Lemerig language

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Pak, Päk, Sasar
Native toVanuatu
RegionVanua Lava
Native speakers
2 (2010)[1]
DialectsAlo-Teqel, Pak, Sasar
Language codes
ISO 639-3lrz
Lang Status 20-CR.svg
Lemerig is classified as Critically Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
One of the two remaining speakers of Lemerig, recorded in Vanuatu.

Lemerig is an Oceanic language spoken on Vanua Lava, in Vanuatu.

Lemerig is no longer actively spoken. The 2 remaining speakers live on the northern coast of the island.[2] The language has receded in favour of its neighbours Mwotlap and Vera'a.[1]


The name Lemerig (spelled Lēmērig [lɪmɪriɣ] in the local orthography) refers to a now abandoned village in northern Vanua Lava. Its name in Mwotlap is Lemyig [lɛmjiɣ]. It is likely the name contains a descendant of the Proto-Torres-Banks word *riɣi meaning "small".


Lemerig has sometimes been referred to using the names of its local varieties: Päk;[3] Sasar; Alo-Teqel.

Judging from wordlists published by missionary and linguist Robert Codrington,[4] these three varieties were very close to each other. The little differences there were went extinct during the 20th century.


Lemerig has 11 phonemic vowels. These are all short monophthongs /i ɪ ɛ æ a œ ø ɒ̝ ɔ ʊ u/.[5]

Lemerig vowels
Front Back
plain round
Close i ⟨i⟩   u ⟨u⟩
Near-close ɪ ⟨ē⟩ ø ⟨ö⟩ ʊ ⟨ō⟩
Open-mid ɛ ⟨e⟩ œ ⟨ë⟩ ɔ ⟨o⟩
Near-open æ ⟨ä⟩   ɒ̝ ⟨ā⟩
Open a ⟨a⟩


The system of personal pronouns in Lemerig contrasts clusivity, and distinguishes four numbers (singular, dual, trial, plural).[6]

Spatial reference in Lemerig is based on a system of geocentric (absolute) directionals, which is in part typical of Oceanic languages, in part innovative.[7]


  1. ^ a b François 2012, p. 87.
  2. ^ List of Banks islands languages.
  3. ^ Päk [pæk] is a village on the north coast of Vanua Lava island, today often referred to using its Mwotlap name Abek [aᵐbɛk]. Due to its vowel [æ] (potentially ambiguous to Western ears), the original name in Lemerig was spelled Pak in Codrington 1885 (pp.39 sqq), but Pek in Codrington 1891 (p.81).
  4. ^ See Codrington 1885, pp.39-52 sqq..
  5. ^ François 2011, p. 194.
  6. ^ François 2016.
  7. ^ François 2015, pp. 169–170.


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