Published March 30, 2019
This video was recorded by Connie Ngirchemat in Palau. The Tobian language is spoken predominantly in Tobi, one of the Southwest Islands of Palau and the main island of the Hatohobei state. The Tobi people call their language "ramarih Hatohobei" which means "the language of Tobi." Most Tobian speakers live in Echang, part of the former capital of Palau. According to Marcus Hangaripaii who speaks in this video, "the Tobian language is more similar to that of the Yapese Outer Islands of Woleai and Ulithi. Because of the strong similarity in languages with the outer islands of Yap, I am able to understand conversations between people from those islands." The country of Palau has an extensive history of colonialism by the Spanish, British, and German empires, from the 18th through 20th centuries, as well as by Japan and the United States during both world wars. Palau finally achieved effective independence when it drafted a new constitution as the Republic of Palau in 1981. It led the Micronesia challenge in 2005, committing with other countries to conserve 30% of near-shore coastal waters and 20% of forest land by 2020. It has continued to champion ecological causes, including becoming the first country to officially protect 80% of its water resources. Tobian is spoken by around 150 speakers and is a Ponapeic-Trukic language within the Eastern Malayo-Polynesian grouping of the Austronesian language family.