|Native to||New Caledonia|
|Region||Southern tip outside Nouméa (Paita on the west coast, Ounia on the east coast)|
|(2,000 cited 1996 census)|
Ndrumbea, variously spelled Ndumbea, Dubea, Drubea and Païta, is a New Caledonian language that gave its name to the capital of New Caledonia, Nouméa, and the neighboring town of Dumbéa. It has been displaced to villages outside the capital, with fewer than a thousand speakers remaining. Gordon (1995) estimates that there may only be two or three hundred. The Dubea are the people; the language has been called Naa Dubea (or more precisely Ṇã́ã Ṇḍùmbea) "language of Dubea".
Ndrumbea is one of the few Austronesian languages that is tonal, and it has a series of consonants that are also unusual for the region.
Ndrumbea, like its close relative Numee, is a tonal language, with three contrasting tones, high, mid, and low.
Ndrumbea has seven oral vowels, long and short. The mid front vowels are lower when short than long: /i e ɛ a o ʊ u/; /iː ɪː eː aː oː ʊː uː/. There are five nasal vowels, also long and short: /ĩ ẽ ã õ ũ/; /ĩː ẽː ãː õː ũː/. These interact with nasal consonants, described below. Back vowels do not occur after labialized consonants, /ŋ/, or /ɣ/. In addition to the complementary correlation of nasal vowels with nasal consonants, nasal vowels do not occur after /j, ɽ, ɣ/. /ɣ/–oral vowel derives historically from ŋ–nasal vowel.
Phonetically, a stop–flap consonant cluster will be separated by an obscure epenthetic vowel with the quality of the following phonemic vowel.
Nasal vowels once contrasted after nasal stops, as they still do in Numee. However, in Ndrumbea, nasal stops partially denasalized before oral vowels, so that now prenasalized stops precede oral vowels, and nasal stops precede nasal vowels. Similarly, /j/ only occurs before oral vowels.
|(Pre)nasal stop||m ~ mb||mʷ ~ mbʷ||n̪ ~ n̪d̪||ɳ ~ ɳɖ||n̠ ~ n̠d̠||ŋ ~ ŋɡ||ŋɡʷ|
|Tap||ɽ ~ ɻ|
The fricatives /v, ɣ/ are sometimes realized as approximants [ʋ, ɰ]. However, the approximants /w, j/ are never fricated. The nasal stop /n̠/ sometimes has incomplete closure, producing a nasalized approximant [ȷ̃]. The /ɽ/ is most often a tap [ɽ], sometimes an approximant [ɻ], and occasionally an alveolar tap or trill, [ɾ] or [r]. It does not occur word initially, and does not contrast with /ɳ/ word medially. It tends to be nasalized before a nasal vowel, [ɽ̃] ~ [ɳ̆] ~ [ɻ̃] with the nasality spreading to preceding vowels: /t̠ɽáɽẽ/ "to run" has been recorded as [t̠áɽ̃ã́ɻ̃ẽ].
Ndrumbea contrasts three coronal places, articulated with the tip or blade of the tongue contacting the roof of the mouth: /t̪/, /ʈ/, /t̠/ and their nasal homologs. /ʈ/ is apical, in contrast to laminal /t̠/. It is not clear if /t̪/ is apico-dental or denti-alveolar, but it has a sharp release burst. /ʈ/, on the other hand, has a noisy release and approaches an affricate, [ʈᶳ]. It may actually be closer to an alveolar than post-alveolar, and appears to be enunciated more forcefully than /t̪/. /t̠/ also has a fricated release, and for many speakers this is longer than that of /ʈ/.