• Chuukese is part of the Austronesian language phylum. It can be further categorized as Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Easter, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Central-Eastern oceanic, Remote Oceanic, Micronesian, Micronesian Proper, Ponapeic-Truck, Truck, Chuukese.
  • Alternate names include Chuuk, Lagoon Chuukese, Ruk, Truk, Trukese
  • Chuukese is one of eight indigenous languages of FSM, and English is the national language. Approximately 50,000 people speak Chuukese, with the vast majority of them living in Chuuk. 


  • Chuukese has the unusual feature of permitting word-initial geminate (double) consonants.
  • There are 14 consonants with 9 of them allowing for doubling. 
    • pw: unaspirated voiceless bilabial stop after pause; frequently voiced sometimes fricative
    • ppw: tense voiceless stop, longer than pw
    • p: unaspirated bilabial stop
    • pp: tense and voiceless, longer than p
    • t: unaspirated dental stop
    • tt: always tense and voiceless, longer than t
    • k: unaspirated tense voiceless stop
    • kk: voiceless stop longer than k
    • f: voiceless labiodental fricative
    • ff.: longer than f
    • s: voiceless alveolar groove fricative
    • ss: longer than s
    • mw: voiced velarized bilabial nasal continuant
    • mmw: twice as long as mw
    • In Truk- nearly always denasalized (hard to distinguish from voiced allophone pw)
    • m: voiced bilabial nasal continuant
    • mm: twice as long
    • In Truk: always denasalized (hard to distinguish from voiced allophone p)
    • ng (ŋ): voiced velar nasal continuant
    • nng: twice as long ng
    • In truk: denasalized; mistaken for voiced allphone k
    • r: alveolar tap or trill
    • Voiced intervocalically strongly trilled; but initial/final position: devoiced with friction
    • Voiced tap; difficult to distinguish from denasalized allphone n
    • w: semivowel like w but rounded only next to back vowels
    • j: varied
    • c: unaspirated tense voiceless alveolar fricative (like CH)
    • Like German “zehn”: dental affricate
    • n: voiced dental or alveolar nasal continuant; denasalized when single


There are 9 vowels

Vowel Tongue Height Front-Back      Lip Rounding 
 i     High   Front Unrounded 
ú     High Central   Unrounded 
High    Back  Rounded 
e       Mid Front Unrounded 
é      Mid Central Unrounded 
o     Mid  Back Rounded 
á      Low  Front  Unrounded
a     Low   Central Unrounded 


Low   Back Rounded 



  • There are two main dialects of Chuukese including East Lagoon and Fayichuck. Most researchers agree that people can be understood across these dialects.

Syllable Structure

Chuukese allows for productive full and partial reduplication

  • Example:
  • To walk: fátán
  • To walk (proceed or continue walking): fátánátán

Chuukese uses different counting systems for different types of objects. The word endings change depending on the object type, e.g., long, flat, layered, or solid.

  • Example:
  • English: one
  • Chuukese: eu
  • Chuukese for one long object: efoch (ending -foch)
  • Chuukese for one flat object: echo (ending -cho)
  • Chuukese for one layered object: esar (ending -sar)
  • Chuukese for one solid object: efou (ending -fou)


  • There is no past tense
  • There is no inflectional future tense
  • There is no perfect tense
  • There is typically an obligatory glide between adjacent vowels

Written Language

Chuukese uses Latin script for writing.


Implications for the SLP

Language evaluation tools

  • There are no standardized language or articulation assessments in Chuukese.
  • Dynamic assessment should take into account language differences.
  • There is no past tense or perfect tense
  • Full and partial reduplication is common
  • The vowels in Chuukese are different from English vowels
  • These language and phonetic differences may lead to slightly different second language acquisition. It is necessary to take into account years of language experience, input, output, use, proficiency, and monitor change over time.
  • Please visit the Assessment page for additional information.

Clinical Implications of the Chuukese Language

  • English is required for school in Chuuk; however, Chuukese language classes are available as well.
  • Differences in education levels, exposure to English, and age of onset of literacy skills may vary widely across individuals. 
  • Parents may use cultural stories and idioms to facilitate language at home. Oral narratives may be a focus of assessment and facilitate intervention.
  • Example: “Feed your children food, but also feed your children words” 
  • Please visit Bilingual Language Development and Clinical Myths and Intervention for additional information.

Cultural tips for working with Chuukese families

Please keep in mind these are general guidelines and may or may not apply to the particular individual

  • Dress is typically casual, simple, and modest.
  • Be aware that children may not respond or volunteer information to adults out of respect.
  • Chuukese parents may push for their children's education but may view the education system as a separate entity that they are not connected to; therefore, finding ways to encourage and facilitate family involvement may be challenging.
  • For information on working with interpreters, please click here.

Common Chuukese Greetings


Chuukese Pronunciation
Hello  Ran annim  ron an-NIM 
Good morning     Neesor annim neh-sohr an-NIM 
Good afternoon   Neekkunuion annim  neh-KOON-ee-on an-NIM 
Good evening    Neepwong annim  neh-pong an-NIIM
Thank you    Kinissow  keen-ee-SO 
You-re welcome     Kote puan afani KO-tay pon a-fa-NEE 
Goodbye    Kene nom ke-nay NOHM 
My name is (name)    Itei (name)  ee-teh (name) 
What is your name?   Ifa itom? ee-FA ee-TOM 
Yes  Ewer  eh-WHER 


Aapw  ahpp