Vitu language

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Native toPapua New Guinea
Native speakers
(8,800 cited 1991)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3wiv
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Vitu (also spelled Witu or Vittu) or Muduapa is an Oceanic language spoken by about 7,000 people on the islands northwest of the coast of West New Britain in Papua New Guinea.


Vitu is so closely related to the neighbouring Bali language that the two are sometimes considered to be a single language, called Bali–Vitu.

Vitu and Bali appear to be members of a Meso-Melanesian cluster of the Oceanic languages.



Front Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a


Labial Coronal Velar
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
prenasalized ᵐb ⁿd ᵑɡ
Fricative β ð ɣ
Sibilant (s)
Rhotic r
Lateral l

/t/ is realized as [tʃ] before /i/.

/s/ occurs only in loanwords from Tok Pisin, such as sikul "school".


No consonant clusters or final consonants are allowed in native Vitu words: all syllables have a CV or V structure. Loanwords, however, may have different structures.

Writing system[edit]

Vitu is written in the Latin script. Only between 15% and 25% of speakers of Vitu are literate in the language, but many more are literate in Tok Pisin, the national language of Papua New Guinea.

A a B b D d E e G g H h I i K k L l M m
/a/ /ᵐb/ /ⁿd/ /e/ /ᵑɡ/ /ɣ/ /i/ /k/ /l/ /m/
N n Ng ng O o P p R r S s T t U u V v Z z
/n/ /ŋ/ /o/ /p/ /r/ /s/ /t/ /u/ /β/ /ð/



Complex voice systems so characteristic of Austronesian languages of Taiwan and the Philippines undergo significant reduction in most Austronesian languages of Eastern Indonesia and Oceania. Vitu is unusual in terms of morphology when compared to most other Oceanic languages spoken in Melanesia. It is one of very few Melanesian languages that have a passive voice-marking system.


The usual word order of Vitu is SVO.


  1. ^ Vitu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  • Ross, Malcolm D. (2002). "Bali–Vitu". In John Lynch; Malcolm Ross; Terry Crowley (eds.). The Oceanic languages. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon. pp. 362–386. ISBN 978-0-7007-1128-4. OCLC 48929366.
  • Van den Berg, René; Peter Bachet (June 2006). "Retained and Introduced Final Consonants in Vitu". Oceanic Linguistics. 45 (1): 43–52. doi:10.1353/ol.2006.0001. OCLC 89063907. S2CID 144533700.
  • Van den Berg, René (June 2007). "An Unusual Passive in Western Oceanic: The Case of Vitu" (PDF). Oceanic Linguistics. 46 (1): 54–70. doi:10.1353/ol.2007.0027. S2CID 145784179.

External links[edit]