Structure dataset 57: Tayo

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 57.

Tayo is a French-based creole spoken by around 3000 people in and around Saint-Louis in Southern New Caledonia, a Pacific Island politically linked to France as a collectivité française d'Outre-mer. It is one of the oldest and probably the best known example of a whole range of contact varieties that emerged between French and other languages of Melanesian, Polynesian, Asian or Indo-European origin throughout New Caledonia. It is spoken by less than 1% of the inhabitants of the country, but it is understood by the majority of the autochthons, through mechanisms of inter-comprehension between Tayo and the local varieties of New Caledonian French. Our description of the linguistic system stems mainly from the 1980s and 1990s. The data collection was conducted over a period of several years by Sabine Ehrhart, with the help of three generations of a family situated holding a core position within the Saint-Louis tribe (children, parents and grand-parents). However, the majority of the features presented in Ehrhart’s publications and also in the default lect for APiCS stem from the older generation, with Vianney Wamytan being the main informant. Examples come from the publications indicated and for some of them from Sabine Ehrhart herself who after ten years of almost daily contact with the people from Saint-Louis has obtained sufficient knowledge of the grammar in order to be able to give this kind of information. However, her lect has stayed traditional as she left the place in 1999 and during her visits in 2003 and 2006, she noticed that there had been developments and structural changes. The innovative features of the speech used by the younger generations are not represented here as we have taken the decision not to mix the data and to present a homogeneous corpus from the temporal point of view.

No. Feature Value Details Source
No. Feature Value Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ɲ
Stop p mb t ⁿd k ŋg
Sibilant affricate
Non-sibilant affricate ⁿd͡ʒ
Sibilant fricative s ʃ
Non-sibilant fricative f v x
Approximant l j
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel long higher mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel long low central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value Details Source