Cèmuhî language

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Native toNew Caledonia
RegionTouho: east coast from Congouma to Wagap and inland valleys
Native speakers
2,600 (2009)[1]
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3cam

Cemuhî (Camuhi, Camuki, Tyamuhi, Wagap) is an Oceanic language spoken on the island of New Caledonia, in the area of Poindimié, Koné, and Touho. The language has approximately 3,300 speakers and is considered a regional language of France.



Cèmuhî has a consonantal distinction of what Rivierre (1980) calls nasal, semi-nasal, and oral consonants. He refers to voiced oral consonants as semi-nasal because they are always prenasalized. [3]

Consonant phonemes
  Labio-Velar Labial Retroflex Palatal Velar Laryngeal
Nasal mw
  m   n   ny   ng   ĥ  
Semi-nasal mbw   mb   nd   nj   ŋg      
Oral pw
  p   t
  c   k   (h)  


The chart below shows Cèmuhî vowels, all of which can contrast in both length and nasality. [4]

Vowel phonemes
  Front Central Back
Close i   u
Close-mid e   o
Open-mid ɛ   ɔ
Open a    


Like its neighbour Paicî, Cèmuhî is one of the few Austronesian languages which have developed contrastive tone. However, unlike other New Caledonian tonal languages, Cèmuhî has three tonal registers: high, mid, and low tones. [5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cèmuhî at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Cemuhi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Rivierre (1980).
  4. ^ Rivierre (1980).
  5. ^ Rivierre (1972, 1980).


  • Rivierre, Jean-Claude [fr] (1972). Les Tons de la langue de Touho (Nouvelle-Calédonie) : Etude diachronique. Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris, 1972, vol.67, n°1, p. 301-316.
  • Rivierre, Jean-Claude (1980). La Langue de Touho : Phonologie et grammaire du Cèmuhî (Nouvelle-Calédonie). Paris: Société d'Etudes Linguistiques et Anthropologiques de France. p. 363.
  • Rivierre, Jean-Claude (1983). Dictionnaire cèmuhî – français, suivi d'un lexique français – cèmuhî. Paris: Société d'Etudes Linguistiques et Anthropologiques de France. p. 375.

External links[edit]