Tamambo is a conservative Oceanic language of the Northern Vanuatu subgroup (Lynch, Ross, and Crowley 2002) spoken on Malo, a small island just south of the country’s largest: Santo. Tamambo is currently the only language of the island, another dialect (Tamapo) being almost extinct. Use of Tamambo is still strong, particularly on the western side of the island where it originated, and it is also spoken by sizable “off-island” communities in Vanuatu’s main towns of Luganville and Port Vila. Jauncey estimates that there are currently approximately 3,600 speakers (a rising number). Like many Vanuatu languages, however, Tamambo is being impacted by widespread use of the country’s lingua franca and national language Bislama (an English lexifier-creole).
Jauncey’s grammar marks the first substantial documentation of Tamambo. Previously, only a few short wordlists and brief grammatical sketches (for example, Macdonald 1891, Tryon 1976), as well as religious materials (for example, Landels 1897, Sykes 1955), were available. Jauncey’s grammar, as well as her online Tamambo dictionary, are the product of almost 20 years of research, multiple field trips, and data-collection with a vast range of speakers in Malo as well as elsewhere in Vanuatu and abroad. Jauncey’s extensive knowledge of the language, the place, and the people give this grammar a unique value. She is not only able to provide a rich grammatical description but also to offer insight on change within the linguistic community over these years, differences across age groups and populations (on and off island), and Tamambo’s evolving relationship with Bislama. The grammar is well written, with clear descriptions of grammatical features. Even those who may take issue with some of her proposals will no doubt find a great deal of value.