Volow language

Volow (pronounced [βʊˈlʊw]; formerly known as Valuwa or Valuga) is an Oceanic language variety which used to be spoken in the area of Aplow, in the eastern part of the island of Motalava, in Vanuatu.[3]

Native toVanuatu
RegionMota Lava island, Banks Islands
Language codes
ISO 639-3


Volow has receded historically in favour of the now dominant language Mwotlap.[1] It is now only remembered by a single passive speaker, who lives in the village of Aplow — the new name of what was previously known as Volow.

The similarity of Volow with Mwotlap is such that the two communalects may be considered dialects of a single language.


Volow, like Mwotlap, has 7 phonemic vowels, which are all short monophthongs:[4][5]

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

The language also has a typologically rare consonant: a rounded, prenasalised voiced labial-velar plosive [ᵑᵐɡ͡bʷ]:[5] e.g. [n.lɛᵑᵐɡ͡bʷɛβɪn] “woman”[6] (spelled n-leevēn in the local orthography).

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b François (2012:87)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Volow". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ List of Banks islands languages.
  4. ^ François (2005a:445).
  5. ^ a b François (2005b:116).
  6. ^ François (2013:191).