New PDF release: A Grammar of Neverver

By Julie Barbour

Neverver is an Oceanic language spoken through simply over 500 humans at the excessive island of Malekula in Vanuatu. Drawing on an in depth corpus of box recordings accumulated among 2004 and 2008, the research finds a really attention-grabbing phonological process with six prenasalized segments, wealthy platforms of ownership, tense/aspect/mood marking, valence switch, and verb serialization. The grammar is of curiosity to experts in Oceanic and Austronesian linguistics, in addition to to common linguists, specifically these drawn to linguistic typology.

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Sample text

Because intergeneration transmission is continuing, it is difficult for Neverver speakers to see that there is any immediate threat to the language. 2. Official support In terms of official support for vernacular languages, the constitution of Vanuatu offers protection for local languages, but it is English, French and Bislama that are declared the official languages of the country and English and French that are declared the languages of education (Vanuatu 1980: 3(1)–(2)). Official protection for indigenous languages has meant that the Vanuatu National Cultural Council and the Vanuatu Immigration Service support foreign researchers, particularly those invited by local communities, in the provision of research permits and visas.

Paviour-Smith (2008: 5–7; 16–17) provides a comparable description of the role of the Church in the Aulua community of central Malekula, and a justification for the introduction and support of vernacular literacy in this domain. 4. 2. Literacy in entertainment As a language with a very short history of writing, narratives in Neverver belong to an oral tradition. Few people read for entertainment, and what reading does take place is most often for religious purposes. In the oral tradition, however, stories that describe the origins of Neverver cultural practices and that capture historical events stand alongside contemporary ‘made up’ stories as well as translations of Bible stories and secular material.

Until recently, the kindergartens have focussed on introducing the children to basic English, through the medium of Bislama. As part of the language documentation project, two community members made the journey from Limap village in Malekula to Hamilton in New Zealand to work with me at the University of Waikato. The two young women who came have both been involved with the Limap kindergarten and they also participated as language consultants on the documentation project during my field trips. Over a five week period, we completed the editing and translation of a set of stories and further developed the Neverver-English word list, which will eventually be a Neverver- 18 Introduction Bislama-English dictionary.

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