Authored by: Terry Crowley

The Oceanic Languages

Print publication date:  December  2001
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780700711284
eBook ISBN: 9780203820384
Adobe ISBN: 9781136749858


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Sye is one of three, or possibly four or five (or even more) languages that were originally spoken on Erromango at the time of European contact. A series of epidemics in the nineteenth century reduced the original population of at least 5000 to just several hundred. This led to predictions that all of these languages would disappear. In fact, several of these did disappear, but Sye today is a vibrant language: the number of Sye speakers has picked up from a low point of just 381 in 1931 to the present level of about 1400. Even so, Erromango, one of the largest islands of Vanuatu, has one of the lowest population densities.

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