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Tape
Maragus
Native toVanuatu
RegionCentral Malekula
Native speakers
15 (2006)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mrs
Glottologmara1399
ELPTape
Approximate location where Tape is spoken
Approximate location where Tape is spoken
Tape
Location in Vanuatu
Coordinates: 16°04′S 167°20′E / 16.07°S 167.33°E / -16.07; 167.33

Tape, also known as Maragus, is a nearly extinct Southern Oceanic language of Vanuatu.[2] The population of speakers of the Tape language is reduced to approximately 15 speakers who are among the older generations.[3] The language is part of the Malayo-Polynesian subgroup of the Austronesian Language family.[2]

The Vanuatu Islands are not the original location of where the Tape language was spoken in the past. The original location was located in an area in Malakula, including the coast from Anuatakh to Lowinsinwei, the area between the Lowisinwei River valley, the eastern bank of the Brenwei River, and a mountain in the south known as Pwitarvere. Since part of the Tape territory was close to the ocean, it allowed the people living in the area to harvest salt which was used to trade with the Tirakh people.[3] However, the Tape people mostly lived their lives "towards the bush," meaning their lives were more oriented towards the land even though they had access to the ocean. This is shown in their language because although they lived along the coast, their descendants were not very knowledgable or could not come up with a significant amount of terms related to the sea.[3]

Originally, there was no distinct name for the Tape language. Tape was the name of the area that the speakers lived on while in the past the language was referred to as vengesien Tape, meaning 'the language of Tape'. Over time however, people have come to use and recognize the name of the language to be "Tape". This language also has a few alternative names known as Marakus, Maragus, Maragaus, and Maraakhus, which were used by the speakers of the Naman language who were living in the Litzlitz area. The name has two roots, mar (person of (place)) and aakhus (bush) and when they are put together, the name's literal translation is 'person of the bush'.[3]

Phonology

Vowels

Table 1: Vowel Contrasts[3]
Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e ə o
Low a

In the Tape language, there are a total of six vowels /a, e, i, o, u, and ə./ Although schwa (/ə/) is part of the list, there is a lot of debate on the role schwa plays in the language.[3]

Comparing the use of /i/ and /e/

Comparing the use of /e/ and /a/

Comparing the use of /a/ and /o/

Comparing the use of /o/ and /u/

Letter exceptions

The letter /i/

When the letter /i/ comes before the velar fricative /ɣ/ it becomes a high vowel.[3]

Examples

When the letter /i/ is the first letter and comes before the velar fricative /ɣ/, a palatal glide comes after.[3]

Examples

The letter /u/

When the /u/ is followed by another vowel, an optional rounded glide occurs between the two vowels.[3]

Examples

The letters /ue/ and /uo/

When using the combination of /ue/, one can substituted it for /uo/, but /uo/ cannot be substituted for /ue/.[3]

Examples

Schwa

Comparing the use of /i/ and /ə/

Comparing the use of /e/ and /ə/

Comparing the use of /a/ and /ə/

Comparing the use of /o/ and /ə/

Comparing the use of /u/ and /ə/

Although schwa (/ə/) is a contrastive vowel among some languages, it is not a universal vowel in all the languages in the area. In the Tape language, schwa is very common and is in 16.5% of the lexicon. The schwa is a unique vowel because it cannot begin or end a word. It also cannot follow or come before another vowel, meaning that there must be simultaneously preceded and followed by a consonant.[3]

Consonants

Table 2: Consonants contrasts[3]
Plain Obstruents p t č k
Prenazalized stops b d g
Fricatives v s ɣ
Nasals m m n ŋ
Lateral l
Rhotic r
Glides w y

There are many similarities as well as differences in the consonants available in the languages around the Tape area. For example, Tape does not contain any apicolabial consonants which is similar to the languages in the northeastern part of Malakua. Also the Tape language includes the contrastive palatal affricate, /č/, which is not present in V'ënen Taut, a language located near Tape. In addition, the Tape language contains a contrastive series of labiovelar consonants which the languages, V'ënen Taut, Larevat, and Naman lack.[3]

