Brief Introduction of Palau and Palauan

Republic of Palau (Beluu er a Belau) is a country of 340 islands with different areas in Percific. It is in the 500 kilomiles east of the Philippines.

From 1994, Palau is ruled by USA. The major industries are fishery and tourism. Most of people here believe in Christianity and modekngei; 70% population are local Micronesian, the rest are Filipinos.

In Palau, there 16 states. The largest main island is divided into 14 states, the rest islands are divided into two from south to north. The 16 states are: Aimeliik, Airai, Angaur, Hatohobei, Kayangel, Koror, Melekeok, Ngaraard, Ngarchelong, Ngardmau, Ngatpang, Ngchesar, Ngaremlengui, Ngiwal, Peleliu and Sonsorol.

There are two official language spoken in Republic of Palau, one is of course English, the other is Palauan (also spelled as Belauan). Palauan belongs to Austronesian family of language. Different with its neighbor languages, Palauan is not a Micronesian language. Instead, it is the same with Chamorro, belongs to an independent branch of malayo-Polynesian language.

There are totally 6 vowels and 10 consonants in Palauan. Please see the following tables for details.

Vowel Phonemes

Back Central Front
High u i
Mid o ə ɛ
Low a

Consonant Phonemes

Glottal Velar Alveolar Labial
ʔ k t
d b
Nasals ŋ m
Liquids l, ɾ

Also, there are several diphthongs as follows:

IPA Example English Translation
/iɛ/ babier “paper” (German loan)
/ɛi/ mei “come”
/iu/ chiukl “(singing) voice”
/ui/ tuich “torch”
/io/ kikiongel “dirty”
/oi/ tekoi “language”
/ia/ diall “ship”
/ai/ chais “news”
/ɛu/ teu “width”
/uɛ/ sueleb “afternoon”
/ɛo/ Oreor “Koror” (former capital of Palau)
/oɛ/ beroel “spear”
/ɛa/ beached “tin”
/aɛ/ baeb “pipe” (English loan)
/uo/ uos “horse”
/ou/ merous “distribute”
/ua/ tuangel “door”
/au/ mesaul “tired”
/oa/ omoachel “river”
/ao/ taod “fork”

Palauan language is with the word order of VOS, that is verb-object-subject.

Such as Ak milenga er a ringngo pro. (means: “I ate the apple.”)

The null pronoun pro is the subject “I,” the clause-initial ak is the first person singular subject agreement morpheme.

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