Zabana is an Oceanic language spoken almost exclusively in the Kia district on the northern part of Santa Isabel Island in the Solomon Islands. Zabana is considered a developing language (EGIDS 5) which means that the language is in vigorous use, with literature in a standardized form being used by some though this is not yet widespread or sustainable. It is one of the most spoken languages on Santa Isabel Island, competing with Cheke Holo. There is a 30% to 60% literacy rate in Zabana as a first language and a 25% to 50% literacy rate in Zabana as a second language.
|Native to||Central Solomon Islands|
|Region||Santa Isabel Island|
Official language in
Zabana is almost exclusively spoken on Santa Isabel Island which is the largest island in the Isabel provenience and the third largest island in the Solomon Island chain. Zabana is one of the eight different languages spoken on Santa Isabel island. Out of the other seven different languages spoken on the island, Zabana shares major similarities with Kokota and Cheke Holo (also known as Maringe.) A combination dialect of Zabana and Cheke Holo is also developed and widely spoken within the area.
|Plosive||p b||t d||k|
|Fricative||f v||s z||ɣ||h|
Zabana only contains open syllables, since there are no consonant clusters and geminate vowels in the language. It is important to note that vocal stress on a single phoneme does not exist in Zabana, instead certain syllables called penultimate syllables (the final syllable of a word that ends in a vowel) are stressed. When compared to the neighboring languages, it is also important to note that Zabana has fewer phonemes than its neighbors, in particular Kokota.
|k 17%||l 13%|
|p 12%||r 13%|
|t 10%||k 11%|
|s 10%||t 9%|
|m 8%||n 7%|
|b 7%||p 6%|
|l 6%||s 6%|
|r 5%||h 6%|
|n 4%||m 5%|
|h 4%||b 4%|
|d 3%||g 4%|
|v 3%||gh 4%|
|f 3%||d 3%|
|g 2%||v 3%|
|gh 2%||ng 3%|
|ng 2%||f 2%|
|z 1%||z 1%|
There are two types of verbs in Zabana, transitive and intransitive verbs.
- Transitive Verb: Can be attached with a suffix which indexes the direct or indirect object.
- Intransitive Verb: Verbs which convey motion of some sort.
In Zabana, possession is denoted syntactically by a possessive suffix attached to the noun such as no or ka. It is important to note that words such as "father", "mother", and "uncle" can never take on a possessive suffix.
|One Hundred||kaike ɣɔbi|
|One Thousand||kaike tɔɤa|
Larger numbers are made by compounding "Cardinal Numbers" such as one through ten and the exponential factors of ten such as one hundred and one thousand.
|nohe "sit"||nonohe "seat form"|
|goto "to boil"||gotogoto "to sweat"|
|baolo "to name"||babaolo "name"|
Reduplication is used in Zabana to derive intransitive verbs from transitive terms and to derive nouns from verbs.
|When/How Much/How Many||niha|
Zabana is a mainly a VSO (Verb, Subject, Object) language.
Declarative sentences are denoted by a drop in intonation at the end of the sentence and the basic sentence structure or word ordering of a declarative sentence is shown below.
Example: Ghe manevaka ianimu neke "but whiteman there stay"
Predicate, subject, direct object, oblique object
There are four basic types of question sentences in Zabana: polar questions (yes/no), content questions, alternative questions, dubitative questions (rhetorical).
- Polar Question: Denoted by a rise in intonation at the end of a sentence
- Content Questions: Denoted by the use of one of the four interrogative words and by a fall in intonation at the end of the question
- Alternative Questions: In Zabana they are usually request or open ended questions
There is a chiefly language form of Zabana which is used when addressing clan chiefs.
|English||Common Form||Chiefly Form|
Complex sentences in Zabana are formed when a conjoined clause is used in a sentence, by using one of the three different connectors: nia, ga, and ba which are "and", "or", and "but" respectively. The exception of this rule is the connecting particle ghe which is used to denote a conditional sentence or question and nia must be used to connect the pronoun and the proper noun together. ghe can also be used in a complex sentence to link together two different proper nouns.
In Zabana there are two different types of conditional sentences: simple and counterfactual sentences. Both sentences use the particle la to denote that they are conditional sentences.
- Simple Conditional: Denoted by the use of the particle to along with the particle la, simple conditional sentences state a hypothetical situation in Zabana.
Example: To nanarela ghatu e kotoro hofi ini "If it rains today, the roof will leak."
- Counterfactual: States a situation where the condition is no fulfilled.
Example: Geke meha la ia vaka norao gela to lao ara kia "If the boat had come yesterday, I would have gone to Kia."
- "Zabana". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
- Zabana at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Zabana". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Fitzsimons, Matthew (1989). Zabana : a grammar of a Solomon Islands language.