Walyavalywa language

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EthnicityValywa people
Native speakers~95,000  (2018)
Language family
  • Ounyu
    • Walyavalywa
CWS codewlyw

The Walyavalywa language is an endangered language spoken by the indigenous Valywa people of insular Quaxin Xun. Like the other languages of Quaxin Xun, it is a Ngerupic language, but it is not especially closely related to them. It is a language of the Ounyu branch, related to the Yatååkåå language of Magali and the Yashuhay language of Shohai.


The Walyavalywa language has been spoken on the islands a long time, since it has loans directly from the Xuni substrate language, which is hypothesized to have gone extinct more than 3000 years ago.



Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p b t d ɖ <dr> c ɟ <j> k g q ʔ <ʼ>
Affricate ts <z>
Fricative v
Lateral flap ɺ <l>
Trill r
Approximant j <y> w
Lateral approximant ʎ <ľ>
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid ə
Open a

Stress and tone

Walyavalywa has a pitch accent system, in which the accented syllable can be either rising or falling. In running speech, this is usually pronounced as a high tone syllable, with effects on the tones of other syllables in the utterance depending on the accent type.

Morphology and syntax

Walyavalywa has a complex nominal morphology, with a large number of cases. These include nominative and accusative cases which mark the core arguments of a verb, allowing word order to be relatively free. Morphology is largely prefixing.

Walyavalywa also has a noun class system similar to other Ngerupic languages, especially other Ounyu languages. The noun classes determine the singular and plural marking of a noun, but do not interact with the case marking. The noun class system is somewhat opaque, and noun class cannot be easily determined from the formal or semantic properties of a given word. Younger speakers often simplify the noun system into a smaller number of more semantically clear classes.

The Walyavalywa verb has a large number of affixes. Subject is typically marked by a prefix, with object only being marked in negative clauses. There are also prefixing coverbs. Other affixes are typically suffixes. There are also a variety of verbal auxiliaries, marking categories like future tense, perfect, desiderative, and mirative.


The vocabulary of Walyavalywa is mostly derived from Proto-Ounyu (WWM), with vocabulary for Soltennan flora and fauna, as well as maritime terminology, largely coming from the Xuni substrate language. There are also a large number of loans from Hlung relating to modern life.

See also