Lingarak language

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Native to Vanuatu
Region Central Malekula
Native speakers
1,300 (2001)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lgk
Glottolog ling1265[2]

Lingarak, also known as Neverver, is an Oceanic language. Neverver is spoken in Malampa Province, in central Malekula, Vanuatu. The names of the villages on Malekula Island where Neverver is spoken are Lingarakh and Limap.

Neverver is threatened. On the upside native languages are secured by the government in charge. As local languages are protected by them. Also it has a confident outlook as sixty percent of the children speak this language.[3] On the downside the dominant languages in the community which are Bislama, English, and French are heavily urged and pushed to be used within this language communities.[4] Bislama is the most used language within this region. English and French are the two most distinguished languages within this region because they are connected with the schooling system and overall the most powerful in business transactions.[3] This is due to the fact that before this province gained its independence in 1980 they were governed by the joint French-English Colonial rule. Overall, there are only 1,250 native speakers of Neverver. There are two dialects of the Neverver language; Mindu and Wuli.[1]

Neverver falls under the language family Austronesian which is the second largest language family in the world.[5] By comparison of cognates, numeral systems, voice markers on verbs and other evidence markers, the language Neverver can be traced back to the language family Austronesian.

An important characteristic of Neverver is definiteness and it is deemed with a speaker's attitude that a hearer's intelligence is able to understand the denotation of a given speech.[3]


Neverver has 19 consonants and 5 vowels in its sound system.[3]


Important features of the consonants in Neverver include prenasalisation and trills. Below is a table of the consonant inventory of Neverver:

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-velar
Nasals m n ŋ
Plosives Plain
Fricatives Plain β s ɣ
Affricates Prenasalised nd͡ʒ
Trills Plain

Approximants l j w

Voiced obstruents, including the fricatives /β/ and /ɣ/, and the prenasalized trills /mbʙ/ and /ndr/ are devoiced in word-final position in rapid speech. Among younger speakers, the prenasalized plosives become simple nasals in word-final position.

The plosive /p/ becomes a voiceless trill [ʙ̥] before the vowel /u/.

(Barbour, 2012, p. 24-25)


Below is a table of the Neverver vowel inventory:

Front Back
High i (y) u
Mid e (ø) o
Low a

(Barbour, p. 44)

Pronoun and person markers[edit]

Neverver uses different pronominal and nominal forms. There are three main noun classes: common, personal, and local nouns. There is also another fourth pronominal-noun category which blends features of the Neverver pronominal system with properties of the three major noun classes. There are three pronoun paradigms in Neverver: independent personal pronouns, possessive determiners, and possessive pronouns. Like most Austronesian languages, in Neverver the inclusive/exclusive distinction only applies to the 1st person plural category. Personal nouns in Neverver include personal proper names as well as personal kin terms.

Pronoun paradigms[edit]

Independent personal pronouns[edit]

Independent personal pronouns encode basic person and number contrasts. This includes the optionally articulated i-, which can indicate either a subject or object. Although this initial i- is optional with the pronouns, it is obligatory with the personal interrogative. For example, i-sikh means 'who'. Independent personal pronouns usually refer to animate entities, unless in some particular circumstances such as reflexive constructions. Below is a table showing the independent pronoun paradigm:

Singular Non-singular
1st person (i-)na Inclusive



(i-)nam ~ (gu)mam

2nd person (i-)okh (i-)gam
3rd person ei adr

(Barbour, p. 72)


Furthermore, all subjects, both nominal and pronominal, are cross-referenced with a subject/mood prefix which is attached to the verb stem in realis tense. These subject/mood prefixes differ to independent personal pronouns as there is a further dual distinction in addition to the singular and plural distinction. Subject/mood prefixes are also obligatory in all verbal constructions, unlike independent pronouns. Below is a table showing the subject/mood paradigm:

Singular Dual Plural
1st person ni- Inclusive






2nd person ku- kar(i)- kat(i)-
3rd person i- ar(i)- at(i)-

(Barbour, p. 73)

The table shows that the 3rd person form is irregular.


In Neverver there are gendered pronominal nouns, with vinang expressing a female and mang expressing a male. These can be obligatory modified with a demonstrative or a relative clause. Gender can also be expressed using 3rd person singular pronouns. In Neverver, when there are two human participants involved of different genders, one is expressed with a gender-coded form and the other can be coded with an optional gender-neutral ei. The gender-coded form to express a female participant as the grammatical subject of the first clause, is encoded in the subject/mood prefix i-. If the male becomes the grammatical subject in the next clause, this is distinguished with the male pronominal-noun mang.

For example:

I-vlem, mang i-lav ei
3REAL:SG-come man:ANA 3REAL:SG-get 3SG
'She came and the man married her' [NVKS10.112]

(Barbour, p. 75)

In the above example there is a male and female participant involved. The subject/mood prefix i- encodes that the female is the subject of the first clause. When the subject shifts to the male, the pronominal-noun mang is used to show this shift. To show that the female has become the object again, the 3rd person pronoun ei expresses this.

