The Solomon Islands is a country located in the southwestern region of the Pacific Ocean. The country is made up of two sequences of volcanic islands and coral atolls. The country was colonized by the British and later gained its autonomy in the year 1978. Its capital city is Honiara, a town that holds the title as the largest city. It is located on the coast of Guadalcanal.
Languages of The Solomon Islands
There are 76 individual languages recorded in the Solomon Islands, of which 73 of these languages are still in use, and 3 are extinct. Sixteen of these languages are either in trouble or slowly diminishing.
About 70 languages are spoken in the greater Solomon Islands archipelago. This is a much bigger region as compared to the Solomon Island itself. The official language is English while the common language (lingua franca) is Pidgin. English is used in the local media, in government transactions, and in some businesses. Despite English being the official language, it is only spoken by about 2% of the population. Its lack of popularity also means it has not been embraced as the language of instruction in schools.
The Most Popular Languages
The bigger population of the people are ethnically Melanesian, making the speakers of the language account for about 85% of the population. Polynesian speakers form a small minority of the population at about 4%. They are mainly found in the southern part of Rennell and Bellona, and the Stewart Islands (Sikaiana), Tikopia, and Anuta.
The Micronesian language of Papua is common among immigrants of Gilbertese and Turaluans. The speakers of the Papuan language attribute for 9% of the population.
The Islanders have developed a Pidgin that is specific to the Solomon Island, a language that was derived from English. This English Creole is the lingua franca meaning that most of the population uses the language as a way of communication.
There are other languages spoken in the country, a few with a notable number of speakers will be highlighted.
Cheke Holo is a language spoken by around 10,840 speakers. The speakers are mainly found in Santa Isabel Island, Kia District, and Hograno coastal villages. The language belongs to the Western Oceanic language group.
Are’are is spoken by 17,800 people who are found in the Malaita Region. The language belongs to the Southeast Solomonic family group.
The Gela language is spoken by about 11,876 people in the region of Florida Island. The language is spoken in three dialects which are very similar that only differ on very few phonological facts.
Ghari is a language of the oceanic family that is widely spoken on the Guadalcanal Island. It is spoken by about 12,119 people. Its Vaturanga dialect was used extensively in missionary translations.
The other spoken languages include Kwaio which is spoken by 13,249 people in Central Malaita; Lau, spoken by 16,937 people in Malaita; Lengo, spoken by 13,800 people in Guadalcanal Island; and Toabaita, spoken by 12,600 people in north Malaita Island.
There are several languages that are heading for extinction. These include: The Rennellese Sign Language, Oroha, Tanema, Tanibili, Riirio, Vano and Lovono.