East Ambae language

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East Ambae
Region Ambae, Vanuatu
Native speakers
5,000 (2001)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 omb
Glottolog east2443[2]

East Ambae (also known as Omba, Oba, Aoba, Walurigi, Lolovoli, Northeast Aoba, and Northeast Ambae) is an Oceanic language spoken on Ambae, Vanuatu. The data in this article will concern itself with the Lolovoli dialect of the North-East Ambae language.


North-East Ambae distinguishes 5 vowels and 16 consonants, shown in the tables below.

Bilabial Alveolar Velar Labiovelar Glottal
Voiceless Stop t k
Prenasalised Voiced Stop ᵐb ⁿd ᵑɡ ᵑɡʷ
Nasal m n ŋ
Fricative β s h
Tap/Trill r
Lateral Approximant l
Glide w

Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a



In Ambae there are four different pronominal forms, one set of free forms, independent pronouns and three sets of bound forms, subject proclitics, object enclitics and possessive suffixes. All sets of pronominals distinguish between singular, dual and plural and between inclusive and exclusive in the first person. Independent pronouns are preceded by the personal article when the head of a noun phrase.

Independent Pronouns[edit]

Person Number
Singular Dual Plural
1INC gideru gide
1EXCL neu gamaru gamai
2 niko gimiru gimiu
3 ngie garue ngire

Subject Proclitics[edit]

The subject proclitic is the first part of a verb phrase and can attach to an aspect, mood, negative particle or verb head.[6] Dual forms cliticise to the marker ru. In Lolovoli, no= is applied when cliticised in 1st person exclusive singular.

Person Number
Singular Dual Plural
1INC da=ru da=
1EXCL na=, no= ga=ru ga=
2 go= ne=ru ne=
3 Ø, na=, vi= ra=ru ra=


Go=ni inu rongo na malogu
2SGS=IRR drink feel ACC kava
"You will taste the Kava"

Da=hivo da=si~siu
1NSG.INS=go.down 1NSG.INS=REDUP~fish
"Let's go down and fish."

Object Enclitics[edit]

Object enclitics occur when attached to the predicate head or last adverb in a verb phrase. These only occur in singular forms and all 3rd person forms.[7]

Person Number
Singular Dual Plural
1INC gideru gide
1EXCL =eu gamaru gamai
2 =go gimiru gimiu
3 =a =e =ra, =re =ra, =re


Ra=u hui i gide
"They asked us."
Go=mese wehe i netu-ku
2SGS=DEHOR hit PERS child-1SGP
"Don't hit my children."

Possessive Suffixes[edit]

Possessive suffixes are attached to the head noun in a direct possessive construction, or a relational classifier in an indirect possessive construction.[8]

Person Number
Singular Dual Plural
1INC -da=ru -da, -de
1EXCL -ku -ma=ru -mai
2 -mu -me=ru -miu
3 -na, -ne =ra, =re =ra, =re


Nago-mu u memea
face-2SGP TEL red
"Your face is red."

no-ku bue
CL.GEN-1SGP knife
"my knife"


  1. ^ East Ambae at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "East Ambae". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Hyslop 2001, p.28
  4. ^ Hyslop 2001, p.32
  5. ^ Hyslop 2001, p.95
  6. ^ Hyslop 2001, p.95
  7. ^ Hyslop 2001, p.96
  8. ^ Hyslop 2001, p.96


  • Ivens, W. G. (1940). "A Grammar of the Language of Lobaha, Lepers' Island, New Hebrides, Melanesia". Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. 10 (2): 345–363. doi:10.1017/s0041977x00087553. 
  • Hyslop, Catriona. (2001). The Lolovoli Dialect of the North-East Ambae Language, Vanuatu. Pacific Linguistics 515. Canberra: Australian National University. 

External links[edit]