Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A Grammar of Nahavaq (Malakula, Vanuatu)

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posted on 2021-11-10, 02:58 authored by Dimock, Laura Gail

This thesis is a descriptive grammar of Nahavaq, an Oceanic language spoken by about 700 people in the Sinesip cultural area of Malakula, Vanuatu. Nahavaq was previously undescribed, and this grammar is based on data collected by the researcher over a total of nine months in the Sinesip area. The thesis includes a sociolinguistic overview of the Nahavaq-speaking community and descriptions of phonetics, phonology, mophology, syntax, semantics, and discourse. Noteworthy features of Nahavaq include: (i) two classes of bilabial consonants, which are distinguished by palatalisation and velarisation; (ii) two reduplicative verbal prefixes, which partially overlap in function; (iii) a base-20 numeral system with subbases of five and ten; (iv) nouns which include an accreted article; (v) serial verb constructions; and (vi) nine different surface forms for expressing possession relationships. The attached DVD contains a Nahavaq-English glossary, along with recordings and transcriptions of Nahavaq texts for reference purposes.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies


Bauer, Laurie; Pearce, Elizabeth