Possessive determiners[edit]

Prefixes derive possessive determiners in Neverver. Most of these begin with the possessive prefix t-. In Neverver, possessive determiners refer exclusively to human possessors, and a different construction is used to express non-human possessors. Below is a table showing the possessive determiners paradigm:

Singular Non-singular
1st person (t-)na Inclusive



(t-)nam ~ (t-)mam

2nd person (t-)ox (t-)gam
3rd person titi~ei titi-dr ~ adr

(Barbour, p. 75)

3. Possessive pronouns[edit]

Prefixes also derive possessive pronouns in Neverver. Possessive pronouns are made up of a nominalising prefix at- and the possessive prefix t-, which are both attached to the base pronominal morpheme (the independent pronoun). Furthermore, when the nominalising prefix is attached, the possessive pronoun can become the head of the noun phrase by itself. Below is a table showing the possessive pronoun paradigm:

Singular Non-singular
1st person at-t-na Inclusive




2nd person at-t-okh at-t-gam
3rd person at-titi [3] at-titi-dr

(Barbour, p. 76)

As the table shows, the 3rd person form uses the suppleted titi morpheme rather than the independent personal pronoun form. For example, at-t-na means 'mine' and at-titi-dr means 'theirs'.

Personal nouns[edit]

In Neverver, personal nouns are one of the three main noun classes, along with common nouns and local nouns. These personal nouns can include personal proper names and personal kin terms. Many of the women's personal proper names are traditionally marked with the morphemes le- or li; however, there is no morpheme associated with men's traditional personal proper names. Neverver also has a small set of kin terms that can express family relations as well as other name avoidance strategies. (Barbour, p. 87-90)


In Neverver, there are a numerous amounts of ways to describe possession. The correlation between an object and what matter it is made up of can make a difference in describing possession.[3] There are seven main types of possession in the language of Neverver. This includes; 1) Human Possession, 2) Inherent possessions without nominal modifier, 3) Associative possession with nominal modifier, 4) Relative clause without nominal modifier, 5) Relative clause with nominal modifier, 6) Number relative clause without nominal modifier, and 7) Number relative clause with nominal modifier. (Barbour, p 132-133) [3]

Some examples of possession from Barbour are;[3]

Human possession: nida (mother) t-na "my mother"

Associative possession with nominal modifier: wido (window) an (nmod) nakhmal (house) ang (the) "The window of the house"

Number relative clause with nominal modifier: nimokhmokh-tro (female old) an (nmod) i-ru (two) ang (the) "the two old women/wives"


Reduplication of words occur in the language of Neverver. They occur in conjunction with verbs in this language. Words are reduplicated by reproducing and repeating the entire word or partially of it. [5] For example, the word 'tukh' of Neverver means strike, when duplicated to 'tukh tukh' it produces the word for beat.[3]

Reduplication Constraint One is used within Neverver. This is when a word's prefix being reduplicated follows the constant-verb format.[3] The table below shows examples of this.

Simple Stem Reduplicated Stem

te 'hit'


tete 'fight'


tas 'scratch'


tas-tas 'sharpen'


malu 'leave'


mal-malu 'disperse'


tnga 'search'


ta-tnga 'search' (duration)


sber 'reach'


se-sber 'touch'

[3] (Barbour, pg. 230)

The most useful process of Reduplication in Neverver is to acquire a stative verb from a verb encoding action. [3] Some examples of this can be seen in the table. [3]

Base Reduplicant
tur 'stand up' turtur 'stand'
ngot 'break' ngotngot 'be broken'
jing 'lie down' jingjing 'be lying down'

(Barbour, pg. 244)

There are irregular reduplications within Neverver that do not follow the constant-verb format. According to Julie Barbour she found that word "vlem" which means "come" does not follow this format. (Barbour p. 232) [3] It would be implied that the reduplication of this word would ve-vlem. Julie Barbour uses the example sentence "Ari vle-vle-vle-vlem" which translates into "They came closer and closer". (Barbour p. 232) [3]

Numbering System[edit]

Numbers one through nine follow a quinary pattern. It can either possess realis or irrelias mood and polarity of a main clause.[3]

Below is a table showing the numerals of neverver one through nine.[3] A key characteristic of Neververs numbering system is associated with definiteness.

Realis Irrelais Number
i-skham ibi-skham one
i-ru ib-ru two
i-tl ibi-tl three
i-vas im-bbwas four
i-lim ib-lim five
i-jo-s im-jo-s six
i-jo-ru im-jo-ru seven
i-jo-tl im-jo-tl eight
i-jo-vas im-jo-vas nine

(Barbour, p. 157) [3]

Numbers in the form of ten or greater take on the form of a noun rather than a verb.[3] As shown in the table below.

Number Name
10^1 (Ten) nangavul
10^2 (Hundred) nagat
10^3 (Thousand) netar
10^4 (Ten Thousand) namul

(Barbour, p. 158) [3]

Clear cut numbers greater than ten contain the term 'nangavul nidruman' [3]

Name Number
nanguavul nidruman i-skham eleven
nanguavul nidruman i-ru twelve
nanguavul nidruman i-tl thirteen
nanguavul nidruman i-vas fourteetn
nanguavul nidruman i-lim fifteen
nanguavul nidruman i-jo-s sixteen
nanguavul nidruman i-jo-ru seventeen
nanguavul nidruman i-jo-tl eighteen
nanguavul nidruman i-jo-vas nineteen
nanguavul i-ru twenty
nanguavul i-ru nidruman i-skham twenty one
nagat i-shkam nanguavul i-ru nidruman i-vas one hundred and twenty four

(Barbour, p. 159) [3]


  1. ^ a b Neverver at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Lingarak". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Barbour, Julie (2012). A Grammar of Neverver. Germany: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 24–25, 44, 72–108, 132–133, 157–159, 230–232, 239, 244. ISBN 9783110289619. 
  4. ^ "Did you know Neverver is vulnerable?". Endangered Languages. Retrieved 2016-09-16. 
  5. ^ a b Language in Hawai'i and the Pacific, (Hiroko Sato and Jacob Terrell, eds.)