My Marshallese Vocabulary

September 12, 2011

  The biggest downside to Sky being in daycare is that we don't have a nanny.  This means that Sky isn't getting the regular exposure to the Marshallese language that we wanted for her and sadly, despite my best (and sometimes worst) efforts, I have yet to find a Marshallese language teacher.  I am pretty baffled as to why I've had such a hard time finding one, since I live in the Marshalls, but I think a big part of it is that I don't work with any Marshallese (there are 3 people in my department) so I don't have regular contact with many native speakers.  I have a very good language manual but Marshallese pronunciation doesn't always follow the written language and I learn best by hearing someone say something and then repeating it. 
  Before we went to Majuro to adopt Sky, we got a list of words from a friend who teaches on Santo (Ennibur) and we've gradually been building on it.  Here's what we know so far:

jahb: no
jahb jeebway: no touch
nana: bad
aynana: that's bad, it's bad
kway nana: you're bad (used very rarely)
babu: lie down
kigi: sleep
eedrak: drink
mongai: eat, food
enno: good, edible
awa in: time (eg: awa in mongai , awa in kigi)
tah: what
mwayo: home
draylon: inside, enter
nahbwejj: outside
yukaray: play
muhtuhm: friends
mejjahm: face/eye
ningning: baby
likatoo: pretty
lakatoo: handsome
etal: go
im: and
ibwen: with
jahb jang: no cry
jahb lemwayjj: no scream
jahb kororo: no talk
jewdok: get up
kia: now
emon: good
emon tata: great
aton: dirty
komol tata: thank you very much
lahlay: look, watch
sheejjit: sit
ijjin: here
laytok: give
raynin: today
eelayjju: tomorrow
tudu: swim, bathe
yokwe: hello
bar lo yoke: see you later
lo yoke illejju: see you tomorrow
ejj: it
ejj emon waht: everything's fine
kakeejay: chill out, relax
cudu: dog
coos: cat
bubu: grandma
mama: mama
baba: daddy
ejj etahm moor?: how are you?
emon, ah kway?:  I'm good, and you?
ebwe: so-so
ejjahng: sad
etam?:  What is your name?
eta im..: My name is...
jjuon: one
ruo: two
cheelu: three
emmen: four
lalem: five
jijuno: six
jimjuon: seven
ralitok: eight
ratimjuon: nine
jonguol: ten
etal ngan eea?:  Where are you going?
rej etal ngan mon wea: let's go to the store
mon wea: to buy
rej etal ngan...: let's go to the (eg: etal ngan school, let's go to school)
bohkatohk: bring it here
anmeen: left
anmohn: right
lowahn: in
kahtaan: between
yawn: on
lahl: down
luhlung: up
mohlok: forward
likalok: backward
ngay: if
komonemuhn: be gentle, be kind
jab kajangay: don't make him/her cry
ekatahk: learn/study
ejj ekatahk kajjeen marjel: I'm learning Marshallese
ayin: time to
ayin ekatahk English kia: It's time to study English now
morong: can/ possible
eebahn: now way/ impossible
ellamin ahn pa: how do you say...
kojjelay ka tee-en: I don't know
paramok pa: say it again
see-low: slow
mahkahj: fast
sibahng nga: help me
jahb inah bada: no problem
jahb kahgeel: behave
karrayo: clean up

* A note on pronunciation:  All the words above are pronounced with the American English letter sounds except the r's which are pronouced with a trill like a Spanish r and the jj which is said like the second g in "garage"  The "ng" is pronounced like "ing" without the i..

  We use most of these words every day with Sky and she knows what they mean and will respond properly.  I am really hoping to find a teacher soon so that I can teach her more of the language.  I'll keep you posted and add new words as we learn them.


  1. Just came across your blog a few days ago. I love it because:
    1.) You live in Kwaj. I long to live on Kwaj someday. I shall live vicariously thru your (and others' that I have found) posts
    2.) You have the exact same backdrop as my blog! (Hooray for Dandelions.)
    3.) KIDDO! I am a teacher and mommy and parent-educator and love all things kid-related. So fun to read about the joys of parenting.

    Thanks for letting others share in your adventures. :)

  2. Replies
    1. Marshallese doesn't have it's own word for family so they use a transliteration of the English word: bamily.

    2. bamile (bah·muh·leh)


Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.