South Efate language

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South Efate
Fate, Erakor
Native to Northeast Vanuatu
Region Efate Island
Native speakers
6,000 (2001)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 erk
Glottolog sout2856[2]

The South Efate language is a Nuclear Southern Oceanic language of the Malayo-Polynesian language family, spoken on the island of Efate in central Vanuatu. As of 2005, there are approximately 6,000 speakers who live in coastal villages from Pango to Eton. The language's grammar has been studied by Nick Thieberger, who is working on a book of stories and a dictionary of the language.[3]

South Efate is closely related to Nguna and to Lelepa. Based on shared features with southern Vanuatu languages (including echo–subject marking, and the free and preposed 1st-singular-possessive morphemes), Lynch (2001) suggests it could form part of a southern Vanuatu subgroup that includes New Caledonia.

Phonology[edit]

The South Efate language has a total of 20 phonemes consisting of 15 consonant and 5 vowel sounds.[GSE 1]

Consonants[GSE 2]

Labiovelar Labiodental Labial Palatal Alveolar Velar
Stop k͡͡p (p̃) p t k
Fricative f s
Nasal ŋ͡m (m̃) m n ŋ (g)
Lateral l
Trill r
Pre-nasalized trill ndr (nr)
Semivowel w j(y)

Vowels[GSE 2]

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

As seen in the above chart, South Efate's vowel phoneme inventory is that of a five-vowel system; this is one of the most commonly seen vowel inventories in any given language in the world and also especially evident in many Oceanic languages. There is a distinction between short and long vowels but it is currently in a process of change that makes its status unclear.[GSE 3]

Numerals[edit]

The system of numerals in South Efate is base-5 (quinary). Numbers two through five are distinct numerals that are then seen repeated in slight variation for the numbers seven to ten. The pattern of the numerals can be seen in the table below.[GSE 4]

Cardinal English
i-skei one
i-nru; nran; nru two
i-tol three
i-pat four
i-lim five
i-lates six
i-laru seven
i-latol eight
i-lfot nine
ralim iskei ten

Ralim iskei can be used as an example to see the method for displaying numbers ten and above in South Efate; the numeral for ten ralim is followed by its multiplier, which in this case is iskei for one. The term for and atmat is added after the multiplier with an additional numeral to form a number such as thirty seven: [GSE 4]

     ralim + itol + atmat + ilaru
     ten     +   three  +    and    +   seven
     thirty-seven

Morphology[edit]

Adnominal possession[edit]

There are two ways of marking adnominal possession in South Efate: through the use of a possessive pronoun (indirect possession), or directly on the noun (direct possession). Indirect possession is used for general possession, while direct possession is used for nouns that are closely associated items (e.g., body parts or products, kinship terms, etc.). [GSE 5]

Indirect/general possession[edit]

Indirect possession is morphosyntactically represented through the use of the possessive markers ni (of) or knen (of it), or of the presence of a possessive pronoun such as nakte (my/mine).[GSE 5]

When possession is marked by a possessive pronoun, the pronouns follow the possessed NP:

     Nasum̃tap   pur   nigmam      nen   i=tarp̃ek.
     church     big   1p.exPOS    REL   3sg.RS=fall down
     It was our church that fell down.[GSE 6]

ni possession: the preposition ni only occurs when the possessum is a noun. The NP follows the form of ‘possessed ni possessor’.

     I=pi      nawesien  ni   Atua.
     3sgRS=be  work      of   God
     It is God’s work.[GSE 6]

knen possession: This form is used as an inanimate referent, and often indicates a previously mentioned participant in the discourse. It is positioned following the referent noun.

