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. is meant to provide tools for all those interested in learning about the language and culture. The Dictionary at 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.

Marshallese Resources

Marshall Islands Guide

Everything you need to know about the Marshall Islands in one place. News, events, recreation, arts and entertainment, culture, resources.


Marashallese-English Online Dictionary

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.


Marshall Islands Story Project

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

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.

Bok in Mormon

Read a translated version of the Book of Mormon.

Peḷọk ilo Meto Ekauwōtata

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

The website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Marshallese along with readings.


Lingua Oceania

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!