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I was intrigued by the Banaban language ever since reading about it for the first time (in Te Rii ni Banaba).

A book about pre-Christian Hawaii that I received today, inspired me
(being reminded about the changes done to the language when missionaries arrived to Hawaii) to do some very small research in today's spare time.

This is really just a brainstorming:

- karawa - eastern side
Could it come from Tarawa place name? As Tarawa is to the east of Banaba.

- kauriri - let us go !
One of the meanings of kauli in Hawaiian dictionary is:
To creep along, move with a hissing sound, as fire.

- kiroro - Far away
kilo on Hawaiian dictionary translates to Stargazer, reader of omens, seer, astrologer, necromancer; kind of looking glass (rare); to watch closely, spy, examine, look around, observe, forecast.

What I wrote is probably off-base, and it's a topic to be left to experienced educated linguist albeit so intriguing to a laymen like me.

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Mauri Mariah

There is a link on the front page of Banaban Voice for an online review copy of our book - Te Rii ni Banaba that is on Google books. Unfortunately some of the pages in The Banaban Language chapter are missing (as it a review copy only) but will give you more information on the topic.

You need to go to pages 200 to 210 for this chapter.

You can also go to a direct link to the book at Google Books at:

Let us know if you have further questions after you read this.

Cheers ao teke raoi
Thanks for giving me that information but the problem that the library here in Kiribati has no data on Banaba
Mauri Mariah

If you click on this highlighted link here:
You can view a PREVIEW copy of the book via your computer. Just go to pages 200-210 which is the chapter you need. That way you read it direct from your screen.

Good luck! Ken

Mauri Mr & Mrs. Sigrah,


I am so happy to find this topic expressed actively by different ages with different levels of education and so as different working lines but with one IDENTITY- THE BANABANS.


To say how I found this site? I was doing my research on this subject as I am doing my studies on the History of the Banabans and their Language. In General, I am a new History & Linguistic student in Kiribati and still have this heart of reviving our national language while Kiribati is still mingling with the new changes coming up every year. 


According to what I have found already, YES!!!, there is a Banaban Language in which we as new leaders and teachers need to retain, revive and maintain for our true identity in future. I am still working out this with my Language Professor who is my Tutor in this Program-History & Language of the pacific. 


Because I am rushing for my assignment to be sent soon, I don not have time to put my opinion but why don't we put up this as a major concern to Linguistics Students to push this??? I suggest.


To conclude, let this new generation bother the differences between Kiribati Language and our Banaban Language because our language is not a Kiribati Dialect. I hate to hear this. We have a different language which is about to die out soon like the Maori Language in NZ.

"..about to die out soon like the Maori Language in NZ.."....So do you have any Banaban dialect u have in mind??? To be honest, i have never heard of any existing Banaban dialect..

Mauri Nei Bote!!!


Koa kaeta raoi aram bwa kanga I a mwaninga eh...bwa are e rangi ni maen te tai imwin te tai ngkoa n reirei inanon tenga-ruabubua oh... ai bwaka nakora te tai ma te bong.


Thank you for your reply I have just seen today. But you know, my point of writing above is not  on what you have replied to me. I was expressing myself on the point of LANGUAGE but not DIALECT. Please, re-read my expression and I do really appreciate your future comment.


Thanks and wish you the very best.


You mean "Pote" as in a fijian language?? well, of cos that is not my name and i'm sure u are not that rude in making up peoples name..lols

Anywei, DIALECT "is a particular form of a LANGUAGE that is peculiar to a specific region or social group"..

Well, the point of my reply is not about a debate on language and dialect but a simple question on any Banaban dialect/language u know of??

Take it easy from that side!!!!



Mauri...OK so while reading through what u all have written n I just want to make it clear...WHY...!!! don't we record or compile all the Banaban words together in a book so that the future Banaban children have the chance to learn it rather than just discussing it here on Banaban Voice....cause I have heard too some from Mr & Mrs Karoro the quicker it is compiled the faster we will start learning the kanga..???

as for the word..bakaatu which means your working clothes but hia in Kiribati they say maenen riri,so please make an effort for our Banaba words as I call or whatever....cause the quicker the better..

Thanks so much again.

koro said:
Bula from Fiji. Anyway I also had the same experience with a few I-Kiribati and rabi words when I stayed in Kiribati with relatives enroute to USP Campus, Marshalls. I asked my niece to bring over the black bag ( te baki ae e batabata), the I-kiribati relatives found it so hilarious, it should be te baki ae e roro. I also encountered the word tari for salt in rabi, I-Kiribati says taoro, te buti for shoes in rabi, I-kiribati is te kau and many more. I just gave up all the preliminary lessons, it was just so embarrasing..ha..ha. Roba Veisari is another settlement that teaches all the wrong I-Kiribati language ( this is the I-Kiribati settlement that Roba used to live in Fiji. Habitants with I-Kiribati heritage are staying here. The present generation seems to have blended the Fijian language with their mother tongue. Very hilarious to hear them speak the I-kiribati language.) A few examples are noted for Roba's reference. Prounciation: Jump - kiba, Veisari is kipa. ko mariri? Veisari is ko maitoro? ko roko mai ia? Veisari - ko roko mai (fijian mai) ia?
A boy in the same community rushed to his father informing him that ea baba te kaibuke, it should be ea ranga te kaibuke.ha..ha.
Kabara te bure i kataia n reply nakon am comment iaon te language ao ngaia i aki ataia ma ti tebo ae i copy and paste ea bon roko te bairo....ngkane te taeka ae te bairo? is it a slang? kabotauakaki ma te taeka ae kabitaia- babanga?....anyways thanks moa n am comment...eang I call my page in memory of Dad so I probably assumed you know its me Nare..Roba te tetei lol ma eang koa tia n ongo aia taeka kain Veisari ae te bun ae marairai!!! Ia maninga bwa antai ae karikinna nakoiu ma ngkana eti te karaki aei ,tao e bo te botaki teuana iaon Veisari ao temanna te aomata ia maninga arana ma e kuka ao e kainanoa te bun ae ababaki kaina ke tauana so e aki tabara ma ana eeee ni Veisari..."taiaoka te bun ae marairai " bwa tao e na kaboboa ana kuka
E ang ara case ngkai kanga ti tebo ma kain Samoa ao Tuvalu/Tonga ma Tokelau!!! similarity in their words and can understand eaach other ao iaara riki tabo nte aonaba ma eang I nang tangiria bwa ena iai te boki like a translation book English-Kiribati-Banaba.If we can all contribute finding words and compile them into a book,it will benefit the future generation to come..the children of our children or grand and great grand children for some people.Maybe each day we should write and share 10-20 words each:

for example:

salt-taoro - te tari lol
te atama - te riburibu
nakonako - mamati
te mwenga- te bare-te auti
te baro- te ati- chest
te bare- te kabae-te ro

all mixture of Kiribati words,slangs and how some people of meang and maiaki create their own...

an ongora !!!!.

ao e kanga te slang n Rabi share ma kain Banaba aika a bongata man ikawairake iaon Tarawa

Oh Koro another one that one of my friends while in school in Hawaii really make fun of this...te an riri-taremata fijian calls it sapota?...where does that word comes from?



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