     Natrauswen   karu   i=pitlak     nalag   knen.
     story        next   3sgRS=have   song    of.it
     The next story, it has its song.[GSE 7]

Direct possession[edit]

Direct possession is used for inalienably possessed nouns. This is similar to other languages of Vanuatu that denote inalienable nouns as those that refer to relationships of part-whole association such as kinship terms, body parts or products, and associated parts (such as leaf/stem).[4] These nouns take directly suffixed possession markers, however they can also occur without possessive marking when the possessor is encoded by a noun. The directly possessed (DP) suffix only attaches to the class of directly possessed nouns. For sg and 3p forms, an unpredictable vowel (V) may be inserted to aid DP suffixation.[GSE 7]

     Go   ra=paos-ki-n        ki,     “Gag     tm-a-m          go     rait-o-m         wa?"
     and  3d.RS=ask-TR-3sgO   PREP    2sgPOS   father-V-2sgDP  and    mother-V-3sgDP   where
     And they asked, “Where are your father and mother?”[GSE 8]

If the directly possessed noun has no possessive suffix, the referent is presumed unknown or disembodied. Lack of possession also occurs when possession is encoded by the possessed noun preceding the possessor. As in the following example, the directly possessed noun rait (mother) is preceded by the noun tesa (child).

     Go    rait    tesa    ke=fo           tae    toleg      preg     tete   namrun   ses.
     and   mother  child   3sgIRR=PSP:IR   able   stand.up   make     some   thing    small
     And the child’s mother can stand up and do some small things.[GSE 9]

Pronoun and person marker[edit]

There are mainly two classes of pronoun in South Efate. The free pronoun and the bound pronoun. (Thieberger, 2006, p.103)

Free pronoun[edit]

The free pronouns incorporate three area, demonstrative pronouns, focal pronouns(function as both subject and object) and the oblique free pronoun(in either possessive or benefactive form).

Focal pronoun[edit]

Focal pronoun(Lynch, 2000), also known as independent pronoun(Crowley, 1998), function as both the subject and object in an argument. It allows the pronoun itself to be the NPs on their own unlike the bound pronouns which require to be attached to a verb. Focal pronouns express singular and plural but no distinguish of dual number.

1a) subject role

      Me kineu  a=tap             nrogtesa-wes  mau.

      but 1sg     1sgRS=NEG  fell.bad-3sgO  NEG2

       But I don't/feel bad about it. (Thieberger, 2006, p.104)

1b) object role

    Ruk=fo             wat  kineu.

    3p.RS=PSP:IR hit   1sg 

  They will hit me. (Thieberger, 2006, p.104)

The examples (1a)& (1b) show the 1 person singular pronoun kineu performed as the subject and object correspondingly. And the following is a list of the focal pronouns in South Efate.

Focal Pronoun
1sg kineu/neu
2sg ag
3sg ga
1p. (in) akit
1p. (ex) komam
2p. akam
3p. gar

Table.1. Focal pronouns

Oblique free pronoun[edit]

Oblique free pronoun function in possessive also benefactive case. For the possessive pronoun, it follows the possessed NP, generally made up of the preposition -nig ‘from’/ ‘of’.

2)  Possessive pronouns follow the possessed NP

Nasum̃tap  pur      nigmam nen   i=tarp̃ek.

church big  1p.ex POS       REL 3sgRS=fall.down

It was our church that fell down. (Thieberger, 2006, p.128)

There are variation forms of the suffix -nig , when it combines with an unstressed syllable, the high vowel will become lower. E.g. (niger →  neger)

Benefactive case[edit]

In the benefactive case, the argument shares the same possessive morphology, yet the possessive morpheme is used in the pre-verbal position to express the beneficiary. The following example shows how beneficiary expressed by a pre-verbal position.

3a) Mlapuas kin        i=min             nalkis nl  sokfal.

    owl sp.     COMP 3sgRS=drink herbs of   owl sp.

   Mlapuas who drank sokfal 's herbs. (Thieberger, 2006, p.279)

3b) Ki=ni           sokfal   ut      nai.

     3sglRR=of  owl sp.  pour water

   He poured water for sokfal. (Thieberger, 2006, p.279)

Bound Pronoun[edit]

Bound pronoun comprises subject proclitics, object suffix for direct object and direct possessive. For the subject proclitics, there is neither separate set of dual object, nor oblique form. The obligatory subject proclitic pronouns are being seen as the arguments of the verb. For the pronominal suffixes of bound pronouns, the plural form is used to express any number that is greater than one.

