Neve'ei language

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Neve’ei
Vinmavis
Native to Vanuatu
Region Central Malekula
Ethnicity spoken by 70% (no date)[1]
Native speakers
500 (2007)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 vnm
Glottolog vinm1237[3]

Neveʻei (IPA: [neveʔei]), also known as Vinmavis, is an Oceanic language of central Malekula, Vanuatu.[M 1] There are around 500 primary speakers of Neve’ei and about 750 speakers in total.[M 1]

Name of the language[edit]

The traditional name of the language, which is recognized by older speakers, is Neveʻei.[M 1] However, the majority of younger speakers of Neve’ei do not use the traditional name and some are not even aware of it.[M 1] Native speakers commonly refer to their language as Nabusian teget which literally means “our language” and in Bislama the language(Neveʻei) is called Lanwis Vinmavis “the language of Vinmavis”.[M 1] Neveʻei is the traditional name for the language; Vinmavis is the name of one of the villages in which the language is spoken in(Lynch and Crowley 2001:83).[4][M 1]

Phonology[edit]

Consonant phonemes[M 2]
Labio-velar Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Voiceless stop t k ʔ
Voiced stop b d g
Nasal m n ŋ
Fricative v s x h
Lateral s
Flap l
Glide w ɾ
Vowel phonemes[M 3]
Front Mid Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

Syllable Structure[M 4][edit]

V(vowel) , C(consonant) Neveʻei English
V /u-/ 2SG.REAL(verbal prefix)
VC /im/ only, just
VCC /itl/ three
CV /vi/ do, make
CC /tn/ roast
CCV /tno/ my (pronoun)
CCVC /nsev/ cough
CVC /dan/ go down, sink
CVCC /matl/ thick
CCVCC /nsutl/ eight

Syllables that consist of two vowels are also present, but are only used for specific reasons.[M 5] While most two non-like vowels can be used to form a morpheme, there are certain exceptions that must be noted.[M 6]

Impermissible vowel sequences[M 7]
eo, oe mid vowels cannot be followed by another mid vowel
ea mid front vowel /e/ cannot be followed by /a/
iu, eu front vowels /i/ and /e/ cannot be followed by /u/
ae, ao low vowel /a/ cannot be followed by a mid vowel
ui back vowel /u/ cannot be followed by /i/

Orthography[edit]

Neve’ei does not have a traditional orthography. Like elsewhere in Vanuatu, most speakers of Neve’ei write using either Bislama, English or sometimes French. However, Neve’ei is sometimes used in writing for certain special occasions, such as the composition of hymns, recording details of family history, and land ownership.[M 8] Due to the lack of stable spelling conventions for Neve’ei, individuals differ in the choice of orthographical methods when transcribing unusual phonemes. In the past efforts had been made to create a standard orthography, but the current situation is unknown.[M 8]

Morphology[edit]

Pronouns[edit]

Independent pronouns[edit]

In Neve’ei, independent pronouns can function as verbal subjects, as verbal and prepositional objects, and as pronominal possessors following directly possessed nouns. Independent pronouns inflect according to person and number (singular, dual, or non-singular), but not according to case or grammatical gender. First person pronouns also distinguish between inclusive and exclusive in the dual and non-singular forms.[M 9]

Independent pronouns[M 9]

Singular

Dual

Non-singular

1st inclusive

no

getdru

get

1st exclusive

gememru

gemem

2nd

gu

gemru

gem

3rd

i

ardru

ar

Although Neve’ei has a distinction between dual and plural, the forms listed as non-singular can be used to refer to both dual and plural subjects. In these cases, even when the non-singular independent pronoun is used, the dual verbal prefix will be used.[M 10]

Example:[M 11]

gemem

bwera-vu

ran

nourour

toro

1NONSG.EXCL

1DL.IRR-go

GOAL

island

big

"We (two) will go to the mainland."

gemem

bwit-tovu

ran

nourour

toro

1NONSG.EXCL

1PL.IRR-go

GOAL

island

big

"We (all) will go to the mainland."

The pronominal forms listed as dual in the table are instead used in cases where there is a pragmatic contrast with singular or plural reference, or where two participants are acting together rather than separately.[M 12]

Example:[M 12]

ar

ar-vwelem

3NONSG

3DL.REAL-come

"They (two) came."

ardru

ar-vwelem

3DL

3DL.REAL-come

"They (two) came together."

