If you look at the map, go to the east of The Philippines and the north of Indonesia, located in the western Pacific Ocean is an island country called Palau. Apart from its official language, which is English, Palauan people also speak Palauan language daily. Some of the recognised regional languages are Japanese, Sonsorolese, and Tobian.
A mix society of Palauan, Filipino, Japanese, other Asian, and other Micronesian makes up Palauan's population of less than 20 thousands inhabitants. The name for Palau in Palauan language is Belau, which is derived from the word for village, beluu. The name "Palau" entered the English language from the Spanish Los Palaos, via the German Palau.
Palauan Language (a tekoi er a Belau)If you have a Palauan dictionary at this moment, skim through it and try to extract all Japanese, English, German, and Spanish loanwords that you come across. Palau has undergone long history under colonialism—Spain until 1899, Germany until 1914, Japan until 1945, and the U.S. after that. By 1940, there were 3 Japanese colonists (including Okinawans, Koreans, and Taiwanese).
During the Japanese occupatoin, Katakana was introduced as a writing system for Palauan language. After the Japanese surrender, the use of Japanese was discouraged in place of Palauan and English. The current Palauan orthography originated under the Germans, but has continued to evolve since then.
Useful Palauan Phrases
As a language enthusiast, Palauan language has certainly caught my attention. Besides, I used to have Palauan classmates in the university (thanks to Taiwan-Palau diplomatic relations). Here is the list of some basic phrases that you should learn first.
- Alii - Hello
- Ungil Tutau - Good morning
- Ungil Chodechosong - Good afternoon
- Ungil Kebesengei - Good evening
- Dorael - Let’s go
- Ke ua ngerang? - How are you?
- Sulang - Thanks
- Ak morolung - I am leaving (Good bye)
- Ngtecha ngklem? - What is your name?
- A ngklek a____ - My name is____
- Ngteland a cheral? - What is the price?
- Choi, O’ Oi - Yes
- Ng diak - No
- Mei - Come!
- Bo momengur - Have something to eat!
- Merkong! - Stop, that’s enough!
My Brother Traveler