Northwest Solomonic


O'oe Kokota, or 'Kokota talk', is spoken on the island of Santa Isabel in the Solomon Islands in three villages. Two, Goveo and Sisiga, are located about half way along the north coast. The other, Hurepelo, is about half way along the south coast. 

Kokota belongs to the Isabel subgroup of the Northwest Solomonic group of Oceanic languages. Ethnologue 15th edition (2005) gives a figure of 530 speakers in 1999. However, Palmer (1999a:1) gives an estimated figure of "probably in excess of 900", and Ethnologue 14th edition (2000) give a figure of 1,020 in 1998. Kokota is not extensively known as a second language among speakers of other Isabel languages, and is under pressure from Cheke Holo (aka Maringe) to the east, and Zabana (aka Kia) to the west, with widespread intermarriage and encroachment on territory. For these reasons, although it is still acquired by children in the three Kokota speaking villages its long term future is far from assured.

Despite its small presence, Kokota is one of the best described Santa Isabel languages, with documentation and descriptive work carried out by Bill Palmer. This work was carried out in the field in Goveo village in January-February 1994, June-December 1994, and January-March 1998.


A corpus of Kokota texts were collected by Bill Palmer in Goveo village in 1994 and 1998, some of which will be made available on this site soon.


A dictionary of Kokota (Palmer, Bill (2007) Kokota dictionary) is available here.


A reference grammar of Kokota is forthcoming:

Palmer, Bill (f.c.) Kokota grammar. Oceanic Publications Special Publication. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.

This grammar is a revised version of a doctoral dissertation grammar:

Palmer, Bill (1999a) A grammar of the Kokota language, Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands. University of Sydney: PhD dissertation.

Selected other grammatical studies include:

Palmer, Bill & Dunstan Brown (2007) 'Heads in Oceanic indirect possession.' Oceanic Linguistics 46/1. [A discussion of the syntactic status of so-called 'possessive classifiers' in indirect possessive constructions in Kokota, and their implications for Oceanic in general.]

Palmer, Bill (2003) 'Shifting stress: synchronic variation as a manifestation of diachronic change in Kokota (Oceanic) prosody.' Paper presented to the Linguistics Association of Great Britain spring conference, Oxford. [An analysis of variation in the way stress is assigned in Kokota. Viewable online.]

Palmer, Bill (2002) 'Kokota.' In John Lynch, Malcolm Ross & Terry Crowley (eds.) The Oceanic languages. London: Curzon. [A lengthy sketch grammar of the language.]

Palmer, Bill (1999) 'Voiceless sonorants - phonemes or underlying clusters?Australian Journal of Linguistics 19/1: 77-88. [A discussion of voiceless sonorant phonemes in Kokota.]