Mwerlap language

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Native toVanuatu
RegionMerelava, Gaua
Native speakers
ca. 1,100 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mrm
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Mwerlap is an Oceanic language spoken in the south of the Banks Islands in Vanuatu.

Its 1100 speakers live mostly in Merelava and Merig, but a fair proportion have also settled the east coast of Gaua island.[3] Besides, a number of Mwerlap speakers live in the two cities of Vanuatu, Port Vila and Luganville.


Mwerlap is the name of Merelava island in the language, phonetically [ŋʷɞrlap]. The language is sometimes referred to as Merelava or Merlav in the literature.

Merelava reflects the name of the island in Mota, another language of the Banks Islands. Merlav represents an earlier attempt at transcribing the vernacular name of the island.


Mwerlap has 12 phonemic vowels. These include 9 monophthongs /i ɪ ɛ ʉ ɵ ɞ ʊ ɔ a/ and 3 diphthongs /ɛ͡a ɔ͡ɞ ʊ͡ɵ/.[4]

Mwerlap vowels
Front Central
Back Diphthongs
Close i ʉ
Near-close ɪ ɵ ʊ ʊ͡ɵ
Open-mid ɛ ɞ ɔ ɔ͡ɞ
Open a ɛ͡a


  1. ^ François (2012: 88).
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Merlav". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ François (2012: 97).
  4. ^ François (2005: 445, 460).


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