Authored by: Malcolm Ross

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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The main island of the St Matthias group, Mussau, lies about 120 km north-northwest of New Hanover in the New Ireland group and 210 km east-northeast of Tong in the Admiralties. Of the smaller islands in the group, Emananus, Eloaua, and Emira lie close to Mussau, but Tench is located 100 km to the east. There is some confusion in the literature about the name of the main island. In Nevermann (1933:17), the major ethnographic work on Mussau speakers, it is labelled ‘St Matthias’, whilst ‘Musau’ is the name of a tiny island in the channel between Eloaua and the main island, but in modern atlases it is labelled ‘Mussau’. The islanders of the St Matthias group speak two languages, which comprise the St Matthias family. One is the language described here, Mussau, spoken on Mussau and its offshore islands. The other is Tench (or Tenis), for which we have almost no data, but which appears to be quite closely related to Mussau (Beaumont 1976).

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