Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 44, no. 1 (2005)


1, Some Notes on the Proto-Austronesian Words for ‘Water’
Isidore Dyen

Dempwolff’s reconstruction of *wayeR ‘water’ is reviewed. The meaning ‘fresh water’ is suggested. The initial *w may have been dialectally distributed with a probably older *kw. Chamorro’s treatment of *w is formulated and its relevance to the evidence for *kw is challenged. The articulation of *R may have not been a velar spirant in all PAn dialects in view of the agreement of Bonfia, Palauan, and Yapese on sibilance. In some dialects there may have been a paragogic vowel after the *R and that vowel itself may have been followed by a glottal stop. Finally, evidence for a medial *S has been found.

12, What the Rawas Dialect Reveals about the Linguistic History of Rejang
Richard McGinn

Core vocabularies of five major dialects of Rejang are derived from Proto–Malayo-Polynesian etyma mediated by a reconstructed protolanguage, Proto-Rejang, crucial evidence for which is provided by Rawas, a previously neglected dialect. Every etymon turns out to be reconstructable on the basis of just two dialects—either Rawas and Pesisir or (more often) Rawas and Kebanagung. One clear conclusion is that the Rawas area represents the oldest Rejang settlement in Sumatra. While a few minor claims made in previous work on Rejang historical phonology are corrected or refuted by the Rawas evidence, the most important findings are confirmed. Thus, (a) individual Rejang dialects have undergone more changes (splits and mergers) of Proto–Malayo-Polynesian vowels than any other known Austronesian group; (b) Proto-Rejang underwent two accent shifts, first to a Malay-type pattern (a modified form of penultimate word-stress) and then to the contemporary word-final stress pattern; and (c) complex conditions, including vowel harmony conditions, are needed to preserve regularity in the majority of sound changes affecting Rejang dialects.

“The dialect [that] is probably most important from a historical point of view . . . is the Jang Abeus dialect, spoken in the upper reaches of the river Rawas. . . . In 1941 it still had the final -l in such words as biyol, Lebong biyoa water.”—P. Voorhoeve, pers. comm. reported in Blust 1984:448, n.2.

65, Positional Slots in Saliba Complex Verbs
Anna Margetts

Saliba, an Oceanic language of Papua New Guinea, has complex predicates in which two or more stems combine to form a single word. The stems in these complex verbs can express a number of functions including cause and result, manner, directionality, and other adverbial-like functions. It is possible to identify a number of positional slots in these constructions, based on the sequential ordering and cooccurrence restrictions of stems. The slots in complex verbs host different classes of stems, and different types of relations between the slots can be distinguished.

90, Final Consonants in Remote Oceanic
John Lynch

This paper examines retention and loss of Proto-Oceanic final consonants in three different groups of Remote Oceanic languages in the light of Blevins’s recent discussion in this journal of the unnaturalness of final C-loss within the wider Austronesian family. Languages of (i) northwest Malakula, (ii) southern Vanuatu, and (iii) the Loyalty Islands and northern New Caledonia do not experience the total or near-total loss of final consonants that is commonplace elsewhere within Remote Oceanic. Each group shows partially different patterns of retention and loss from the others, and there are also some differences between members of the same group; but in no case was there a rule deleting all final consonants. There were, however, rules deleting all final vowels, and this V-deletion process may have created a situation in which final consonants were more resistant to loss than in languages with predominantly open final syllables. I will suggest that in each of these three areas consonants were lost by means of natural rules, and that a series of natural rules, rather than a single unnatural rule, may be the explanation for cases in other subgroups where all final consonants have been lost.

113, On the Notion “Adjective” in Toqabaqita
Frantisek Lichtenberk

Toqabaqita has three classes of lexemes that function as modifiers of nouns. One class, the largest one, contains stative intransitive verbs. These lexemes (and similarly functioning lexemes in other Oceanic languages) are a counterexample to the typology of parts-of-speech systems of Hengeveld, Rijkhoff, and Siewierska (Journal of Linguistics 40:527–70, 2004), according to which verbs can only function as the heads of predicate phrases. The second class contains only two members, which are nouns. The third class contains only one member. This lexeme, which developed historically from a noun, can function only as a noun modifier and is the sole adjective in the language. In the development of the noun-modifying function of the lexemes in the second and the third classes, dependency reversal took place, whereby the original head position in a noun phrase became the modifier position, and vice versa.

