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Tamambo language: Wikis


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Spoken in Vanuatu
Region Malo Island, Espiritu Santo
Total speakers 3,000
Language family Austronesian
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 map
ISO 639-3 mla

Tamambo is an Oceanic language spoken by at least 3,000 people on Malo and nearby islands in Vanuatu.





Front Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

/i u/ become [j w] respectively when unstressed and before another vowel. /o/ may also become [w] for some speakers.


Tamombo consonant phonemes[1]
Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Velar
Plain Labialized
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop prenasalized mb m nd ɲɟ
plain t k
Fricative voiced β βʷ x
voiceless s
Trill r
Lateral l

The prenasalized postalveolar stop /ɲɟ/ is often affricated and voiceless, i.e. [ɲtʃ].

Younger speakers often realize /β/ as [f] initially and [v] medially, while /βʷ/ is often replaced by [w].

/x/ is usually realized as [x] initially, but some speakers use [h]. Medially, it may be pronounced as any of [x ɣ h ɦ ɡ].

Writing system

Few speakers of Tamambo are literate, and there is no standard orthography. Spelling conventions used include:

Phoneme Representation
/ᵐb/ B initially, mb medially.
/ᵐbʷ/ Bu or bw initially, mbu or mbw medially.
/x/ C or h.
/ⁿd/ D initially, nd medially.
/ᶮɟ/ J initially, nj medially.
/k/ K.
/l/ L.
/m/ M.
/mʷ/ Mu or mw.
/n/ N.
/ŋ/ Ng.
/r/ R.
/s/ S.
/t/ T.
/β/ V.
/βʷ/ Vu or w.



  • Jauncey, Dorothy G. (1997). A Grammar of Tamambo, the Language of Western Malo, Vanuatu. Ph.D. dissertation, Australian National University, Canberra.  
  • Jauncey, Dorothy G. (2002). Lynch, J., Ross, M. & Crowley, T.. ed. The Oceanic Languages. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon. pp. 608–625.  
  • Riehl, Anastasia K.; Jauncey, Dorothy (2005), "Illustrations of the IPA: Tamambo", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100305002197  

External links


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