Löyöp language

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Native toVanuatu
RegionUreparapara, formerly Rowa Islands
Native speakers
240 (2010)[1][2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3urr
Löyöp is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Löyöp [løjøp] (formerly known as Lehalurup) is an Oceanic language spoken by about 240 people, on the east coast of Ureparapara Island in the Banks Islands of Vanuatu.[1][2] It is distinct from Lehali, the language spoken on the west coast of the same island.

The language was originally native to the Rowa Islands, having been brought to Urepapapara around the 1930s when a tsunami struck the Reef Islands and forced the speakers to relocate.[3]

It’s considered a vulnerable language by UNESCO.


The name Löyöp [løjøp] used since 2009[4][5][6] refers to the area called "Divers' Bay" in English, in the eastern part of Ureparapara. It derives from a Proto-Torres-Banks form *loroβi, though no cognates in other languages exist. The now-deprecated name Lehalurup once used by certain authors (e.g. Tryon) is likely a result from a transcription error, possibly under the influence of neighboring Lehali.


Löyöp phonemically contrasts 16 consonants and 11 vowels.[6]


Löyöp consonants
Labiovelar Bilabial Alveolar Post-alveolar Dorsal
Nasal ŋ͡mʷ ⟨m̄⟩ m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩ ŋ ⟨n̄⟩
Stop voiceless k͡pʷ ⟨q⟩ p ⟨p⟩ t ⟨t⟩ t͡ʃ ⟨j⟩ k ⟨k⟩
prenasalized ⁿd ⟨d⟩
Fricative β ⟨v⟩ s ⟨s⟩ ɣ ⟨g⟩
Approximant w ⟨w⟩ l ⟨l⟩ j ⟨y⟩


These are ten short monophthongs /i ɪ ɛ æ a œ ø y ɔ ʊ/, and one diphthong /i͡ɛ/.[5][6]

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


The system of personal pronouns in Löyöp contrasts clusivity, and distinguishes four numbers (singular, dual, trial, plural).[7]

Spatial reference in Löyöp is based on a system of geocentric (absolute) directionals, which is in part typical of Oceanic languages, and yet innovative.[8]



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