Hiw language

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Hiw
Native toVanuatu
RegionHiw
Native speakers
280 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3hiw
Glottologhiww1237
ELPHiw

Hiw (sometimes spelled Hiu) is an Oceanic language spoken by about 280 people on the island of Hiw, in the Torres Islands of Vanuatu.[2]

It is distinct from Lo-Toga, the other language of the Torres group.

The language[edit]

Hiw has 280 speakers, and is considered endangered.[3][4]

Phonology[edit]

Vowels[edit]

Hiw has 9 phonemic vowels. These are all short monophthongs /i ɪ e ʉ ɵ ə o ɔ a/:[5]

Hiw vowels
Front Central
rounded
Back
Close i i ʉ u
Near-close ɪ ē
Close-mid e ë ɵ ö o ō
Mid ə e
Open-mid ɔ o
Open a a

Consonants[edit]

Hiw has 14 consonants.[5]

Hiw consonants
Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Labialized velar
Plosive p p t t k k q
Nasal m m n n ŋ ŋʷ n̄w
Fricative β v s s ɣ g
Prestopped
lateral
ɡ͡ʟ
Glide j y w w

All plosives are voiceless. Hiw is the only Austronesian language whose consonant inventory includes a prestopped velar lateral approximant /ɡ͡ʟ/; this complex segment is Hiw's only liquid.[6] Historically, this complex segment was a voiced alveolar trill /r/ (which is why it is written as ). The voiced alveolar trill, spelt as r, appears in recent loanwords.

Grammar[edit]

In terms of lexical flexibility, Hiw has been assessed to be “grammatically flexible”, but “lexically rigid”.[7] The vast majority of the language's lexemes belongs to just one word class (noun, adjective, verb, adverb…); yet each of those word classes is compatible with a large number of syntactic functions.

The language presents various forms of verb serialization.[8]

Its system of personal pronouns contrasts clusivity, and distinguishes three numbers (singular, dual, plural).[9]

Together with its neighbour Lo-Toga, Hiw has developed a rich system of verbal number, whereby certain verbs alternate their root depending on the number of their main participant.[10] Hiw has 33 such pairs of verbs, which is the highest number recorded so far among the world's languages.[10]

Spatial reference in Hiw is based on a system of geocentric (absolute) directionals, which is partially typical of Oceanic languages, and partially innovative.[11]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]