Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 46, no. 2 (2007)


325, Universal Uses of Demonstratives: Evidence from Four Malayo-Polynesian Languages
Jessica Cleary-Kemp

Across the languages of the world, elements recognized as “demonstratives” perform a wide range of functions, including reference tracking, discourse deixis, and recognitional functions, as well as simple pointing in the immediate physical context. It has long been assumed that this last “situational” use is the most basic, and that all other uses of demonstratives are derived from it. However, the primacy of situational use has recently been questioned, and evidence has been presented that suggests the four abovementioned uses of demonstratives are pervasive in all languages, and are therefore equally basic. This article examines further evidence from four non-Oceanic Malayo-Polynesian languages. The data presented here tentatively support the theory that the above four uses of demonstratives are universal, but they also confirm that situational use should indeed be considered the basic use of demonstratives.

348, Typology and the Linguistic Macrohistory of Island Melanesia
Mark Donohue and Simon Musgrave

Recent years have seen much discussion on the use and meaning of typological argumentation when reconstructing language history and language relations. We address the conclusions and methodology of a paper “Structural phylogenetics and the reconstruction of ancient language history” (Science, Sept. 23, 2005), which claims that, on the basis of a typological comparison, the non-Austronesian languages and (Austronesian) Oceanic spoken to the immediate east of new Guinea can be shown to belong to two unrelated genetic entities. We argue that the data and discussion in this paper do not allow us to conclude that the non-Austronesian languages in the study form a valid linguistic group in any historical sense, or that the methods they apply can be used to make claims about linguistic relatedness.

388, Statistical Reasoning in the Evaluation of Typological Diversity in Island Melanesia
Michael Dunn, Robert Foley, Stephen Levinson, Ger Reesink, and Angela Terrill

This paper builds on a previous work in which we attempted to retrieve a phylogenetic signal using abstract structural features alone, as opposed to cognate sets, drawn from a sample of Island Melanesian languages, both Oceanic (Austronesian) and (non-Austronesian) Papuan (Science 2005[309]: 207-2–75). Here we clarify a number of misunderstandings of this approach, referring particularly to the critique by Mark Donohue and Simon Musgrave (in this same issue of Oceanic Linguistics), in which they fail to appreciate the statistical principles underlying computational phylogenetic methods. We also present new analyses that provide stronger evidence supporting the hypotheses put forward in our original paper: a reanalysis using Bayesian phylogenetic inference demonstrates the robustness of the data and methods, and provides a substantial improvement over the parsimony method used in our earlier paper. We further demonstrate, using the technique of spatial autocorrelation, that neither proximity nor Oceanic contact can be a major determinant of the pattern of structural variation of the Papuan languages, and thus that the phylogenetic relatedness of the Papuan languages remains a serious hypothesis.

404, Proto-Oceanic *mana Revisited
Robert Blust

Few linguistic terms in the history of anthropology have had greater currency than mana. While anthropological debate about this term has tended to center on the correct interpretation of the native concept, little attention has been given to the etymology of the word. When this is pursued, a novel perspective on this pivotal concept emerges. Cognates meaning ‘thunder’ and ‘wind’ suggest that Proto-Oceanic *mana did not refer to a detachable spiritual or supernatural power that could be possessed by humans, but rather to powerful forces of nature such as thunder and storm winds that were conceived as the expression of an unseen supernatural agency. As Oceanic-speaking peoples spread eastward, the notion of an unseen supernatural agency became detached from the physical forces of nature that had inspired it and assumed a life of its own. It is argued that the process that gave rise to the canonical sense of mana, as this is commonly understood in the anthropology of religion, is part of a larger process in which widespread and apparently arbitrary features of human cultures were inspired by a prescientific attempt to understand the forces of nature.

424, Lexical Perspectives on Voice Constructions in Tsou
Huei-ju Huang and Shuanfan Huang

Very few verbs in Formosan languages are known to carry a full set of voice affixes, but it remains unclear how and to what extent the lexical meaning of a verb influences constructional variability. In this study we sort out where the gaps may lie, and probe the complex and interwoven nature of the relationships between the semantic roles of nominative arguments and various non-Actor Voice clauses in Tsou. We argue that voice forms are not automatic mechanical processes based on lexical selection alone, and we often we insights that show that both lexical and constructional meaning interact in licensing Benefactive Voice (BV) clauses. The argument is also made that two types of BV clauses must be distinguished, causativized and noncausativized. Verbs in noncausativized BV clauses “subcategorize” for nominative NPs that would normally function as “noncore” or peripheral arguments in a European language like English, which thus constitutes important evidence that Tsou is a language that does not grammatically make the core/oblique distinction. Causativized BV clauses, on the other hand, have the effect of bringing in an extra argument to the source clauses and marking it with oblique case, while retaining the case markings on the nominal arguments in the source clauses, violating the well-known causee accessibility hierarchy.

456, An Oceanic Origin for Äiwoo, the Language of the Reef Islands?
Malcolm Ross and Åshild Næss

Whether the languages of the Reefs–Santa Cruz (RSC) group have a Papuan or an Austronesian origin has long been in dispute. Various background issues are treated in the introductory section. In section 2 we examine the lexicon of the RSC and Utupua-Vanikoro languages and show that there are regular sound correspondences among these languages, and that RSC languages display regular reflexes of Proto-Oceanic etyma and are therefore Austronesian. We also show that together the RSC and Utupua-Vanikoro languages form an Oceanic subgroup, which we label “Temotu,” and that the Temotu group is probably a first-order subgroup within the Oceanic family. In section 3, we examine a variety of constructions and morphemes in Äiwoo, the language of the Reef Islands, to see whether they have plausible Oceanic sources. The answer in most cases is that they do. This is important, as several of these constructions have in the past been given as evidence that the RSC languages have a Papuan origin. We conclude that the RSC languages are Austronesian and that there is no need to posit a Papuan element to explain their origin.