Bound subject pronouns[edit]

The proclitic subject pronoun cannot stand alone without attaching to the first element of the Verb compound. They are considered to be clitics since they can attach to any part of the Verb compound. Subject proclitics happened in three archetypes, realis, irrealis and perfect. The subject proclitic represents the subject argument since it is the only obligatory element in the sentence except for the verb.

Realis/irrealis pronominal[edit]

Proclitic subjects distinguish realis and irrealis situation. The realis is unmarked, and the irrealis being marked in the subject to show the action is yet to be realised, including most of the future events but not all, all the imperatives and hortatives. There is a strong preference for the subject of desideratives, achievement and predicates to be using irrealis form.

4)realis and irrealis paradigm

A=nrik-i-n                     ki        na        ''He   a=muri-n                  

1sgRS=tell-TS-3sgO   PREP COMP  hey  1sgRS=want-TS-3sgO   

na          pa=mai           ni       Kalto     gpreg  nalkis,

COMP  2sglRR=come  BEN  p.name make  medicine

i=wel             ku=f               tae    preg-i-Ø."

3sgRS=thus 2sgRS=CND know make-TS-3sgO

I said to him, "Hey, I want you to bring some medicine for Ka/tog, if you can do that." (Thieberger 2006 p.110)

The examples(4) show all realis form of pronouns in all cases except the subject of the verb mai ‘to come’ which is appeared in a desiderative complement.

Perfect pronominal[edit]

When dealing with aspectual past(event that is over), regarding the speaking event and past time reference, perfect form of proclitic is used. Generally, perfect procitics directly followed by the perfective particle pe, yet it is not a necessary criteria. Notably, perfect proclitics never occur in imperatives. Perfect proclitics can be found in narratives that deal with long events like World War 2.

5)narrative

I=piatlak        tete    nen kin    ru=weswes   skot-i-r.          Go,

3sgRS=have some that REL 3p.RS=work with-TS-3p.O and

ru=lap             te-pur     rui=pe      mat.  Rukoi=pe  mat.

3p.RS=many DET-big 3p.PS=PF dead 3p.RS=PF dead

There are some who worked with them (the Americans). And very many died. They died. (Thieberger 2006 p.110)

The example(5) shows the perfect proclitics being used to refer to those who are long dead in a narrative sentence.

Traditional stories in South Efate often use perfect proclitic form as they are set in the past. The example(6) of an extract of a custom story telling also shows that perfective particle pe is not necessary to appear in perfect proclitic sentence.

6) Storytelling

Kaltog  i=kel             ntak Selwin  tefla=n      go    rakai=ler mai    pak  esum̃

Kaltag 3sgRS=hold back Selwin thus=DST and  3d.PS=return come to     LOC-house

Kaltog rubbed Selwin's back like that and they returned to the house. (Thieberger 2006 p.111)

Bound Object pronoun[edit]

There are two separate types of object suffix, can be distinguished by the roles they encoded and the host they attached to. One type is for direct objects, the direct object suffixes attached to the object of the predicator to encode it. The other type is for oblique objects, the oblique object suffixes encode typically the location and the case of semitransitive verbs. Based on the semantics of the semitransitive verbs in the oblique case, the oblique object suffixes apply to movement to, at, or from a location. There are list of distinctive bound suffix being used in two types of object in table.2.

Bound pronouns
Direct Object Oblique Object Direct Possessive
1sg -wou -wou -k
2sg (transitivisor) -k -wok -m
3sg (transitivisor) -ø/ -n -wes -n
1p. (in) -kit -kit -kit
1p. (ex) -mam/-mom/-m -mam -mam/-mom/-m
2p. -mus -mus -mus
3p. (transitivisor) -r -wer -r

Table.2. Bound pronouns

The direct object[edit]

Object suffixes encrypt the object of derived transitive verbs, ambitransitive verbs, ditransitive verbs and of the preposition -ki. To reference an object in South Efate can be either by an object suffix or a lexical NP. Therefore, object suffix cannot appeared in the Verb Complex while there is a referential lexical NP for object indication.

