Mota language

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Native toVanuatu
RegionMota island
Native speakers
750 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mtt

Mota is an Oceanic language spoken by about 750 people on Mota island, in the Banks Islands of Vanuatu.[3]


During the period 1840-1940, Mota was used as a missionary lingua franca throughout areas of Oceania included in the Melanesian Mission, an Anglican missionary agency.[4] Mota was used on Norfolk Island, in religious education; on other islands with different vernacular languages, it served as the language of liturgical prayers, hymns, and some other religious purposes. Elizabeth Fairburn Colenso translated religious material into the language.[4]

Robert Henry Codrington compiled the first dictionary of Mota (1896), and worked with George Sarawia and others to produce a large number of early publications in this language.


Mota has 5 phonemic vowels, /i e a o u/.[5]

  Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open a


  1. ^ François (2012): 88).
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mota". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Linguistic map of north Vanuatu, showing range of Mota.
  4. ^ a b Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown (2007). "ELIZABETH COLENSO: Her work for the Melanesian Mission; by her eldest granddaughter Francis Edith Swabey 1956". Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  5. ^ François (2005:445, 460).


External links[edit]