Tongan Radios app. Tongan is an Austronesian language spoken in Tonga. It has around 200,000 speakers and is a national language of Tonga. It is a VSO (verb–subject–object) language.
Tongan is one of the many languages in the Polynesian branch of the Austronesian languages, along with Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan and Tahitian, for example. Together with Niuean, it forms the Tongic subgroup of Polynesian.
Tongan is unusual among Polynesian languages in that it has a so-called definitive accent. Like all Polynesian languages, Tongan has adapted the phonological system of proto-Polynesian.
Tongan has retained the original proto-Polynesian *h, but has merged it with the original *s as /h/. (The /s/ found in modern Tongan derives from *t before high front vowels). Most Polynesian languages have lost the original proto-Polynesian glottal stop /q/; however, it has been retained in Tongan and a few other languages including Rapa Nui.
In proto-Polynesian, *r and *l were distinct phonemes, but in most Polynesian languages they have merged, represented orthographically as r in most East Polynesian languages, and as l in most West Polynesian languages. However, the distinction can be reconstructed because Tongan kept the *l but lost the *r.
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