Rapa Nui, or Rapanui, is a Polynesian language spoken by about 2,700 people on Easter Island and also in Chile, Tahiti and the USA. Rapa Nui is a member of the eastern branch of Polynesian languages and is related to the languages of Tahiti and the Marquesas, and also to Maori.
Easter Island, which is known as Rapa Nui in Rapa Nui and Isla de Pascua in Spanish, was annexed by Chile on 9 September 1888 and has been run by Chile since then. On 30 July 2007 the island became a special territory of Chile. Until the late 1990s the Rapa Nui people were effectively not permitted to speak their native language, and Spanish was required for public sector jobs. Education was also in Spanish.
Since the early years of the 21st century language policies have changed and there are now classes in Rapa Nui in Easter Islands schools, and some subjects, such as science and history, are taught through Rapa Nui in one school.
After Easter Island was taken over by the Spanish in 1770, the islanders devised their own script, known as Rongorongo, apparently impressed by the power of the writing used by the Spanish. Rongorongo was used until the 1860s, after which knowledge of the script was lost and it remains unknown, although some linguists claim to have deciphered.
A version of the Latin alphabet is now used to write Rapa Nui, although the language is rarely written. Instead the Easter islanders tend to write in Spanish. However in 2010 the first ever newspaper in Rapa Nui was published, and there are plans for a dictionary.
Informationa about Rapa Nui
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