7) transitive verb/ preposition -ki

Ke=fo                   pes-kerai-ki-k            tete   nrak, tete    nrak,

3sgIRR=PSP:IR  talk-strong-TR-2sgO some time  some time,

masta nen kin       i=wi,              i=pes-kerkerai-ki           ag   m̃as.

boss   that REL    3sgRS=good 3sgRS=talk-strong-TR  2sg only

He will speak harshly to you, sometimes, sometimes a good boss will just speak harshly to you. (as opposed to beating you)  (Thieberger, 2006, p.116)

This is an example(7) showing how object suffix used in transitive verb. The intransitive verb pes-kerai takes the transitivising suffix -ki to become transitive which allows it to take the object suffix -k in the first use. However, to emphasis the object, the last clause used the focal pronoun ag ‘you(singular)’ instead of the object suffix.

8) ambitransitive verb

I=f                  weI  ku=f               tae     trok-wes          go

3sgRS=CND thus 2sgRS=CND know  agree-3sg0BL and

ka=of                  plak-e-r          ler.

1sgIRR=PSP:IR with-TS-3p.O return

If you agree with it, then I will go back with them. (Thieberger, 2006, p.116)

In general, ambitransitive verbs requires a transitive suffix before the addition of the object suffix. The example(8) shows that transitive suffix -e is added before the object suffix -r occurred.

9)ditransitive verb

Or   ka=fo                   mer     nrik-i-r           ki         i=skei.

yes 1sgIRR=PSP:IR  in.turn  tell-TS-3p.O PREP  3sgRS=one

Yes, I will now tell them one (story).  (Thieberger, 2006, p.116)

The object suffix indicates the recipient when it is with a ditransitive verb. The example (9)shows when the suffix -r is used to encode the addresses.

Oblique object[edit]

The oblique suffix has a locational meaning. The oblique case can also be indicating temporal and spatial references. The example shows the suffix -wes encoded the day that the race was held.

10) oblique suffix

Naliati nen  rak=fo                 res-wes        me

day this   3d.IRR=PSP:IR race-3sg0BL but

katom          i=pei            usrek-ki        ser     nagis.

hermit.crab 3sgRS=first go.round-TR every point

That day they would race, but the hermit crab was first around every point. (Thieberger, 2006, p.119)

Bound direct possessive pronouns[edit]

The direct possessive suffix can only be attached to direct possessed nouns and reflexive/reciprocal morpheme yet not being a clitic. The 3 person singular is the most common form of direct possessive pronoun being found, even though there is other direct possessive pronoun see table.2. The following example(11) shows the 3sg direct possessive suffix -r.

11) direct possessive suffix

Gar nen   ru=lek-a-Ø                  ki          namt-e-r.

3p.   REL  3p.RS=see-TS-3sgO  PREP  eye-V-3p.DP

It was they who saw it with their own eyes. (Thieberger, 2006, p.122)

Access to resources[edit]

Thieberger's field recordings have been archived with Paradisec:

Notes[edit]

  • General notes:
  1. ^ South Efate at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "South Efate". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ South Efate — English dictionary
  4. ^ Payne, 1997
  1. ^ Thieberger (2006: 45).
  2. ^ a b Thieberger (2006: 46).
  3. ^ Thieberger (2006: 54).
  4. ^ a b Thieberger (2006: 77).
  5. ^ a b Thieberger (2006: 127).
  6. ^ a b Thieberger (2006: 128).
  7. ^ a b Thieberger (2006: 129).
  8. ^ Thieberger (2006: 130).
  9. ^ Thieberger (2006: 131).

References[edit]

