Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 41, no. 1 (2002)


Stephen Wurm, 1922–2001: Linguist Extraordinaire, 1–14
Andrew Pawley

Linguists and Language Maintenance: Pasifika Languages in Manukau, New Zealand, 15–27
Melenaite Taumoefolau, Donna Starks, Karen Davis, and Allan Bell

Manukau City is the most language-rich area in New Zealand, yet it has to date not been the subject of any detailed sociolinguistic study. This paper reports on pilot work for a major project on the languages of Manukau, and addresses the question of whether linguists can contribute to language maintenance efforts. It consists of an analysis of New Zealand census data on language use in the area, supported by qualitative data collected from eight pilot interviews. The 1996 New Zealand census was the first to contain a language question, and we show how this provides background information on language use and language shift in Manukau. The census results depict the use of both ethnic languages and English in the four main Pasifika communities—Samoan, Cook Islands, Tongan, and Niuean. Age grading of self-reported proficiency in the Pasifika languages indicates the differing degrees to which they are undergoing shift or maintaining their standing. Qualitative data gathered in interviews with community members provide some possible explanations of how these Pasifika languages are shifting to English. The final section of the paper looks at the issue of whether and what linguists can contribute to language maintenance.

The East Papuan Languages: A Preliminary Typological Appraisal, 28–62
Michael Dunn, Ger Reesink, and Angela Terrill

This paper examines the Papuan languages of Island Melanesia, with a view to considering their typological similarities and differences. The East Papuan languages are thought to be the descendants of the lan-guages spoken by the original inhabitants of Island Melanesia, who arrived in the area up to 50,000 years ago. The Oceanic Austronesian languages are thought to have come into the area with the Lapita peoples 3,500 years ago. With this historical backdrop in view, our paper seeks to investigate the linguistic relationships between the scattered Papuan languages of Island Melanesia. To do this, we survey various structural features, including syntactic patterns such as constituent order in clauses and noun phrases and other features of clause structure, paradigmatic structures of pronouns, and the structure of verbal morphology. In particular, we seek to discern similarities between the languages that might call for closer investigation, with a view to establishing genetic relatedness between some or all of the languages. In addition, in examining structural relationships between languages, we aim to discover whether it is possible to distinguish between original Papuan elements and diffused Austronesian elements of these languages. As this is a vast task, our paper aims merely to lay the groundwork for investigation into these and related questions.

Systems of Nominal Classification in East Papuan Languages, 63–88
Angela Terrill

The existence of nominal classification systems has long been thought of as one of the defining features of the Papuan languages of island New Guinea. However, while almost all of these languages do have nominal classification systems, they are, in fact, extremely divergent from each other. This paper examines these systems in the East Papuan languages in order to examine the question of the relationship between these Papuan outliers. Nominal classification systems are often archaic, preserving older features lost elsewhere in a language. Also, evidence shows that they are not easily borrowed into languages (although they can be). For these reasons, it is useful to consider nominal classification systems as a tool for exploring ancient historical relationships between languages. This paper finds little evidence of relationship between the nominal classification systems of the East Papuan languages as a whole. It argues that the mere existence of nominal classification systems cannot be used as evidence that the East Papuan languages form a genetic family. The simplest hypothesis is that either the systems were inherited so long ago as to obscure the genetic evidence, or else the appearance of nominal classification systems in these languages arose through borrowing of grammatical systems rather than of morphological forms.

The History of Faunal Terms in Austronesian Languages, 89–139
Robert Blust

This paper offers an overview of reconstructed faunal terms primarily at the Proto-Austronesian, Proto–Malayo-Polynesian, and Proto–Western Malayo-Polynesian levels, with some additional reconstructions at lower levels in the Austronesian family tree. The basic division is into domesticated vs. nondomesticated animals, and within the latter category there is a further breakdown into mammals (22 terms), birds (29 terms), reptiles and amphibians (14 terms), creepy-crawly creatures (68 terms), fish (97 terms), and marine invertebrates (41 terms), for a total of 277 etyma, most of which represent protolanguages spoken no later than about 4000 B.P. Among the more important new insights reported here is the discovery that the PMP word for ‘bird’ (*manu-manuk) almost certainly was derived from the word for ‘chicken’ (*manuk) by reduplication, a development that is fundamentally at odds with the “life-form encoding sequence” proposed by Cecil H. Brown (Language and living things: Uniformities in folk classification and naming, Rutgers University Press, 1984).