Possessive pronouns[edit]

Neve’ei contains a set of possessive postmodifiers which are used as possessive adjuncts with indirectly possessed nouns. The possessive pronouns (used when the possessed noun is not overtly expressed) are derived from these possessive postmodifiers by adding the prefix ti-, although this may be omitted in some forms. Like the independent pronouns, these pronominal forms indicate person and number, and the non-singular forms may be used for dual referents. These pronominal forms also have an inclusive/exclusive distinction.[M 13]

Possessive postmodifiers[M 14]

Singular

Dual

Non-singular

1st inclusive

tno

tegetdru

teget

1st excusive

tegememru

tegemem

2nd

tugu

tegemru

tegem

3rd

ti

terdru

ter

Possessive pronouns[M 14]

Singular

Dual

Non-singular

1st inclusive

titno

(ti)tegetdru

(ti)teget

1st excusive

(ti)tegememru

(ti)tegemem

2nd

(ti)tugu

tegemru

(ti)tegem

3rd

titi

titerdru

titer

Example:[M 13]

gu

ke-takh

natitimwen

teget

bwe-sevakh

2SG

2SG.IRR-take

boy

1NONSG.INCL.POSS

3SG.IRR-one

"You will take one of our boys."

get

tuan

ba-khal

titi

1NONSG.INCL

INDEF

3SG.IRR-dig

3SG.POSS

"Each of us will dig his own."

Indefinite pronouns[edit]

Neve’ei also contains a set of indefinite pronouns which function as both verbals subjects and objects, with separate forms in fast and slow speech.[M 15]

Slow speech Fast speech
numuruan numurwan "somebody, someone"
nusutuan nusutwan "something"
nisituan nisitwan "something"
nei mang (mi) "who, whoever"
Neve’ei mang (mi) "what, whatever"

Example:[M 16]

nisit nganga' i-leh nusutwan
thing little 3SG.REAL-see something
"The child saw something"

Nouns[edit]

in Neveʻei, similar to most Oceanic Languages nouns do not change.[M 17] The inflection of nouns by numbers does not occur and instead postmodifiers are used.[M 17] It is also interesting to note that only two types of possession exist in Neveʻei.[M 17] These two types of possession are: direct and indirect. For a directly possessed noun, a suffix is attached directly to the noun itself and for a indirectly possessed noun, a possessive postmodifier appears before the noun.

Direct possession[M 18] Indirect possession
netal-ung noang tno
leg-1SG canoe 1SG.POSS
my leg my canoe

Directly possessed nouns most commonly have stems ending in vowels, but stems ending in non-nasal alveolar consonants t,s,l and r have also been encountered.[M 17]

Noun Derivation[edit]

In Neveʻei complex nouns can be formed by compounding or affixation.[M 19] Compounding involves combining a noun root with either a noun or verb root. And affixation involves deriving nouns from verbs, a process in which a simulfix is added to the verb stem.[M 19]

Numerals[edit]

Cardinal Numerals (numerals that denote quantity)[edit]

Neveʻei uses a decimal (base 10) system for numbers, however many young people are only familiar with one to ten, so higher value numerals are often expressed using methods derived from Bislama.[M 20]

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
sevakh iru itl ivah ilim nsouh nsuru nsutl nsavah nangavil (sevakh) / vungavil

10 is an interesting number in Neveʻei because it can be either nangavil or nangavil sevkh.[M 21] Also note that nangavil is used for the actual number 10 when counting and vungavil is used to modify a phrase or noun.[M 21] An example would be noang vungavil which translates to "10 canoes" in english.[M 21]

Person markers[edit]

In Neve’ei, subject verbal prefixes are obligatory and indicate the person and number of the subject. There are two complete sets of prefixes: one for realis mood and the other for irrealis. Unlike the pronoun systems, there is no distinction between inclusive and exclusive first person, and dual prefixes are always used with dual referents. There is no set of affixes encoding the person and number of objects. Vowels in some of these prefixes may change according to the first vowel in the verb stem; this is a process of progressive assimilation at a distance.[M 22]

Realis prefixes[M 23][edit]

Singular

Dual

Plural

1st

nV-

er-

it-

2nd

u-

ar-

at-

3rd

i-/∅-

Irrealis prefixes[M 23][edit]

Singular

Dual

Plural

1st

nVbwV-

bwVr-

bwit-

2nd

kV-

abwVr-

abwit-

3rd

bwV-

Example:[M 24]

bwer-ngang
1DL.IRR-laugh
"we (both) will laugh"
er-ngang
1DL.REAL-laugh
"we (both) laugh"
ar-ngang
2/3DL.REAL-laugh
"you/they (both) laugh"
abwer-ngang
2/3DL.IRR-laugh
"you/they (both) will laugh"

The third person singular realis prefix is sometimes realised as ∅- in various environments. This is more common with certain verbs, especially verbs where the stem begins with s.

Example:[M 25]

numur

bweradang

∅-sakh

person

real

3SG.REAL-is.not

"...not a real person."

