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Atchin Documentation Project

Landing page image for the collection 'Atchin Documentation Project'

Atchin Island, taken from the mainland in Lavalsal. Photo by Kanauhea Wessels, 2019. Click on the image to access collection.

Language Atchin (Uripiv-Wala-Rano-Atchin)
Depositor Kanauhea Wessels
Affiliation University of Waikato, New Zealand
Location Vanuatu
Collection ID 0578
Grant ID IGS0331
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

This deposit is the result of a documentation project of the Atchin language, a variety spoken on the northeastern coast of Malekula Island in Vanuatu. This work was funded by ELDP from 2019-2023. The project was a collaborative effort between Kanauhea Wessels (the principal investigator) and many members of the Atchin community based on Malekula Island and Efate Island in Vanuatu. The deposited data covers a wide range of genre and topics, and is contributed to by different community members ranging in age and background.
This deposit also contributes to the primary data for Kanauhea’s PhD on the grammar of the Atchin language which she is completing at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.
Information about each session is available in the metadata of this deposit.


Group represented

The people represented in this deposit are the people of Atchin who also call themselves ‘Tojan’ (lit. people of Atchin) with their language ‘Nale Tojan’ (‘the language of the Atchin people’). Atchin people originally lived on the small off-shore island of Atchin which is situated on the north-eastern coast of Malekula Island in Vanuatu. For a long time now many have left the small island and migrated to the coastal mainland where they live in a number of smaller hamlets along that north-eastern coast. There are still many families living on the small island with a number of churches from different denominations, primary schools, and early childhood centres. Most school aged children on the mainland travel daily by boat to the small island to attend schools, while secondary school students attend schools on the mainland.


Language information

Atchin is one of four main languages included in the Northeast Malakula ‘dialect chain’ which is often referred to as Uripiv-Wala-Rano-Atchin. Although it is estimated that approximately 9,000 people speak the Northeast Malakula language variety, there is likely fewer than 1,000 speakers of Atchin, and most speakers of Atchin see their language as separate from the others in the dialect chain.


Collection contents

This corpus is comprised of 14+ hours of audio and audio-visual language recordings, and over 100 hours of work sessions, language discussions, and oral translations. The corpus also contains draft literacy material for early childhood and early primary education created during the project with and for the Atchin community.
The corpus is made up of a combinations of the following:

  • personal stories
  • monologues
  • bible stories
  • traditional/customary stories
  • interviews
  • customary practices
  • conversations, and
  • procedural knowledge around cooking and the environment


Collection history

This project was funded by an ELDP Individual Grant Scholarship (IGS0331), awarded to Kanauhea Wessels for the period of March 2019 to February 2022 (though this was extended due to Covid-19).

A total of three short field trips were undertaken by Kanauhea to Vanuatu in order to collect data for this project. Each trip was three weeks long and took place in the following periods: July-August 2019, October-November 2019, June-July 2023. Due to complications and restrictions on travel some data was collected remotely by a ni-Vanuatu researcher in Port Vila on Efate Island, and in Atchin on Malekula Island.

Kanauhea continues to work on this corpus as part of her PhD and will update the parsing and linguistic analysis during this time.


Acknowledgement and citation

Please acknowledge the wider Atchin community as contributors to this project. Using any part of this collection should acknowledge by name the people whose words and/or images appear in the recording, and the people who recorded and contributed to the specific session (transcriber, translator etc). The Endangered Languages Documentation Project as the funder of the project. Kanauhea Wessels as the principal investigator. All relevant information is available in the metadata for the project.

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

Wessels, Kanauhea. 2019. Atchin Documentation Project. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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