Grammar

Nominalization

One is able to obtain a noun by adding a -ien to the a verb root.[3]

Examples

By adding -ien to a verb ending in p, the p will usually change to a v.[3]

Examples

One is able to obtain a noun By adding në- to a verb.[3]

Examples

Compounding

By combining two nouns together, one is able to form a new noun related to both words.[3]

ex:

lumlum

waterweed

tes

sea

lumlum tes

waterweed sea

'seaweed'

ex:

netite

child

dui

man

netite dui

child man

'boy'

Adding a place after a noun indicates the noun is originating from that particular place.[3]

ex:

dui

man

Tape

location

dui Tape

man location

'Tape man'

ex:

dui

man

elo

coast

dui elo

man coast

'coastal person'

Possession

In many Oceanic languages, there is a distinction between indirect and direct possession of nouns. Indirect possession usually occurs when adding another phrase or word after the possessive noun while direct possession occurs when adding a prefix to the noun it is possessing.[3]

ex:

nisip

knife

ese

POSS

mwëliun

chief

nisip ese mwëliun

knife POSS chief

'the chief's knife'

ex:

pëti

head

-k

1SG

pëti -k

head 1SG

Indirectly possessed nouns

There are special markers indicating the different types of possession like using ese- for general possession. Besides the general possession, there is possession towards, eating, chewing, and drinking. By adding de-, jomo-, and mëne-, one is referring to eating, chewing, and drinking respectively.

Possessive Pronouns (Edible)[3]
Singular Dual Trial Plural
1 dok dedru dedëtël ded
2 dom - - -
3 den daru dartël dar
ex:

mëtiu

coconut

do-m

ED:2SG

mëtiu do-m

coconut ED:2SG

'your coconut (for eating)'

Possessive Pronouns (Chewable)[3]
Singular Dual Trial Plural
1 jomok jomodru jomodëtël jomod
2 jomom - - -
3 jomon jomaru jomartël jomar
ex:

niji

sugarcane

jomo-m

CHEW-2SG

niji jomo-m

sugarcane CHEW-2SG

'your sugarcane (for chewing)'

Possessive Pronouns (Drinkable)[3]
Singular Dual Trial Plural
1 mënok mënedru mënedëtël mëned
2 mënom - - -
3 mënen mënaru mënartël mënar
ex:

nuo

water

mëno-m

DRINK-2SG

nuo mëno-m

water DRINK-2SG

'your water (for drinking)'

General Pronouns (General)[3]
Singular Dual Trial Plural
1 (g)esek (g)esedru (g)esedëtël (g)esed
2 (g)esom - - -
3 (g)esen (g)esaru (g)esartël (g)esar
ex:

nisip

knife

eso-m

POSS-2SG

nisip eso-m

knife POSS-2SG

'your knife'

Directly possessed nouns

Possessive Suffixes[3]
Singular Dual Trial Plural
1 -k -dru -dëtël -d
2 -m - - -
3 -n -ru -rtël -r

Example

Numerals

  1. isimëk, isig
  2. iru
  3. itël
  4. ives
  5. ilëm
  6. lëmjis
  7. jiru
  8. jitël
  9. jevet
  10. isngel
  11. isngel dëmon isimëk
  12. isngel dëmon iru
  13. isngel dëmon itël
  14. isngel dëmon ives
  15. isngel dëmon ilëm
  16. isngel dëmon lëmjis
  17. isngel dëmon jiru
  18. isngel dëmon jitël
  19. isngel dëmon jevet
  20. ingelru
  21. ingelru dëmon isig

When counting from 1-10, it is like counting in any other language where an arbitrary meaning is attached to a word. After counting to ten, one must add the word, isngel and dëmon before the numerals 1-9 to make teen numbers. The form, dëmon, has no meaning by itself in the Tape language.[3]

References

  1. ^ Tape at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b "Maragus". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Crowley, Terry (2006). Lynch, John (ed.). Tape, a Declining Language of Malakula (Vanuatu). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. doi:10.15144/PL-575. hdl:1885/146275. ISBN 0-85883-567-3.