Maskelynes language

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(Redirected from ISO 639:klv)
Kuliviu, Uliveo
Native toVanuatu
Native speakers
1,100 (2001)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3klv
Maskelynes is not endangered according to the classification system of the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Maskelynes (/ˈmæskəlɪns/), or Kuliviu (Uliveo), is an Oceanic language spoken on the Maskelyne Islands off south Malekula, Vanuatu.



Labial Coronal Dorsal
plain labiovelarized
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive unvoiced p k
voiced ᵐb ᵐbʷ ⁿd̪ ᵑg
Fricative β βʷ s x~ɣ~ʀ
Approximant w l j
Rhotic r~ɾ
  • /ᵐb, ⁿd, ᵑg/ are in free variation as unreleased [ᵐb̚, ⁿd̚, ᵑg̚] or unvoiced [p, t, k] word-finally or before a consonant[2]
    • /ᵑg/ is also in free variation as nasal [ŋ] word-finally, especially among young speakers[3]
  • /ᵑg/ is realized as a voiceless [k] among some speakers, especially young[3]
  • /p, pʷ, t/ are unreleased [p̚, p̚, t̚] word-finally or before a consonant (though /p/ has never been recorded before a consonant)[4]
  • /mʷ, pʷ, ᵐbʷ, βʷ/ lose their labialization word-finally when not followed by a vowel and before /o, u/[5]
    • /ᵐbʷ/ is in free variation as trilled [ᵐʙ] (tapped [ᵐⱱ̟] in Peskarus) before /u/ and sometimes before /ə/[3]
  • /βʷ/ is [β] before voiced consonants[6]
  • /β, βʷ/ are [ɸ] before voiceless consonants and word-finally[6]
  • /β/ is in free variation with [ɸ] for some speakers[6]
  • /w, j/ are vocalic [u, i] when in nucleus following /e, a, o/[7]


Front Central Back
Close i u ()
Mid ɛ ə o
Open ɑ
  • /i/ is near-close [ɪ] between front consonants[8]
  • /ɛ/ is close-mid [e] word-finally[8]
  • /ə/ is [ɵ] after labiovelarized consonants or before /xu̥/[8]
  • /əj, əw/ are realised as single morphemes, [i, u][7]
  • /u/ is realised as front [y] between front consonants, and near-close [ʊ] when proceeded or preceded by back consonants[9]
  • /o/ is front [ø] between front consonants[9]

Voiceless vowel[edit]

A voiceless [u̥] occurs at the ends of words. It is uncertain if it is an allophone of /u/ or a separate phoneme[10]


Possible syllable structures in Maskelynes: (C/S)V(S)(C)[11]

Letter-to-phoneme correspondence[edit]

Maskelynes alphabet
Letter a b d e ǝ g h i k l m n ŋ o p r s t u w v w/u y/i
IPA ɑ ᵐb ᵐbʷ ⁿd̪ ɛ ə ᵑɡ x i k l m n ŋ o p r s u β βʷ w j



The verbs of Maskelynes are agglutinative, mostly being modified by prefixes, though the stem of a verb can stand on its own. These prefixes encode for, in order of appearance in verb: 1. tense-aspect-modes; 2. subject, person and number; 3. various modes, including realis and irrealis; 4. two tense-modes; 5. reduplication. The object of a sentence is encoded by a suffix.[12]

Examples of verbal agglutination:[13]





Don't you drink it.





You who just now kept drinking it


Reduplication in Maskelynes has various usages, and can encode for e.g. plurality, habituality, iterative aspect, etc.[14]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Maskelynes at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Healey 2013, pp. 14–15.
  3. ^ a b c Healey 2013, p. 15.
  4. ^ Healey 2013, p. 13.
  5. ^ Healey 2013, p. 19.
  6. ^ a b c Healey 2013, p. 17.
  7. ^ a b Healey 2013, pp. 18–19.
  8. ^ a b c Healey 2013, p. 20.
  9. ^ a b Healey 2013, p. 21.
  10. ^ Healey 2013, pp. 24–25.
  11. ^ Healey 2013, p. 25.
  12. ^ Healey 2013, Section 8.1: Verb morphology.
  13. ^ Healey 2013, p. 181.
  14. ^ Healey 2013, section 8.5: Reduplication.


  • Healey, David S. (2013). A GRAMMAR OF MASKELYNES: THE LANGUAGE OF ULUVEU ISLAND, VANUATU (PDF) (PhD). University of the South Pacific. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-05-31. Retrieved 2020-05-31.