Drehu (Lifou)

New Caledonia has 28 vernacular languages, 24 of which are spoken on Grande Terre and 4 in the Loyalty Islands (nengone, iaai, drehu, fagauvea). These vernacular languages are known as "Kanak" languages (the term has been used invariably for some decades).
Côte de Lifou (Nouvelle-Calédonie)
Côte de Lifou (Nouvelle-Calédonie) © Olivier Cohen‎

Discover the language

Drehu (or qene drehu) is the most widely spoken Kanak language in New Caledonia, with around 13,000 speakers. It is spoken on the islands of Lifou and Tiga (Loyalty Islands archipelago), and by communities originally from Lifou settled on Grande Terre. It was a language of evangelization, used by Protestant missionaries to make communities literate, which explains why many speakers from other linguistic areas of New Caledonia learned Drehu in addition to their own vernacular. Several successive spellings were proposed, and it is the one developed by these missionaries that serves as the basis for today's script. Drehu is one of the four Kanak languages taught in New Caledonia, and can thus be presented as an option for the baccalauréat. In New Caledonia, it has been taught since 1980 in secondary school classes, since 1999 at the University of New Caledonia, and, officially since 2005 in public elementary school.

Studying Kanak languages at Inalco

The Nouméa Agreement signed on May 5, 1998, stipulates that "scientific research and university teaching on Kanak languages (sic) must be organized in New Caledonia. The Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales will play an essential role in this. To ensure that these languages find their rightful place in primary and secondary education, a major effort will be made to train the trainers. In order to fulfill this mission entrusted to it by the signatories of the agreement, a close partnership has therefore been established between Inalco and the University of New Caledonia. At Inalco, drehu is taught within the Southeast Asia and Pacific Department.

Student associations

Find the association Wagawaga, the student association of Inalco's Pacific Languages section, on Facebook or Twitter

Training courses

Drehu is studied as part of the following courses:

Licence LLCER - Asie et pacifique - Langues océaniennes
Master LLCER - Asie et Pacifique - Langues d'Asie du Sud-Est et du Pacifique
Master LLCER - Asie et pacifique - Séminaires et cours sur l'aire Asie du Sud-Est et Pacifique (UE2)