George Grace was never flashy, never one who sought out recognition, but he saw through the grand schemes of others who had greater ambition, rather like the little boy who saw what the emperor was really wearing, and stated it in plain language. He will be remembered for his broad knowledge of Oceanic languages, his trailblazing originality as a thinker, and his rock solid insights into the nature of language change.
Finiteness in Sundanese
Eri Kurniawan, William D. Davies, 1
The topic of finiteness is rarely broached in the closely related Indonesian-type languages, in which verbs have no morphological tense marking, nouns have no overt case marking, and there is only limited morphological agreement. As they are the typical morphological manifestations, the relevance of finiteness is difficult to discern. Sundanese is no exception to this. There is evidence, however, that finiteness is critical to the licensing of subjects in Sundanese. What distinguishes Sundanese from many other languages is that finiteness is covert rather than being overtly marked, just as has been proposed for Chinese, Lao, Slave, and others.
This paper investigates the syntactic status of nominal modifiers in Isbukun Bunun, an Austronesian language spoken in Taiwan. In Isbukun Bunun, nominal modifiers such as possessors, adjectives, demonstratives, and relative clauses precede the head noun they modify, and they may or must be linked to the head noun by an associative marker tu. Based on the observed NP-ellipsis facts and the formal licensing condition, I argue that the associative marker tu is a complementizer, and the structure it introduces should be accommodated under the adjunction analysis, whereas various existing alternative complementation approaches that view tu as a head selecting the modified phrase as its complement fail to capture the noted properties regarding ellipsis. Continue reading “Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 53, no. 2 (2014)”
In this paper we present the tonal properties of Mee, a Wissel Lakes Papuan language known also as Ekari, Ekagi, and Kapauku. Since the previous accounts in the literature have been highly inadequate, allowing contradictory claims of tone, pitch-accent, and/or stress, we document the word-prosodic system and show that it is quite simple: Mee words can have a pitch drop from H to L either after the first mora or the second mora of the word. Corresponding to this simplicity, however, is a wide range of compatible interpretations. We consider how several analyses fare with respect to noun tone patterns, as well as verb tones, which are partly determined by the verb root, partly by inflectional features. From a typological perspective, the Mee system falls into the same category as Tokyo Japanese, Somali, Western Basque, and Mayo, which have also been subject to differing interpretations. Continue reading “Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 52, no. 2 (2013)”
This paper is concerned with the encoding of resultatives and manner predications in Oceanic languages. Our point of departure is a typological overview of the encoding strategies and their geographical distribution, and we investigate their historical traits by the use of phylogenetic comparative methods. A full theory of the historical pathways is not always accessible for all the attested encoding strategies, given the data available for this study. However, tentative theories about the development and origin of the attested strategies are given. One of the most frequent strategy types used to encode both manner predications and resultatives has been given special emphasis. This is a construction in which a reflex form of the Proto-Oceanic causative *pa-/*paka- modifies the second verb in serial verb constructions.
Anthropologists and linguists have long assumed that East Polynesia was first settled from Central Western Polynesia, most likely from Samoa. Presented here is a very different history, one involving a northern settlement pathway from atolls off the east coast of the Solomon Islands some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) northwest of Samoa. Evidence includes 73 lexical and grammatical innovations reconstructible in the development of several nested Northern Outlier subgroups. East Polynesian is shown to share all of those innovations and thus subgroup with the Northern Outliers. The 73 reconstructions also provide evidence against an “Ellicean” subgroup and associated theories that East Polynesia was settled from Tuvalu, Tokelau, and/or Pukapuka. (See news reports in the Hawaii Tribune Herald, the New Zealand Herald, and on the blog Raising Islands.) Continue reading “Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 51, no. 2 (2012)”
S. Huang and M. Tanangkingsing found that six Western Austronesian languages share the common property of giving greater attention to path information than to manner. They proposed that Proto-Austronesian was probably path-salient. In order to ascertain the validity of their hypothesis, this study compares the motion events in a Yami Frog story with six Western Austronesian languages, followed by a research design using VARBRUL (a logistic regression analysis program) to analyze the factors that account for the variation between path and manner verbs in 20 Yami texts. Continue reading “Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 51, no. 1 (2012)”
Guadalcanal-Nggelic (GN) is one of two branches of the Southeast Solomonic subgroup of Oceanic. Citing phonological and lexicostatistical evidence, several scholars have proposed an internal classification of GN in which Bugotu is an isolate, coordinate with a branch consisting of all remaining languages including Gela. This paper will argue that there are stronger grounds for an earlier and contrary hypothesis of mine that Bugotu and Gela form a closed, second-order subgroup of GN, here labeled Nggelic. Continue reading “Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 50, no. 1 (2011)”
Southern Subanen, spoken on the Philippine island of Mindanao, is the only Philippine language known to have contrastive aspiration, which is a rarity in the Austronesian family. While aspirated consonants are common in the world’s languages, Southern Subanen provides us with an uncommon glimpse at how aspirated consonants can develop. Their unique historical derivation in Southern Subanen is such that, in certain environments, aspiration marks semantic contrasts in verbal prefixes and even functions as a marker of nominalization. In this paper, we will analyze the historical sources of this aspiration and its realization in the modern language.
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