drehu, lifou (qene drehu)
Spoken in New Caledonia
Area Lifou
A number of speakers approximately 12000
Classification Not in signal 100
to supplement
Official statute and codes of language
Official language of
Governed by
, , code color

drehu (qene drehu) is a language belonging to the family of . The principal characteristics of these languages are indeed found there

  • consonne/voyelle alternation. The final vowel nevertheless is sometimes eluded at the end of the sentence.
  • the redoubling (for example tro: to go, go; trotro: to press the step)
  • Contrary to the languages of Polynesia and a great number of languages austronésiennes, the drehu is characterized by a greater phonological diversity.

It is the language kanak which comprises the most speakers. They are approximately 12 000, primarily on the island of Lifou (Islands Honesty). It has today the statute of "regional language" being part of the 4 among the 28 languages with being able to have passed in option with the vat, whether that is on the spot or in metropolis. The language drehu is also taught since withNational institute of the languages and Eastern civilizations and since 2000 at the University of Noumea. Language of oral tradition, it was for the first time transcribed in the medium of XIXE century by missionaries and Polynesians of London Missionary Society (LMS), with the assistance of Lifous. Among these missionaries, let us quote Samuel Mac Farlane and FAO (or Paoo), originating as for him inAitutaki with and formed with the college of Takamoa, the pastoral school of Rarotonga. There also exists on the island another language, it qene miny, used formerly to address itself to the chiefs although nowadays few people can still control it.

It is composed of 30 phonemes:

  • Seven vowels:
    • a: decides [ has ] as in "tree";
    • E: decides [ E ] as in "coffee";
    • 5th: decides [? ] as in "head";
    • I: decides [ I ] as in "rite";
    • O: decides [ O ] as in "totality";
    • ö: decides [ ø ] as in "place";
    • U: decides [ U ] as in "wolf";
  • 23 consonants:
    • b: decides [ B ] as in "boat";
    • C: decides [ T?] as in "Czech";
    • D: decides [ D ] as in "dance";
    • Dr.: decides [?] like "D" English of "down";
    • dj: decides [?] as in "Djibouti" (is used only in the case of loans, for example "djaem" for jam)
    • F: decides [ F ] as in "finishing";
    • G: decides [ G ] as in "station";
    • ng: decides [? ] like the "ng" of "carpark" (velar);
    • ny: decides [ N?] as in "news" or "yam";
    • H: decides [ H ] as in English it is aspired;
    • J: decides [ ð ] like the "HT" of "English mother";
    • K: decides [ K ] like "kanak";
    • L: decides [ L ] as in "Lucien"
    • m: decides [ m ] as in "Marcel";
    • N: decides [ N ] as in "Norbert";
    • p: decides [ p ] as in "pot"
    • Q: decides [ xu ] like the "ju" of "juegar" or "Spanish Juan";
    • S: decides [ S ] as in "cinema"
    • HT: decides [? ], no French equivalent, decides like a "S" strongly supported;
    • T: decides [ T ] as in "thunder";
    • tr: decides [?] like "T" English of "turn";
    • W: decides [?] like "W" of Hawai' I ";
    • X: decides [ X ] like the "j"(la "jota") Spanish;
    • Z: decides [ Z ] as in "Zoe".

There are light nuances of pronunciation and tonality between the north and the south of the island.


Personal deictics

Like the majority of the languages of, the drehu comprises one and one plural. It also makes the distinction between us inclusive and it us exclusive.


  • Eni/ni : I, me
  • Eö/ö : you, you
  • Nyipë/nyipëti : you of courtesy, when one one addresses to elder or a chief (joxu)
  • Nyipo/nyipot(i) : you of courtesy when one addresses oneself to elder
  • Angeic(e) : it, it
  • Nyidrë/nyidrët(i) : it, lorque one evokes elder
  • Nyidro/nyidrot(i) : it, lorque one evokes elder
  • Xapo : it, it (when the person misses)
  • Ej(e) : it, it (for a thing, an animal)


  • Eaho/ho : us two (interlocutor excluded, me and him)
  • Easho/sho (easo/so) : us two (interlocutor included, you and me)
  • Epon(i)/pon(i) : you two
  • Eahlo : they, they two
  • Read ej(e) : they, they, them two (for two things, two animals)


  • Eahun(i)/hun(i) : us (interlocutor excluded, them and me)
  • Eashë/shë, easë/së : us all (interlocutor included)
  • Epun(i)/pun(i) : you all
  • Angaatr(e) : they, they, them
  • Itre ej(e) : they, they, them (for the things, the animals)

Some aspectual markers

  • With express that the action is achieving itself or a state present.
    • Eni has papaathe the wahnawa : I am in the train of raper the banana.
    • Does Nyipë have tro ië? : Where do you go?
    • Angeic has madrin : Il/elle is content(e).
  • Cola express the idea of a report present.
    • Cola mani : It rains.
    • Cola hnötr : The weather is cold.
    • Cola meköl the nekönatr : The child sleeps.
    • cola qaja : one says... it is said...
  • Ka : express a permanent, durable state or a résulat
    • foë ka mingömingö : a pretty girl
  • Hna express the accomplished one.
    • Hna mani : It rained.
    • Hnenge hna if E kuhu hnagejë : I bathed (in bottom) with the sea.
    • Hnei nyidrë hna qaja ka hape... : It said that...
  • Ha : express the achievement of an act or an awaited phenomenon
    • Angeic ha xulu : it finally arrived.
    • Cola ha beech iön : the breadfruit tree gave fruits
  • Kolo express the idea of a last report.
    • Kolo sineng : It was my friend (it is not it any more).
    • Tha kolo kö has mani : It does not rain any more.
  • ESA hë express that the action is definitively finished.
    • ESA hë nor xeni the koko : I finished to eat the yam.
    • ESA hë the ini : The course is finished.
  • troa/ tro...has express a not yet accomplished action (future), but also the duty, "it are necessary"
    • Troa mani : it will rain.
    • Tro nor has xen : I will eat.
    • Tro nor has tro E kohië the macatre ka troa xulu : I will go there low (in the direction of the east, under heard in Europe), the next year.
    • Tro epuni has ujëne the hna cinhyihane celë : You must translate this text.
    • Troa huliwa : it is necessary to work.
  • Tha...kö : express the negation
    • Tha ' tre kö nor : I do not know
  • The...kö : indicate prohibition
    • The ewekë kö! : Do not speak, conceal you!
  • : express the injunction, the order.
    • xeni jë! : eat!

