Version française



in prep.

A Mwotlap - French - English cultural dictionary.

This dictionary is a work in progress, and will remain so for some time. I have currently written about half of it. Check out the pdf 2011 version of this dictionary here.


(with Jean-Michel Charpentier) Atlas Linguistique de la Polynésie Française – Linguistic Atlas of French Polynesia. Berlin & Papeete: Mouton de Gruyter & Université de la Polynésie Française. 2562 pp. (ISBN: 978-3-11-026035-9).

→ Reference page for this volume, including download links


François, Alexandre & Monika Stern. Music of Vanuatu: Celebrations and Mysteries. Ebook accompanying the CD album Musiques du Vanuatu: Fêtes et Mystères – Music of Vanuatu: Celebrations and Mysteries. Inédit, W 260147. Paris: Maison des Cultures du Monde.

→  Online presentation
→  The complete booklet (bilingual) in Open Access
→  English version, printer-friendly
→  Publisher’s page


La Sémantique du Prédicat en Mwotlap (Vanuatu). Collection Linguistique de la Société de Linguistique de Paris. Leuven-Paris: Peeters. 408 pp.

→  Presentation
→  Flick and search through this book  (with Google Book Search)
  Download the entire book  in open access [2.3 Mb]


Araki: A disappearing language of Vanuatu. Pacific Linguistics, 522. Canberra: Australian National University. 375 pp.

→  Presentation
→    Download the entire book in open access [6.6 Mb]


Contraintes de structures et liberté dans l'organisation du discours. Une description du mwotlap, langue océanienne du Vanuatu [Structural constraints and freedom in speech elaboration: A description of Mwotlap, an Oceanic language of Vanuatu]. Doctoral thesis in Linguistics, Université Paris-IV Sorbonne. 3 volumes (1078 pages, 472,000 words).

  Shorter summary (French & English)
  Longer summary, in French
  Download the dissertation   (10.5 Mb)  


Summary of the thesis:

Mwotlap (Motlav), an unwritten Austronesian language belonging to the Oceanic subgroup, is spoken by about 1800 people living in northern Vanuatu – Melanesia, South Pacific.

Throughout this general description of its grammar, several issues are addressed, all of which are topics relevant to current functional and typological linguistics: phonology and morphology; syntactic categories; reference tracking, spatial deixis, possession and quantifiers; verb serialisation and valency; aspect and mood categories; discourse pragmatics and speech acts. Each grammatical structure is not only described synchronically, but also situated along diachronic paths of evolution. This is how multiple grammaticalisation patterns, as well as complex processes of syntactic and semantic change, gradually come to light. Due to the pressure of numerous cognitive and structural constraints acting on the speaker's mind, the power of linguistic innovation may even give rise to spectacular upheavals.





©   Alexandre François 2014