Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 46, no. 1 (2007)


1, Òma Lóngh Historical Phonology
Robert Blust

The phonology of Òma Lóngh Kenyah as described by Soriente (2006) shows striking typological differences from its nearest relatives. Contrary to a pattern of avoidance that is almost universal in Austronesian languages, it has developed final palatals, including a voiceless unreleased palatal stop (written -j), and a palatal nasal (written -ny). In violation of universal tendencies in phonological systems, it has also innovated a voiceless velar nasal (but no other voiceless nasals) in final position. Out of a Proto-Kenyah six-vowel system in which tense mid vowels occurred only word-finally, it has developed three new vowels and an unusual system of double vowel harmony that requires both High-Mid avoidance and Tense-Lax agreement. Even more surprisingly, a typologically bizarre connection between the tenseness/laxness of the penultimate vowel and the shape of the final syllable is present in one subclass of bases, but emerges clearly only through a historical analysis. Together, these innovations add to an already impressive picture of north-central Borneo as a “hot spot” for rapid phonological change, including changes that do not appear to be phonetically motivated.

54, An Unusual Passive in Western Oceanic: The Case of Vitu
René van den Berg

Passive constructions are rare in Melanesia and none is reconstructed for Proto-Oceanic. This paper reports on a passive in Vitu, a Meso-Melanesian language spoken in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, describing its structural properties (some of which are unusual) and attempting to provide a diachronic scenario through which it may have arisen.

71, Three-participant Events in Oceanic Languages
Anna Margetts

In this study I investigate the linguistic strategies available in Oceanic languages for the encoding of events with three participants (such as expressions of ‘sending’, ‘giving’, ‘showing’, ‘telling’, or doing something for someone’’s benefit). The notion of three-participant events is traditionally associated with the concept of ditransitive clauses, but there are, in fact, a variety of other strategies found cross-linguistically, and only some of these involve ditransitive constructions. Languages may differ considerably in which of these methods of encoding they productively use. In the present study I explore which of the strategies are used in the Oceanic language group. This may be a first step toward establishing whether language families or groups differ in their preferences for certain strategies and whether such preferences correlate with other typological features. While in some strategies all three event participants are encoded by syntactic means, in other strategies the involvement of a third participant is essentially evoked by pragmatics. The Oceanic language group seems to show a greater preference for such pragmatic strategies than is familiar from the study of the better-known European languages.

128, On Ergativity and Accusativity in Proto-Polynesian and Proto––Central Pacific
Douglas Ball

This paper continues the debate begun over three decades ago about the nature of the case-marking system of Proto-Polynesian, whether it possessed an ergative or an accusative system. After consideration of extra-Polynesian comparative evidence, putative counterexamples in some Polynesian pronominal systems, and the history of the current accusative marking, it finds in favor of the accusative system view.

154, A Long Lost Sister of Proto-Austronesian? Proto-Ongan, Mother of Jarawa and Onge of the Andaman Islands
Juliette Blevins

This paper applies the comparative method to two related languages of the southern Andaman Islands, Jarawa and Onge, leading to the reconstruction of a protolanguage termed “Proto-Ongan” (PON). The same method is used to argue that Proto-Ongan may be related to Proto-Austronesian (PAN). Lexical and grammatical evidence suggests that Proto-Ongan and Proto-Austronesian are sisters, daughters of a Proto––Austronesian-Ongan (PAO). The implications of this discovery are wide-ranging, from potential solutions to problems in PAN grammar, to new hypotheses regarding ancient speaker migrations. While few of these implications are examined here, an extended Austronesian phylogeny is proposed in the hope that it will seed new avenues of research, and highlight the potential importance of Andamanese studies in understanding Austronesian prehistory.

