|Region||Kapingamarangi and Ponape islands|
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Sounds
- 3 Grammar
- 4 Vocabulary
- 5 Endangerment
- 6 See also
- 7 References
The Kapingamarangi language is a language spoken in the pacific by people from Kapingamarangi, the Pohnpei Island, and in the Pohnrakied village in Pohnpei. Kapingamarangi was first recorded on an expedition in the year 1557 by a Spanish navigator named Hernando de Grigalvan (Elbert, 1946). Kapingamarangi, also known as Kirinit, is categorized in the Austronesian language family, along with many other pacific languages. Kapingamarangi is an atoll, which is located in the state of Pohnpei of the Federated States of Micronesia. In the country of Pohnpei, Kapingamarangi is the southernmost atoll of the country and of the Caroline Islands. The total area of the Kapingamarangi Island is 72 kilometers squared. The western reef rim of the islands gets almost submerged in water when the tides are high. The Kapingamarangi language is not only spoken on the atoll of Kapingamarangi, but it is also spoken in the village of Pohnrakied, located on the island of Pohnpei. Pohnpei is the largest, highest, most populated, and even the most developed island in the Federated States of Micronesia. It is also part of the Caroline Islands group. The island of Pohnpei is administered under the Federated States of Micronesia government.
Kapingamarangi is viewed as another world, even to other cultures located inside of Micronesia. The people of Kapingamarangi live in towns, rather than being scattered out in little hamlets like other additional places located in Micronesia (Elbert, 1946). Kapingamarangi currently has three thousand total speakers. There are one thousand speakers on the atoll of Kapingamarangi and there are two thousand speakers in Pohnrakied village on Pohnpei. The people of Kapingamarangi are considered to be of Micronesian ethnicity; the other seven states of the Federated States of Micronesia are categorized as being Polynesian. The only language that is recognized as an official language in Micronesia is English. The language status of Kapingamarangi is "educational", which means that the language is in vigorous use, maintaining standardization and literature throughout a widespread system in institutions of education. The language has been developed to a point that it is used and sustained in people's homes and around the community.
Kapingamarangi has 22 consonants /d, dh, g, gh, p, ph, t, th, k, kh, w, wh, h, hh, m, mh, n, nh, ŋ, ŋh, l, lh/ (Leiber & Dikepa, 1974).
The main vowels in Kapingamarangi are /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/. In the Kapingamarangi language, the vowels can be described as long or short vowels. A long vowel means that the vowel sound is stressed more in a word when spoken. The long vowels are written by writing two of the same letters simultaneously next to each other. Therefore, the Kapingamarangi language is composed of ten vowels (Lieber & Dikepa, 1974).
ex. ʻʻduliʻʻ bird ʻʻduliiʻʻ small, little
Kapingamarangi vowel phonemes have diphthongs because in Kapingamarangi language, it is possible to have any two vowels next to each other. For example, the word “eidu” which means “spirit” has a diphthong with the letters /e/ and /i/ (Lieber & Dikepa, 1974).
The syllable structure of the Kapingamarangi language is VV, VVV, VCV, CVV, CCVV, CVCV, and CCVCV (Lieber & Dikepa, 1974). In Kapingamarangi, like most Polynesian languages, it is impossible for a word to end in a consonant, but it is possible for there to be two consonants together, as long as it is the same letter.
Ex. The term for un-groomed hair is ʻʻlibgo wwanaʻʻ. In this term, the two (W’s) stand together in the word ʻʻwwanaʻʻ.
Basic Word Order
There are three possible word orders in the Kapingamarangi language. The word order of Kapingamarangi is SVO (Subject Verb Object), VSO (Verb Subject Object), or OSV (Object Verb Subject), (Elberts, 1948). SVO is the commonly used word order, followed by VSO, and finally OSV is the least used and is a very case in the language. The word order for questions would be the same as they are for statements. In research for the grammar of Kapingamarangi, deciphering reasoning or specific uses for the alternative word orders are unsure.
ex. Mee gu noho I dono hale. He is staying at the house.
Morphology is another pivotal element to understanding the grammar of Kapingamarangi. Morphology is the descriptive analysis of words (Elbert, 1948). The morphology of Kapingamarangi is extremely extensive. The word classes in Kapingamarangi are pronouns, possessives, demonstratives, verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, negatives, particles, conjunctions, and interjections (Elbert, 1948).
Many verbs can take a prefix, but even more verbs take a suffix. For example, a verb may have a prefix like “haka-“ before a word, and a suffix like “–ina” after a word. Like the English language, adjectives follow nouns, and adverbs follow verbs, adjectives, and/or demonstratives. Negatives in Kapingamarangi immediately precede verbs or verb particles (Elbert, 1948). Conjunctions mark serial relationships, and interjections denote emotion (Elbert, 1948).
