Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 41, no. 2 (2002)


In Memoriam, Stanley Starosta, 1939–2002, 255–274
Byron W. Bender

The Relationship of Umiray Dumaget to Other Philippine Languages, 275–294
Ronald S. Himes

Most scholars who have addressed the problem of categorizing Philippine languages have related Umiray Dumaget (DgtU) most closely to other languages spoken by Negritos in northeastern Luzon, languages in the Cordilleran microgroup. Reid suggests (Possible non-Austronesian lexical elements in Philippine Negrito languages, by Lawrence A. Reid, in Oceanic Linguistics 33:37–72, 1994) that Umiray Dumaget is not a Cordilleran language but rather that it is relatable to Bikol, a Central Philippine language. While the evidence from phonological changes and the pronominal system does not compel us to favor one subgrouping over the other, the lexical data do show that DgtU is most closely related to the Central Philippine languages. Culturally, we can infer that Umiray Dumaget results from very early contact between the non-Austronesian-speaking Negrito population and speakers of that variety of Central Philippine that evolved into Tagalog, Bikol, and the Bisayan languages. A consequence of this grouping is that any inherited lexeme that Umiray Dumaget shares with non-Central Philippine languages must be assigned to a higher level.

Determiners, Nouns, or What? Problems in the Analysis of Some Commonly Occurring Forms in Philippine Languages, 295–309
Lawrence A. Reid

This paper deals with the problems inherent in determining the syntactic word class of the initial word in many common noun phrases in Philippine languages such as Tagalog ang, Ilokano ti, and Bontok nan. These forms have been variously called case-marking particles, construction markers, common noun markers, articles, determiners, specifiers, or simply proclitics. However, a good syntactic typology of the languages requires that a decision be made as to their word class, based not simply on functional characteristics, semantic features, or translation equivalents, but on their syntactic distribution. Under certain assumptions, these words would be determiners, with the immediately following word being the head noun of its phrase. However, the words that follow appear to be verbal, having the same form as in the predicate of a sentence, and this paper thus considers an alternative solution in which the words in question are specifying-nouns meaning ‘the one’ and are the heads of their phrases. Under this analysis, the immediately following words are verbal constructions that constitute relative clauses dependent on the specifying nouns. Corroborating evidence is found in the Talubin dialect of Bontok, in which the words in question require genitive clitics to be attached to them, rather than to an immediately following content word. Historical evidence showing that the forms in question were originally demonstrative nouns (and still function as such) supports their synchronic analysis as nouns.

The Proto-Oceanic Labiovelars: Some New Observations, 310–362
John Lynch

Although Proto-Oceanic has been reconstructed as having three labiovelar consonants (*bw, *pw, and *mw) that contrast with simple bilabials, this distinction was apparently not present in Proto-Austronesian or Proto-Malayo-Polynesian. Various theories have been proposed to account for their origin; few go into any real detail, and no single theory seems to account for most or all of the facts in a satisfactory manner. At the same time, there are numerous inconsistencies in reflexes of many etyma containing one of these phonemes, even with languages that can be thought of as “exemplary” in normally reflecting a Proto-Oceanic labiovelar separately from a bilabial. This paper evaluates the various theories of origin that have been proposed and attempts to explain the development of labiovelars in Proto-Oceanic and its early descendants, their somewhat unusual phonotactic distribution, and the inconsistency in correspondences. I suggest that phonological conditioning and borrowing are both involved, but also propose other factors—dissimilation of rounded vowels adjacent to newly created labiovelar allophones, which led to contrast between simple bilabials and labiovelars; the use of the bilabial/labiovelar distinction to distinguish semantically similar forms; and the increased functional load of labiovelars in newly created words. I also try to explain why labiovelars seem to be considerably more frequent in Eastern than in Western Oceanic.

Typical Features of Austronesian Languages in Central/Eastern Indonesia, 363–383
Marian Klamer

This paper presents a list of typical properties of the languages of Central/Eastern (C/E) Indonesia, covering roughly the geographical area between Lombok and Papua. It focuses on those characteristics that set apart the C/E Indonesian languages from the Austronesian languages toward the west. A synthesis of recently published data on C/E Indonesian languages, the present paper provides an updated typological window on an area that is relatively under-represented in Austronesian research. It is argued that a typological characterization of a linguistic area like this can be used as a heuristic tool in comparative research. Because the area under consideration is geographically defined, the data do not have any direct bearing on issues of genetic subgrouping. Nevertheless, because all but one of the features listed here are those of Austronesian languages, they may be used to formulate hypotheses about the higher-order genetic affiliation of a language whose affiliation to a particular family (e.g., whether Austronesian or not) is yet uncertain. This is especially relevant for C/E Indonesia as a contact zone of languages with different (or unknown) genetic affiliations. How the list of typological features may be used to formulate specific hypotheses about contact-induced linguistic change is illustrated.

Kiput Historical Phonology, 384–438
Robert Blust

The languages of northern Sarawak are noteworthy for their unusual phonological histories. Even among these, Kiput is exceptional. All North Sarawak languages reflect a split of the Proto-Austronesian voiced obstruents into a series of plain voiced obstruents and a parallel series of phonemic voiced aspirates, and most of the same languages have fronted low vowels after a voiced obstruent, or have developed systems of verbal ablaut from the infixes *-um- and *-in-. On top of these widely shared innovations Kiput shows diachronic evidence for such atypical changes as intervocalic devoicing, lowering of diphthongal nuclei unless a voiced obstruent occurs earlier in the word, *f > s, and possibly postnasal devoicing, as well as synchronic evidence for the spontaneous nasalization of nonlow vowels before final p, t, k (but not glottal stop), constraints on moraic structure conditioned by syllable onset, and the alternation of b with s. Although some languages may have undergone more sound changes, or may have more radically transformed the shapes of protoforms through heavy phonological erosion, with the possible exception of the Berawan dialects of northern Sarawak, the concentration of bizarre sound changes seen in Kiput probably is unrivalled among the more than 1,000 members of the Austronesian language family.