Verbal prefixes ending in t also often lose the t before verb roots beginning with s.

Example:[M 25]

i-sav

1PL.REAL-dance

"We (all) dance"

Reduplication in Neveʻei[edit]

Reduplication is most commonly used in Neveʻei to indicate things such as intensity, prohibition, reciprocity and habitual aspects and is also sometimes used in order to differentiate between transitive and intransitive forms of a verb.[M 26] The most common method of reduplication in Neveʻei is the repeating of the first syllable in the verb stem.[M 26]

Example[M 26]

I-bans-bans do.
3SG.REAL-RED-wander. about a. little
(S)he wandered about a bit.

This example shows reduplication to express a habitual aspect.

Example[M 26]

Abur-su-khus-khus-si ∅
2DL.IRR-NEG1-RED-kill-NEG2 3SG
Do not kill it.

This example shows reduplication to express prohibition.

Example[M 26]

Ar are-te-teri ar.
2NONSG 3DL.REAL-RED-cut 3NONSG
They cut each other.

This example shows reduplication to express reciprocity.

Example[M 26]

Ar ar-yang-yangwal ar.
3NONSG 3DL.REAL-RED-like 3NONSG
They like each other.

This example shows reduplication to express intensity.

Transitive suffix[edit]

In Neveʻei transitive and intransitive verbs are represented by a technique in which intransitive verbs become transitive through the addition of a suffix -V(vowel)n to the end of an intransitive verb stem.[M 27]

The suffix to make verbs transitive has three allomorphs. They are:

-on ~ -en (used for verb stems ending in oC(consonant)).[M 27]

-an ~ -en (used for verb stems ending in aC(consonant) where the consonant is also glottal or velar).[M 27]

-en (used elsewhere).[M 27]

Intransitive[M 27] Transitive
nonong "finish" nonong-on ~ nonong-en "finish"
ngang "laugh" ngang-an ~ ngang-en "laugh at"
dedan "dive" dedan-en "dive for"

Apart from addition of the suffix, there are two other methods to differentiate between intransitive and transitive verbs.

One other way is for both transitive and intransitive verbs to have very different forms of expression.[M 27]

Intransitive[M 27] Transitive
"eat" ʻaʻan khan
"steal" vevenaʻ venokh
"burn" lililmin vang do

The final way for intransitive and transitive verbs to differentiate from each other is through reduplication.[M 28]

Transitve[M 29] Intransitive
"turn around" vilih vil-vilih
"buy" vul vul-vul
"drink" min min-min
"copulate (with)" ʻav ʻav-ʻav

References[edit]

  • Lynch & Crowley, 2001, Languages of Vanuatu: A New Survey and Bibliography. Australian National University.
  • Musgrave, Jill (2007). A grammar of Neve’ei, Vanuatu. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. ISBN 9780858835801.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Neve'ei language at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
  2. ^ Neve’ei at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Vinmavis". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  4. ^ See ISO 639-3, 2008, Change Request Number 2008-012.
  • References from: Musgrave, Jill (2007). A grammar of Neve’ei, Vanuatu. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  1. ^ a b c d e f Musgrave 2007, p.3
  2. ^ Musgrave 2007, p.6.
  3. ^ Musgrave 2007, p.12
  4. ^ Musgrave 2007, p.18
  5. ^ Musgrave 2007, p.13
  6. ^ Musgrave 2007, p.19
  7. ^ Musgrave 2007, (table 2.5), p.19
  8. ^ a b Musgrave 2007, p.28
  9. ^ a b Musgrave 2007, p. 29
  10. ^ Musgrave 2007, p. 29-30
  11. ^ Musgrave 2007, p.30
  12. ^ a b Musgrave 2007, p. 30
  13. ^ a b Musgrave 2007, p. 30-31
  14. ^ a b Musgrave 2007, p.31
  15. ^ Musgrave 2007, p. 32
  16. ^ Musgrave 2007 p. 62
  17. ^ a b c d Musgrave 2007, p.33
  18. ^ Musgrave 2007, (table 3.5), p.33
  19. ^ a b Musgrave 2007, p.36
  20. ^ Musgrave 2007, p.40
  21. ^ a b c Musgrave 2007, p.41
  22. ^ Musgrave 2007, p. 44-45
  23. ^ a b Musgrave 2007, p. 44
  24. ^ Musgrave 2007, p. 46
  25. ^ a b Musgrave 2007, p. 45
  26. ^ a b c d e f Musgrave 2007, p.54
  27. ^ a b c d e f g Musgrave 2007, (table 3.11), p.56
  28. ^ Musgrave 2007, p.57
  29. ^ Musgrave 2007, (table 3.12), p.57