Loh, Toga
Native toVanuatu
RegionTorres Islands
Native speakers
580 (2012)[1]
DialectsLo, Toga
Language codes
ISO 639-3lht
A Lo-Toga speaker, recorded in Vanuatu.

Lo-Toga is an Oceanic language spoken by about 580 people on the islands of Lo and Toga, in the Torres group of northern Vanuatu.[2] The language has sometimes been called Loh (sic) or Toga, after either of its two dialects.


The language is named after the two islands where it is spoken: Lo and Toga.

Situation and dialects

Its 580 speakers live mostly in Lo and Toga, the two main islands in the southern half of the Torres group. The same language is also spoken by the small populations of the two other islands of Linua and Tegua.

Lo-Toga is itself divided into two very close dialects, Lo (spoken on Lo island) and Toga (spoken on Toga). The inhabitants of northern Vanuatu generally don't draw a distinction between dialects and languages.[3]

Conversely, Lo-Toga is a distinct language from the other language of the Torres group, Hiw.


The Lo dialect of Lo-Toga phonemically contrasts 16 consonants and 13 vowels.[4]


Lo-Toga consonants[4]
Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Dorsal Labialized
Nasal m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩ ŋ ⟨n̄⟩ ŋʷ ⟨n̄w⟩
Plosive p ⟨p⟩ t ⟨t⟩ ʈ͡ʂ ⟨d⟩ k ⟨k⟩ ⟨q⟩
Fricative β ⟨v⟩ s ⟨s⟩ ɣ ⟨g⟩ h ⟨h⟩
Rhotic r ⟨r⟩
Lateral l ⟨l⟩
Glide w ⟨w⟩


The 13 vowel phonemes of the Lo dialect include 8 monophthongs /i e ɛ a ə ɔ o ʉ/, and five diphthongs /i͡e i͡ɛ i͡a o͡ə o͡ɔ/.[5][4]

Lo-Toga vowels
Monophthongs Diphthongs
Front Central Back Front Back
Close i ⟨i⟩ ʉ ⟨u⟩
Close-mid e ⟨ē⟩ o ⟨ō⟩ i͡e ⟨iē⟩
Mid ə ⟨e⟩ o͡ə ⟨ōe⟩
Open-mid ɛ ⟨ë⟩ ɔ ⟨o⟩ i͡ɛ ⟨ië⟩ o͡ɔ ⟨ōo⟩
Open a ⟨a⟩ i͡a ⟨ia⟩

Stress may either fall on the penultimate or final syllable, reminiscent of the neighboring Hiw language.


Lo-Toga presents various forms of verb serialization.[6]

The system of personal pronouns contrasts clusivity, and distinguishes three numbers (singular, dual, plural).[7]

Together with its neighbour Hiw, Lo-Toga has developed a rich system of verbal number, whereby certain verbs change their root depending on the number of their main participant.[8] Lo-Toga has 18 such pairs of verbs.

Spatial reference in Lo-Toga is based on a system of geocentric (absolute) directionals, which is in part typical of Oceanic languages, and yet innovative.[9]