The Interpretation of tu and Kavalan Ergativity, 140–158
Hsiu-chuan Liao

Kavalan, an Austronesian language spoken in Taiwan, has been variously analyzed as accusative, ergative, and split ergative. These different conclusions stem from the fact that certain two-argument clause patterns are ambiguous regarding transitivity. To settle the matter, it is necessary to distinguish canonical transitive clauses from dyadic intransitive clauses. In this paper, we evaluate three proposals that have been made concerning Kavalan transitivity and actancy structure in terms of their morphosyntactic and semantic properties. We pay special attention to the form tu and determine that it is best analyzed as an oblique marker rather than as an accusative marker. We also conclude that there is only one canonical transitive construction, that found in two-argument -an clauses. The two-argument m- clauses, commonly analyzed as canonical transitives in most previous analyses, are treated as extended intransitives or pseudo-transitives—a type of intransitive clause. This leads to the conclusion that Kavalan is best analyzed as a purely ergative language.

Proto-Micronesian Kin Terms, Descent Groups, and Interisland Voyaging, 159–170
Per Hage and Jeff Marck

The historical method of comparative linguistics is used to reconstruct Proto-Micronesian kin terms. Linguistic evidence suggests that Proto-Micronesian society was matrilineal rather than bilateral as Murdock proposed in an early typological reconstruction of Micronesian society. The weakening or disappearance of matrilineal institutions in Micronesia is associated with the demise of regular long-distance voyaging.

Which Sounds Change: Descent and Borrowing in the Skou Family, 171–221
Mark Donohue

The process of establishing genetic relationships in the endeavor of historical linguistics is complicated by the fact that some, if not most, languages show no inclination to “behave themselves” by reflecting only material inherited from their protolanguage. Borrowing at many levels is rife in many languages, particularly when geographic separation is slight, and when social contact is frequent. When both language-internal change and language-external change happen during the same time frame, sorting out relations can be complicated. In this article I show that not all sounds behave equally with respect to areal spread. This is presented through a study of sound changes in the Skou languages of New Guinea, and a survey of other reports of diffusing behavior from elsewhere. Recognizing and working with these differences can allow us to sort out relative chronologies and thus historical relations in even complex scenarios of borrowing and change.


A Phonological Oddity in the Austronesian Area: Ejectives in Waimoa, 222–224
John Hajek and John Bowden

Details are provided about a series of ejective stops in Waimoa, spoken in East Timor. Not uncommon in other parts of the world, ejective stops are exceptionally rare within the whole Austronesian area.


Comments on S. R. Fischer’s ‘Mangarevan doublets: Preliminary Evidence for Proto–Southeastern Polynesian’, 225–231
Jeff Marck

The subject work presents arguments for an early Eastern Polynesian protolanguage distinct from Proto–Eastern Polynesian and Proto–Central Eastern Polynesian. Many aspects of the work constitute valuable contributions to fleshing out the early language (pre)history of Eastern Polynesia. Linguists will have many colleagues in archaeology and anthropology who welcome the presentation of some of F’s data and conclusions. However, the position taken in these comments is that the data do not always mean what F says they do, that he deviates from several important conventions in linguistics in his presentation, and that, in general, the work lacks a well-developed sense of language, population, and their interaction in the sociolinguistic sense.

The Validity of Proto–Southeastern Polynesian, 232–237
Lawrence Kenji Rutter

In the June 2001 issue of Oceanic Linguistics, Steven Roger Fischer proposes a new subgroup within Proto-Polynesian, Southeastern Polynesian. In this subgroup, F includes Eastern Tuamotuan (he claims that Western Tuamotuan belongs to the Tahitic subgroup, while Eastern Tuamotuan belongs to Southeastern), Mangarevan, Old Rapan, Pitcairn, Henderson, and Rapanui. It is asserted in these comments that F’s proposal fails on two grounds: (1) no evidence is provided for the inclusion of languages other than Mangarevan, and (2) the evidence provided to support the claim that Mangarevan is a Southeastern Polynesian language relies on doublets supposed to have resulted from an intrusion. However, there is an alternate explanation for the existence of these doublets.


Carl Ralph Galvez Rubino. 2000. Ilocano Dictionary and Grammar: Ilocano-English, English-Ilocano, 238–243
Reviewed by Lawrence A. Reid

Steven Roger Fischer, ed. 2000. Possessive markers in Central Pacific languages, 244–248
Reviewed by Frantisek Lichtenberk

Steven Roger Fischer and Wolfgang B. Sperlich, eds. 2000. Leo Pasifika: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Oceanic Linguistics, 248–252
Reviewed by John Lynch