The Language, Music & People
The islanders living within the Chuuk Lagoon, as well as the scores of tiny, remote islands sprawled within a few hundred miles of the reef, all speak a language called Chuukese. Chuukese is one of eight major languages within Micronesia. Until recent years, these languages were non-written, relying only on traditions passed down from generation to generation.
Chuukese is of the Malayo-Polynesian family, descending from the expansive Austronesian language phylum. There is an estimated 50,000 Chuukese-speaking people living throughout the world.
Turn of the century Outrigger
My Dad and I, with our accordions
Handmade Outrigger...and many happy neighbors
A Few Interesting Facts:
Chuukese has a completely different numbering system for objects of different sizes and shapes: long objects, round objects, meats and certain vegetables, people, weapons, etc.
Another interesting challenge is Chuukese spelling. In all of Chuukese history, there has never been success in establishing a set way to spell words. Ward H. Goodenough and Hiroshi Sugita, who wrote the best and most current dictionary to date, tried to phonetically mandate the spelling of Chuukese words. They ended up with a very hard to use dictionary with words such as, “ttuuruutiw” and “pwuungw”—which the Chuukese people refuse to follow, due to the excessive, unnecessary amount of letters. Those words, the Chuukese argue, can easily just be written, “turutiw” and “pung”. Consequently, each individual determines his or her own way of writing a word, thus determining the spelling thereof.