich culture of the Marshall Islands by gathering life stories and traditional tales from Marshallese elders. Central to the Project is the involvement of Marshallese students in the preservation process.
Wa Kuk Wa Jimor on Vimeo
Film by Rachel Miller, introduces the tradition of the canoe—including the history, types, and technological innovations of the canoe—and the complex connection between the canoe and culture.
Ro mōtta ilo aolep laļ ko. on YouTube
Culture and language commentaries and interviews of missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Includes topics like Marshallese cuisine and manners.
Bible at Bible.is
Read and listen to a translated version of the Bible.
Bible at Marshalls for Christ
Marshallese Bible with updated spelling as well as the “old” Protestant Marshallese Bible available as a free download.
Read a translated version of the Book of Mormon.
Drifting in Dangerous Waters by Alfred Capelle, illustrations by Iso Laninbelik. Bilingual text in.
Prose Selections from Spoken Marshallese
Selected readings from Byron W. Bender’s 1969 language-learning guide. The readings are in order of lexical complexity.
Ri Kõnnaan ro an Jeova at JW.org
The website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Marshallese along with readings.
A site dedicated to the languages of Oceania run by a [haole, pala(n)gi, ri-belle, I-matang, popa’a, kai valagi, apaka] woman who’s trying to learn at least some of them. Beginning with… Marshallese!
- Glossary of Useful Words from Practical Marshallese
- Lesson 1: The letters and sounds of Marshallese
- Lesson 2: Beginning Marshallese Phrases
- Lesson 3: Numbers, time, age, and price
- Lesson 4: Marshallese Words from English
- Lesson 5: Marshallese Subject Pronouns
- Lesson 6: Verbs that work like adjectives
- Lesson 7: The present tense
- Lesson 8: The Past Tense
- Lesson 9: The future tense
- Lesson 10: Near future tense
- Lesson 11: Location
- Lesson 12: Object pronouns
- Lesson 13: The emphatic pronouns
- Lesson 14: Negatives
- Lesson 15: Wrapping up pronouns and tenses
- Lesson 16: Yes/No questions
- Lesson 17: Do you know?, Yes I know, No I don’t know
- Lesson 18: Can you?, Yes I can, No I can’t
- Lesson 19: Wh-questions
- Lesson 20: More about wh-questions
- Lesson 21: Definite and Indefinite Articles, and Plurals
- Lesson 22: Possessives
- Lesson 23: House of, time of, place of
- Lesson 24: With
- Lesson 25: I like, I don’t like