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Documentation of Vurës


Language Vures
Depositor Catriona Malau
Affiliation University of Newcastle
Location Vanuatu
Collection ID 0039
Grant ID IPF0002
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

This collection consists of approximately 15 hours of audio recordings in the Vurës language. Vurës is spoken in the southwest of the island of Vanua Lava, in the Banks group of islands in northern Vanuatu.


Group represented

Vurës is an Oceanic language spoken on the island of Vanua Lava, Banks group, Vanuatu. The language has approximately 1,000 speakers who mostly reside in the villages of Vētuboso, Wasag, Bōkrat and smaller surrounding hamlets. The major population centre is Vētuboso, a large village of about 1,000 inhabitants, just uphill from the bay known in English as Vureas Bay.

The Vurës language community are eager for their language to be documented and for the production of literacy materials that will be of use to them and to future generations.


Language information

Vurës (referred to as Mosina (MSN) in Ethnologue), like all of the languages of Vanua Lava, and indeed all of the islands that make up the Banks group, is a member of the North Vanuatu subgroup of languages. There are 31 languages in this subgroup. All languages of Vanuatu are members of the Eastern Oceanic branch of the Austronesian language family.

Vanuatu is widely recognised as the most linguistically diverse country in the world, with more languages per head of population than any other country. For a population of close to 190,000, there are approximately 96 languages spoken in Vanuatu today, of which 80 are actively spoken and 16 are moribund. This translates as an average of less than 2,000 speakers per language. There are many gaps in our understanding of the classification of Vanuatu languages, and many languages for which there is very limited information available. Few of the Vanuatu languages are well described, with descriptive grammars and dictionaries. For many of the languages the only information available is a basic wordlist. For others the only grammatical information is a brief description based on early missionary work. This is the case for all of the languages of Vanua Lava and generally for languages in the North Vanuatu subgroup of languages, of which Vurës is a member. Of the 31 languages in this subgroup only four are well described.


Collection contents

Approximately 15 hours of audio recordings in the Vurës language, especially narratives. The recordings were made between 2002 and 2004. The 2002 recordings were originally made on audio cassette and the 2003 and 2004 recordings were made on mini-disc. The majority of the recordings have at least been transcribed, and a .txt file with the transcription is included in the item bundle. Some recordings have also been time-aligned, translated, and glossed using Toolbox.


Other information

Previous research on the language:There is no data currently available on the Vurës language apart from a basic wordlist and a five page grammatical sketch, and some data from my preliminary investigations. I first started working on this language in 1999, when I was working on the Oral Traditions Project at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. At this time I spent only two weeks in the language community; I collected a word list of approximately 1500 words and worked with the community on establishing an orthography. Using these basic data I produced a set of picture booklets for use in early childhood, demonstrating the alphabet and showing vernacular words for local birds, trees and marine life. These are the only publications in the language.

Before this project, I spent four months working with the language community and collected a considerable amount of data in the form of recorded, transcribed and translated texts (approximately 10 hours and 60 texts).


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Malau, Catriona. 2002. Documentation of Vurës. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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