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English is the official language of Kiribati, but the indigenous language, also called Kiribati, predominates. Even on South Tarawa many locals know only a smattering of English.

The most difficult aspect of pronunciation concerns the letters 'ti' at the end of a word; they should be pronounced 's' - which is why Kiribati is pronounced 'kiri-bas', and Kiritimati 'Christmas'.

The name Kiribati is a transliteration of Gilberts, after the British name for the islands. Older locals sometimes refer to the Gilbert chain by its original name, Tungaru.

Gilbertese basics


Goodbye.Tia bo.

How are you?Ko uara?

I'm well (thanks).I marurung (ko raba).

Please.Taiaoka or bubuti.

Thanks.Ko raba.



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