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Pingelapese language data

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Language Pingelapese
Depositor Ryoko Hattori
Affiliation University of Hawaii
Location Micronesia
Collection ID 0021
Grant ID FTG0110
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Group represented

Pingelapese on Pingelap atoll, Pingelapese in Mwalok, Pingelapese in Hawaii

Ttoday, there are approximately 200 Pingilapese on Pingilap, 1,200 on Pohnpei, and 500 in the U.S. and its territories. Those who reside outside Pingilap often do not know Pingilapese culture and lack some basic vocabulary, including names for fish, birds, insects, plants, traditional gods, and body parts. Some of the younger generation, in their 30s, do not know their clans.


Language information

Pingilapese (often spelled “Pingelapese”) is a language spoken by approximately 2,000 people, mainly on Pingilap atoll and the high island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Pingilap atoll, the homeland of the Pingilapese people, covers about 3 square miles with a maximum altitude of 10 feet above sea level at low tide. Politically, Pingilap atoll is part of the state of Pohnpei. While Pohnpei island, where the national and state capitals are located, is 164 miles WNW, Pingilap’s nearest neighbour is the atoll of Mwoakil. This language belongs to the Pohnpeic branch of the Micronesian language family and is closely related to Mwoakilese, with 83% lexical similarity between the two languages, and to Pohnpeian, with 79% lexical similarity (Rehg 1981).


Collection contents

Genres: folkstories, account of custom, recent history, songs, games, traditional activities.

Media: audio, video, text, translation, larger written files


Collection history

From the depositor:

‘During my preliminary fieldwork, I found that some elders were conscious about the possibility of language and cultural loss and the need for documentation. However, there was no ongoing, group-level effort. Mr. Ilander Charley, the principal of the Pingilap atoll elementary school, as well as my informant, was the only person teaching a handful of Pingilapese children how to read and write in Pingilapese. He reported that Pingilapese children have great difficulty learning how to write both Pingilapese and Pohnpeian. Since the only literacy materials available to Pingilapese children are either in Pohnpeian or English, the first graders start studying alphabets and readings that are not in their native language. Pingilapese people are reluctant and not confident to write Pingilapese and prefer to write in English or Pohnpeian. This could be due to the lack of both training in writing in Pingilapese and a suitable alphabet. I have collaborated with Pingilapese speakers to devise a working orthography for the language that is now taught by Mr. Charley and his colleagues at the Pingilap atoll elementary school’.

‘There is an urgent need to document this endangered, indigenous language. In the long run, this project will produce a preliminary reference grammar, a dictionary, a variety of literacy materials, and cultural documentation, all of which are necessary for any serious language/culture maintenance program. These will be of significant value to any Pingilapese person, especially those away from their homeland, as is the case for the majority of Pingilapese today’.


Acknowledgement and citation

When you use the data, please make sure to cite the researcher. As for citation of the speaker’s name (I assume that you may want to include it) as information source, be careful about the context and possible outcome. If your citation of the name of the speaker will work as credit, honor, or fame to the speaker, it may be a good idea. If it will diminish the speaker’s good reputation, please make the speaker anonymous (you may cite the data as “one of Ryoko Hattori’s language informants” or “one data in Ryoko Hattori’s study”).

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Hattori, Ryoko. 2007. Pingelapese language data. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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