Language of the week: Anejom͂

As per my post of last week, we’ll be starting a language of the week feature here. The first 26 will be in alphabetical order, for no good reason other than it constrains the search parameters a bit. As always, feel free to suggest your favourite language.

The language of the week is Anejom͂*, also known as Aneityum. It’s the southernmost language of Vanuatu and the only surviving language of the island of Aneityum. I first heard about this language when I was an undergrad at ANU, and it was joke that the senior professors got the languages in the best places, while the grad students got to go to places with awful food and lots of malaria: items of evidence included Professor Pawley, formerly working in Papua New Guines but these days working on Fiji (amongst other places), Professor Crowley (who’d been a student at ANU working on Bandjalang before getting tenure and moving to Vanuatu), and so on.
Language resources for Anejom͊ include:

There’s a fascinating note in the basic vocabulary list I linked to. The word for the numeral ‘four’ is mijman. Apparently this is from the very widespread word for five, *lima. Now, if anyone can tell me the sound changes that produce mijman from lima, I’d love to hear about it! As for the change from ‘five’ to ‘four’, I don’t know of any parallels for this, but the Diyari for ‘three’ is cognate with words for ‘two.

*It’s not clear to me why the tilde on the m looks so funny. The m~ and p~ in the orthography are labio-velars.


6 responses to “Language of the week: Anejom͂

  1. It’s not clear to me why the tilde on the m looks so funny

    You’re having this problem. Short version: there’s an implicit font-switch between the ‘m’ and the combining tilde, so it lays out wrong. If you assert a font across the whole word, the problem goes away. There are some good serif fonts for this purpose (e.g. Doulos SIL), but I’m not sure what you can do about the occurrence in the (sans-serif) title of the post — Arial Unicode MS shows the diacritcs OK, but it’s super-tall.

    BTW, you’ve used both the regular combining tilde and the “not tilde” (tilde with a slash through it) in different places. Isn’t IPA+HTML fun?

  2. > As always, feel free to suggest your favourite language.

    I don’t know whether this qualifies as a language in a technical sense, and I don’t have any resources to offer, but I would nominate “Dtai”, the dialect of Thai spoken in the south of Thailand. If you had information, I’d be interested to know more about history, mutual intelligibility, etc.

  3. I’m the maintainer of the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database – thanks for the link!

    As ‘The Tensor’ mentions – dealing with unicode characters is not easy ( & it really should be by now ), and there are major problems with combining characters (like the m/p-tilde in this case ) on all modern web-browsers. The KHTML-based engines ( Konqueror & OS X’s Safari ) seem to do the best, with Gecko based engines ( Firefox/Mozilla ) coming a close second. Internet Explorer is just plain cruddy (no surprises there).

    I’ve got a list of characters that I need to look at more closely, and try to get them to render correctly, but as always, I just haven’t had time yet!

    As for the cognacy judgements on that list, they are very preliminary for a large section of the data. We are working on this in conjunction with a number of linguists. Please let me know if you do see any errors.

    Finally – I love this “language of the week” idea – keep them coming!


  4. Hi all, sorry for the delay in replying – I’ve been away for a few days.

    Scott, I’d be happy to have Dtai as the language of the week when I get to D, as long as I can find some information about it.

    Simon and TT, thanks for the info – I’m fairly new to combining diacritics in Unicode (the languages I work on don’t use them) but it’s something I should look into a bit more.

    Off to try to fix the Anejom problem…

  5. Your language of the week feature is bound to be interesting! I’d like to nominate my favorite Alaskan language, Iñupiaq, for when you get to I. There’s not much online about it other than a dictionary, but perhaps I can remedy that.

  6. >I’d be happy to have Dtai…

    Thanks! After posting my previous comment, I did find this entry at

    By the way, Dtai is my transliteration of ใต้. It looks like uses other names for this language, namely Pak Thai, Pak Tai, Paktay, Dambro, and Southern Thai.

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