|Region||Lifou, New Caledonia|
|unknown; est. 13,000 includes many L2 speakers (2009)|
Drehu ([ɖehu]; also known as Dehu, Lifou, Lifu, qene drehu) is an Austronesian language mostly spoken on Lifou Island, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia. It has about twelve-thousand fluent speakers and the status of a French regional language. This status means that pupils can take it as an optional topic for the baccalauréat in New Caledonia itself or French mainland. It has been also taught at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) in Paris since 1973 and at the University of New Caledonia since 2000. As for other Kanak languages, Drehu is now regulated by the "Académie des langues kanak", officially founded in 2007.
There is also a respectful register in Drehu, called qene miny. In time past, this was used to speak to the chiefs (joxu). Today very few people still know and practice this language.
|High||i iː||u uː|
|Mid||e eː||ø øː||o oː|
|Open||æ æː||ɑ ɑː|
/e/ is heard as [ɛ] before nasals.
/ø/ can sometimes be [e] before nasals.
Drehu was first written in the Latin script by the Polynesian and English missionaries of the London Missionary Society during the 1840s, with the help of the natives. The first complete Bible was published in 1890. The Bible writing system didn't distinguish between the dental (written "d", "t") and the alveolar/retroflex ("dr" and "tr") consonants, which for a long time were written indifferently "d" and "t". In Drehu /θ/ and /ð/ are not dental but interdental consonants. The new writing system was created during the 1970s.