World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Iaai language

Article Id: WHEBN0010930376
Reproduction Date:

Title: Iaai language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: New Caledonian languages, Approximant consonant, Ouvéa Island, Languages of New Caledonia, Nasal consonant
Collection: Languages of New Caledonia, Loyalty Islands Languages, Oceanic Languages
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Iaai language

Region Ouvéa Island, New Caledonia
Native speakers
4,100  (2009 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 iai
Glottolog iaai1238[2]

Iaai (pronounced ) is a language of Ouvéa Island (New Caledonia). It shares the island of Ouvéa with Fagauvea, a Polynesian outlier language.

Iaai is the 6th language of New Caledonia in number of speakers, with 4078 speakers as of 2009.[3] It is being taught in schools in an effort to preserve it.

The main source of information about the language of Iaai are the various publications by the linguist Françoise Ozanne-Rivierre, from LACITOCNRS.


  • Phonology 1
    • Vowels 1.1
    • Consonants 1.2
  • Grammar 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Iaai is remarkable for its large inventory of unusual phonemes,[4] in particular its consonants, with a rich variety of voiceless nasals and approximants. It may be the only language in the world to possess a voiceless retroflex nasal.


Iaai has ten vowel qualities, all of which may occur long and short. There is little difference in quality depending on length.[5]

Central Back
Close i iː y yː u uː
Close mid e eː ø øː ɤ ɤː o oː
Open mid [œ œː] ɔ ɔː
Open æ æː a aː

Iaai constitutes one of the few cases of front rounded vowels attested outside of their geographic stronghold in Eurasia,[6] even if other cases have since been reported in the Oceanic family.[7]

The vowel /ø øː/ is only known to occur in a half a dozen words. In all of these but /ɲ̊øːk/ "dedicate", it appears between a labial (b, m) and velar (k, ŋ) consonant.

After the non-labiovelarized labial consonants and the vowel /y yː/, the vowel /ɔ ɔː/ is pronounced [œ œː].

The open vowels only contrast in a few environments. /æ æː/ only occurs after the plain labial consonants and the vowel /y yː/, the same environment that produces [œ œː]. /a aː/ does not occur after /ɥ ɥ̊ y yː/, but does occur elsewhere, so that there is a contrast between /æ æː/ and /a aː/ after /b p m m̥ f/.

The vowels /i e ø a o u/ are written with their IPA letters. /y/ is written û, /æ/ is written ë, /ɔ/ is written â, and /ɤ/ is written ö. Long vowels, which are twice as long as short vowels, are written double.


Iaai has an unusual voicing distinction in its sonorants, as well as several coronal series. Unlike most languages of New Caledonia, voiced stops are not prenasalized.[5]

Alveolar Retroflex Pre-palatal Velar Glottal
Stop Voiceless p ʈ c k
Voiced (b) ɖ ɟ ɡ
Nasal Voiceless m̥ʷ n̪̥ ɳ̊ ɲ̊ ŋ̊
Voiced m ɳ ɲ ŋ
Fricative Voiceless f θ s ʃ x
Voiced ð
Approximant Voiceless ɥ̊ h
Voiced ɥ w l (vowel)
Flap ɽ

Unlike many languages with denti-alveolar stops, Iaai /t̪/ and /d̪/ are released abruptly, and /t̪/ has a very short voice onset time. However, the apical post-alveolar and laminal palatal stops /ʈ/, /ɖ/, /c/, /ɟ/ have substantially fricated releases, and are therefore pronounced between stops and affricates /ʈʂ/, /ɖʐ/, /cç/, /ɟʝ/.

The labial approximants are placed in their respective columns following their phonological behaviour (their effects on following vowels), but there is evidence that all members of these series are either labial-palatal or labial-velar. /ɥ/, /ɥ̊/ are sometimes pronounced with slight frication, and therefore may be argued to lie between palatalized bilabial fricatives /ɸʲ/, /βʲ/ and approximants /ɥ/, /ɥ̊/.

In many cases, words with voiced and voiceless approximants are morphologically related, such as /liʈ/ "night" and /l̥iʈ/ "black". /h/- and vowel-initial words have a similar relationship. The voiceless sonorant often marks object incorporation. However, many roots with voiceless sonorants have no voiced cognate.

The labialized labials are more precisely labio-velarized labials. There is evidence that non-labialized labial consonants such as /m/ are palatalized /pʲ/, /mʲ/, etc., but this is obscured before front vowels. If this turns out to be the situation, it would parallel Micronesian languages which have no plain labials.



  1. ^ Iaai at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Iaai". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Dotte 2012.
  4. ^ The main sources about the phonology of Iaai are Ozanne-Rivierre (1976); Maddieson and Anderson (1994).
  5. ^ a b See Maddieson & Anderson (1994).
  6. ^ Maddieson, Ian. Front Rounded Vowels, in Martin Haspelmath et al. (eds.) The World Atlas of Language Structures, pp. 50-53. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-925591-1. (online version).
  7. ^ See for example  .


  • Dotte, Anne-Laure (2012), "Integration of loan verbs in Iaai (Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia)", Lyon, retrieved 26 June 2012  .
  • Maddieson, Ian, & Victoria Anderson (1994). "Phonetic Structures of Iaai". In UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 87: Fieldwork Studies of Targeted Languages II.
  • Miroux, Daniel (2011), Parlons Iaai, Ouvéa, Nouvelle-Calédonie (in Français), Paris: L'Harmattan .
  •  .
  • Ozanne-Rivierre, Françoise (1984), Dictionnaire iaai (in Français), Paris: Société d'études linguistiques et anthropologiques de France .
  • Ozanne-Rivierre, Françoise (2003), "L'aire coutumière iaai", in Cerquiligni, Bernard, Les Langues de France (in Français), Paris: PUF .
  • Ozanne-Rivierre, Françoise (2004), "Spatial deixis in Iaai (Loyalty Islands)", in Senft, Gunter, Spatial deixis in Oceanic languages, Canberra: Pacific Linguistics .

External links

  • (French) Five stories in Iaai, collected by F. Ozanne-Rivierre, and presented in bilingual format (homepage of LACITO).
  • Presentation of Iaai, including an extensive bibliography.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.