Collection of Haméa recordings, a language of New Caldonia
|Depositor||Alexandre François, Claire Moyse-Faurie|
|Collection Status||Collection online|
Summary of the deposit
The deposit consists of videos collected in 2010 through a program on endangered languages called “Sorosoro”. Claire Moyse spent several weeks in New Caledonia with José Reynès, a filmmaker. In the following years, she transcribed and translated to French most of the videos. This was possible thanks to the help of Délisiane Thiaméa, as well as her elder sister Béatrice and their parents.
Haméa is spoken in the high valley of the Kouaoua river, on the east coast of New Caledonia’s Grande Terre, by 300 speakers at most. It used to be spoken in such villages as Méa-Mébara, which is partly reflected in its name (Ha-Méa). Today, the villages where Haméa is still spoken, starting from the top of the valley, are Konoé-Chaoué, Niéré, Wérupimé, Waabe. A few speakers live along the coast in the main town, Kouaoua, and a few others in Kacirikwâ, a small village on the western side of the central chain. Haméa children go to school outside their community, and are in daily contact with other languages: French, the language of education and administration, as well as two more robust Kanak languages, Xârâcùù and Ajië. The great vulnerability of the Haméa language is not only due to its small number of speakers, ro to French colonization; it must also be explained by its linguistic closeness to Ajië, a language taught in the school system, and used in religious Anglican contexts.
Haméa is an Austronesian language, belonging to the Southern New Caledonian subgroup (Austronesian > Oceanic > New Caledonian > Southern). It is closely related to Tîrî, studied by Grace (1976) and Osumi (1995). It corresponds to the forms given as “”pure Mea”” [M] in Grace’s dictionary.
Haméa (lit. “language of Méa”), name given by the speakers, is known as “Nââ xâyââ” in the neighboring Xârâcùù language.
Grace, George W., 1976. Granc Couli Dictionary. Canberra, Australian National University, Pacific Linguistics C-12.
Osumi, Midori, 1995. Tinrin Grammar. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication 25.
As there were no oral documents available on this language before today, all these recordings are of interest, for the community’s cultural and linguistic legacy, and for use in school.
The phonological system of Haméa is relatively complex. There are 9 oral and 6 nasal vowels, some with allophonic variation; a contrast of length. Haméa has 30 consonants.
Haméa’s basic word order is sVO smS: an optional NP subject is postposed to the verb; it is obligatorily indexed on the verb using a pronominal subject prefix. As in other Kanak languages, the pronominal system contrasts between three numbers (singular, dual, plural), and between inclusive and exclusive for 1st person. The deictic system shows different forms depending on the position of the speaker and the addressee, and on visibility. The ancient numeral system, only remembered by old speakers, combined a base 5 and a base 20; younger speakers have adopted the French decimal system. The numeral classifiers found in most Kanak languages have been lost in Haméa.
The Haméa deposit of video recordings concerns:
• traditional vocabulary (body parts and numerals),
• comments on traditional society and activities (building of a traditional house; the notion of respect; games; work in the field),
• historical narratives (history of the clans; the Second World War; description of the nickel extraction environment),
• traditional folktales (the Rat and the Octopus; the Cock from Ema),
• a song on coffee.
Claire Moyse-Faurie carried out several months of fieldwork in the Kouaoua region between 2008 and 2013. The collected data are audio and video recordings, most of them transcribed, and translated into French. Audio recordings are also available on the Pangloss website (https://lacito.vjf.cnrs.fr/pangloss/corpus/list_rsc_en.php?lg=Ham%C3%A9a).
Acknowledgement and citation
Users of the Haméa deposit should acknowledge Claire Moyse-Faurie as the principal investigator and the data collector. Alexandre François was in charge of coordinating the deposit, in the broader framework of LAVAFLOW (Legacy audio video archival in fourteen languages of the world).
The video recordings were made possible through the financial support of CNRS–LaCiTO, along with some funding from the French Ministry of Culture for the Sorosoro program. The ELDP funding was exclusively dedicated to allowing our research assistant Ms Anne Armand to prepare the archive for online display.
To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:
Claire Moyse-Faurie. 2020. A collection of Haméa recordings, a language of New Caldonia. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/2196/00-0000-0000-0013-E141-C. Accessed on [insert date here].