Documentation and Description of Loxodumau

Documentation and Description of Loxodumau

Language: Loxodumau
Depositor: Lidia Federica Mazzitelli
Location: Papua New Guinea
Deposit Id: 0475
Grant id: IPF0270
Funding body: ELDP
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit
Lakurumau is an Austronesian language, belonging to the Meso-Melanesian linkage of Western Oceanic. It is spoken by ca. 800 speakers in only one village situated on the East Coast of New Ireland, the second-largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago (Papua New Guinea). Due to the pressure of Tok Pisin, the vernacular language in Papua New Guinea, the number of fluent speakers is rapidly sinking and the language is at risk of dying out in the next few decades. The deposit presents a collection of narrative texts, spontaneous dialogues, grammatical elicitations and grammatical notes.

Group represented

The speakers represented in the deposit are all dwellers of the Lakurumau village, situated on the East Coast of New Ireland, the second-largest island of the Bismarck Archipelago (Papua New Guinea).

Most villagers live of subsistence farming and fishing; the production and commerce of copra is the most important source of income for Lakurumau people. Some are also employed at the nearby oil palm plantation, either with clerical jobs or as workers in the field; others have jobs as bus drivers, mechanics and teachers at the local school.

The literacy rate in Lakurumau is very high, bordering 100% as far as basic competences in writing and reading are concerned. Most villagers have attended primary school (three to five years); some have also gone to high school (in other villages in the province of New Ireland) and to University or vocational colleges (mostly outside New Ireland).

Lakurumau people are predominantly Christian, with several churches and denominations represented in the village. Older cultural practices are still well alive - as the tradition of performing malangan, funerary cerimonies held some time after the death of a community member.

The social structure of Lakurumau people is based on clan membership and it has a complex system of taboo regulations, aimed at preventing incest (understood as marriage between members of the same clan). However, nowadays, in the younger generations, the clan-based system is being slowly replaced by a more Western-like family-based system, and many taboo-linked practices are fading away.

The community is characterised by a high level of multilingualism. Traditionally, Lakurumau speakers were also fluent in the neighbouring languages Nalik and Kara, which they used in the relationship with their neighbours. The latter would usually not learn Lakurumau, as they deem it to be a "very difficult" and "unintellegible" language. Nowadays, even if knowledge of Nalik and Kara is still diffused in Lakurumau, communication with Nalik and Kara speakers takes place more and more often in Tok Pisin. Some Lakurumau speakers are also fluent in Papua New Guinea English. Children have a limited competence in Lakurumau: very often, they are fluent only in Tok Pisin, and have a good passive knowledge but scarce active knowledge of Lakurumau. Intermarriages with members of other language groups are very frequent; if the family resides in Lakurumau the children usually learn both parents' languages, in addition to Tok Pisin.

Language information

Lakurumau (Austronesian, Western-Oceanic, Meso-Melanesian) is spoken by approximately 800 people in the village Lakurumau, in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea. So far, Lakurumau has only been briefly mentioned in descriptions of the New Ireland languages an defined as a "transitional dialect" or a "transitional language" between the neighbouring Nalik (ISO: nal) and Kara (ISO: leu). Actually, Lakurumau would be better defined as a member of the language chain of Northern New Ireland, comprising of six different languages (Lavongai/Tungak, Tigak, Tiang, Kara, Loxodumau and Nalik).

Lakurumau has so far been cited under the name "Lakurumau", "Lakuramau", "Laxudamau". The endonym is Loxodumau, and I have previously chosen to call the language this way, in accordance to the wishes of the community (hence the title of the deposit page). However, we have later decided to use the name "Lakurumau" for simplicity, as it is easier to pronounce for an English- and Tok Pisin-speaking audience ('Loxodumau' would often be pronounced [loksodumau] instead of [lo╬│odumau]). Lakurumau does not have a ISO-code yet; however, it has a separate entry on Glottolog (under the name Lakuramau, code: laku1238; ).

Typologically, Lakurumau displays many typical features of Western Oceanic languages: a predominantly SVO word order; a nominative-accusative alignment; little bound morphology and no case-marking; a tense system based on a future vs non-future distinction; several aspect markers; no gender distinctions; number distinction in pronouns (singular, dual, trial, plural) and sporadically in noun phrases; serial verb constructions; prepositions; alienable (prepositional) vs. inalienable (bound) adnominal possession.

Due to the pressure of Tok Pisin, the lingua franca of Papua New Guinea, Lakurumau is less and less spoken by younger generations; it is endangered and faces a serious threat of extinction in the next decades.

Deposit contents
The deposit comprises of a collection of audio-visual records of different genres (personal narratives, traditional stories, procedural texts, dialogues) and grammatical materials (field notes, word lists, grammar sketch, grammatical elicitations).

Other information
None of the data in this collection may be used as evidence in court.

Acknowledgement and citation

Users of any part of the collection should acknowledge Lidia Federica Mazzitelli as the principal investigator, the data collector and the researcher. Users should also acknowledge the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) as the funder of the project. Individual speakers whose words and/or images are used should be acknowledged by respective name(s). Any other contributor who has collected, transcribed or translated the data or was involved in any other way should be acknowledged by name. All information on contributors is available in the metadata.

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

Mazzitelli, Lidia Federica. 2017. Documentation and description of Loxodumau. London: SOAS, Endangered Languages Archive. URL: Accessed on [insert date here].


Collection online
Resources online and curated


Lidia Federica Mazzitelli
Responsive image
Affiliation: University of Cologne

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2019 February 24 to 2019 February 24
Deposit hits:1
Downloaded files
Without statistics

Showing 1 - 10 of 103 Items

Lydia Lambung describes the cerimony of Thanksgiving held by the United Church in Lakurumau.

Recorded on: 2017-11-05

Betty Sikil tells about how she went to garden, planted taro and then cooked bananas

Recorded on: 2017-10-17

Betty Sikil and Lydia Lambung talk about how Lydia went to town with her grandchild to sell copra

Recorded on: 2017-10-17

In this recording Dinah and Dangui talk about village issues.

Recorded on: 2017-10-20

In this recording Dinah and Roberta talk about some friends of theirs

Recorded on: 2017-10-26

Dangui Mosly talks about how he and his brother went to kill a pig in the bush

Recorded on: 2017-10-20

Roberta Sarameli talks about how her grandfather went to hunt pigs in the bush

Recorded on: 2017-10-26

Roberta shows a bush and its medicinal uses

Recorded on: 2017-11-10

Dinah shows a bush and its medicinal uses

Recorded on: 2017-11-10

Roberta Sarameli shows a plant called uyet and explains its medicinal uses

Recorded on: 2017-11-10