199, Heads in Oceanic Indirect Possession
Bill Palmer and Dunstan Brown

In many Oceanic languages the “indirect” possessive construction, which is typically associated with alienable possession, uses special forms to host person and number agreement indexing the possessor. This can be contrasted with the “direct” possessive construction, typically associated with inalienable possession, where a lexical possessum noun itself carries possessor-indexing agreement. The host forms used in the indirect construction are often referred to as “classifiers.” We argue that this term should not be applied to indirect possession marking in many Oceanic languages, and present evidence to show that indirect possessor-indexing hosts in such languages do not have the properties typically associated with classifiers. In contrast with this, we further argue that these indirect possessor-indexing hosts should be treated as the syntactic head of the noun phrase in which they occur, thereby allowing treatment of the syntax of NPs with indirect possession that is consistent with those with direct marking. In both instances, the person and number indexing morphology simply attaches to the syntactic head.

210, Is Kazukuru Really Non-Austronesian?
Michael Dunn and Malcolm Ross

Kazukuru is an extinct language, originally spoken in the inland of the western part of the island of New Georgia, Solomon Islands, and attested by very limited historical sources. Kazukuru has generally been considered to be a Papuan, that is, non-Austronesian, language, mostly on the basis of its lexicon. Reevaluation of the available data suggests a high likelihood that Kazukuru was in fact an Oceanic Austronesian language. Pronominal paradigms are clearly of Austronesian origin, and many other aspects of language structure retrievable from the limited data are also congruent with regional Oceanic Austronesian typology. The extent and possible causes of Kazukuru lexical deviations from the Austronesian norm are evaluated and discussed.

232, Another Look at the Marking of Plural Personal Noun Constructions in Austronesian Languages
Lawrence A. Reid

In a recent note in this journal, Robert Blust, using data from Philippine and Formosan languages, proposes a functional difference for Proto-Austronesian between the forms of genitive common noun phrase markers, such that PAn *nu marked ‘genitive of common nouns’, while PAn *na marked ‘genitive of plural personal nouns’. This paper examines the Philippine and Formosan evidence for these reconstructions and concludes that the evidence provided is the result of convergent development in the languages cited, and cannot be considered evidence for the proposed reconstructions. Alternate reconstructions that better account for the Philippine evidence are proposed.

253, Papuan Malay Pronominals: Forms and Functions
Mark Donohue and Yusuf Sawaki

Papuan Malay, the easternmost variety of Malay/Indonesian, has received even less attention than other nonstandard varieties of Malay/Indonesian. Papuan Malay has innovative forms and functions for its pronominals that have not been described in detail for other varieties of Malay/Indonesian, though they are present over a wide area. We examine both the bound and the free pronominal forms, describing the status of the different members in each paradigm as they are used with different functions such as possessor, subject, and object. In addition to noting these different uses, we discuss a trivalent construction in the language with an exceptional use of pronominal forms, and propose an ongoing path of grammaticalization that can account for it.

277, Missing Complement Clause Subjects in Malagasy
Eric Potsdam and Maria Polinsky

This paper presents and analyzes a biclausal construction in the Austronesian language Malagasy in which the subject of a complement clause is not expressed but is interpreted as coreferential with a higher noun phrase: Manantena Rabei [mba/fa hividy fiara Øi] ‘Rabei hopes that Øi will buy a car.’ We show that there are two different structures here depending upon the choice of complementizer. With the complementizer mba, the construction instantiates finite control: an obligatory referential dependency between an unexpressed subject in a finite clause and a higher antecedent. With the complementizer fa, despite some apparent similarities, the construction is not control. We propose instead an NP Drop analysis in which the missing subject is a null pronominal licensed by an independent process of topic drop.


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306, I Wayan Arka. 2003. Balinese morphosyntax: A lexical-functional approach.
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313, Andrew Pawley, Robert Attenborough, Jack Golson, and Robin Hide, eds. 2005. Papuan pasts: Cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples.
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321, Alexandre François. 2003. La Sémantique du prédicat en Mwotlap (Vanuatu).
reviewed by Darrell Tryon