  • Anon. 1868. Nalag nig Efat. Trans. D. Morrison. Sydney: Mason, Firt, nigar asler (Mason, Firth and Co).
  • Anon. 1892. Tusi nalag Efate Niu Ebrites. Sydney: F. Cunninghame and Co.
  • Anon. 1979. Natus nalag (213 pp).
  • Bible. 1864. Nadus iskei nig Fat. Aneityum: Mission Press.
  • Bible. 1866. Nafsanwi nig Iesu Krist nag Mark. Trans. D. Morrison. Sydney: Sheriff and Downing.
  • Bible. 1874. Kenesis natus a bei nag Moses ki mtir i. Trans. Cosh, J. Sydney: British and Foreign Bible Society.
  • Bible. 1875? Nafisan nafousien. Sydney: F. Cunninghame and Co.
  • Bible. 1883. The Gospel according to Luke. Trans. Macdonald, D.D. Melbourne: M.L. Hutchinson.
  • Bible. 1885. The Gospel according to John, Tus Nanrognrogona Uia ni Iesu Kristo nag Ioane i mitiria. Trans. Mackenzie, J., Macdonald, D.D. Sydney: F. Cunninghame and Co.
  • Bible. 1919. Natus bei ni nafisan ni Efate. Sydney: Epworth Press.
  • Bible. 1919. Tusi tab fao (New Testament). Trans. Mackenzie, J., Macdonald, D.D. Melbourne: British and Foreign Bible Society.
  • Bible. 1923. Scripture History. Sydney: Epworth Printing and Publishing House.
  • Bible. 1923. Nafakoron ni aliat. Erakor Efate, New Hebrides. Nouméa: Imprimerie A.-L. Laubreaux.
  • Bible. n.d. Nawisien nig Nagmer Apostol. Sydney: F. Cunninghame and Co.
  • Clark, Ross. 1973. Transitivity and case in eastern Oceanic languages. Oceanic Linguistics 12(1–2). 559–606.
  • ––––– 1978. The New Hebridean outliers. In Wurm, S.A. and L.Carrington, (eds.), Second International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics: proceedings. Fascicle 2: eastern Austronesian. (Pacific Linguistics Series) Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University. 911–928.
  • ––––– 1982. “Necessary” and “unnecessary” borrowing. In Halim, A. (ed.), Papers from the Third International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. Vol.3: Accent on variety. C 76 ed. (Pacific Linguistics Series): Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University. 137–143.
  • ––––– 1985. The Efate dialects. Te Reo 28.:3–35.
  • ––––– 1996. Linguistic consequences of the Kuwae eruption. In J. M. Davidson, G. Irwin, B. F. Leach, A. Pawley and D. Brown (eds.), Oceanic culture history: essays in honour of Roger Green. New Zealand Journal of Archaeology Special Publication. 275–285.
  • ––––– n.d. The Efate-Tongoa dialects (Ms).
  • Codrington, Robert Henry (R. H.). 1885. The Melanesian Languages. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Crowley, Terry. 1998. An Erromangan (Sye) Grammar. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.
  • Lynch, John. 2000. South Efate phonological history. Oceanic Linguistics 39(2):320–338.
  • ––––– 2000. A grammar of Anejom. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. ––––– 2001. The linguistic history of Southern Vanuatu. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University.
  • ––––– 2004. The Efate-Erromango Problem in Vanuatu Subgrouping. Oceanic Linguistics 43(2):311–338.
  • Thieberger, Nicholas. 2006a. A Grammar of South Efate: An Oceanic Language of Vanuatu Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication, No. 33. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
  • ––––– 2006b. The benefactive construction in South Efate. Oceanic Linguistics, Volume 45, no. 2, 297-310.
  • ––––– 2007. The demise of serial verbs in South Efate. Diana Eades, John Lynch and Jeff Siegel (eds.), Language Description, History and Development: Linguistic Indulgence in Memory of Terry Crowley. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 237-251.
  • ––––– 2011a. Natrauswen nig Efat. Melbourne: The author. ISBN 978-1-921775-50-5.
  • ––––– 2011b. A dictionary of South Efate. Melbourne: The author. ISBN 978-1-921775-51-2.
  • ––––– 2012. Mood and Transitivity in South Efate. Oceanic Linguistics. Volume 51, no. 2, 387-401.
  • Thieberger, Nicholas and Chris Ballard. 2008. Daniel Macdonald and the 'compromise literary dialect' in Efate, central Vanuatu. Oceanic Linguistics, Volume 47, no.2: 365-382
  • Payne, Thomas Edward. 1997. Describing morphosyntax: a guide for field linguists. Cambridge, U.K.; New York: Cambridge University Press.

External links[edit]