Mwesen language

Mwesen (formerly known by its Mota name Mosina) is an Oceanic language spoken in the southeastern area of Vanua Lava Island, in the Banks Islands of northern Vanuatu, by about 10 speakers.[1]

Native toVanuatu
RegionVanua Lava
Native speakers
10 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3msn (shared with Vures)
Glottologvure1239  Vures[2]

Mwesen shows many similarities with the island's dominant language Vurës, to such an extent that they have sometimes been considered dialects of a single language. However, studies have shown that Mwesen and Vurës have various dissimilarities, e.g. in their vowel systems,[3] in their noun articles,[4] in their pronoun paradigms.[5]


Mwesen has 7 phonemic vowels. These are all short monophthongs /i ɪ ɛ a ɔ ʊ u/:[3]

Mwesen vowels
Front Back
Close i u
Near-close ɪ ʊ
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a


The system of personal pronouns in Mwesen contrasts clusivity, and distinguishes four numbers (singular, dual, trial, plural).[5]

Spatial reference in Mwesen is based on a system of geocentric (absolute) directionals, which is in part typical of Oceanic languages, in part innovative.[6]


  1. ^ a b François (2012): 88).
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Vures". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b François (2005:446), François (2011:194)
  4. ^ François (2007).
  5. ^ a b François (2009), François (2016).
  6. ^ François (2015: 169-170).


External linksEdit