Mwerlap language

Last updated
Mwerlap
Native to Vanuatu
Region Merelava, Gaua
Native speakers
ca. 1,100 (2012) [1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mrm
Glottolog merl1237
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Mwerlap is an Oceanic language spoken in the south of the Banks Islands in Vanuatu.

Contents

Its 1,100 speakers live mostly in Merelava and Merig, but a fair proportion have also settled the east coast of Gaua island. [2] Besides, a number of Mwerlap speakers live in the two cities of Vanuatu, Port Vila and Luganville.

Names

Mwerlap is the name of Merelava island in the language, phonetically [ŋʷɞrlap]. The language is sometimes referred to as Merelava or Merlav in the literature.

Merelava reflects the name of the island in Mota, another language of the Banks Islands. Merlav represents an earlier attempt at transcribing the vernacular name of the island.

Phonology

Mwerlap has 12 phonemic vowels. These include 9 monophthongs /i ɪ ɛ ʉ ɵ ɞ ʊ ɔ a/ and 3 diphthongs /ɛ͡a ɔ͡ɞ ʊ͡ɵ/. [3]

Mwerlap vowels
Front Central
rounded
Back Diphthongs
Close i ʉ
Near-close ɪ ɵ ʊ ʊ͡ɵ
Open-mid ɛ ɞ ɔ ɔ͡ɞ
Open a ɛ͡a

Grammar

The system of personal pronouns in Mwerlap contrasts clusivity, and distinguishes three numbers (singular, dual, plural). [4]

Spatial reference in Mwerlap is based on a system of geocentric (absolute) directionals, which is in part typical of Oceanic languages, and yet innovative. [5]

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References

  1. François (2012: 88).
  2. François (2012: 97).
  3. François (2005: 445, 460).
  4. François (2016).
  5. François (2015:) 173-175).

Bibliography