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Linguistic Typology

Founded by Plank, Frans

Editor-in-Chief: Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria

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Volume 9, Issue 1


A typological overview of Mwotlap, an Oceanic language of Vanuatu

Alexandre François
Published Online: 2005-07-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lity.2005.9.1.115


The typologist reader is presented here with an overview of the most interesting characteristics of Mwotlap, an Oceanic language of Vanuatu. After a short presentation of its phonology, its main morphosyntactic categories are described and explored from a functional angle. The construal of noun phrases reveals a cognitive asymmetry between human individuals and other referents. Nouns, just like verbs or adjectives, are predicative, and are even sensitive to tense-aspect-mood markers and actionality properties. The argument structure of a verb can regularly be affected by its modifiers. Finally, deictics can be shown to play a major role in the structuring of discourse and complex sentences. Whenever relevant, the grammar of Mwotlap is briefly compared to other languages, and assessed in the light of existing typological generalisations.

Keywords: actionality; animacy; aspect; clause combining; deixis; Mwotlap; negation; number; incorporation; Oceanic; possession; predication; pronoun; referentiality; serial verbs; valency change; vowel harmony

About the article

Correspondence address: Laboratoire des Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale, CNRS, 7 rue Guy Môquet, 94801 Villejuif, France; e-mail:

Received: 2 February 2004

Revised: 9 June 2004

Published Online: 2005-07-27

Published in Print: 2005-06-20

Citation Information: Linguistic Typology, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 115–146, ISSN (Online) 1613-415X, ISSN (Print) 1430-0532, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lity.2005.9.1.115.

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