Author: Terry T. Crowley
Editor: John Lynch
Paperback: ISBN: 058835673 Pages: Price: AUS $ 50.00 Comment: In Australia AUS $55.00 (incl. GST)
This is one of four monographs on Malakula languages that Terry Crowley had been working on at the time of his sudden death in January 2005. One of the four, Naman: a vanishing language of Malakula ( Vanuatu ) , had been submitted to Pacific Linguistics a couple of weeks earlier, and the remaining three, including the current volume, were in various stages of completion. John Lynch was asked by the Board of Pacific Linguistics to prepare all four for publication, both as a memorial to Terry and because of the valuable data they contain.
The Tape language was traditionally bordered to the west by the V'ënen Taut (or Big Nambas) language, which was spoken along the coast from just west of Anuatakh. This language occupies a large geographical area of northwestern Malakula, and in terms of the number of speakers, it is currently the second largest language of Malakula (Lynch & Crowley 2001:68). The neighbouring group to the northeast of Tape territory spoke the Tirakh language. During the colonial era, they moved down to the coast and their traditional homeland is now unoccupied.
Tape is a relocated language that is now spoken by only a handful of older people some distance away from their traditional homeland, which has been abandoned as a place of residence. The traditional territory of Tape speakers was an area of northwestern Malakula extending inland between the Lowisinwei River valley and across to the eastern bank of the Brenwei River to the south of a mountain called Pwitarvere.
Although Tape traditional territory include a stretch of coast from Anuatakh to Lowisinwei-which gave people living in this area access to salt which they could trade with the Tirakh people-Tape speakers oriented their lives primarily towards the bush. This is reflected in this study in the fact that speakers today were unable to offer more than an absolute minimum of terminology relating to sea life, even though they have lived in the coastal village of Tautu for about eighty years.
Tape was originally the name for the area shown on the map where the language which is the subject of this description was originally spoken. There was reportedly no distinct name for the language as such, which was referred to simply as vengesien Tape 'the language of Tape'. However, speakers of the language today-and other people of Tape descent who do not speak the language-have come to use Tape as the name for the language as well.