LINGUIST List 15.1420

Wed May 5 2004

Diss: Lang Description: Thieberger: 'Topics in...'

Editor for this issue: Tomoko Okuno <>


  1. thien, Topics in the grammar and documentation of South Efate...

Message 1: Topics in the grammar and documentation of South Efate...

Date: Tue, 4 May 2004 23:36:27 -0400 (EDT)
From: thien <>
Subject: Topics in the grammar and documentation of South Efate...

Institution: University of Melbourne
Program: Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Nicholas Thieberger 

Dissertation Title: 
Topics in the grammar and documentation of South Efate, an Oceanic
language of Central Vanuatu

Linguistic Field: Language Description

Subject Language: Efate, South (code: ERK)

Dissertation Director 1: Anna Margetts
Dissertation Director 2: Nicholas Evans

Dissertation Abstract: 

This thesis presents topics in the grammar of South Efate, an Oceanic
language of Central Vanuatu as spoken in Erakor village on the
outskirts of Port Vila. There has been no previous grammatical
description of the language, which has been classified as the
southernmost member of the North-Central Vanuatu subgroup of
languages. In this description I show that South Efate shares features
with southern Vanuatu languages, including a lack of serial verb
constructions of the kind known for its northern neighbours and the
use of an echo-subject marker. The phonology of South Efate reflects
an ongoing change in progress, with productive medial vowel deletion
and consequent complex heterorganic consonant clusters.

A key feature of South Efate grammar is the grammaticalisation of a
benefactive phrase in pre-verbal position. There is thus a
discontinuous verbal complex including a closed class of auxiliary
verbs that occur in a fixed order preceding the benefactive phrase and
then the verb. Mood-marking is central to any utterance in South
Efate and there is no grammatical expression of tense. The interplay
between mood and aspect marking is an interesting feature of the

The present research is set in the context of increasing attention
being paid to the state of the world's smaller languages and their
prospects for being spoken into the future. In addition to providing
an outline of the grammar of the language, I describe the process of
developing an archivable textual corpus that is used to make example
sentences citable and playable, using software developed in the course
of the research. An attached DVD provides playable versions of most
example sentences and of the example texts.

Appendices to this thesis provide a dictionary and finderlist, and a
set of interlinearised example texts and elicited sentences.
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