This grammar of Bilua, a revision of the author's PhD thesis, is the first comprehensive description of the language. Bilua is spoken on Vella La Vella island in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. According to the 1976 census there are about 85 vernacular languages indigenous to the Solomon Islands. The majority of these are Austronesian, but among them are four Papuan languages, one of which is Bilua.
The grammar presented here is based on the dialect of the Bilua area, which is regarded as standard by local people, probably because Methodist missionaries who arrived early in the twentieth century regarded it as the language of the island.
In the past, the Austronesian language Roviana was used as a lingua franca in the region and so older people on Vella La Vella speak Roviana as well as Bilua. However, the role of Roviana has been taken over by Solomon Islands Pidgin which is used in primary schools and in church ceremonies which are central to the lives of people in Vella La Vella. There is a high rate of intermarriage between Vella La Vella people and people from other islands and mixed couples communicate in Bilua, Pidgin, or one of the other Solomons languages. Pidgin words are mixed into Bilua and sometimes people switch from one language to another in their speech. Thus the Bilua language is changing because of the influence of Pidgin, and, although the population of Vella La Vella is increasing rapidly, Bilua is endangere