Sowa language

Sowa language

language
name=Sowa
states=Vanuatu
region=Pentecost island
speakers=approximately 10
familycolor=Austronesian
fam2=Malayo-Polynesian
fam3=Central Eastern
fam4=Eastern
fam5=Oceanic
fam6=Central-Eastern
fam7=Remote Oceanic
fam8=North and Central
fam9=Northeast
fam10=East Vanuatu languages
iso2=map|iso3=sww

Sowa was the original language of south-central Pentecost island in Vanuatu. In recent times it has been displaced by Abma, a neighbouring language, and there are now no native speakers of Sowa left, although a few people still know the language.

Sowa belongs to the East Vanuatu languages, a branch of the Austronesian languages family. It is closely related to Seke, another south Pentecost language.

Sowa was originally spoken on both western and eastern sides of Pentecost. Melsisi River formed the language's northern boundary, and its range extended southwards as far as the village of Levisendam. Most of the place names in this area are Sowa in origin.

In the village of Lesubelakan (Lesubwe), above Melsisi, a unique variety of Sowa was spoken that differed noticeably from that spoken in other areas.

Following the depopulation of Pentecost that occurred after the introduction of European diseases, men from Sowa-speaking areas were forced to marry women from other parts of Pentecost. These women were Abma speakers, and their children were brought up speaking Abma rather than Sowa. As a result, by the 1960s, Abma had totally displaced Sowa as the local language.

No comprehensive study of Sowa has been carried out, but a few local people have made small-scale efforts to record and preserve the language in an attempt to ensure that it is not forgotten. Some even dream of reviving Sowa. However, their efforts are not wholeheartedly supported by the entire community, and are hampered by a lack of resources.

References

* Tabi Vahka, Isaiah. 2006. "Tamzon Nan Dutmekan Lon Dolod Ne Sowa".

External links

* [http://www.andrewgray.com/pacific/sowa.htm Andrew Gray's notes on Sowa language]
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=sww Ethnologue page]


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