Olrat language

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Native to Vanuatu
Region Gaua
Native speakers
3 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 olr
Glottolog None

Olrat is a moribund Oceanic language spoken on Gaua island in Vanuatu.

The language[edit]

A. François with †Maten Womal, the last storyteller of Olrat (Gaua, Vanuatu, 2003).

The three remaining speakers of Olrat live on the middle-west coast of Gaua.[2] They merged into the larger village of Jōlap where Lakon is dominant, after they left their inland hamlet of Olrat in the first half of the 20th century.[1]

Alexandre François identifies Olrat as a distinct language from its immediate neighbor Lakon, on phonological,[3] grammatical,[4] and lexical[5] grounds.


Olrat has 14 phonemic vowels. These include 7 short /i ɪ ɛ a ɔ ʊ u/ and 7 long vowels /iː ɪː ɛː aː ɔː ʊː uː/.[6]

Olrat vowels
  Front Central Back
Near-close i   u
Close-mid ɪɪː   ʊʊː
Open-mid ɛɛː   ɔɔː
Open   a  

Historically, the phonologization of vowel length originates in the compensatory lengthening of short vowels when the voiced velar fricative /ɣ/ was lost syllable-finally.[7]



External links[edit]