South Efate and Nakanamanga


South Efate and Nakanamanga are Oceanic languages spoken on the island of Efate in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. South Efate (also referred to as Erakor) is spoken in villages along the southern coast (including Pango, Erakor and Eratap) by approximately 6,000 people while Nakanamanga (also referred to as North Efate or Nguna) is spoken by approximately 9,500 people in villages along the northern coast (including Havannah Harbour and Paunangisu) as well as the northern offshore islands (including Moso and Nguna) (Lynch and Crowley 2001).

How endangered are South Efate and Nakanamanga? Within the context of Vanuatu, which is home to over 100 distinct languages but has a population of less than 250,000, these languages are two of the larger and healthier ones. As is the case with all regional languages in the country, however, most speakers are also fluent in Bislama, the national language, and are educated in English or French, therefore restricting the domains in which South Efate and Nakanamanga are used and threatening their long-term survival.

The GTA is home to a speaker of both South Efate (Erakor variety) and Nakanamanga (Nguna variety). Like many people of Vanuatu, she speaks more than one local language, given her parents’ different mother tongues. She is the only speaker of either of these languages in North America to our knowledge and also the sole speaker of any Vanuatu language in Ontario.

In the first of the following two videos, Marlene speaks in South Efate (Erakor) about her experiences with the language; in the second, she shares a song in Nakanamanga (Nguna). To view subtitles in English and South Efate/Nakanamanga, click the (cc) button in the lower righthand corner of the screen.

For more information on South Efate, see A Grammar of South Efate by Nick Thieberger.


Lynch, J. & T. Crowley. (2001). Languages of Vanuatu: A new survey and bibliography. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.

Thieberger, N. (2006). A Grammar of South Efate. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication No. 33. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

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