Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 40, no. 2 (2001)


Modern Rapanui Adaptation of Spanish Elements, 191-223
Miki Makihara

Rapanui is a Polynesian language spoken on Easter Island, Chile. In this paper, I focus on the linguistic adaptations that Rapanui speakers make when transferring Spanish elements into their Modern Rapanui speech. I analyze Spanish transfers and the mechanisms of adaptation at the levels of phonology, morphology, lexicon, syntax, and discourse. The discussion includes phonological adaptation; application of Rapanui bound morphemes; possessive class assignment; kin and emotion semantic fields; syntactic category crossing; the introduction of a modal construction of obligation, coordinating conjunctions, and an adverb of negation; and the use of Spanish elements as discourse markers and the indexicality they make possible. The analysis of Modern Rapanui speech presented in this paper demonstrates that mixing Spanish elements in Rapanui discourse requires that speakers hold significant tacit knowledge of the Rapanui linguistic system. Instead of looking at these Spanish transfers as evidence of Rapanui becoming contaminated by Spanish, they can be analyzed as evidence of the bilingual speakers’ creative performance in Modern Rapanui speech and what extends the remarkable survival and adaptability of the Rapanui language. By considering the diachronic and synchronic variation found in Spanish transfers, the analysis also contributes toward the understanding of the process of language change, speakers’ roles in it, and the ways in which linguistic variation is related to the phenomenon of language change. Most of the data I employ are taken from transcripts made from naturalistic verbal interactions among the island residents recorded during my ethnographic research in this Rapanui–Spanish bilingual island community (1993–1996).

Article Accretion and Article Creation in Southern Oceanic, 224-246
John Lynch

Very few Southern Oceanic languages retain the Proto-Oceanic articles as articles per se. Some have lost them altogether. In many others, they seem to have developed as proclitics or prefixes that are today only marginally productive. On the other hand, some of the languages in this subgroup have created new articles or articlelike prefixes. I will argue that the loss of the articles, or the marginalizing of an erstwhile productive system of prefixes, may have been a quite recent phenomenon, and may thus represent parallel developments rather than shared innovations.

Another Look at the Typology of Serial Verb Constructions: The Grammaticalization of Temporal Relations in Bislama (Vanuatu), 247-268
Miriam Meyerhoff

This paper analyzes serial verb constructions (SVCs) in Bislama, the creole spoken in Vanuatu. The form of SVCs in Bislama does not appear to fit neatly into existing formal typologies of SVCs, and evidence is introduced in favor of this pattern being a direct transfer from some of the substrate languages in Vanuatu. It is proposed that Seuren’s (1990) typology of SVCs be extended to include the Vanuatu data. The paper notes that another property of Bislama and other languages of Vanuatu is that there is no grammaticalization of a past/nonpast temporal relation as in, for example, English. One way of analyzing this difference is to say that Bislama and English differ with respect to which relationship between temporal operators is grammaticalized in a finite clause: in English, the ordering of S(peech time) and E(vent time) is realized overtly; in Bislama, the ordering of S and R(eference time) is. If R is associated with a functional projection (FP) below TP, a number of constraints on the second verb in Bislama SVCs follow from the claim that this FP is anaphorically dependent on the first clause and the second verb phrase is not finite (but also not nonfinite).

The History of Proto-Oceanic *ma, 269-290
Bethwyn Evans and Malcolm Ross

We examine the history of the Proto-Oceanic (POc) stative verb derivative *ma-, whose distribution in POc reconstructions raises certain problems, as POc lexical reconstructions with *ma- can be placed in four groups: (a) valency-decreasing *ma-; (b) fossilized reflexes of *ma- on stative verbs; (c) stative (adjectival) verbs that can be reconstructed in POc both with and without *ma-, with no obvious difference in meaning between the forms with and without the prefix; and (d) fossilized reflexes of *ma- on experiential verbs. Examination of the uses of non-Oceanic cognates of POc *ma- suggests that *ma- already had three distinct functions in Proto–Malayo-Polynesian, one ancestral to (a) above, the second ancestral to (b) and (c), and a third (minor) use ancestral to (d). In function (a), *ma- remained somewhat productive in POc. In the other two functions, it had ceased to be productive. We pay attention especially to (b) and (c) in order to better understand the origin of the untidy distribution of *ma- on stative (adjectival) verbs.

Split Intransitivity and Saweru 291-306
Mark Donohue

The phenomenon of split intransitivity is discussed in a variety of languages, emphasizing the contrast between two-way and three-way split intransitivity. The agreement system of Saweru, a Papuan language of West Papua, is examined, and there follows a discussion of where Saweru fits into a typology of split intransitivity.

Tongan Accent, 307-323
Albert J. Schütz

This paper examines previous accounts of Tongan accent—especially those that have attempted to predict accent placement by using either syllable count or morpheme boundaries. Both means are shown to be inadequate. An alternative is suggested—that of positing the measure as a unit of accent, a prosodic unit between the syllable and the phonological phrase.


Thao Triplication, 324-335
Robert Blust

Following a brief review of Thao reduplication, instances of a more involved process termed “triplication” are presented and analyzed. It is concluded that while reduplication has a variety of functions with various lexical categories and may or may not be iconic, triplication functions only with verbs and is necessarily iconic. Triplication serves to increase the degree or intensity of the same semantic dimension invoked by reduplication. Another process termed “serial reduplication” functions only with numerals and involves two quite different semantic contributions to the resulting word.

Too Much to Swallow: On Terms Meaning ‘Swallow’ in Oceanic Languages, 336-341
John Lynch

At least seven terms with the meaning ‘to swallow’ can be reconstructed for Proto-Oceanic, and four more for lower-level protolanguages. All of these bear some phonological resemblance to each other, and also to forms reconstructed for Proto-Austronesian and Proto–Malayo-Polynesian (some of which have the meaning ‘to sink, drown, disappear under water’). Only two, however, directly continue earlier terms. The remainder involve change in a single consonant, metathesis, or a process of blending in which the initial syllable of one earlier form combines with the second syllable of another form. Semantic change and Austronesian root theory are included in the discussion.


Empty Categories in Tuvaluan: NP-trace, PRO, pro, or variable?, a review of Tuvaluan, by Niko Besnier, 342-365
Yuko Otsuka

Besnier’s data, which are classified and discussed in a descriptive framework, present a number of interesting problems to a theorist who looks at them from an analytical point of view. They definitely stimulate the interest of a theory-oriented reader, offering a number of topics for future research. In this article, I focus on one of such issues, namely, the treatment of empty categories. Six phenomena that involve a syntactic gap are discussed in the book: zero-pronominalization, relativization, ko-clefting, raising, equi-deletion, and topicalization. Being a descriptive work, the book does not use the term “empty category,” nor does it pay particular attention to the nature of the gap in various constructions. However, as will be seen in this article, classification of empty categories plays a significant role in analyzing the relevant data. In the discussion, I “translate” the terms used in the book into the terms of Transformational Grammar. However, it should be emphasized that the gist of each problem remains the same no matter which theory is used to analyze the data. Thus, I believe that the reader should find no difficulty in projecting each problem into his/her own theoretical framework.


Index to Oceanic Linguistics Volumes 1–40 (1962–2001), 366-397

This is a unified listing that includes authors of articles and reviews, authors or editors of books reviewed, as well as titles of articles and of books reviewed during the first 40 years of publication of this journal.

Index of Languages in Volume 40, 398-404

The entries represent languages or groups (either linguistic or geographical) referred to in the text.