Linguistic classificationAustronesian
The Micronesian Languages

The twenty Micronesian languages form a family of Oceanic languages. Micronesian languages are known for their lack of plain labial consonants; they have instead two series, palatalized and labio-velarized labials, similar to the related Loyalty Islands languages.


According to Jackson (1983, 1986) the languages group as follows:[1]

The family appears to have originated in the east, likely on Kosrae, and spread westwards. Kosrae appears to have been settled from the south, in the region of Malaita (Solomon Islands) or in northern Vanuatu.

Kevin Hughes (2020) revises Jackson's classification, especially with regards to the position of Nauruan, who states that there is no compelling argument from classifying Nauruan apart from other Micronesian languages. He proposes three hypotheses: (1) Nauruan is a primary branch alongside Kosraean, (2) Kosraean and Nauruan form a subgroup, and (3) Nauruan is a primary branch of the Central Micronesian family.

External classification

See also: Oceanic languages § Classification

John Lynch (2003) tentatively proposes that the Micronesian languages may form a subclade within the Southern Oceanic languages, and specifically a sister clade to the Loyalty Islands languages within the latter family. He notes the following features that the Micronesian and Loyalties languages share in common, among other features:

However, he does not state that this relationship is certain or even likely. He merely states "that this is something that could well be further investigated, even if only to confirm that Micronesian languages did not originate in the Loyalties."[2]


  1. ^ Lynch, John; Malcolm Ross; Terry Crowley (2002). The Oceanic languages. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon. ISBN 978-0-7007-1128-4. OCLC 48929366.
  2. ^ Lynch, John (2003). "The Bilabials in Proto Loyalties". In Lynch, John (ed.). Issues in Austronesian Historical Phonology. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 153–173 (171). doi:10.15144/PL-550.153.

Further reading