A Grammar of Neverver - download pdf or read online

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 intensive corpus of box recordings gathered among 2004 and 2008, the research finds a truly fascinating phonological approach with six prenasalized segments, wealthy structures of ownership, tense/aspect/mood marking, valence swap, and verb serialization. The grammar is of curiosity to experts in Oceanic and Austronesian linguistics, in addition to to normal linguists, specifically these attracted to linguistic typology.

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In November 2005, the draft Vanuatu National Language Policy was presented for public comment (Vanuatu National Language Council 2005). 4 The Local or Indigenous Languages With over 100 different indigenous languages, Vanuatu is linguistically very diverse. These languages are vital expressions of Vanuatu’s social and cultural identity, expressing the intimate relationship of ni-Vanuatu to their land and traditions. There is an urgent need to preserve, and where appropriate revitalise, some of these languages that are on the verge of extinction.

This figure includes the members of all households where at least one parent speaks Neverver as their dominant language. 6. 7. 4 is used by permission of Oxford University Press, appearing previously in: Barbour, J. 2010. Neverver: A study of language vitality and community initiatives. ). Endangered Languages of Austronesia. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. 225-244. Statements made about the vitality of the Neverver language are based almost entirely on my own ‘outsider’s’ observations of the speech community, although comments made to me by community members have shaped my interpretation of the context.

4. Emerging vernacular literacy practices Literacy has a rather marginal role in daily life of many villagers living on Malekula. Paviour-Smith (2008: 11) observes of the Aulua community in central Malekula, that “proficiency in writing and knowledge of various genres is distributed unevenly across the population, [and] writing to get things done requires the pooling of literacy (and the associated material) resources”. The same comment is true of Neverver. The literacy skills that are present in the Neverver speech community are practised in Bislama and English, and are confined to religious and commercial matters among adults and to educational matters among children.

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A Grammar of Neverver by Julie Barbour


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