Sonsorol is the main island of the Sonsorol State of Palau. It is one mile in length, while Fanna, the smallest island of the state, is only half a mile.
The people of Sonsorol State speak a different language and practice a different culture compared to the people of the main Palau archipelago. The culture and language of these people are similar to that of the neighbouring island of Tobi, as well as to the languages of the outer islands of Yap and Chuuk.
In the prehistoric days there were hundreds of people residing on the islands. Around 1900 a German census counted more than 300 people on Pulo Anna and Sonsorol. Now only about 60 people are living on the atolls, with the majority of the population (about 600) living in the Echang settlement on Palau. (Some of this information comes from the www.sonsorol.com website, where more detailed information about Sonsorol and its history can be found)
There is a lexical similarity of around 70% between Sonsorolese and the neighbouring Tobi language. Both languages are related to other Carolinian languages of Micronesia, such as the languages of Ulithi, Woleai, and Satawal.
Bible Translation into the Sonsorol language
The Sonsorol had a few portions of the Scriptures translated. Some of these portions got lost on a house fire, and the work came to a halt. During a survey by a YWAM team in 2012, the community showed keen interest to restart the translation work, especially those portions of Scriptures that are used in the lectionary readings for the Holy Eucharist services.
In November 2012 translation into the Sonsorol language made a fresh start during a translation workshop organised by the Isles of the Sea team, along with YWAM partners. Over the following years, the team worked on a first draft of the New Testament. By mid 2019, over 95% of the New Testament had been translated, as well as portions of various Old Testament books.
The Tobi-Sonsorol translation team. Left to right: Rosa Andrew (Tobi), Sabino Sackarias (Tobi), Lucy Pedro (Sonsorol) , Paulina Theodore (Tobi).
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