Documenting Northwest Malekula: A comparative study of V'ënen Taut, Tape, and Tirax

Documenting Northwest Malekula: A comparative study of V'ënen Taut, Tape, and Tirax

Depositor: Royce Dodd
Location: Vanuatu
Deposit Id: 0450
ELDP Id: SG0433
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit

Malekula, the second largest island in the Republic of Vanuatu, is very diverse linguistically with over thirty distinct languages being spoken on the island and the small surrounding islands by a population of roughly 28,000. This island is home to V’ënen Taut, Tirax, and Tape, the three languages of the Northwest Malekula subgroup (Oceanic, Vanuatu). These three languages have been partially described but poorly documented. This deposit aims to create an audio-visual documentation corpus for each language. V’ënen Taut and Tirax both have small healthy populations, but in the case of Tape, only a few native speakers remain. All three language communities are engaged in literacy and/or revitalisation activities.

This data was collected by Royce Dodd, a student from The University of Waikato in New Zealand, under the guidance from local language speakers in Malekula.

Group represented

This deposit includes contributions from people from three distinct language communities from northern Malekula. These are communities are the V’ënen Taut, Tape, and Tirax communities.

The V’ënen Taut language community is the most populous of the language communities. Speakers of this language live in many villages along the north-western cost of Malekula beginning in the village of Alpalak following the cost to the beginning of the isthmus of the island further to the south.

The Tirax language community are mostly located in the village of Mae with smaller number of speakers living in Rori and Bethel. These villages are located in north-eastern Malekula.

The least populous of the three language communities it the Tape language community. The small number of speakers of this language live as a minority language community in the village of Tautu, a predominantly Uripiv speaking community.

Language information

This collection will mainly contain material in the V’ënen Taut, Tape, and Tirax languages, three related languages from Northwest Malekula. A lot of the material will also be in Bislama an English-lexified pidgin/creole language which is the national language of Vanuatu.

The three languages in this collection are also have alternative names. V’ënen Taut is also known as Big Nambas, Tape is also known as Maragaus or Maraxus, and Tirax is also known as Dirak or Mae.

Special characteristics

Deposit history

Other information

Please do not use or cite the materials in this deposit because they are only in their initial stages. More comprehensive materials will be uploaded when they are ready along with instructions of how to cite them and how to acknowledge language speakers and field assistants.


Resources online and curated


Royce Dodd
Affiliation: The University of Waikato

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2018 January 22 to 2018 January 22
Deposit hits:1
Downloaded files
Without statistics

Showing 1 - 10 of 41 Items

Ephraim talks about a time there was a large earthquake. This earthquake happened while he was at school. The earthquake was strong enough that it changed the coastline in Tautu.

Recorded on: 2016-10-16

Ephraim tells a story about when he was at school in Aore. He and some friends took a canoe to row to Malo island but the canoe sank halfway there and they had to swim to shore.

Recorded on: 2016-10-21

Elder Lui describes how laplap can be prepared in segments of bamboo and roasted. This is a particularly practical way of preparing a meal in the garden.

Recorded on: 2016-11-07

A description of a Tape practice where people can mark food crops for later collection. If a person goes to harvest a crop and sees the marking they know that someone has reserved to food for them. There are two types of markings: one type for chiefs and one type for other people.

Recorded on: 2016-10-24

Ephraim and Elder Lui talk about the bride price payment of one of Ephraim’s grandmothers.

Recorded on: 2016-10-27

Ephraim talks about paying the bride price payment for his wife and Elder Lui talks about how the practice is different in the current day.

Recorded on: 2016-10-27

A description of how to burn the rubbish after a piece of land has been cleared to make a garden.

Recorded on: 2016-10-24

Elder Lui talks about how he and his father used to go and get cattle to eat.

Recorded on: 2016-10-25

Ephraim talks about keeping chickens and the reasons people may choose to eat them.

Recorded on: 2016-10-27

Elder Lui and Ephraim talk about planning circumcision ceremonies and ceremonies for when the boys come out of seclusion.

Recorded on: 2016-10-27