Basic vocabulary

Bozu : Hello (loan with French, "hello"). The young people like today to say uzob, which is generally badly seen by the old men.

Talofa : form older of greeting (loan to the Samoan)

Lay Hape ue? : How are you? (Another manner of saying is pond? or matre?, a racourci for matre troa the mel?

Egöcatr(e) : Very well, I am well. Another possible answer is "pëkö", literally "nothing the whole". The label lifou makes that one should never complain about his evils. Never not to answer "tha law kö", "that goes" or eni has kucakuca, "I am tired".

Drei nyipë? : Who are you? How are you called?

Heart nor tre... : I am called...

Elanyi hë : hello, at tomorrow

Edrae hë : hello, with later

Does Eö have U? : What do you make?

Eni has pi xen : I am hungry

Ka will madra : a white, an European. Literally the term means "the red". There are several versions as for the origin of the term. It is probable that that refers to the color of the skin burned by the sun of the first Europeans (of the British) to to have passed on the island

Hearth wiiwii : French. Nöje wiiwii : France. Wiiwii is the term used to designate the French in a great number of archipelagoes, for example at of New Zealand.

Hearth papaale : English; qene papaale : English, the English language.

Mëëk(e) : Gande Ground.

Eaj(e) : Ouvéa.

Mengon(e) : Maré.

Tixa : Tiga.

Kunie : island of the Pines.

Kolo ka hapeu ngöne qene wiiwii the trenge ewekë... : What means in French the sentence...

xen(i) : to eat (a product of vegetable nature), eni has xeni the wahnawa : I eat a banana

ön(i) : to eat (a product of animal nature), eni has öni the gutu : I eat chicken

tro : to go, go; nyipë has tro ië? : Where do you go?;

föe : an adult woman

trahmany(i) : an adult man

Jajiny(i) : a girl (a teenager)

Thöthi : a young man (a teenager); Heart the eni has thöthi tre : When I was young...

Nekönatr(e) : a child

Qatr(e) : an old man, an ancestor

joxu : chief

angajoxu : big boss. They are three on the island. The name of the three great chefferies are Lösi in the south, Gaica in the west and Wetr in north.

Uma : dwelling (generic term); uma meitro: traditional box; uma etë: house into hard, stone; uma itön: store

Itön : to buy; tro nor has itön the falawa : I will buy bread

Hnanyijoxu : enclosure of the cheffery, place where the chief lives.

Huhnahmi : Christian village. Traditionally, the habitat was dispersed. They are the missionaries who gathered the population of each tribe within villages created for this purpose

Hmitrötr(e) : prohibited, crowned, taboo; Cola hmitrötre troa qaja.. : it is interdict of saying... ; thina ka hmitrötr: to have an incorrect control

Thoi : lie; qeje thoi : to lie

Nyipici : truth, truth

Koko : yam (generic term). There are also precise terms for each variety of yams.

Wene gee : water-bottle

Naked : coconut

fiji : mould

eötr(e) : shark

helep(u) : interior of the grounds

Some proverbs

(Source: Emma Hadfield, "Among the native of the Loyalty Group" 1920)

Naked Qali : (literally "It is a twisted coconut"), within the meaning of one cannot change people because a twisted coconut is not rectified

Tulu kö tulu : (litt: "a measurement for a measurement"), it is giving giving

Hnaho pi xetë has xetë : (litt. "the hen sultana will give rise to a hen sultana"), "the cats do not give dogs".

Kuië wëtresiji hnengödraië : (litt. "to launch stars in the sky") within the meaning of doing something of useless or to waste its time. Is the sky already full of stars, why throw others of them?

Me eö kö lay, nge qa shë kö : (litt. "it is to you like that and it is to us thus"), with each country its way of making, with each one its method.

Munë wenge pë hë : (litt. "remainders of the dugout", the wood not used for construre a dugout - wenge), a "old maid", a "nonmarried woman".


Run of drehu of Wamo Haocas (INALCO), section languages océaniennes

To listen to drehu: HTTP://lacito.filing.vjf.CNRS.fr/archives/Nouvelle_Caledonie/Drehu/MU.mp3 account of Wanum Maka collected by Claire Moyse-Faurie, CNRS, Lacito, on the arrival of Tongiens with Mu, great cheffery of Lösi.


Maurice Lenormand, language Dictionary of Lifou. Qene Drehu, 1999, Noumea, The Rock-with-the-Veil, 533p

Lercari, Vernaudon, Sam, Gowé, QENE DREHU language of Lifou (2 tomes+4 cassettes)

Moyse-Faury (Claire), The drehu: language of Lifou (islands Honesty): phonology, morphology, syntax, SELAF, ISBN 2-85297-142-9


  > French to English > fr.wikipedia.org (Machine translated into English)