Regional News

Toribiong signs law creating Palau Language Commission

KOROR (Palau Horizon) - President Johnson Toribiong has signed a measure establishing the Palau Language Commission which will preserve the local language and maintain standards for its use.

The law aims to make the Palauan language flexible “so it may evolve in response to the realities of cultural exchange, technological advancement and knowledge expansion.”

The commission will create a set of rules to determine the appropriate spelling of Palauan words, as well as the proper grammar and usage of the language.

The commission will also determine how new words may be added to the official Palauan language.

The commission will be comprised of experts in Palauan language and culture who will recommend the curriculum for the teaching of the Palauan language in schools.

The commission will have seven members, six of whom will be appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The seventh member is the director of curriculum of instruction from the Ministry of Education, or his designee.

The commission will prepare and publish, or assist in the preparation and publication of, dictionaries, books on grammar and usage and other works on the Palauan language.

The commission, moreover, will investigate methods for developing, preserving, and encouraging the use of the Palauan language, and report to the Olbiil Era Kelulau, the national legislature, and the president of the Republic of Palau on its findings.

“I am very appreciative of your considering and passing this bill,” Toribiong said in his letter to the OEK. 

“It is a particularly timely bill in light of two of the constitutional amendments our people approved in November of last year.  The twenty-first amendment to the Palau Constitution requires the national government to take affirmative action to assist our traditional leaders in the preservation, protection, and promotion of, among other things, our Palauan language.  And the twenty-fifth amendment to our Constitution provides that in case of a conflict between its Palauan and English versions, the Palauan version shall prevail.”

He added, “I find it curious beyond belief that our national government has never passed a similar law before.  As a Palauan, I have always been proud of the beauty and uniqueness of our language.  As an attorney, I consider language to be of the utmost importance.  To quote a famous justice of the United States Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes, ‘Language is the blood of the soul.”