Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 45, no. 1 (2006)


1, Reference Point Constructions, the Underspecification of Meaning, and the Conceptual Structure of Palauan er
Michael B. Smith

The Palauan grammatical morpheme er is a preposition-like word whose wide variety of uses seem unrelated to each other and whose semantic function (if any) is obscure. Reminiscent of English of in signifying an intrinsic relation between two entities, the meaning of er appears to be even more schematic and context dependent. It is argued that er’s basic conceptual structure, and therefore its meaning, resides in its designation of an abstract reference point construction in which its object serves as a reference point with respect to which other entities (either things or relations) are construed to be located in some kind of physical or abstract domain. Consequently, the meaning of er is highly schematic and underspecified. Its apparently unrelated senses are related to each other in reflecting instantiations of this construction when construed against different backgrounds in particular contexts.

21, The Phonetics and Phonology of “Definitive Accent” in Tongan
Victoria Anderson and Yuko Otsuka

The so-called definitive accent (DA) in Tongan has been analyzed in various ways in the literature: as stress shift from penultimate to final vowel, as simultaneous stress reduction on a penult and stress addition on an ultima, and as addition of a syllable by repetition of the final vowel. This study investigates each of these analyses empirically in order to establish the phonology of DA in Tongan. Our findings support Melenaite Taumoefolau’s proposal that definite NPs are formed by repetition of the NP-final vowel, and thus a morphological analysis of DA as reduplicative suffixation. Moreover, our findings substantiate an account of Tongan in which stress is unexceptionally penultimate in a foot, and in which “long vowels” and “diphthongs” are to be considered sequences of two syllables, as suggested by Taumoefolau.

43, Retained and Introduced Final Consonants in Vitu
René van den Berg and Peter Bachet

In this article we present data on final consonants in Vitu, a Western Oceanic language spoken in West New Britain (PNG). Although Vitu has as a rule lost Proto-Oceanic final consonants, we show that such consonants still emerge in nouns that are inalienably possessed. Surprisingly, a number of nouns that ended in a vowel in Proto-Oceanic also show a final consonant in Vitu. The reason for the introduction of these consonants is unclear.

53, Grammatically Marked Ideophones in Numbami and Jabêm
Joel Bradshaw

Numbami and Jabêm, two Austronesian languages of Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, share a trait rarely recorded for Oceanic languages: they each have a rich class of morphologically marked ideophones. In Numbami, the marker is a suffix -a(n)dala unique to ideophones, but clearly related to NUM andalowa ‘path, way, road’ and Proto-Oceanic *jalan. In Jabêm, the marker varies depending on the length of the ideophone itself, just as it does on other classes of adverbs. The shortest forms are usually followed by tageη ‘one, at once, only’, longer forms take the regular adverbial enclitic -geη, and fully reduplicated forms are usually left unmarked.

64, Is There Pasif Semu in Jakarta Indonesian?
Peter Cole, Gabriella Hermon, and Yassir Tjung

This paper examines whether pasif semu (P2), one of two passives in Standard Indonesian, exists in Jakarta Indonesian. In P2 in Standard Indonesian the verb appears in bare stem form, the theme has been promoted to surface subject, but—unlike European-style passives—the actor has not been demoted to adjunct. This is to be contrasted with the di-passive (P1), in which di- is prefixed to the verb, the theme is promoted to surface subject, and the agent is demoted to adjunct. Standard Indonesian is to a large extent an artificial language, the creation of language planners rather than of its speakers. In contrast, Jakarta Indonesian is the native language of the natives of Jakarta, and, through the influence of TV, movies, and radio, is heard with ever greater frequency throughout Indonesia. In our study (drawn from a variety of corpora), a clear contrast is seen between child and child directed speech, on the one hand, and adult to adult speech, on the other. P2 is essentially nonexistent in the former but exists robustly in the latter. We argue that child speech and child directed adult speech represent basilectal Jakarta Indonesian, in which P2 has been lost, and that the adult to adult corpora represent a mesolectal variety of Jakarta Indonesian that shows a number of influences from Standard Indonesian not found in the child and child directed corpora.