145, Sulka of East New Britain: A Mixture of Oceanic and Papuan Traits
Ger Reesink

Sulka, spoken along Wide Bay in the East New Britain province of Papua New Guinea, is known as an isolate Papuan language. In the area where Austronesian and Papuan languages have been in contact over the last three-and-a-half millennia, this is one of a number of languages that are difficult to classify. The question is often raised whether a language is basically Papuan or Austronesian, with some kind of borrowing from the other linguistic stock. In this paper it is argued that clusters of features can shed light on the genealogical or contact history of a language. On this basis, Sulka can be typified as having ancient Papuan (non-Austronesian) roots, but with a number of morphosyntactic constructions and some vocabulary that are associated with the Oceanic branch of Austronesian, in particular the languages of the St. George linkage. It is hypothesized that some Western Oceanic innovations may actually have originated in Papuan languages such as Sulka.

194, Kena as a Third Type of Malay Passive
Siaw-Fong Chung

Two types of passive in Malay are compared using corpora examples, the di- passive and the kena adversative passive. It is proposed that the latter is constrained by pragmatic specifications related to the contexts in which it appears. In one analysis, 50 instances of each of these two passives collected from two newspapers were compared as to their frequency, degree of transitivity, and two pragmatic functions: their connotations and their register. The results show that the kena adversative passive is lower in frequency, higher in transitivity, less formal in register, and that it has a negative connotation for recipients of the actions when compared with the di- passive. In a second analysis, an additional 100 examples of the kena adversative passive were collected (50 from classical Malay manuscripts and 50 from Internet sources) and compared with the instances from newspaper articles. The results show that the kena passives from all three sources reflect similar features of transitivity and pragmatic use in discourse. Some of the kena instances from the Internet display more colloquial usage than those from the other sources, manifest, for example, by simplified spellings in kena phrases and by the frequent occurrence of code-switching whereby an English past participle form is used following kena (as in kena caught).


215, A Note on the History of Genitive Marking in Austronesian Languages
Robert Blust

Three forms of the genitive phrase marker have been proposed for Proto-Austronesian: *ni, *na, and *nu. While there is universal agreement on the form of this reconstructed system, reconstruction of the meanings/functions of these forms has been far more problematic. It is argued that *nu marked the genitive of common nouns, while *ni and *na marked the genitive of singular and plural personal nouns respectively. The evidence supporting this reconstruction forces a reconsideration of the *ni-phrases posited by Robert Blust in this journal in 1974: “Proto-Austronesian syntax: The first step” (13:1–15).


223, In Memoriam, Terry Crowley 1953–2005
John Lynch

Early in the third week of January this year, Oceanic linguists and other colleagues and friends received with utter disbelief the devastating news of Terry Crowley’s sudden death at his home in Hamilton, New Zealand, on the weekend of January 15–16. There had been no warning signs, no immediately preceding period of hospitalization, no known illness to give us warning. A fit fifty-one-year-old nonsmoker (some might say virulent anti-smoker), jogger, moderate drinker, careful of what he ate, he died suddenly from a severe heart attack.

Terry made major contributions in a number of areas: to descriptive studies of Vanuatu languages; to the study of Bislama and, more generally, to creole studies; to the study of the history of the Oceanic languages; to literacy and other sociolinguistic and applied studies in the Pacific; to theoretical and historical linguistics; and, in his younger days, to Australian Aboriginal linguistics. He was, perhaps, the most prolific publisher among all Oceanic linguists. In a reference written in support of his application for a full professorship, Andrew Pawley said of his productivity: “I don’t know how he does it. The quantity is staggering. . . . And the quality is uniformly high. His books are meticulously researched and well written, several are based on his own extended fieldwork, and all will stand for a long time as important reference works.”

At the time of his death, he was directing a rather large research project on the languages of Malakula, and was himself actively involved in working with about half a dozen languages on that island, most of them moribund. His sudden death has cut short what should have been another fifteen or twenty years of that same productivity, as well as taking away a friend and admired colleague. David Walsh summarized the situation in an email message to me: “He was a good linguist and a good bloke—there’s no bloody justice in the world!”


242, Australian Languages Reconsidered: A Review of Dixon (2002)
Nicholas Evans

Is the Australian linguistic area, because of its unique history, one in which the established methods of historical and comparative linguistics have limited appropriateness? Do neighboring languages in this situation come to share an “equilibrium level” of 50 percent basic vocabulary regardless of their degree of genetic relatedness? Is the Pama-Nyungan grouping totally without foundation and something that must be discarded if any progress is to be made in studying the nature of the linguistic situation in Australia? Are Australian scholars more hesitant than scholars elsewhere to criticize the work of colleagues? These and other “deliberately unorthodox” views of R. M. W. Dixon set forth in Australian Languages (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002) are countered, while conceding that the book brings together an enormous amount of historically and typologically relevant material in one place.


287, Ger P. Reesink, ed. 2002. Languages of the Eastern Bird’s Head
Reviewed by Mark Donohue

301, Terry Crowley. 2004. Bislama reference grammar
Reviewed by Miriam Meyerhoff