Guide to the Nafsan, South Efate collection

Nick Thieberger (thien [@]

    This page lists materials in and about Efate, in particular, south Efate language or Nafsan. The collection of Nafsan (Vanuatu) language material was begun in 1996 and has grown since then, arising from my fieldwork with speakers in several periods (see the background description in my grammar, below). Subsequently there has been work by Rosey Billington (on phonetics) and Ana Krajinovic (on tense, mood, and aspect).

The language is also known as South Efate but in 2015 a group of speakers decided it should be referred to as Nafsan. My main aim was to record oral tradition in the language, and this included a range of stories, described below, and songs, including songs that accompany stories, stringband performance, and hymn singing by the men's group.
(See/Hide the list of songs)

    The following recordings include songs.

    You will need to be a registered user of PARADISEC to be able to download material that is listed here.

    I have contributed to a wikipedia page with an introduction to Nafsan here. I have also prepared a collection of Arthur Capell's papers on Nafsan here. The work of transcribing recordings was mainly done by Manuel Wayane (photo here ) and Endis Kalsarap (photo here )

    This collection is archived in PARADISEC and consists of primary recordings, both video and audio, photographs (images of speakers and other images for plant and animal identification), transcriptions, texts derived from the transcriptions and interlinearised, online versions of those texts, a dictionary, a grammar, and historical sources in the language, as page images and transcripts, all detailed below.

    This work is the result of three periods of fieldwork in the villages of Eratap and Erakor in South Efate, Vanuatu, between 1995 and 2000 and subsequent trips after my PhD research. I first went to Vanuatu in 1995 as an Australian Volunteer Abroad with my family. I planned to learn one of the local languages during the three years that we would be living there. There are three national languages, Bislama, English, and French, as well as over 120 indigenous languages.

    I have edited a set of manuscripts by the anthropologist John Layard, collected when he was in Vila in 1914. They outline some oral accounts, genealogies, and cultural information. This can be seen here:

    Some introductory information about the spelling system used can be seen here:
(See/Hide the orthographic conventions)

Orthographic conventions followed in the present work are as follows.
    Primary recordings, both video and audio, are available here.

    Photographs of speakers and images for plant and animal identification are available here.

    Transcriptions are given both as pdf images of handwritten transcripts (jpg files stored with, and with the same name as, the media item in the PARADISEC collection), and as time-aligned typed versions with each media file they transcribe.

    Texts were selected from the recordings, derived from the transcriptions and interlinearised using Toolbox. The text versions of these files (best used inside Toolbox, but they are plain text), are available here. A pdf of the book "Natrauswen nig Efat", a collection of stories in Nafsan and English (196 pages), is available here. All current work is being done in FLEx, please contact me to get a copy of these files.

    The dictionary is available as an Android app, archived structured text file, a pdf, or an online (but now outdated) version, with embedded sound.

    The grammar of South Efate (Nafsan) is available as a pdf version.
(See/Hide Table of contents of the grammar)

Contents of: Thieberger, Nicholas. 2006. A Grammar of South Efate: An Oceanic Language of Vanuatu Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication, No. 33. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. (384+xxvii pages+DVD)

    I have written several articles about Nafsan, covering issues like the nature of the language used in MacDonald's 1907 work; the benefactive construction in Nafsan; the lack of serial verb constructions in South Efate; the phonetics of the language (mainly by Rosey Billington andJanet Fletcher); and the phenomenon of some verbs swapping initial sounds depending on features of transitivity.
(See/Hide the list of articles)

    I have prepared historical sources in the language, as page images and transcripts, which are archived here
(See/Hide the list of historical documents)

Hide the list of historical documents

This work was initially done with funding from the University of Melbourne (PhD scholarship and travel funds) and subsequently by the following research grants:
  • ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship,
  • ARC QEII Fellowship (with Rachel Nordlinger)
  • ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language,
  • ARC Future Fellowship,

    I was employed at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (2008-2010). Thanks also to the Department of Linguistics at the University of Cologne for hosting me during 2013 and 2014, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for their award of a Ludwig Leichhardt Jubilee Fellowship which allowed me to discuss these projects with the team at the Cologne Center for eHumanities (CCeH).