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Documentation of Blablanga

Deposit page image for the collection 'Documentation of Blablanga'

The Popoheo Village, St Isabel Island, Solomon Islands in 2007. Landing page image for the collection ‘Documentation of Blablanga’. Click on image to access collection.

Language Blablanga (ISO639-3:blp)
Depositor Radu Voica
Affiliation SOAS University of London
Location Solomon Islands
Collection ID 0257
Grant ID IGS0048
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle




Summary of the collection

This collection contains digital audio and video recordings of Blablanga (Blanga) speakers or ritual performers as well as digital photographs, annotations and written notes, and includes a balanced proportion of elicited data, grammaticality judgements, dialogues, conversation, narrative, hortatory, procedural, expository, and descriptive texts, tokens for phonetic analysis as well as ethnographic, sociological and cultural information, customs, rituals, songs, and dances.


Group represented

The data have been collected from consultants, men and women of different age groups and a small number of children, representing all the Blanga inhabited areas. In most of the recordings, interactions are limited to community level. However, in some of them, the life and actions of Blanga community members are depicted within the larger context of the St. Isabel Island environment, where they are in permanent contact with other linguistic groups.


Language information

The language known in literature as Blablanga but currently refer to by its speakers and their neighbours almost exclusively as Blanga, (iso 639-3 code blp) is an Austronesian language belonging to the Northwest Solomonic branch of the Oceanic subgroup. Its three dialects are spoken by 1150 people (2008) on Santa Isabel Island, Solomon Islands. The best represented in this collection is the dialect spoken on the northern coast (Northern Blanga or Loghahaza Blanga) in the villages of Popoheo, Kolosori and, partially, Hovukoilo-Sogholona plus the small settlements of Kavaberi-Guguha Hill, Boinio, Holokama, Dodova, Gozoruru, belonging administratively to the Hovukoilo Ward, by the Maringe Lagoon. The other two dialects are both spoken on the southern coast, one in Kilokaka, Galili, Hiroleghu, Gazuhungari, Gugugluro, Kotlomuro, Biraki and Tavol (Southwestern Blanga or Zazao Blanga) and the other in Biluro, Hiroleghu and Tavol (Southeastern Blanga or Biluro Blanga), in the Susubona Ward, neighbouring the Hograno Region. Until recently, Zazao (Kilokaka) was considered a different language and consequently assigned a different iso code (jaj). Recent research, especially my own documentation project and my PhD thesis, has shown that Zazao is a Blanga variety. The differences between the three dialects are minimal and their speakers consider them to be the same Blanga language, which in turn is seen as distinct from any other language.

There are important generational differences in the language and younger people are gradually shifting to Cheke Holo (Maringe), the major trade language of St. Isabel, in which almost all Blanga speakers are fluent. Multilingualism is common. Cheke Holo is used as a lingua franca at Island level, while Pijin, the Solomons variety of Melanesian Pidgin, is employed for communication with groups from outside the island. Many Blanga speakers can also speak or understand one or two other languages of Isabel.


Special characteristics


-the emergence of affricate phonemes, rare in Oceanic, and the marginal phonologisation of the glottal stop, both occurring in the variety used by younger speakers, under the influence of Cheke Holo;

-the strong tendency of hiatus avoidance by both younger and older speakers, which forms the base of numerous surface phenomena and has consequences for the pattern of stress assignment in the language;

-the existence, under certain constraints, of consonant clusters, also rare in Oceanic but frequent in the NW Solomonic subgroup;

-the way stress is assigned and the way it surfaces has important consequences for a general theory of stress and word minimality;

-the effect of loanwords on the language’s structure include the incipient introduction of a labial glide phoneme, the generation of syllabic codas, and the acceptance of consonant clusters that do not obey traditional constraints;

-intonation and its role in the structuring of information.

Morphology, morphophonology and syntax:

-the existence of only two major word classes;

-lack of adjectives but presence of descriptive stative verbs;

-grammatical/lexical encoding of space and spatial orientation;

-reduplication and stem modification patterns;

-multiple functions of demonstratives;

-the noun mane ‘man’ becoming a marker of specificity;

-existence of object agreement without subject agreement, which is extremely
rare cross-linguistically;

-incorporation of non-specific nouns into verbs;

-semantic (macro)roles not encoded grammatically but identified by speaker and hearer based on the semantics of the predicate, pragmatic and cultural knowledge, and the larger discourse context;
-grammatical relations are construction-specific and there is no need for their employment with most syntactic structures;

-considerable variation of clause constituent order.


-kinship, families, lineages;

-assignment of totems; marriage practices;

-ancestors cult;

-land claim, land tenure, land dispute.


Collection contents

The Blanga corpus consists of approximately 80 hours of audio and 30 hours of video recordings, some with separate audio backup. It In addition to recordings, the collection includes scanned copies of written agreements, official documents and my field notebooks, digital photographs of consultants and locations, digital copies of elicitation materials created in the field, scanned copies of Blanga hand-written materials, and Toolbox and ELAN files, all accompanied by consistent metadata.


Collection history

The materials deposited here were collected during the project Documentation of Blablanga, Solomon Islands, funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) grants IGS0048 and IGS0048-supplement and covering thirty-six months, of which twelve were shared between two field trips, during which a substantial amount of data has been collected see above). The first trip lasted for nine months between 6th October 2007 and 30th June 2008 and was followed by a second three-month trip that took place between 5th October and 24th December 2009.


Other information

The audio and video recordings have been uniquely labelled and each label consists of a three-digit number, followed by the letters A (audio only), V (video) or AV (video with separate audio backup), which are in turn followed by the date of the recording in ddmmyy format. Thus, recording 171A031109 is the 171st recording, made in audio only on 3rd November 2009, recording 005V031207 is the 5th video recording without separate audio backup and was made on 3rd December 2007, while recording 136AV111209 is the 136th video recording, made with separate audio backup on 11th December 2009.


Acknowledgement and citation

Users of any part of the collection should acknowledge Radu Voica as the principal investigator. Users should also acknowledge the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme as the funder of the project. Individual speakers whose words and/or images are used should be acknowledged by name as should the transcribers and translators. All information on contributors is available in the metadata of each file/bundle.

To cite the entire collection, please use the following format:

Voica, Radu. 2007-2009. Documentation of Blablanga. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

To cite the individual items within the collection, please use the following format:

Last Name, Name (speaker), Radu Voica (researcher), Name Last Name (transcriber/translator). [year collected]. Title of resource (format, unique ID). Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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