499, Imperfective Aspect and the Interplay of Aspect, Tense, and Modality in Torau
Bill Palmer

Torau displays a highly complex system of aspect, tense, and modal marking. One of the most complex elements of this system is the marking of imperfective aspect. Imperfective in Torau is marked by a construction employing a choice of two overt imperfective markers and the possible presence of reduplication. The range of imperfective semantics encoded by this construction varies widely, encompassing progressive, habitual, persistive, and progressive inchoative or inceptive. Which reading is given depends not only on the choice of imperfective marker and the presence or absence of reduplication, but on a complex interplay of these factors with other aspectual, modal, or tense marking, and the aspectual semantics of the verb itself. This paper teases apart each of these highly interdependent factors to determine the independent functional characteristics of each imperfective marker and of reduplication.

520, The Papuan Language of Tambora
Mark Donohue

I present data from Tambora, a now extinct language of central Sumbawa, and argue from the lexical data and the inferred phonology, compared with areal norms, that it was a Papuan language spoken by a trading population of southern Indonesia. The existence into historical times of a large and nonreclusive Papuan political entity this far west forces a major revision of our ideas about the linguistic macrohistory of Eastern Indonesia.

538, Definiteness and Specificity in Mavea
Valérie Guérin

Specificity and definiteness are universal semantic categories, but not all languages express these categories morphologically. In this paper, I present data from Mavea, a language spoken in northern Vanuatu, which show morphological expressions of these two semantic categories. I argue that in Mavea, the article le denotes specificity, aite encodes indefiniteness, te … aite refers to indefinite nonspecific expressions, while the lack of an article expresses definiteness.

554, Cebuano Passives Revisited
Michael Tanangkingsing and Shuanfan Huang

The view that the gi-clauses and/or their equivalents in other Philippine-type languages, specifically in Cebuano and closely related Bisayan languages, are active constructions has been widely accepted by a number of Austronesian linguists. In a recent study on the gi-verb clauses in Cebuano, however, another linguist reinterprets those with Verb-Patient-Agent (VPA) word order as passive. In this paper, we argue against such an interpretation, based on analyses of the semantics and discourse pragmatics of the gi- and na- clauses in spoken data. A gi- attached to a verb implies a deliberate intention of an Agent; a na-clause directs attention to the often accidental effect of an action on a Patient without emphasizing any reference to an Agent. This renders a na-verb construction, especially one in which the Agent is missing, as a much more plausible candidate for passive in Cebuano.

585, Conjunctive Reduction and its Origin: A Comparative Study of Tsou, Amis, and Squliq Atayal
Wei-tien Dylan Tsai

This paper discusses the issue of how coordinate structures evolve into subordinate structures in both syntactic and semantic terms. I call this type of process “conjunctive reduction.” It is well established in the literature on Chinese historical syntax that some modifier-head and verb-complement compounds actually derive from coordinate structures in Ancient Chinese. Based on this finding, I suggest that a similar process is also at work in Formosan languages, but on a quite different scale. That is, while Chinese encodes conjunctive reduction in compounding morphology, the same process involves full-fledged syntactic operations in Formosan languages. I propose that there are two general directions of conjunctive reduction. On the one hand, the coordinator may become a modifier marker, where the first conjunct becomes a marked adverbial; then the modifier marker may disappear completely, making the first conjunct an unmarked adverbial. I call this “adverbialization.” On the other hand, the coordinator may become a complementizer, introducing either an infinitive complement or an adverbial adjunct such as a conditional or temporal clause. I take Squliq Atayal, Tsou, and Amis to represent the Northern, Tsouic, and Paiwanic groups respectively, which in turn points to the existence of a protolanguage with extensive coordinate construals along the line of Neo-Davidsonian semantics, very much like Ancient Chinese.


603, A Typologically Unusual Interrogative Word in Toqabaqita and Other Oceanic Languages
Frantisek Lichtenberk

In Toqabaqita and some other Oceanic languages the reflexes of Proto-Oceanic *sapa ‘what?, which?’’ are used to inquire about parts of whole and/or about kinship relations; for example, Toqabaqita tafa ‘which part of person’’s or animal’’s body?’’. While these interrogative functions may be unusual cross-linguistically outside of Oceanic, in Oceanic they follow naturally from a grammatical property of Proto-Oceanic, specifically the use of one type of attributive possessive construction to encode inalienable-possession relations.


613, Nicholas Thieberger. 2006. A grammar of South Efate: An Oceanic language of Vanuatu.
Reviewed by Catriona Hyslop Malau

618, Gabriele H. Cablitz. 2006. Marquesan: A grammar of space.
Reviewed by Giovanni Bennardo

623, Carl R. Galvez Rubino. 2006. Intensive Tausug: A pedagogical grammar of the language of Jolo, Philippines.
Reviewed by John U. Wolff

624, K. Alexander Adelaar. 2005. Salako or Badameà, sketch grammar, texts and lexicon of a Kanayatn dialect in West Borneo.
Reviewed by Daniel Kaufman


634, Index of Languages in Volume 46