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Dictionary of Netwar (Lenakel language)

This is the first ever extensive dictionary of Netwar language (western Tanna, Republic of Vanuatu) published online. It is the fruit of several years of my work among the inhabitants of the island of Tanna. It contains translations of local expressions, pronunciation recordings and photographic documentation. Its purpose is to help in the preservation of the language and in passing it to the young generation.

If you want to use this data in any way, or found a mistake, please, contact me first.

Go to: Index of the dictionary Information about the dictionary

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This work could never be realised without the precious help form the following consultants from local communities, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude.

Sylvano Kapalu (Ipai), Noël Yeru (Lowanatom), Josephine Pesai (Lowaneai), Gilain Pesai (Lowaneai), Marie-Rose Nako (Lowanatom), Celine Nako (Lowanatom), Nalaké Nalin (Lowkupas), Eddy Willy (Imailone), Simon Iawilu (Lowkweria), Iawilu Naumusapen (Lowkweria), Nausien (Lamlu), Pascal Nipo (Ituga), Louis Kapalu (Ipai), Clément Kapalu (Lowanatom), Jérémy Nako (Lowanatom), Sera Ialitan (Lowanatom), Mary Aupan (Lowlipag), Kasékasé (Imapul), Pierre Chanel Iamai (Lownipaku), Jimmy Napip (Ikumhala), Lomai Tain (Ielkes), Bernard Iaukélo (Lowanatom), Pierrot Nako Yaru (Lowanatom), Iako Kapalu (Ipai), Christian Niluan (Lowanatom), Timothe Kauia (Lowanatom), Vincent Nako (Lowanatom), Jack Iawia (Lowkweria), Sylvie Kiko (Lowanatom), Joe Natuman (Lowkweria), Nasak (Lowtaliko), Kuwaw (Lowtaliko), Joe Nasak (Lowtaliko), Alain Iawulé (Ituga), Jimmy Noawit (Lownahuru), Camille Nalao (Lowanatom)


Built: 9. 1. 2017

Number of words: 1915
Phrases: 387


The present work is a fruit of my personal study of the Netwar language while living in Tanna. Over time it has evolved into a long-term project of documentation of the language with the aim to help local communities to preserve their precious language and cultural knowledge. Netwar (also known as the "Lénakel language") does not have any officially standardized writing form. If written by the natives, a phonetic-like system is used following French or English, depending on whether the person is speaking French or English. Recently a book A Comprehensive Comparison of Lexemes in the Major Languages of Tanna, Vanuatu has been published, suggesting a unified Tanna-wide system of writing. While being phonetically accurate, it might be confusing for a non-expert and it uses accentuation not commonly found on English and French keyboards. Moreover words presented in it for the Netwar language come from a different dialect than those found in the following dictionary. That is why I do not follow this system. Instead, I use conventions presented in the following table. Letters not found in the table have their usual value following IPA. Vowels e and less often a, i have frontal and central forms. For the sake of simplicity, the text makes difference only of the e / ə pair. The purpose here is not an exact rendering of pronunciation, but the simplicity and comprehensibility for non-experts and for local people, to whom the work is destinated too. Please refer to recordings for a clearer image about the pronunciation. It is worth of mentioning, that Netwar has many dialects. Words presented below belong mainly to the one spoken around Lowanatom, Lowaneai, Ipai and Lokweria.

Usually the second, rarely the third, syllable from the end is stressed.

i before a vowel ~ [j], ex: iélu ~ /jelu/
y ~ [y], like the French "u" or the German "ü", ex: ky ~ /ky/
e ~ [ə], ex: nem ~ /nəm/
é ~ [e], ex: neté ~ /nəte/
g ~ [ŋ], nasal, ex: nauga ~ /nauŋa/
h ~ [h], somehow voiceless, ex: nihin ~ /nihin/
r ~ [ɾ], like in Spanish, ex: naru ~ /naɾu/
w ~ [w], ex: kasawar ~ /kasawaɾ/

Thematic dictionary