Mele-Fila
Language facts sheet by Niklas Jonsson
©1997-1999 POLLI & Niklas Jonsson

A bibliography of works refered to in this file may be found in the Polynesian Literature List.


Country/territory where spoken
Vanuatu

Geographical region
Fila (Ifira) Island in Vila Harbour off the island of Efate, and Mele village on Efate.

Language codes
MEF (POLLI); MXE (Grimes 1996: Ethnologue); MEF (Biggs 1971); MFA (Biggs 1975)

Alternate language names
Mele-Ifira, Mele-Efira, Fila-Mele, Ifira-Mele, Efira-Mele

Genetic affiliation
Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Central-Eastern Oceanic, Remote Oceanic, Central Pacific, Eastern Fiji-Polynesian, Polynesian, Nuclear Polynesian, Samoic- Outlier, Futunic

Dialect names
Fila (Fira, Ifira, Efira), Mele

Mele-Fila speaking population
1,800 (Wurm/Hattori 1981); perhaps about 900 in Mele village on Efate, and 900 on Fila (Wurm/Hattori 1981); 1,800 total.

Status of language
Work in progress

Alphabet
A, E, I, O, U, F, G, K, L, M, MW, N, P, PW, R, S, T, V, W (Biggs 1975). PW and MW may be borrowings from a Melanesian language; words containing L may also be borrowed; further it is doubtful whether there is a contrast between F and V, and it might be possible to avoid using W in ortography (Biggs 1975). Turner and Capell use NG for G. Capell uses J to indicate the palatalising of T before I. Unlike most other Polynesian languages Mele-Fila words and syllables may end in a consonant (Biggs 1975). Further study of the language may indicate that this phenomenon is due to loss of weakly stressed vowles in speach (also found in Samoan, i e Lagisa where I is dropped, and Tahitian, i e parau where the first A is propped) and not necessarily one to be represented in the ortography.

Remarks
There are significant differences between the Mele and Fila dialects. Speakers of the Mele dialect formerly inhabited Mele Island in Vila Harbour, but are now living in Mele village on Efate. Mele-Fila speakers are bilingual in the South Efate language.

Data last updated
16 January December 1998



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY - MELE-FILA

BIGGS, BRUCE.
1975. A Mele-Fila vocabulary (more than 1000 entries)

CAPELL, ARTHUR.
1942. Notes on the Fila language, New Hebrides (includes vocabulary - about 350 entries - and text) (in: Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 51, p 153-80)

ELBERT, SAMUEL H.
No date. Vocabulary of Mele and Fila words (about, 1000 entries)

NEVERMANN, HANS.
1953. Polynesier auf den neuen Hebriden (in: Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, vol 78, p 196-209)

TURNER, GEORGE.
1861. Nineteen years in Polynesia: Missionary life, travel and researches (including Fila vocabulary - about 50 entries)



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