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

Language: V'ënen Taut (ISO639-3:nmb), Tape (ISO639-3:mrs), Tirax (ISO639-3:mme)
Depositor: Royce Dodd
Location: Vanuatu
Deposit Id: 0450
Grant id: SG0433
Funding body: ELDP
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

Acknowledgement and citation
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.


Collection online
Resources online and curated


Royce Dodd
Affiliation: The University of Waikato

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2020 October 23 to 2020 October 23
Deposit hits:1
Downloaded files
Without statistics

Showing 1 - 10 of 302 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

Two monsters kidnap a sleeping child so they can eat him. They are carrying him to a cave to eat him. The child wakes and hears the plan. He escapes by climbing up a tree.

Recorded on: 2016-10-12

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

A child is left at home alone and climbs a tree to get fruit. A monster comes and wants to eat the child. It tricks the child into getting into its bag. The child escapes the bag and climbs a tree. The monster tries to climb to get the child but the child tricks the monster.

Recorded on: 2016-10-12

The speaker recounts what happened when a warship came to Malakula and sings a song about it.

Recorded on: 2017-10-18

Photos of several differnt activities

Recorded on: Unspecified

Keywords: Tape - V'ënen Taut - Tirax - Photo - Royce Dodd

Translation of a Vanua Reader, Vanuatu primary school reader, about a duck and its chicks that get washed out to an island and populated it with ducks

Recorded on: 2017-07-12

Gilbert talks about the animals in a sereis of posters

Recorded on: 2017-10-19

Ephraim describes a series of posters showing animals, birds, sea creatures, and insects seen in Vanuatu

Recorded on: 2017-09-15

Photos of different animals found in Malekula

Recorded on: Unspecified

Keywords: Tape - V'ënen Taut - Tirax - Photo - Royce Dodd