Lakona, Vure
Native toVanuatu
Native speakers
800 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3lkn
Lakon is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
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Lakon is an Oceanic language, spoken on the west coast of Gaua island in Vanuatu.


The language name Lakon [laˈkɔn] refers originally to the area where it is spoken ‒ namely Lakona Bay, corresponding to the west coast of Gaua. The alternative name Lakona [lakona] is from the Mota language. These names are derived from a Proto-Torres-Banks form *laᵑgona, of unknown meaning.

Lakon had four dialects, named Qatareu (Qätärew [k​͡pʷætæˈrɛw]), Vure (Vurē [βuˈrɪ]), Toglatareu, and Togla.



Lakon has 16 phonemic consonants.[2]

Lakon consonants
Labiovelar Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Dorsal Glottal
Plosive k͡pʷ ⟨q⟩ p ⟨p⟩ t ⟨t⟩ ⟨j⟩ k ⟨k⟩
Nasal ŋ͡mʷ ⟨m̄⟩ m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩ ŋ ⟨n̄⟩
Fricative β ~ ɸ ⟨v⟩ s ⟨s⟩ ɣ ⟨g⟩ h ⟨h⟩
Rhotic r ⟨r⟩
Lateral l ⟨l⟩
Approximant w ⟨w⟩

The glottal stop [ʔ] only occurs before vowels in syllable-initial position. While non-phonemic, it is sometimes noted in the orthography, using a ⟨’⟩ mark.


Lakon has 16 phonemic vowels. These include 8 short /i ɪ ɛ æ a ɔ ʊ u/ and 8 long vowels /iː ɪː ɛː æː aː ɔː ʊː uː/.[2] [3]

Lakon vowels
  Front Back
Near-close i ⟨i⟩ ⟨ii⟩ u ⟨u⟩ ⟨uu⟩
Close-mid ɪ ⟨ē⟩ɪː ⟨ēē⟩ ʊ ⟨ō⟩ʊː ⟨ōō⟩
Open-mid ɛ ⟨e⟩ɛː ⟨ee⟩ ɔ ⟨o⟩ɔː ⟨oo⟩
Near-open æ ⟨ä⟩æː ⟨ää⟩  
Open a ⟨a⟩ ⟨aa⟩

Historically, the phonemicisation of vowel length originates in the compensatory lengthening of short vowels when the alveolar trill /r/ was lost syllable-finally. This is considered to be a very recent change, perhaps within the last century, as Codrington still indicates the trill syllable-finally.[4] However, the 1897 Book of Common Prayer in Lakon shows loss of the trill, as evidenced by tataa [taˈtaː] "prayer" (spelled as tata) for Mota tataro.


The system of personal pronouns in Lakon contrasts clusivity, and distinguishes four numbers (singular, dual, trial, plural).[5]

Spatial reference in Lakon is based on a system of geocentric (absolute) directionals, which is typical of Oceanic languages.[6]