Niuafoʻou language

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Niuafo'ou
Native to Tonga
Native speakers
500 (2015)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 num
Glottolog niua1240[2]

Niuafoʻouan is the language spoken on Tonga's northernmost island, Niuafoʻou.

Niuafoʻouan has traditionally been classified as closest to ʻUvean and Tokelauan, in an East Uvean–Niuafo'ou branch. However, recent research[3] suggests that it is closest to its neighbor, Tongan, as one of the Tongic languages.

Phonology[edit]

The phonology of Niuafo'ou is similar to that of Tongan, with twelve consonants and five vowel phonemes.

Consonants[4]
Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Plosive p t k ʔ
Fricative f v s h
Nasal m n ŋ
Lateral l
Vowels[4]
Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

Vowels are more centralized when unstressed. /i/ and /u/ are de-voiced under some conditions.[4]

Sometimes the phoneme /t/ is realized as a apico-alveolar flap (/ɾ/). /h/ is only realized as /h/ at the beginning of words. In the middle of words, it is either /ɦ/ or /x/.[4]

Syllable structure[edit]

Niuafo'ou has a very simple syllable structure, (C)V. However, it is apparently transitioning towards allowing consonant clusters, due to the influence of foreign languages and the de-voicing of vowels.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Niuafo'ou at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Niuafo'ou". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Marck, Jeff (2000), Topics in Polynesian languages and culture history. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  4. ^ a b c d e Akihisa, Tsukamoto (1988). The language of Niuafo'ou Island (Thesis). The Australian National University. Retrieved 20 April 2018.