Talk:Tongan language

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<1% Tongans speak English?[edit]

In the List of languages by number of native speakers article, Tonga is said to have <1% English speaking community despite its official status. I know this to be untrue, albeit, I have no evidence for this, i.e. web-links and such. Is there any site with which I could cite? -- Greaser 08:22, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

I think the statement might be true, or at least close to it. That website looks at primary languages only. Perhaps 99% of the Tongans do know (some) English, but only very few have it as their primary language. I do not know of any quotable source, though. --Tauʻolunga 10:00, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Funny, because if Tongan language has very few daily written material, and the majority of the population is seems discrimination on their part. Elle vécut heureuse à jamais (Be eudaimonic!) 02:26, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I have never been to Tonga, but friends that grew up there said they have to speak English in school, not just in English class, but in all classes. But it is not often that they speak English with each other outside of school, and maybe that is what they meant in the article? --Billy Nair (talk) 20:38, 15 November 2010 (UTC)


This article ought to have IPA in it. Mo-Al 01:44, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Nevermind, I added it. Mo-Al 17:09, 17 July 2006 (UTC)


Shouldn't there be a Proto-Polynesian column on the table in the "Related languages" section? Unfortunately, I don't know anything about Polynesian languages, or I'd research it myself. Mo-Al 02:04, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Reference to writers of Tongan being lazy[edit]

The use of the word "lazy" when refering to writers of the Tongan language is pejorative and unnecessary. I'm going to remove it.

I whole heartedly second that motion! -- Greaser 22:03, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
You may change the words, but it will not change the fact.
Alright. If it's factual, then produce credible resources to support the statement and maybe it can be worked back in.

Table of linguistic correspondences[edit]

The word for pig (puaka etc) was used to illustrate the reflexes of proto-Polynesian *k. I changed this to the word for canoe (vaka etc) since the Māori word for pig (poaka) is generally considered to be a loanword from English from "porker", and because the word for canoe is attested in all the mentioned languages. Also replaced the non-Polynesian language Fijian with examples from Proto-Polynesian. Kahuroa 18:44, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Third article[edit]

There needs to be a discussion of the "third" article, si'i, which can be used instead of ha and (h)e to indicate an emotional relationship with the following noun. It would probably be translated "dear" or "poor," depending on the context. 04:56, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Objective and subjective possession[edit]

Tongan makes a distinction between objective and subjective possession, with the result in a number of possessive forms for the pronouns. (Different prepositions are also used to show objective and subjective possession by lexical nouns.) In brief, the relationship between and objective possession and the thing possessed is like that between the object of a verb and the verb itself, while the subjective possession is comparable to that between the the subject of a verb and the verb itself. 04:56, 14 May 2007 (UTC)


Tongan uses three numbers--singular, dual, and plural (three or more). Dual and plural markers are placed in front of (rather than suffixed to) their respective nouns. I believe 'ongo is used for duals, while there are several different markers used for plurals of three or more: ngaahi, kau, fanga, and u are probably the most common ones, but others are used. The first one is used for people and things, the second for people, the third for animals, and the last for certain objects in the sky (cf. u mahina "moons" and ngaahi mahina "months"). However, someone with more knowledge of the language will have to deal with this. 04:56, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

more on numbers[edit]

The article says "In addition there are special, traditional counting systems for fish, coconuts, yams, etc." Is this true, what does it mean, and does anyone know of some source for this? (talk) 05:48, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

I added the citation for it. What it means is yams etc have an archaic counting system attached to them that counts in pairs and scores of pairs. I do not know whether the system is still used by farmers today, but if it's used that's who would use it. Ketura01 (talk) 22:48, 5 October 2014 (UTC)



Tongan uses four persons, rather than three: first inclusive, first exclusive (depending on whether the person addressed is included), second, and third. The first inclusive vs. exclusive distinction is more easily observed in the plural, where a Tongan would use a different pronoun for the expressions "Let's go!" and "Let us go! (But you stay.)" The first inclusive pronoun also exists in the singular, but is not used very much (there is a proverb about selflessness that uses it, but I don't know it well enough to put it here). 04:56, 14 May 2007 (UTC)


Possessive pronouns are attached to the articles, including ha and si'i. This means there is a specific pronoun that means "my dear . . ." (si'eku, I believe) as opposed to "my . . ." (ho'o, I believe) or "a . . . that I might have" (ha'o, I believe). (My uncertainty about the specific forms makes it impossible for me to put this discussion into the main article.) 04:56, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Edited by same user to clarify what type of pronouns is under discussion.
The original article (in 2005 or so) only covered alphabet, accents and registers. No one has ever taken the time to extend to include articles, number, pronouns and so forth and so forth. I can do it, when I have some time, it is just copying the contents from Churchward's Tongan grammer. Or someone else can do it. --Tauʻolunga 06:05, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Circumflex vs macron[edit]

I keep coming across Tongan words spelled with circumflex accents over vowels. Notably in translation tables in the English Wiktionary.

I just want to check with experts here whether the circumflex was formerly an official way to denote a long vowel, or whether the macron has always held this role with the circumflex just being used as an ad-hoc replacement due to macrons not being available on English typewriters and computer keyboards. — Hippietrail (talk) 09:40, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

  • Done by incompetents who do not know the difference between ¯ and ˜, or use an incomplete font, or have a bad keyboard, or use a misprogrammed editor, or misstype on the Tongan keyboard where the 2 characters are side by side (option n, option m), or whatever. The ˜ has never been used. At best (or rather worst) in the past sometimes people took the ¨ for the macron, because on the low resolution impact printers at that time, the two dots of a bolded dieresis merged into one dash. --Tauʻolunga (talk) 06:15, 20 September 2014 (UTC)
    Thanks for your reply but ~ is a tilde and a circumflex is ^. I haven't seen ~ used in the English Wiktionary on Tongan words but I have seen a lot of uses of ^. — Hippietrail (talk) 01:30, 11 November 2014 (UTC)

Dieresis vs. macron[edit]

Do Tongan publications in Tonga still use the dieresis ( ¨ ) (or umlaut, if you prefer) instead of the macron ( ¯ ) to indicate long vowels (toloi)? (talk) 02:19, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

Not since impactprinters disappeared… 20 years ago. --Tauʻolunga (talk) 05:28, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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