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What Language Does Nauru Speak?

What Language Does Nauru Speak

Key Takeaways

Key InformationDetails
Official LanguageNauruan
Other LanguagesEnglish is widely spoken and understood
Language FamilyAustronesian
Writing SystemLatin Script
Population of NauruApproximately 10,000
Language VitalityVibrant, but with limited documentation

Nauru, a delightful and somewhat mysterious island country hidden within the central Pacific Ocean, doesn’t just lure travelers with its breathtaking landscapes but also piques interest due to its distinctive linguistic patterns. Nauru, although petite in size, has an immensely rich cultural and linguistic heritage which is predominantly reflected through its language. But what language does Nauru speak? Let’s explore!

Nauruan Language: A Unique Linguistic Tale

Nauruan, the official language of Nauru, belongs to the Austronesian language family. It’s a vibrant language spoken by nearly all of the Nauruan population, which is approximately 10,000 people. The language predominantly uses the Latin script for its writing system, although it has experienced influence and undergone modifications throughout history.

Historical Perspective

Nauruan has witnessed various linguistic shifts and changes across different eras. The language has absorbed influences from the Germans, Australians, and even Japanese due to the occupation of the island at different times in history.

While it has managed to sustain its unique linguistic features, the Nauruan language has also integrated several loanwords, especially from the English language. For instance, the word “boet” is derived from the English word “boat”.

Characteristics of Nauruan Language

  • Phonology: Nauruan has a relatively simple phonological system with a limited number of consonants and vowels.
  • Grammar: The grammar employs a verb-object-subject word order, which is relatively rare globally.
  • Writing System: The language uses a modified Latin script.
Nauruan AlphabetA, B, D, E, Ê, I, J, O, Ô, P, Q, R, T, U, W, Y

The letters F, H, K, L, M, N, S, V, and Z are used in foreign loanwords and names.

Nauruan Usage in Daily Life

  • Nauruan is used in daily communication among locals.
  • The language is used in local broadcasts and publications.
  • English is often used in official documents and international communication.

The English Language in Nauru

English holds a substantial position in Nauru’s linguistic landscape. Although it is not the native language, it is widely spoken and understood among Nauruans, particularly in formal settings, government functions, and international dealings.

Why is English Spoken in Nauru?

  1. Historical Influence: The British and Australians had notable impacts on Nauru, influencing its culture and language.
  2. Education: English is the medium of instruction in schools, ensuring fluency among the populace.
  3. International Relations: Nauru maintains international relations with numerous English-speaking countries, necessitating the usage of the language.

Spheres Where English is Predominant

  • In government and official documents.
  • During international business transactions.
  • In educational institutions.

Nauru’s Linguistic Challenges and Preservation Efforts

Despite its usage among the locals, the Nauruan language faces some challenges which are pivotal to discuss for a thorough understanding.


  • Globalization: The widespread use of English for international communication sometimes overshadows the use of Nauruan.
  • Documentation: Limited documentation and scholarly resources in and about the Nauruan language.

Preservation Efforts

  1. Education: Inclusion of Nauruan language studies in school curricula.
  2. Media: Broadcasting news and shows in the Nauruan language.
  3. Cultural Events: Organizing cultural events and festivals that promote the Nauruan language.
Strategies for PreservationDetails
EducationTeaching Nauruan in schools to ensure language transmission to younger generations.
Usage in MediaUsing Nauruan in local media broadcasts and publications.
Cultural PromotionEncouraging the use of Nauruan in cultural practices and festivals.


The linguistic journey of Nauru, characterized by its intriguing confluence of Nauruan and English, serves as a fascinating tale of cultural preservation and adaptive evolution. While the Nauruan language continues to be a vibrant communicative tool among the locals, the English language facilitates the island’s connection to the global stage. The concurrent existence of both languages manifests the pragmatic approach of Nauruans towards linguistic utilization, ensuring both cultural retention and global communication.

Nauru, though small in geographical terms, offers a vast canvas of linguistic and cultural diversity, affirming that size does not limit the depth and richness of cultural experiences and linguistic tales. Whether you’re a linguist, traveler, or simply a curious soul, Nauru’s linguistic landscape offers a compelling narrative that invites exploration and appreciation.