Northwest Solomonic

Cheke Holo

Cheke Holo (aka Maringe) is spoken throughout most of the eastern end of the island of Santa Isabel in the Solomon Islands. It is the most widely spoken language on Santa Isabel, spoken both around the Maringe lagoon on the north coast, and in the Hograno region of the south coast, as well as in the interior between. According to Ethnologue there were 10,840 native speakers of Cheke Holo in 1999 (about 1,500 of whom are monolingual), comprising almost two thirds of the population of Santa Isabel, and making it one of the largest languages in the Solomon Islands, and in the Northwest Solomonic group of languages. The language is also widely known as a second language among speakers of other Isabel languages, and is used to some extent as a lingua franca on the island. It is increasing both in speaker numbers and geographic range, and is likely to increase its share of the Santa Isabel population at the expense of other languages.

Cheke Holo was formerly known in the literature as Maringe, a name associated with one of the areas in which it is spoken, but in recent years that name has occurred less in the literature. Speakers themselves tend to refer to their language using a number of geographic names such as Maringe and Hograno. Cheke Holo itself means 'bush talk'.


A collection of twenty texts in Cheke Holo has been published but is not widely available:

Bosma, David (ed.) (1981) Life in our village: short stories from Nareabu, Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands. Honiara: Translation Committee, Solomon Islands Christian Association.

Click here to view a sample text from Bosma (1981), with analysis and interlinear glosses by Bill Palmer.

A number of recent religious translations also exist, including a complete New Testament.

Audio data

Cheke Holo elicitation sessions recorded by Bill Palmer with:

Frank Bolen Vilereich, recorded in January 1998, can be heard here.

John Palmer , recorded in mid 1999, can be heard here.

The original tapes were digitised by Paradisec and are held by Paradisec with the Permenant Idenitifers BP3-002-1 and BP3-003-01. Thanks to Paradisec.


Cheke Holo is described in an excellent dictionary. View the dictionary here (broken):

White, Geoffrey M., Francis Kokhonigita & Hugo Pulomana (1988) Cheke Holo (Maringe/Hograno) dictionary. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.


No reference grammar of Cheke Holo has yet been published. However, extensive grammatical research has been carried out on the language by SIL's Freddy Boswell. The grammar of the language is also discussed in several existing grammatical studies.

Click here to view the following study of clause order variation in Cheke Holo:

Palmer, Bill (f.c.) 'Information structure and the pragmatic function of clause order variation in Cheke Holo (Oceanic).' [Submitted to Studies in Language. Please note that the web-accessible version is a draft version only.]

Other published grammatical studies include:

Boswell, Freddy. 2002. 'The genres of 'shouted speech' in Cheke Holo.' Australian Journal of Linguistics 22/1: 35-43.

Ray, Sidney H. (1926) A comparative study of the Melanesian island languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Briefly describes the grammar of Cheke Holo under the title 'the Bush Dialect'.]

Ross, Malcolm D. (1988) Proto Oceanic and the Austronesian languages of western Melanesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. [Pp240-247 discusses clause structure in Cheke Holo (as Maringe).]

White, Geoffrey M. (1995) 'Maringe (Cheke Holo).' In Darrell T. Tryon (ed.). Comparative Austronesian dictionary. Berlin: Mouton. [Deals mainly (and very briefly) with the phonology of the language.]

In addition:

White et al's dictionary contains about twenty pages of grammatical notes.

Other materials

Boswell, Freddy. 2001. 'Cheke Holo orthography: local tradition clashes with a linguist's concerns.' Notes on Literacy 27(1): 3-12.