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Recordings of Xârâgurè: An Austronesian language of Southern New Caledonia

Cover image for the landing page of the collection "CNRS-LaCiTO archives: Xârâgurè (C. Moyse-Faurie)"

Landing page image for the collection “Recordings of Xârâgurè: An Austronesian language of Southern New Caledonia“. Click on image to access collection.

Language Xârâgurè
Depositor Alexandre François, Claire Moyse-Faurie
Affiliation Lattice (CNRS–ENS–Sorbonne nouvelle)
Location New Caledonia
Collection ID 0589
Grant ID LMG0001
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle




Summary of the collection

The collection consists of videos collected in 2010 through a program on endangered languages called “Sorosoro”. Claire Moyse-Faurie 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 Anita Nonké and Cécile Nékaré, two native speakers and members of the family of the grand chef of Borendy, Philippe Nékaré.


Group represented

Xârâgurè is an endangered language, with about 600 speakers above the age of 14. It is spoken in the village of Thio – where the more vibrant Xârâcùù is also spoken – and in the small villages along the east coast of Grande Terre, namely Port Bouquet, Saint Jean-Baptiste, Petit Borendy and Grand Borendy. In addition, Xârâgurè is also spoken on the west coast, in Ouinané, where the Xârâgurè community used to live before being chased by the French colonization.


Language information

Xârâgurè is an Austronesian language, belonging to the Southern New Caledonian subgroup (Austronesian > Oceanic > New Caledonian > Southern). It is closely related to Xârâcùù, which is better documented (Moyse-Faurie & Néchérö-Jorédié 1986, Moyse-Faurie 1995).

Moyse-Faurie, Claire & Marie-Adèle Néchérö-Jorédié. 1986. Dictionnaire Xârâcùù-Français (Nouvelle-Calédonie). Nouméa: Edipop.

Moyse-Faurie, Claire. 1995. Le xârâcùù: Langue de Thio-Canala (Nouvelle-Calédonie) (Langues et Cultures Du Pacifique, 10). Paris: Peeters.


Special characteristics

These recordings on Xârâgurè are valuable for the community. They keep the memory of the language’s specificity with respect to Xârâcùù, a more vibrant language that currently tends to dominate – along with French – in the village of Thio.


Collection contents

The Xârâgurè collection of video recordings concerns:

  • traditional activities (the staking of yams),
  • vocabularies on body parts
  • considerations about the Xârâgurè language people,
  • several traditional tales (Women from Koum; the Rat; Joobaèkè, the first man)
  • two songs (on trees; on the human body)


Collection history

Claire Moyse-Faurie began working on Xârâgurè in 1976, collecting basic vocabulary and traditional narratives (archived online, see Moyse-Faurie 2018).

Back in those years, the speakers of Xârâgurè were unaware of the significance of their language; Moyse-Faurie’s 1976 stay in their community allowed them to discover its complexity and originality. Years later, Moyse-Faurie was able to create a dictionary – still unpublished, but already used in local schools.

The phonological system of Xârâgurè is complex: 27 consonants, 17 short vowels and as many long vowels. Word order is now SVO. The earlier word order, showing the NP subject postposed to the verb and indexed on the verb by a subject prefix (sVO msS), has historically receded, and has now become rare. On the other hand, Xârâgurè has maintained the inherited pronominal paradigms, as well as the traditional numeral systems (base 5 and base 20).


Moyse-Faurie, Claire, 1980. Textes en langue xârâgurè in J.-C. Rivierre, F. Ozanne-Rivierre et C. Moyse-Faurie, Mythes et contes de la Grande Terre et des Iles Loyauté, Paris, SELAF, Lacito-documents Asie-Austronésie n°3, pp. 127-165.

Moyse-Faurie, Claire, 2012a. Haméa et xârâgurè, langues kanak en danger, UniverSOS. Revista de Lenguas Indígenas y Universos Culturales, València, 2012, n°9, 73-86.

Moyse-Faurie, Claire, 2012b. Litige foncier en terre de Ngoi, La Mélanésie. Actualités et Etudes, 1, 115-121.

Moyse-Faurie, Claire, forthcoming, Lexique xârâgurè-français (with a grammatical introduction).

Moyse-Faurie, Claire, 2018. Audio and video recordings in the language Xârâgurè. URL:


Other information

Moyse-Faurie collected Xârâgurè names of plants, fish, crustaceans…; their scientific identification was facilitated by the help of researchers from IRD – Nouméa (Institut de recherche pour le Développement). This collection later proved important for pharmacological studies.


Acknowledgement and citation

Users of the Xârâgurè 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 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:

Moyse-Faurie, Claire. 2020. Recordings of Xârâgurè: An Austronesian language of Southern New Caledonia. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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