South Vanuatu
Southern Vanuatu
Linguistic classificationAustronesian
Proto-languageProto-South Vanuatu

The nine South Vanuatu languages form a family of the Southern Oceanic languages,[1] spoken in Tafea Province (Tanna, Aneityum, Futuna, Erromango, and Aniwa) of Vanuatu.


François (2015)

François (2015:18–21) lists the following names and locations for the 9 South Vanuatu languages.

No. Language Other names Speakers ISO 639-3 Region
128 Sie Se, Sie, Erromanga 1900 erg Erromango
129 Ura 6 uur Erromango
130 Utaha 0 iff Erromango
131 North Tanna 5000 tnn Tanna
132 Lenakel Netvaar 11500 tnl Tanna
133 Southwest Tanna Nawal 5000 nwi Tanna
134 Whitesands Narak 7500 tnp Tanna
135 Kwamera Nafe, Nɨfe 3500 tnk Tanna
137 Anejom̃ Aneityum 900 aty Aneityum

Proto-South Vanuatu

Proto-South Vanuatu
Reconstruction ofSouth Vanuatu languages

Proto-South Vanuatu was reconstructed by John Lynch in 2001.

The language, compared to Proto-Oceanic, went through a series of vowel reductions, leading to the creation of a new vowel written as *ə, such as in *na-waiR "fresh water" resulting in Proto-South Vanuatu *nə-wai of the same meaning.

However, it also preserves some, but not all final consonants. For example, *tanum "to plant, bury" is reflected in Proto-South Vanuatu as *(a)-tenum "to bury", but *taŋis "to cry" is instead reflected as *(a)-taŋi.


The vowels of Proto-South Vanuatu, according to Lynch, are:

Front Central Back
Close *i *u
Close-mid *e *o
Open *a


The consonants of Proto-South Vanuatu, according to Lynch, are:

Labiovelar Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
Stop voiced *bʷ *b *d *g
voiceless *pʷ *p *t *k *q
Nasal *mʷ *m *n *ŋ
Fricative *v *s *c, *ɟ
[clarification needed]
Approximant *w *l, *r *j


  1. ^ Lynch, John; Ross, Malcolm; Crowley, Terry (2002). The Oceanic languages. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon. ISBN 978-0-7007-1128-4. OCLC 48929366.