Nyâlayu language

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Native toNew Caledonia
Native speakers
2,000 (2009 census)[1]
  • Tiari-Balade
  • Belep
  • Arama
Language codes
ISO 639-3yly
Glottolognyal1254  Nyalayu/Belep
bala1316  Balade

Nyelâyu (Yâlayu), also known as Nyalâyu, is a Kanak language of northern New Caledonia, spoken by approximately 2,000 speakers. There are two dialects that are not mutually intelligible. Pooc (or Haat) is spoken in the Belep islands, which are located just north of Grande Terre. Puma (or Paak or Ovac) is spoken in the northernmost regions of New Caledonia in the areas around Poum in the west and Pouébo and Balade in the east.



Labiovelar Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stops plain p t c k
aspirated pʰʷ
prenasalized ᵐbʷ ᵐb ⁿd ᶮɟ ᵑg
Nasals plain m n ɲ ŋ
aspirated mʰʷ ɲʰ
Fricatives β ɣ (x) h
Semivowels plain w j
Trill r
Laterals l lʰ l᷉

Voiceless stops, nasals, and approximants exhibit a contrast of aspiration exhibited in the following examples.

  • pe [pe] "ray fish" || phe [pʰe] "sharpening stone"
  • teec [teec] "scorching" || theec [tʰeec] "washed up"
  • nu [nu] "coconut palm" || nhu [nʰu] "hot"

Aspirated consonants are very subtly marked. Aspiration seems to be a prosodic trait that affects the overall realization of the syllable by lowering the register of the voice. [2]


Oral Vowels
Front Central Back
High i (y) iː u uː
Mid e (ø) eː o oː
Open a aː
Nasal Vowels
Front Central Back
High ĩ ĩː ũ ũː
Mid ẽ ẽː õ õː
Open ã ãː

The vowels /y/ and /ø/ are in parentheses, because they are very rare and appear only in a few words. [2]


  1. ^ Nyelâyu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Ozanne-Rivierre (1998).


  • Ozanne-Rivierre, Françoise (1998). Le Nyelâyu de Balade (Nouvelle-Calédonie). Paris: Peeters Press.
  • McCracken, Chelsea (2013). A grammar of Belep (Doctor of Philosophy thesis). Rice University. hdl:1911/71287.