The Possessive-Benefactive Connection, 439–474
Frantisek Lichtenberk

Many languages around the world exhibit possessive-benefactive polysemy, whereby one and the same grammatical element or construction serves to encode possessive and benefactive relations. Beneficiaries are often construed as new, intended, prospective possessors (e.g., Syntactic categories and grammatical relations: The cognitive organization of information, by William Croft, University of Chicago Press, 1991; and Learnability and cognition: The acquisition of argument structure, by Steven Pinker, MIT Press, 1989). Possessive-benefactive polysemy is also found in various Oceanic languages. The central concern of the present study is an investigation of possessive-benefactive polysemy in Toqabaqita, an Oceanic language spoken in the Solomon Islands, and in closely related languages. In Toqabaqita, one kind of pronominal is used to mark beneficiaries, possessors, and also recipients. This pronominal continues, historically, one of the possessive classifiers of Proto-Oceanic. The Proto-Oceanic classifier was used in attributive possessive constructions when the possessum was an item of food for the possessor. Although in Toqabaqita and some of the closely related languages the etymon no longer functions as a possessive classifier, it still exhibits some links with the notion of food, and ultimately eating. The development of the beneficiary-marking function was motivated by the fact that in eating the actor is at the same time an affected entity. There is a link between the notions of eating and being affected by, experiencing, benefiting from an event of eating. While these latter notions are not among the central aspects of our conceptualization of an event of eating and are rather part of backstage cognition (Methods and generalizations, by Gilles Fauconnier, in Cognitive linguistics: Foundations, scope, and methodology, 1999, ed. by Theo Janssen and Gisela Redeker, 95–127. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter), they may motivate the development of a beneficiary-marking function, as evidenced by the languages under study. The beneficiary-marking function was a later development from the possessive-marking function, which contradicts Heine’s claim (Bernd Heine, Cognitive foundations of grammar. Oxford University Press, 1997; and Possession: Cognitive sources, forces, and grammaticalization. Cambridge University Press, 1997) that possessive constructions develop out of benefactive constructions via a unidirectional grammaticalization process, rather than the other way around.

Number and Events: Verbal Reduplication in Niuean, 475–492
Mohammad Haji-Abdolhosseini, Diane Massam, and Kenji Oda

In this paper we examine Niuean verbal reduplication, and, building on Sperlich (e.g., Semantic and syntactic functions of reduplication in Niuean, by Wolfgang Sperlich, 279–287, in Issues in Austronesian Morphology: A focusschrift for Byron W. Bender, ed. by Joel Bradshaw and Kenneth L. Rehg, Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 2001), we show that there are several morphophonological types of reduplication (monomoraic prefixation, bimoraic suffixation, bimoraic prefixation), and there are several different meanings for reduplicated verbs (singularization, intensity, iterativity) that all lie within the semantic domain of pluractionality. We show that, in general, each different phonological type of reduplication corresponds to a particular meaning. It is difficult to predict, however, what a reduplicated verb will mean from its form alone, in part because most words in the language are bimoraic, and there is no difference in form between bimoraic suffixation and prefixation for such words. Once we add in the lexical aspectual semantics of the base verbs, however, we find that it is to a large extent predictable what the meaning will be for a given reduplicated verb, depending on its aspectual class. As well as examining verbal reduplication in general, we focus on agreement or accord reduplication in Niuean, and argue that it is, in fact, not an independent syntactically governed type of reduplication, but instead it is a subtype of the reduplication associated with iterative semantics. The accord effect comes into play if an affecting or a stative verb is iterated, because if such a verb is iterated, the relevant argument must be plural for semantic reasons.

Potent Roots and the Origin of kava, 493–513
John Lynch

Botanical evidence suggests that kava, Piper methysticum, may have first been domesticated in northern Vanuatu, and this implies that no Proto-Oceanic term can be reconstructed with this meaning. The dissimilarities between widespread terms for ‘kava’ like maloku in northern Vanuatu, yaqona in Fiji, and kava in Polynesia have complicated the issue, making it unclear what the earliest reconstruction might be. I show in this paper, however, that the term kava apparently derives from a Proto-Oceanic term *kawaRi, which referred to a root with special psychoactive and/or ritual properties: probably a species of ginger (Zingiber zerumbet), and possibly also to “wild” kava (Piper wichmannii) and to plants used in stupefying fish. This form apparently underwent a semantic and formal change, and was applied to kava when it was first domesticated. Later lexical changes in Vanuatu and Fiji are investigated, and a chronological sequence for the spread of kava—including spread from some Polynesian source to New Guinea—is proposed.


On So-called Triplication in Colloquial Singapore English and Thao: A Response to Blust, 514–522
Rajendra Singh and Lionel Wee

A morphological pattern originally exemplified by forms from Thao, an aboriginal language of Taiwan (Thao triplication, by Robert Blust, Oceanic Linguistics 40:324–335), finds further exemplification in Colloquial Singapore English, and resultant theoretical clarification.


Jeff Siegel, ed. 2000. Processes of Language Contact: Studies from Australia and the South Pacific, 523–525
Reviewed by Suzanne Romaine

Hein Steinhauer. 2001. Leerboek Indonesisch, 525–528
Reviewed by Waruno Mahdi

Videa P. De Guzman and Byron W. Bender, eds. 2000. Grammatical analysis: Morphology, syntax, and semantics: Studies in honor of Stanley Starosta, 529–533
Reviewed by Barry Blake


Index of Languages in vol. 41