Norfuk language: Wikis


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Pronunciation [nɔ:fuk]
Spoken in Norfolk Island, Pitcairn Island
Total speakers 580 on Norfolk (1989)
36 on Pitcairn (2002)[1], Australia, New Zealand
Language family Creole language
Writing system Latin alphabet
Official status
Official language in Norfolk Island
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 pih

Norfuk (increasingly spelled Norfolk) is the language spoken on Norfolk Island by the local residents. It is a blend of English of the 1700s and Tahitian originally introduced by settlers from the Pitcairn Islands who spoke Pitkern. It is the co-official language of Norfolk Island.[2][3]

As travel to and from Norfolk Island becomes more common, Norfuk is falling into disuse[4]. Efforts are being made, however, to restore the language to more common usage - with education of children, the publication of English-Norfuk dictionaries, use of the language in signage, and the renaming of some tourist attractions (most notably the rainforest walk "A Trip Ina Stik") to their Norfuk equivalents. In 2007, the United Nations added Norfuk to its list of endangered languages[5].


Relationship to Pitkern

As mentioned above, Norfuk is descended predominantly from the Pitkern (Pitcairnese or Pi'kern) spoken by settlers from the Pitcairn Islands. The relative ease of travel from English-speaking countries such as Australia and New Zealand to Norfolk Island, particularly when compared with that of travel to the Pitcairn Islands, has meant that Norfuk has been exposed to much greater contact with English than Pitkern has. The difficulties in accessing the Pitcairn population have meant that a serious comparison of the two languages for mutual intelligibility has been largely impossible.


As Norfuk does not have words to express some concepts, some have described it as a cant. However, many linguists now classify it as an Atlantic Creole language[6], despite the island's location in the Pacific Ocean.

The language is closely related to Pitkern, but has no other close relatives other than its parent tongues of English and Tahitian. It is generally considered that English has had more of an influence upon the language than Tahitian, with words of Tahitian extraction being largely confined to taboo subjects, negative characterisations, and adjectives indicating that something is undesirable.[7]


Due to the language's nature as being a spoken rather than written language[8] and the lack of standardisation [9], a number of attempts have been made at developing an orthography for the language. Early attempts either attempted to enforce English spelling onto the Norfuk words [10], or used diacritical marks to represent sounds distinct to the language.

Alice Buffett, a Norfolk Island parliamentarian and Australian-trained linguist, developed a codified grammar and orthography for the language in the 1980s, assisted by Dr Donald Laycock, an Australian National University academic. Their book, Speak Norfuk Today, was published in 1988. This orthography has won the endorsement of the Norfolk Island government, and its use is becoming prevalent. [11]



The language itself does not have words to express some concepts, which can make expressing them, particularly those having to do with science and technology, difficult. Some Islanders believe that the only solution is to create a committee charged with creating new words in Norfuk rather than simply adopting English words for new technological advances. For example, Norfuk recently adopted the word Kompyuuta, a Norfuk-ised version of Computer. Processes similar to this exist in relation to other languages around the world, such as the Māori language in New Zealand and the Faroese and Icelandic languages. Some languages already have official bodies (such as New Zealand's Māori Language Commission) creating new words.

Personal pronouns

English Norfuk
I ai
You yu (singular), yorlye (plural)
He hi
She shi
We wi
They dem


English Norfuk
different defrent
tree trii
other taeda
main mien
page paij
donation doenaiishun
Europe Urup
city citii
island ailen


  1. ^ Ethnologue - Pitcairn-Norfolk, retrieved November 24, 2007
  2. ^ The Dominion Post, April 21, 2005 (page B3)
  3. ^ The Daily Telegraph, Save our dialect, say Bounty islanders, retrieved April 6, 2007
  4. ^ Feizkhah, Elizabeth, Keeping Norfolk Alive, TIME Pacific, August 6, 2001
  5. ^ "UN adds Norfolk language to endangered list". ABC News. Retrieved 2008-02-16.  
  6. ^ Avram, Andrei (2003). "Pitkern and Norfolk revisited". English Today 19 (1): 44–49. doi:10.1017/S0266078403003092. Retrieved 2007-04-09.  
  7. ^ Ingram, John. Norfolk Island-Pitcairn English (Pitkern Norfolk), University of Queensland, 2006
  8. ^ Buffett, Alice, An Encyclopædia of the Norfolk Island Language, 1999
  9. ^ Ingram, John. Norfolk Island-Pitcairn English (Pitkern Norfolk), University of Queensland, 2006
  10. ^ Buffett, Alice, An Encyclopædia of the Norfolk Island Language, 1999, p. xvi
  11. ^ Buffett, David E., An Encyclopædia of the Norfolk Island Language, 1999, p. xii

External links

Norfuk language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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