Tongan language

This article is about the Polynesian language of the nation of Tonga. For the (unrelated) Bantu language spoken in Malawi, see Tonga language.

Tongan is an Austronesian language spoken in Tonga. It has 100,000 speakers and is a national language of Tonga. It is a VSO (Verb-Subject-Object) language.


Related languages

Tongan is one of the many tongues in the Polynesian branch of the Austronesian languages, along with Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan and Tahitian, for example. Together with Niuean, it forms the Tongic subgroup of Polynesian.

The English word "taboo" is a loan word from Tongan.

Tongan Alphabet:

a as in father
e as in met
f as in foot
h as in horse
i as in machine
k as in king
l as in lead
m as in man
n as in nest
ng as in singer (not as in finger)
o as in note
p as in stop
s as in see
t as in time
u as in tune
v as in vine
fakau'a ( ' ), the glottal stop, is pronounced like the "break" or "catch" in uh-oh.


  • Each syllable has exactly one vowel. The number of syllables in a word is exactly equal to the number of vowels it has.
  • Each syllable may have no more than one consonant.
  • Consonant combinations are not permitted. Ng is not a consonant combination, since it represents a single sound.
  • Each syllable must end in a vowel.
  • The fakau'a is a consonant. It must be followed (and, except at the beginning of a word, preceded) by a vowel.
  • Stress normally falls on the next to last syllable of a word with two or more syllables. However, it may be shifted to the last syllable or to another syllable under certain conditions. The most common of these is that any long vowel is stressed, however, short vowels may also be stressed, either in the penultimate syllable or when required by the rules of the definitive accent. When stress is shifted from the penultimate syllable, an accent mark should be shown over the stressed vowel, unless it is already long. Frequently, however, this rule is ignored.

Divide into 3 types of language

  • Language for the King
  • Language for the Hou'eiki
  • Language for the People


Tongan is primarily a spoken, rather than written, language. Only the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and a few other books are written in Tongan. There are not enough people who can read Tongan to justify publishing books in the language. Most reading literature available in Tonga is in English.

There are a few weekly and monthly magazines in Tongan, but there are no daily newspapers.


Planet Tonga ( is perhaps the best source for information about Tonga (partly in the Tongan language).

External links

Template:Interwikibg:Тонгански език de:Tongaische Sprache eo:tonga lingvo fa:تونگایی wa:Tongyin


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