Volow
Aplow, Valuwa
Vōlōw
Pronunciation[βʊlʊw]
Native toVanuatu
RegionMota Lava island, Banks Islands
Extinct1986[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottologvolo1238
ELPVolow

Volow (formerly known as Valuwa or Valuga) is an Oceanic language variety which used to be spoken in the area of Aplow, in the eastern part of the island of Motalava, in Vanuatu.[2]

Name

The name Volow is originally a placename: it corresponds to the area known as Aplow, but in the local language Volow rather than in Mwotlap. This form, pronounced [βʊlʊw], is derived from Proto-Torres-Banks *βaluwa.

In neighboring Mwotlap, the same area is called Aplow [aplʊw] (with locative prefix a-), and in Mota, it is called Valuwa [βaluwa]. Both of these are nowadays used as alternative names for the area.

Sociolinguistics

Volow has receded historically in favour of the now dominant language Mwotlap.[1] It is now only remembered by a single passive speaker, who lives in the village of Aplow — the new name of what was previously known as Volow.

The similarity of Volow with Mwotlap is such that the two communalects may be considered dialects of a single language.

Phonology

Volow phonemically contrasts 16 consonants and 7 vowels.[3]

Consonants

Consonants
Labiovelar Bilabial Alveolar Dorsal Glottal
Nasal ŋ͡mʷ ⟨m̄⟩ m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩ ŋ ⟨n̄⟩
Stop voiceless t ⟨t⟩
prenasalized ɡ͡bʷ ⟨q̄⟩ ᵐb ⟨b⟩ ⁿd ⟨d⟩ ᵑɡ ⟨ḡ⟩
Fricative β[a] ⟨v⟩ s ⟨s⟩ ɣ ⟨g⟩ h ⟨h⟩
Approximant w ⟨w⟩ l ⟨l⟩ j ⟨y⟩
  1. ^ [p] exists as the allophone of /β/ word-finally.

This consonant inventory includes a typologically rare consonant: a rounded, prenasalised voiced labial-velar plosive [ᵑᵐɡ͡bʷ]:[4] e.g. [n.lɛᵑᵐɡ͡bʷɛβɪn] “woman”[5] (spelled n-leevēn in the local orthography).

Historically, Volow is the only daughter language to have preserved the voicing of the proto-phonemes *ᵑg > /ᵑɡ/ and *ᵐbʷ > /ᵑᵐɡ͡bʷ/, which is reconstructed for its ancestor Proto-Torres-Banks. Most of its neighbours (including Mwotlap) devoiced these to /k/ and /k​͡pʷ/ respectively.

Vowels

The seven vowels of Volow are all short monophthongs:[6]

Vowels
Front Back
Close i ⟨i⟩ u ⟨u⟩
Near-close ɪ ⟨ē⟩ ʊ ⟨ō⟩
Open-mid ɛ ⟨e⟩ ɔ ⟨o⟩
Open a ⟨a⟩

Notes

References