The pronouns in Kapingamarangi can be dual (two people), plural (more than two people), inclusive (including the addressee), or exclusive (excluding the addressee). Serial relationships are expressed by the pronoun “mo”, which means “and” (Elbert, 1948). For example, “David and I” would be, “Kimaua mo David”. The pronouns in the Kapingamarangi language are much different than the pronouns in the English language. The pronouns in Kapingamarangi are not gender specific. For example, Kinae means “him or her”; therefore the gender must be translated through the context of a sentence or conversation.
Reduplication is a common concept that appears in the Kapingamarangi language, and is relevant to understanding the grammar of Kapingamarangi. Reduplication is the repetition of a root word (Elbert, 1948). The reduplication of Kapingamarangi can be achieved in two different fashions, partial and full reduplication. Fully reduplicated form is generated by the full repetition of the base form, while partial reduplication is generated by partial repetition of the base form (Lieber & Dikepa, 1974). Reduplication usually depicts continued or repeated action (Elbert, 1948). For example, tapa is a single flash of lightening, while tapatapa is repeated flashing. In Kapingamarangi, reduplication can be done with the fist two syllables, or it can be done with the final two syllables. It is interesting to find that there is only one word in the lexicon of Kapingamarangi that displays a partially reduplicated form. The word baba is the only word that is partially partially reduplicated, and it reduplicates to the word babaa (Lieber & Dikepa, 1974).
- Tapa – single flash of lightening
- Tapatapa – repeated flashing
- Uii – pick fruit
- Uuii – pick a bunch of fruits
- Waa – roar
- Waawaa – repeated roaring
- Mahi – strength, power, energy
- Mahimahi – hard to pull out
- gabadaa - "twitch or jerk"
- gaba - "hip"
- gabugabua - "bad weather"
- dule - "erection"
- dulii loo - "tiny"
- duuaganga - "coconut husk"
- gaalege - "dance
The Kapingamarangi language has an influence of English in their community, due towards the fact that English is the official language of the Federated States of Micronesia. Words from the English vocabulary were borrowed and transfigured into the Kapingamarangi lexicon.
Words derived from English:
- Madangaholu malama - "October"
- Hulu dau gee - "odd number"
- adopt - "daahi"
- kaaman - "government"
- sii - "semen"
- lohongo - "office"
From Leiber and Dikepa, 1974
- n. basket
- vi. To smile
- n. Fish
- vi. To stand, to stop
- n. Belt
Kapingamarangi has access to many different materials. One of the materials that the Kapingamarangi language has access to is an online talking dictionary. It is a dictionary where you can enter a word in English and it will automatically translate it to Kapingamarangi. Many words in this dictionary also have a vocal response on how to pronounce the word, which is why it is called a talking dictionary. This is an excellent resource because it not only provides visual correlations between the English and Kapinga translation for a word, but it also has vocal responses so that scholars of Kapingamarangi can hear a word and how to correctly pronounce it.
Kapingamarangi also has access to a variety of books, including dictionaries, books that contain linguistic information, and even books about the atoll of Kapingamarangi. These are excellent resources because they are full of information and are highly reliable. Illustrious websites like Facebook and YouTube also contain information on Kapingamarangi. The Facebook page is a Micronesia Language Revitalization Workshop page and it contains information about a workshop that was held all throughout Micronesia, including Kapingamarangi. There is a YouTube video of an interview with a speaker who is bilingual in both English and Kapinga and he explains the importance of speaking Kapingamarangi and language revitalization (Heinrich, 2013). There are also selections of poetry in Kapingamarangi (Lewis, Simmons, and Charles, 2013).
In accordance to intergenerational transmission, it is likely that Kapingamarangi is being transmitted to children. The reason for this is because Kapingamarangi is in revitalization mode, and the number of speakers keeps increasing. Since the language is taught in schools, it is safe to assume that language is being passed down to the next generation. Since Kapingamarangi has so many resources for people to go to, children have access to a variety of resources to assist their education of the language. Kapingamarangi is not endangered, however it is threatened. The language is taught in schools, churches, and but is not used in all domains. According to Ethnologue, Kapingamarangi is taught in primary schools. However, Kapingamarangi is not only taught in schools. It is used at home, in the community, and in churches (Lewis, Simmons, and Charles, 2013). The language is at a current growing state, and might become a fully revitalized language in the near future.
- Anderson, Gregory D.S. and K. David Harrison (2013). Kapingamarangi Talking Dictionary. Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. http://www.talkingdictionary.org/kapingamarangi
- Elbert, S. (1946). Kapingamarangi and Nukuoro Word List, With Notes on Linguistic Position, Pronunciation, and Grammar. United States: United States Military Government
- Lieber, M. D., & Dikepa, K. H. (1974). Kapingamarangi Lexicon. Hawaii, United States: The University Press of Hawaii.
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