Kiribati is a Micronesian language spoken mainly in Kiribati, and also in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. According to the 2010 census, there are about 103,000 speakers of Kiribati in Kiribati, and there were 6,800 speakers in the Solomon Islands in 2012, 6,400 in Fiji in 2011, and 100 in Tuvalu in 2002.
The Kiribati language is also known as Gilbertese, Ikiribati or Kiribatese, and the Republic of Kiribati was formerly called the Gilbert Islands. The islands were named after Captain Thomas Gilbert, who discovered the main island of the group in 1788. Kiribati [kiribas] is the local version of Gilbert. The original name of the islands was Tungaru.
The Kiribati language first appeared in writing in the middle of the 19th century. Rev. Hiram Bingham Jr. arrived in the Gilbert Islands in 1857 from a Protestant mission based in Hawaii. He devised a way of writing Kiribati using the Latin alphabet, and used it to produce a translation of the Bible. Other missionaries developed different spelling systems.
In the mid-1970s, the Kiribati Language Board was established to standardise the orthography and grammar of the Kiribati language, to compose and update a dictionary, and to work towards development of a Kiribati literature.
I a butiiko ma kawiiremweko riki n taetae ao tai kaboonganai taeka aika a kaangaanga b'a I aonga ni waetata n rabakau.
A recording of this text by Teretia Michael, recorder by Moshe Ash
Please speak slowly, and don't use difficult words, so that I can learn more quickly.
Online Kiribati language lessons
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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