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A Grammar of Mavea

An Oceanic Language of Vanuatu

Valerie Guerin

Publication Year: 2011

Spoken on Mavea Island by approximately 32 people, Mavea is an endangered Oceanic language of Vanuatu. This work provides grammatical descriptions of this hitherto undescribed language. Fourteen chapters, containing more than 1,400 examples, cover topics in the phonology and morphosyntax of Mavea, with an emphasis on the latter. Of particular interest are examples of individual speaker variation presented throughout the grammar; the presence of three linguo-labials (still used today by a single speaker) that were unexpectedly found before the rounded vowel /o/; and a chapter on numerals and the counting system, which have long been replaced by Bislama’s but are remembered by a handful of speakers.

Most of the grammatical descriptions derive from a corpus of texts of various genres (conversations, traditional stories, personal histories, etc.) gathered during the author’s fieldwork, conducted for eleven months between 2005 and 2007.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v-xiv

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Chapter 1 Introduction

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pp. 1-10

Maṽea is a severely endangered Oceanic language spoken by about 32 people in northern Vanuatu, on the east coast of Espiritu Santo. Although a lot still remains to be discovered about the language, this descriptive reference grammar is the first attempt to safeguard linguistic information about Ma˝vea and to provide a basis on ...

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Chapter 2 Phonology

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pp. 11-46

Throughout this study, words exemplifying the phonemes are presented in their orthographic forms unless otherwise stated, that is, when they appear between square brackets representing a phonetic transcription, or between slashes for a phonemic transcription. The following notation is also used: syllables are separated ...

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Chapter 3 Word classes

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pp. 47-94

According to Schachter, “parts-of-speech classes must be distinguished from one another on the basis of a cluster of properties, none of which by itself can be claimed to be a necessary and sufficient condition for assignment to a particular class” (1985:6, original emphasis)....

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Chapter 4 Derivational morphology

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pp. 95-125

In this book, the term zero derivation (also known as “conversion” or “functional shift”) is used to refer to lexical items which can serve several grammatical functions without any overt morphological derivation. Zero derivation is common in Oceanic languages (Lynch et al. 2002:38), and is found in Saliba (Margetts ...

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Chapter 5 The Mavea counting system

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pp. 126-139

In this chapter, the following terminology is used: in order to describe a number such as 2,946, the 2 is referred to as the thousands-place position, 9 as the hundreds-place position, 4 as the tens-place position, and 6 as the ones-place position....

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Chapter 6 Noun phrases

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pp. 140-167

Throughout this monograph, the term ‘noun phrase’ refers to NPs and DPs. Maximally, a noun phrase is composed of the following elements:
(Quant) (Plural) N (N-poss) (N) (Adj) (Det) ((lig) Num) (Quant) (Clf (N-Poss)) (Rel)
There are no examples in the data where all possible constituents of the NP appear in a single phrase given that some elements are incompatible with others....

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Chapter 7 Possession

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pp. 168-189

Ma˝vea distinguishes direct and indirect possession. In direct possessive constructions (§7.1), nouns take a bound possessive clitic. On the other hand, indirect possession (§7.2) is expressed by the presence of a classifier to which a possessive clitic is suffixed (see, for example, Ross 2004:512)....

Chapter 8 Prepositions and prepositional phrases

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pp. 205-224

Chapter 9 The verbal complex

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pp. 225-255

Chapter 10 Issues in transitivity

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pp. 256-268

Chapter 11 Serial verb constructions

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pp. 269-291

Chapter 12 Simple sentences

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pp. 292-303

Chapter 13 Negation and questions

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pp. 304-328

Chapter 14 Coordination and subordination

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pp. 329-402


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pp. 403-410

Appendix: Texts in Mavea

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pp. 411-419


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pp. 420-421


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pp. 422-426

E-ISBN-13: 9780824837068
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824836399

Publication Year: 2011