|Gilbertese language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|Taetae ni Kiribati
(or te taetae n aomata)
|Native to||Kiribati, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu|
|Native speakers||71,500 (date missing)|
|Writing system||Latin alphabet (Gilbertese variant)|
|Official language in||Kiribati|
|Regulated by||Kiribati Language Board|
Gilbertese or Kiribati (or sometimes Kiribatese) is a language from the Austronesian family, part of the Oceanian branch and of the Nuclear Micronesian subbranch. It has a basic verb–object–subject word order.
The word Kiribati is just the modern rendition for "Gilberts", so the name is not usually translated into English. "Gilberts" comes from Captain Thomas Gilbert, who, along with Captain John Marshall, was one of the first Europeans to discover the Gilbert Islands in 1788. The official name of the language is te taetae ni Kiribati, or 'the Kiribati language'.
The first complete description of this language was in Dictionnaire gilbertin–français of Father Ernest Sabatier (981p, 1954), a Catholic priest. This Dictionary was later translated into English by Sister Olivia (with the help of South Pacific Commission).
Over 99% of the 103,000 people living in Kiribati are ethnically I-Kiribati (wholly or partly) and speak Gilbertese. Gilbertese is also spoken by most inhabitants of Nui (Tuvalu), Rabi Island (Fiji), Mili (Marshall Islands) and some other islands where I-Kiribati have been relocated (Solomon Islands, notably Choiseul Province and Vanuatu) or emigrated (to New Zealand and Hawaii mainly).
Unlike many in the Pacific region, the Kiribati language is far from extinct, and most speakers use it daily. 97% of those living in Kiribati are able to read in Kiribati, but only 80% are able to read English.
Countries by number of Gilbertese speakers 
- Kiribati, 58,300 (1987) 103,000 (2010)
- Fiji, 5,300
- Nauru, 1,700
- Solomon Islands, 4,870
- Tuvalu, 870
- Vanuatu, 370
Linguistics and study 
The Kiribati language has two main dialects: the Northern dialect and the Southern dialect. The main differences between them are in the pronunciation of some words. The islands of Butaritari and Makin also have their own dialect. It differs from the standard Kiribati in both vocabulary and pronunciation.
Dialect listing 
- Banaban (Banaba Island and Fiji)
- Northern Gilbertese (Makin, Butaritari, Marakei, Abaiang, Tarawa, Maiana, Kuria, Abemama, Aranuka, Tabiteuea, Nonouti, Beru Island and Nikunau)
- Nuian (Tuvalu)
- Rabi (Fiji)
- Southern Gilbertese (Tabiteuea, Onotoa, Tamana and Arorae)
- /t/ is lenited and assibilated to [s] before /i/
- The labiovelar fricative /βˠ/ may be a flap and an approximant, depending on the context.
- /ɾ/ does not occur in the syllable coda
- Short /i/ and /u/ may become semivowels when followed by more sonorous vowels. /ie/ → [je] ('sail'). Kiribati also possesses syllabic nasals, although syllabic /n/ and /ŋ/ can be followed only by consonants that are homorganic.
Quantity is distinctive for vowels and nasal consonants but not for the remaining sounds so that ana (third person singular article) contrasts with aana ('its underside') as well as anna ('dry land'). Other minimal pairs include:
|te ben ('ripe coconut')||te been ('pen')|
|ti (1st person subj marker)||tii ('only')|
|on ('full')||oon ('the/some turtles')|
|te atu ('bundle')||te atuu ('head')|
|tuanga ('to tell someone')||tuangnga ('to tell')|
Written Kiribati 
The Kiribati language is written in the Latin script, and has been since the 1840s, when Hiram Bingham Jr, a missionary, first translated the Bible into Kiribati. Previously, the language was unwritten. The letter 's' does not appear in the Kiribati alphabet, instead the combination "ti" is used for that sound.
One difficulty in translating the Bible was references to words such as "mountain", a geographical phenomenon unknown to the people of the islands of Kiribati at the time (heard only in the myths from Samoa). Bingham decided to use "hilly", which would be more easily understood. Such adjustments are common to all languages as "modern" things require the creation of new words. For example, the Gilbertese word for airplane is te wanikiba, "the canoe that flies".
Catholic missionaries would later arrive at the islands in 1888 and translate the Bible independently of Bingham, resulting in differences (Bingham wrote Jesus as "Iesu", while the Catholics wrote "Ietu") that would be resolved only in the 20th century. In 1954, Father Ernest Sabatier published the bigger and more accurate Kiribati to French Dictionary (translated into English by Sister Olivia): Dictionnaire gilbertin–français, 981p. (edited by South Pacific Commission in 1971). It remains the only work of importance between Kiribati language and a western language. This dictionary was then reversed by Frédéric Giraldi in 1995 so creating the first French to Kiribati Dictionary. In addition, a grammar section was added by Father Gratien Bermond (MSC). This dictionary is available at the French National Library (Rare language department) and at the headquarters of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC), Issodun.
Useful phrases 
- Hello – Mauri
- Hello – [singular] Ko na mauri
- Hello – [plural] Kam na mauri
- How are you? – Ko uara?
- How are you? – [to several people] Kam uara?
- Thank you – Ko rabwa
- Thank you – [to several people] Kam rabwa
- Goodbye – Ti a boo (we will meet)
- Gilbertese language, Ethnologue.
- "Kiribati Census Report 2010 Volume 1". National Statistics Office, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Government of Kiribati. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- "Kiribati - Phoenix and Solomon Islands Resettlement Schemes".
- Blevins (1999:205–206)
- Blevins (1999:206)
- Blevins (1999:207)
- Blevins (1999:209)
- Te taetae ni Kiribati – Kiribati Language Lessons – 10
- Blevins, Juliette; Harrison, Sheldon P. (1999), "Trimoraic Feet in Gilbertese", Oceanic Linguistics 38 (2): 203–230, doi:10.1353/ol.1999.0012
- Cowell, Reid (1951), The Structure of Gilbertese, Rongorongo Press
- English/Kiribati and Kiribati/English translator with over 50,000 words
- Ethnologue report for Kiribati/by Amota A Merang
- Gilbertese words collection for SuperMemo
- Dictionary with Gilbertese – English Translations from Webster's Online Dictionary – The Rosetta Edition
- Bibliography on Kiribati linguistics
- How to count in Gilbertese