Bilua language

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Native toSolomon Islands
RegionVella Lavella Island, Western Province.
Native speakers
8,700 (1999)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3blb

Coordinates: 7°55′S 156°40′E / 7.92°S 156.66°E / -7.92; 156.66Bilua (also known as Mbilua or Vella Lavella)[3] is the most populous Papuan language spoken in the Solomon Islands.[4] It is a Central Solomon language spoken by about 9,000 people on the island of Vella Lavella. It is one of the four non-Austronesian languages spoken in the Solomon Islands.[5] The amount of different languages spoken in the Solomon Islands is attributed to the dynamic geographic features of the island and the isolation of its different populations.

"Bilua is sometimes grouped with the other Central Solomons languages and beyond (Wurm 1975b) but closer inspection shows that a genealogical relation is not demonstrable (Dunn and Terrill 2012, Terrill 2011)" (Hammarström, forthcoming).


The consonant and vowels sounds of Bilua.[6]

Consonant sounds
Bilabial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative voiceless s
voiced β z
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Lateral l
Rhotic r

The voiced stops and the affricate sounds /b d ɡ dʒ/ can occur as prenasalized allophones, when occurring intervocalically [ᵐb ⁿd ᵑɡ ⁿdʒ]. Other consonant allophones include [w tʃ] for /β dʒ/.

Vowel sounds
Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

Four vowel sounds /i u e o/ have allophones but only in diphthongs as [ɪ ɛ ɔ ʊ].

Verb construction[edit]

Sample Verbs[edit]

English Bilua
to bite nanae, nanaelɔu
to blow pueka, puzeka, puzeko
to breathe kozato
to burn siŋgae, siŋgato
to come kua
to count ataito, atiato
to cry ziaʔo, zialo
to cut, hack kombue, kombuto, paŋgoe,

paŋgoilo, rupe

to die, be dead vou
to dig telite, telito
to drink nozutɔ, nĵuvuatɔ, sapɔ
to eat ɔkua, vuato
to fall pialo
to fear ŋalo
to flow rundundu
to fly akazo, salosalo, sindiki
to hear viŋgo
to hit pazɔvɔ, pazoto, pazovo
to hold kamaka, kamako
to hunt zaulao, zaulau
to kill vouvaiva, vouvato
to know, be knowledgeable ñaño
to laugh kisiko, nureo
to lie down teku
to live, be alive saevo, saivo
to say kaseka, kiŋɔla, pesio
to scratch kirikirito, pirakasa
to see alea, kea, kelo
to sew turue, turuto
to sit papi, papu
to sleep maroŋa, maroŋo
to sniff, smell tuiño, tuimikɔ, tuimiko
to spit supato
to split reseilo, seseto
to squeeze zuzuto, žužue
to stab, pierce nĵokuto, zatae
to stand lonĵo
to steal kuilɔ, kuilo
to suck kuzukuzuto, kuzutɔ
to swell tumbu
to swim lilitɔ, ruazo, siusiutɔ, siusiuto
to think kɛrukɛruto, kerukeruto
to tie up lupika
to turn lilite, vipulɔ
to walk ɔla, ola, saŋgɔre, tali, talio, zakei
to vomit sakoezo
to work irurupoto, iruruputo

Noun classification[edit]

Bilua has a masculine-feminine gender system with no neuter nouns. Truly males are always male and truly female are always female.[4]


English Bilua
1 ɔmaⁿdeu
2 ɔmuᵑɡa
3 zouke
4 ariku
5 sike
6 varimuⁿɟa
7 sikeura (5 + 2 ?)
8 siotolu (5 + 3 ?)
9 siakava (5 + 4 ?)
10 toni
11 toni ɔmaⁿdeu
12 toni ɔmuᵑɡa
13 toni zouke
14 toni ariku
15 toni sike
16 toni varimuⁿɟa
17 toni sikeura
18 toni siotolu
19 toni siakava
20 karabete (borrow from Choiseul)
21 karabete ɔmaⁿdeu
30 zouke toni
40 ariku toni
50 sike toni
60 varimuⁿɟa toni
70 sikeura toni
80 siotolu toni
90 siakava toni
100 ɔmaⁿdeu paizana
200 ɔmuᵑɡa paizana
1000 ɔmaⁿdeu vurɔ
2000 ɔmuᵑɡa vurɔ


  1. ^ Bilua at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bilua". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "OLAC resources in and about the Bilua language". Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  4. ^ a b Ellen Joanne Woodley. 2002. Local and indigenous knowledge as an emergent property of complexity: A case study in the Solomon Islands. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Guelph; 489pp.)
  5. ^ A Grammar of Bilua: A Papuan Language of the Solomon Islands, Obata 2003
  6. ^ Obata, Kazuko (2003). A Grammar of Bilua: A Papuan Language of the Solomon Islands. Pacific Linguistics. pp. 8–11.

Further reading[edit]

  • Obata, Kazuko (2003). A grammar of Bilua: A Papuan language of the Solomon Islands. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics 540.
  • Terrill, A (2011). Languages in Contact: An Exploration of Stability and Change in the Solomon Islands. Oceanic Linguistics. University of Hawai'i Press.
  • Dunn, M., Reesink, G., & Terrill, A (2002), "The East Papuan Languages: A Preliminary Typological Appraisal", Oceanic Linguistics, 41 (1): 28–62, doi:10.2307/3623327, JSTOR 3623327CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Terrill, A. (2002), "Systems of Nominal Classification in East Papuan Languages", Oceanic Linguistics, 41 (1): 63–88, doi:10.2307/3623328, JSTOR 3623328
  • Donohue, Mark, and Simon Musgrave (2007), "Typology and the Linguistic Macrohistory of Island Melanesia.", Oceanic Linguistics, 46 (2): 348–387, doi:10.1353/ol.2008.0011CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • "The Bilua Verb". Verbix Languages. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  • "Numerals". Numeral Systems of the World's Languages. Retrieved April 30, 2017.

External links[edit]