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Ndrumbea language

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(Redirected from ISO 639:duf)
Naa Dubea
Native toNew Caledonia
RegionSouthern tip outside Nouméa (Paita on the west coast, Ounia on the east coast)
Native speakers
(2,000 cited 1996 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3duf
Ndrumbea is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Ndrumbea, variously spelled Ndumbea, Dubea, Drubea and Païta, is a New Caledonian language that gave its name to the capital of New Caledonia, Nouméa, and the neighboring town of Dumbéa. It has been displaced to villages outside the capital, with fewer than a thousand speakers remaining. Gordon (1995) estimates that there may only be two or three hundred. The Dubea are the people; the language has been called Naa Dubea (or more precisely Ṇã́ã Ṇḍùmbea) "language of Dubea".

Ndrumbea is one of the few Austronesian languages that is tonal, and it has a series of consonants that are also unusual for the region.


Ndrumbea, like its close relative Numee, is a tonal language, with three contrasting tones, high, mid, and low.


Ndrumbea has seven oral vowels, long and short. The mid front vowels are lower when short than long: /i e ɛ a o ʊ u/; /iː ɪː ʊː uː/. There are five nasal vowels, also long and short: ã õ ũ/; /ĩː ẽː ãː õː ũː/. These interact with nasal consonants, described below. Back vowels do not occur after labialized consonants, /ŋ/, or /ɣ/. In addition to the complementary correlation of nasal vowels with nasal consonants, nasal vowels do not occur after /j, ɽ, ɣ/. /ɣ/–oral vowel derives historically from ŋ–nasal vowel.

Phonetically, a stop–flap consonant cluster will be separated by an obscure epenthetic vowel with the quality of the following phonemic vowel.

Vowel Phonemes
Front Central Back
oral nasal oral nasal oral nasal
short long short long short long short long short long short long
Close i ĩ ĩː u ũ ũː
Near-close ɪː ʊ ʊː
Close-mid e ẽː o õ õː
Open-mid ɛ ɛ̃
Open a ã ãː


Nasal vowels once contrasted after nasal stops, as they still do in Numee. However, in Ndrumbea, nasal stops partially denasalized before oral vowels, so that now prenasalized stops precede oral vowels, and nasal stops precede nasal vowels. Similarly, /j/ only occurs before oral vowels.

Labial Dental/Alveolar Postalveolar Velar
plain labialized Apical Laminal plain labialized
Nasal m ~ ᵐb ~ ᵐbʷ n ~ ⁿd ɳ ~ ᶯɖ ~ ⁿd̠ ŋ ~ ᵑɡ ŋʷ ~ ᵑɡʷ
Plosive prenasalized
voiceless p t ʈ k
Fricative v ɣ
Approximant ɽ ~ ɻ j w

The fricatives /v, ɣ/ are sometimes realized as approximants [ʋ, ɰ]. However, the approximants /w, j/ are never fricated. The nasal stop /n̠/ sometimes has incomplete closure, producing a nasalized approximant [ȷ̃]. The /ɽ/ is most often a tap [ɽ], sometimes an approximant [ɻ], and occasionally an alveolar tap or trill, [ɾ] or [r]. It does not occur word initially, and does not contrast with /ɳ/ word medially. It tends to be nasalized before a nasal vowel, [ɽ̃] ~ [ɳ̆] ~ [ɻ̃] with the nasality spreading to preceding vowels: /t̠ɽáɽẽ/ "to run" has been recorded as [t̠áɽ̃ã́ɻ̃ẽ].

Ndrumbea contrasts three coronal places, articulated with the tip or blade of the tongue contacting the roof of the mouth: /t̪/, /ʈ/, /t̠/ and their nasal homologs. /ʈ/ is apical, in contrast to laminal /t̠/. It is not clear if /t̪/ is apico-dental or denti-alveolar, but it has a sharp release burst. /ʈ/, on the other hand, has a noisy release and approaches an affricate, [ʈᶳ]. It may actually be closer to an alveolar than post-alveolar, and appears to be enunciated more forcefully than /t̪/. /t̠/ also has a fricated release, and for many speakers this is longer than that of /ʈ/. All consonants labeled as Dental or Postalveolar (with the exception of /j/) are coronal consonants.


  1. ^ Ndrumbea at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  • Gordon, Matthew; Ian Maddieson (October 1995). "The phonetics of Ndumbea". Fieldwork Studies of Targeted Languages III (91). UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics: 25–44.
  • Rivierre, Jean-Claude (1973). Phonologie comparée des dialectes de l'extrême-sud de la Nouvelle Calédonie. Paris: Société d'études linguistiques et anthropologiques de Franc. p. 206.
  • Shintani T. L. A. & Païta Y. (1990a) Grammaire de la langue de Païta. Nouméa: Sociéte d'Etudes Historiques de Nouvelle-Calédonie.
  • Shintani T. L. A. & Païta Y. (1990b) Dictionnaire de la langue de Païta. Nouméa: Sociéte d'Etudes Historiques de Nouvelle-Calédonie.