Concept: Languages


The Solomon Islands has been inhabited for about thirty thousand years. The original inhabitants spoke languages of the Papuan family in New Guinea. About four thousand years ago a new wave of migrants from the north introduced Austronesian languages, which now dominate. Even more recent Polynesian languages are spoken on Ontong Java, Sikaiana, some of the Reef and Duff Islands, Tikopia and Anuta, Rennell and Bellona. The latter two islands appear to have been peopled comparatively recently from Uvea in the Wallis Group, northeast of Fiji. Their legends tell of an aboriginal people on Rennell and Bellona, the Hiti, who succumbed to and were incorporated into the groups that arrived more recently. Linguists suggest that there are seventy-four languages in the Solomon Islands, three of which no longer have any known speakers. The Roviana (q.v.) language came to dominate the Western Solomons. Today, the language group with the most speakers is Kwara'ae, of central Malaita.

( See also Solomons Pijin English.

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