91, The Pragmatics of Case Marking in Saisiyat
Fuhui Hsieh and Shuanfan Huang

Saisiyat, an Austronesian language spoken in northwest Taiwan, has an elaborate case marking system for nominals and pronominals, but the nominative case is often zero marked. Based on natural spoken data, we demonstrate that this absence of nominative case markers is closely tied to the ongoing word order shift from a V-initial language to a strongly subject-initial language, especially in Agent-Focus sentences, rendering any marking for the nominative case pragmatically redundant. Nominative case marking remains a pragmatic option for the presentative construction to introduce a new referent into discourse. A second issue addressed concerns the coding of the Recipient in a ditransitive sentence. We present an unusual case of biaccusative constructions where the semantic role of the Recipient is marked by either the dative or the accusative case marker, the choice being pragmatically determined by the spatial or psychological distance between the Agent and the Recipient. If the Recipient is perceived as being within the spatial or psychological sphere of influence of the Agent and consequently likely to be affected by the action of the Agent, the accusative case is preferred; elsewhere the dative is used. The effect of this is to produce biaccusative constructions, because the Theme in ditransitive sentences is always coded by the accusative case. Case marking in Saisiyat therefore cannot be dissociated from the discourse-pragmatics of language use and an understanding of the nature of the word order change the language is currently undergoing.

110, The Prosodic Realization of Negation in Saisiyat and English
Wen-yu Chiang, I Chang-Liao, and Fang-mei Chiang

This study investigates the prosodic realization of negation in Saisiyat, an endangered aboriginal Austronesian language of Taiwan, and compares the prosodic properties of its affirmative and negative sentences with those of British English. In order to test Yaeger-Dror’s “Cognitive Prominence Principle,” according to which cognitively prominent items (such as negators) should be prosodically marked, we measure the F0 peak, the intensity peak, and duration of lexical items appearing in affirmative and negative sentences. Our results indicate that sentential subjects are the most acoustically prominent items with respect to F0 height and intensity in Saisiyat negative sentences, whereas the negator itself is the most acoustically prominent item with respect to F0 in an English sentence. In addition, the presence of a negator does not significantly change the prosodic parameters of contiguous words in Saisiyat. English, in contrast, exhibits relatively large-scale prosodic differences in both F0 and intensity between affirmative and negative sentences. This paper suggests that the following typological features can account for the differences observed between Saisiyat and English: (1) the relationship between prosodic prominence and syntactic subjects in Saisiyat, (2) transparency of the negation system in Saisiyat, and (3) the relationship between prosodic prominence and semantically defined focus in English.

133, Numerals in Formosan Languages
Paul Jen-kuei Li

This is a general survey of cardinal numerals in Formosan languages. Most languages distinguish between human and nonhuman numerals, not only in cardinal numerals, but also for terms that have to do with number, such as ‘how many/much’, ‘many/much’, and even ‘few/little’. Some languages have a third set of numerals as used in counting, different from both human and nonhuman numerals. Tables of the numerals 1–10 in the still extant Formosan languages are given in the appendixes. Most Formosan languages retain a decimal system, although a few numerals may have been modified in some of the languages. Pazih is the only language that has nearly a quinary system. Numerals may be derived from other numeral stems by addition, subtraction, or multiplication, and some are unique to Formosan languages. Numerals may function either as nouns or verbs, depending on their syntactic position, and they may appear in simple or derived form.

153, Argument-marking and the Distribution of wh-Phrases in Malagasy, Tagalog, and Tsou
Paul Law

This paper argues that postverbal wh-phrases in Malagasy, Tagalog, and Tsou are subject to the same general constraint on marking of trigger arguments. It shows that the trigger is not necessarily definite or specific; the nonoccurrence of wh-phrase trigger in postverbal position therefore cannot be reduced to the definite/specific constraint on the trigger argument. There exists evidence, little noticed in the literature, that wh-phrase trigger is sometimes possible in postverbal position. I claim that postverbal wh-phrase trigger is possible just in case it can be marked independently in the same fashion as postverbal non-wh-phrase triggers.

