Tonga Languages

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tonga Wiki Topics
Flag of Tonga.svg.png
Beginning Research
Record Types
Tonga Background
Local Research Resources

Description[edit | edit source]

The Tongan language is the official language, along with English. Tongan, a Polynesian language, is closely related to Wallisian (Uvean), Niuean, Hawaiian, and Samoan. [1]

Tongan is an Austronesian language of the Polynesian branch spoken in Tonga. It has around 187,000 speakers and is a national language of Tonga. It is a VSO (verb–subject–object) language. [2]

Word List(s)[edit | edit source]

Alphabet and Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Tongan is written in a subset of the Latin script. In the old, "missionary" alphabet, the order of the letters was modified: the vowels were put first and then followed by the consonants: a, e, i, o, u, etc. That was still so as of the Privy Council decision of 1943 on the orthography of the Tongan language. However, C. M. Churchward's grammar and dictionary favoured the standard European alphabetical order, which, since his time, has been in use exclusively:

Tongan alphabet
Letter a e f h i k l m n ng o p s t u v ʻ (fakauʻa)
Pronunciation /a/ /e/ /f/ /h/ /i/ /k/ /l/ /m/ /n/ /ŋ/1 /o/ /p/2 /s/3 /t/ /u/ /v/ /ʔ/4


  1. written as g but still pronounced as [ŋ] (as in Samoan) before 1943
  2. unaspirated; written as b before 1943
  3. sometimes written as j before 1943
  4. the glottal stop. It should be written with the modifier letter turned comma and not with the single quote open or with a mixture of quotes open and quotes close.

Language Aids and Dictionaries[edit | edit source]

Language Aids


  • Wm Y Turner, Tumbuka-Tonga-English dictionary, Blantyre, Hetherwick Press 1952 - Available at WorldCat
  • Afa Tesi, Tonga language : the Tonga phrasebook and dictionary, United States : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016 - Available at WorldCat
  • Richard H Thompson, The student's English-Tongan and Tongan-English dictionary, Palo Alto, Calif. : Friendly Isles Press, 2000 - Available at WorldCat

Online Dictionaries

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

  • C R Hopgood, A practical introduction to Tonga, London, New York, Longmans, Green 1953 - Available at WorldCat
  • Noel Rutherford, Friendly Islands : a history of Tonga, New York : Oxford University Press, 1977 - Available at WorldCat

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Tonga," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 2 Apr 2021.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Tongan language," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 2 Apr 2021.