Yapese is a member of the Malayo-Polynesian sub-group of Austronesian languages.
It is spoken by about 6,600 people in the State of Yap, part of the Federated States of
Micronesia, an archipelago of islands in the Pacific Ocean to the northeast of
Papua New Guinea.
Yapese first appeared in writing in a work on Yapese grammar, Primer
Ensayo de Gramatica de la lengua de Yap, by Fr. Ambrosio de Valencina, a Spanish
missionary, which was published in Manila in 1888. The Spanish-based spelling system
for Yapese used by Fr. de Valencina remained in use until 1972, when the Yapese
Orthography Committee came up with a new spelling system. Not all the changes,
such as the use of the letter q for glottal stops, have been universally excepted.
The Yapese language has influences from Spanish, German, Japanese and English,
largely as a result of colonial occupation. There are three other languages, Ulithian,
Woleaian, and Satawalese, which, along with English, have official status in Yap.
Japanese is spoken by many older Yapese.
The Yapese alphabet and pronunciation
Sample text in Yapese
Gubine gidii mani gargeleg nga faileng nibapuf matt’awen nge rogon. Bay laniyan
nipii e nam, ere ngauda ted matt’aawen e chaa niba chugur ngoded nimod walag dad.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with
reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)