191, On the Edge of Grammar: Discourse Particles in Niueans
Diane Massam, Donna Starks, and Ofania Ikiua

This paper provides a first examination of discourse particles in Niuean, a Polynesian language of the Tongic subgroup, using data from interviews from the Pasifika Languages of Manukau project. Although there has been some research on grammatical particles in Niuean, there has been little or no reference to the structure and function of discourse particles. We provide an initial framework for categorizing the various types of discourse particles in the language, and give a preliminary account of the function of two affirmative discourse particles, haia and mitaki.


206, The Phoneme Inventory of the Aita Dialect of Rotokas
Stuart Robinson

Rotokas is famous for possessing one of the world’s smallest phoneme inventories. According to one source, the Central dialect of Rotokas possesses only 11 segmental phonemes (five vowels and six consonants) and lacks nasals while the Aita dialect possesses a similar-sized inventory in which nasals replace voiced stops. However, recent fieldwork reveals that the Aita dialect has, in fact, both voiced and nasal stops, making for an inventory of 14 segmental phonemes (five vowels and nine consonants). The correspondences between Central and Aita Rotokas suggest that the former is innovative with respect to its consonant inventory and the latter conservative, and that the small inventory of Central Rotokas arose by collapsing the distinction between voiced and nasal stops.

210, Anomalous Liquid : Sibilant Correspondences in Western Austronesian
Robert Blust

The present contribution is meant to draw attention to two or more apparent sound correspondences among the languages of the Philippines and western Indonesia that involve liquid phonemes in one language or set of languages and sibilants in another language or set of languages. The data are problematic, and in my view do not justify the reconstruction of new protophonemes. At the same time, the recurrent regularities appear to be greater than chance, and so deserve a public airing. In either case, there would seem to be a lesson to be learned from the set of comparisons considered here: either we must reckon with at least two protophonemes that were overlooked by Dempwolff, or we must recognize that factors other than divergent development from a common ancestor may sometimes produce recurrent phonological similarities that bear a striking mock resemblance to true sound correspondences.

217, Tutuba Apicolabials: Factors Influencing the Phonetic Transition from Apicolabials to Labials
Maho Naito

The Tutuba language, spoken in the Republic of Vanuatu, has speech sounds known as apicolabials, a sound-type found in very few languages worldwide. It is thought that the apicolabials found in various languages of Vanuatu shifted as follows: 1. from labials in the protolanguage (*labials) > apicolabials, and 2. *labials > apicolabials > dentals/alveolars. However, the shift 3. *labials > apicolabials > labials has also been hypothesized. A phonetic change from apicolabials to labials, equivalent to 3., is currently taking place in the Tutuba language. It is thought that the main factor behind this change is the influence of other languages, including Bislama, the lingua franca of the area. A geographical analysis of available information shows that while the languages in which phonetic change 1. occurred are spoken on isolated islands and on the coasts of islands, the majority of the languages that have undergone phonetic changes 2. and 3. are spoken inland. This suggests the possibility that hypothesized phonetic change 3., from apicolabials to labials, occurs spontaneously as the result of external factors—the exposure to other languages.

229, Coronals and Velars: Support for Blust
Mark Donohue

Robert Blust raises the issue of the *t > k change that is widely attested in Austronesian languages, but infrequently in other language families. He offers both structural and perceptual explanations for the “naturalness” of this change, but admits that the data raise more questions than can be answered. I offer support for the view that this change is not unnatural, based on the distribution of stop types cross-linguistically, and the patterns that are found. I introduce another kind of argumentation, that of typologically determined systemic naturalness, in the spirit of Evolutionary Phonology.


242, Some Notes on Nhanda, as Spoken by Mrs. Lucy Ryder† (1919–2003)
Juliette Blevins


247, Isabelle Bril and Françoise Ozanne-Rivierre, eds. 2004. Complex predicates in Oceanic languages: Studies in the dynamics of binding and boundedness.
Reviewed by Joel Bradshaw

250, Donald C. Laycock. 2003. A dictionary of Buin, a language of Bougainville, ed. by Masayuki Onishi.
Reviewed by Peter C. Lincoln

257, Senft, Gunter, ed. 2004. Deixis and demonstratives in Oceanic languages.
Reviewed by Paul Geraghty

262, Robert Blust. 2003. A short morphology, phonology and vocabulary of Kiput, Sarawak.
Reviewed by Adrian Clynes