|Native to||Federated States of Micronesia|
|Region||Island of Yap|
|Native speakers||7,170 (1987)|
Yapese is a language spoken by the people on the island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia). It belongs to the Austronesian languages, more specifically to the Oceanic languages. It has been suggested that Yapese may be one of the Admiralty Islands languages, though Ethnologue lists it as a language isolate within the Oceanic languages.
The glottal stop is a leading feature of Yapese. Words beginning with a vowel letter (with a few grammatical exceptions) begin with a glottal stop. Adjacent vowels have the glottal stop between them. There are many word-final glottal stops.
Written Yapese uses Latin script. In Yapese spelling as practised until the 1970s, the glottal stop was not written with an explicit character. A word-final glottal stop was represented by doubling the final vowel letter. Glottalization of consonants was represented with an apostrophe. In the 1970s an orthography was created which uses double vowel letters to represent long vowels; and because of the ambiguity that would occur if the glottal stop was not written, the glottal stop was written with the letter 'q'. This new orthography using the letter 'q' is not in universal use, but many works and maps about Yap represent place names using the orthography and contain amounts of the letter 'q' that are likely to be puzzling to persons not familiar with the language and the new orthography.
Yapese is one of the relatively few languages in the world with ejective fricatives. The Yapese ejective consonants are /pʼ tʼ kʼ fʼ θʼ/ (s and ch do not have ejective homologues). There are also glottalised nasals /mˀ nˀ ŋˀ/ and lateral /lˀ/.
Apart from a couple grammatical forms which are V, syllables are CV or CVC, where V may be
- a aa ae ä e ee ea ë i ii o oo oe ö u uu
- b bp ch d f f' g gg k k' l l' ll lr m m' n n' ng ng' p p' q r rr s t t' th th' w ww y yy
H and j also occur in Japanese and English loans. The consonants written with digraphs apart from ch and th are uncommon. There is little restriction on final consonants; indeed, root words cannot end in a short vowel, and final consonants predominate.
- Jensen, John Thayer. 1977. Yapese–English Dictionary. (PALI Language Texts: Micronesia.) Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.
- Jensen, John Thayer. 1977. Yapese Reference Grammar. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.
- Yapese language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
- Yapese Wordlist at the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database
- Jensen Yapese Dictionary On-Line at www.trussel2.com
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