Daakaka
Native toVanuatu
RegionAmbrym
Native speakers
1,000 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bpa
Glottologdaka1243
Daakaka-region on Ambrym Vanuatu.svg
  Area where Daakaka is spoken on Ambrym

Daakaka [ⁿdaːkaka] (also known as Dakaka, South Ambrym and Baiap) is a native language of Ambrym, Vanuatu. It is spoken by about one thousand speakers in the south-western corner of the island.

Vitality

Most children in the region still acquire Daakaka as a first language, but it is under threat by significant socio-economic changes and the dominant use of Vanuatu's official languages, Bislama, English and French, in education and in official contexts.[1]

Phonology

Consonants

The system of consonantal phonemes is fairly typical for the region. Voiced stops are prenasalized. The difference between bilabial consonants with and without a labio-velar release is relevant only before front vowels.

Labio-velar Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop voiceless p t k
prenasalized ᵐbʷ ᵐb ⁿd ᵑɡ
Fricative v s
Trill r
Approximant w j

Vowels

There are seven phonemically distinct vowel qualities, with one long and one short vowel phoneme for each variety, plus a marginally phonemic ə [ə]. The distinction between mid and open-mid vowels is only phonemic after alveolar consonants, as in tee [tɛː] "axe" vs. téé [teː] "see".

  Front Central Back
Close i, u,
Mid e, (ə) o,
Open-mid ɛ, ɛː ɔ, ɔː
Open a,

Word classes

The four major word classes are nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Only nouns can stand in argument position, only verbs and some adjectives can be used as predicates without the copula i, only adjectives can be used as attributes to nouns without further modification. The two biggest word classes by far are nouns and verbs.

Nouns

There are three subclasses of nouns. The biggest subclass consists of 'general nouns' such as em "house" or myaop "volcano"; in contrast to the other two classes, these nouns do not need to specify a possessor, they cannot be inflected and they cannot be directly followed by another noun phrase. 'Inflected nouns' always indicate their possessor by a person-number ending:

kus-uk

nose.of-1S.POSS

kus-uk

nose.of-1S.POSS

"my nose"

Transitive or relational nouns also obligatorily specify an inalienable possessor, but this possessor is given by a subsequent noun phrase, not by an inflectional ending. Known, definite, non-human possessors can also be indicated by the suffix -sye or its allomorph -tye:

bwee

shell.of

tuwu

bush.nut

bwee tuwu

shell.of bush.nut

"the shell of the bush nut"

bwee-tye

shell.of-3S(n-hum).POSS

bwee-tye

shell.of-3S(n-hum).POSS

"its shell"

Verbs

Among verbs, there are several subgroups which differ either in terms of transitivity or in terms of the number of their internal argument (the subject of an intransitive verb or the object of a transitive verb).

Transitivity

There are three degrees of transitivity: verbs can be either intransitive, semitransitive or transitive. Intransitive verbs such as oko "walk" never take an object noun phrase. Semitransitive verbs can optionally be followed by an object noun phrase with indefinite reference; by contrast, transitive verbs are always interpreted to have a definite object.

Semitransitive en "eat": Transitive ane "eat":

ya=m

3P=REAL

du

PROG

en

eat(SEMTR)

ya=m du en

3P=REAL PROG eat(SEMTR)

"they are eating"

ya=m

3P=REAL

du

PROG

ane

eat(TR)

ya=m du ane

3P=REAL PROG eat(TR)

"they are eating it"

ya=m

3P=REAL

du

PROG

en

eat(SEMTR)

mesyu

fish

ya=m du en mesyu

3P=REAL PROG eat(SEMTR) fish

"they are eating fish"

ya=m

3P=REAL

du

PROG

ane

eat(TR)

mesyu

fish

ya=m du ane mesyu

3P=REAL PROG eat(TR) fish

"they are eating the fish"

Pluractionality

While most verbs are neutral with regard to the number of their arguments, some verbs can take only singular arguments and some (pluractional) verbs can only take non-singular arguments. For example, mur, tesi and medap all mean "fall down", but only medap can have either a singular or a plural subject. By contrast, mur can only take a singular subject, while the subject of tesi always refers to more than one entity (starred examples, in red cells, are ungrammatical):

Singular Pluractional Number-neutral

ó

coconut

swa

one

mu

REAL

mur

fall(SG)

ó swa mu mur

coconut one REAL fall(SG)

"one coconut fell down"

* ó

coconut

swa

one

ma

REAL

tesi

fall(N-SG)

{* ó} swa ma tesi

coconut one REAL fall(N-SG)

intend.:"one coconut fell down"

ó

coconut

swa

one

ma

REAL

medap

fall

ó swa ma medap

coconut one REAL fall

"one coconut fell down"

* ó

coconut

mwe

REAL

pwis

be.many

mu

REAL

mur

fall(SG)

{* ó} mwe pwis mu mur

coconut REAL be.many REAL fall(SG)

intend.:"many coconuts fell down"

ó

coconut

mwe

REAL

pwis

be.many

ma

REAL

tesi

fall(N-SG)

ó mwe pwis ma tesi

coconut REAL be.many REAL fall(N-SG)

"many coconuts fell down"

ó

coconut

mwe

REAL

pwis

be.many

ma

REAL

medap

fall

ó mwe pwis ma medap

coconut REAL be.many REAL fall

"many coconuts fell down"

Clauses

Basic clause structure

A simple assertive clause always contains a subject pronoun, a TAM marker and a predicate - except for third person singular subjects, for which there is no subject pronoun. Predicates can consist of a verb, an adjective or a copula plus noun phrase (NP) or adverbial phrase.

Third person pronouns may be preceded by a subject NP. A few examples are given below:

Subject pronoun + TAM + VP

na=m

1S=

kueli

return

me

come

na=m kueli me

1S= return come

"I have returned"

Subject NP + TAM + Adjective

sini

green pigeon

ma

REAL

kekei

small

sini ma kekei

{green pigeon} REAL small

"the green pigeon is small"

Subject NP + TAM + Copula + NP

s-ok

CL3-1S.POSS

naana

mother

mw=i

REAL=COP

tyotyo

snake

s-ok naana mw=i tyotyo

CL3-1S.POSS mother REAL=COP snake

"my mother is a snake"

Personal Pronouns

There are two kinds of personal pronouns, subject pronouns and non-subject pronouns. Subject pronouns end in a vowel and are followed directly by a TAM marker. They are obligatory in assertive clauses. Non-subject pronouns are used as topics or objects of verbs or prepositions. Each pronoun represents a combination of a person and a number value. There are four person values: first person inclusive (including both the speaker and the listener), first person exclusive (including only the speaker, not the listener), second person (including the listener) and third person (including neither speaker nor listener). The four number values are singular (one person), dual (two persons), paucal (few persons) and plural (an arbitrarily large number of persons).

Subject pronouns
Singular Dual Paucal Plural
1st person exclusive na kana kisi kinye
inclusive da si ra
2nd person ko ka kasi ki
3rd person ya ye ye
Non-subject pronouns
Singular Dual Paucal Plural
1st person exclusive nye kenma kinyemsi kinyem
inclusive ada ansi ar/er
2nd person ngok kama kamsi kimim
3rd person nge nyoo nya nyosi

Notes

  1. ^ a b Unless indicated otherwise, all information comes from von Prince (2012).

Bibliography