Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 47, no. 1 (2008)


A Typology of First Person Dual Pronouns and Their Reconstructibility in Philippine Languages
Hsiu-Chuan Liao, 1

This paper provides an overview of the distribution of first person dual pronouns in Philippine languages and addresses the issue as to whether or not first person dual pronouns can be reconstructed for the ancestral language of all Philippine languages. Based on data from different microgroups of Philippine languages, the following conclusions are reached. First, no first person dual pronouns can be reconstructed for the parent of the Philippine languages. Second, the wide distribution of first person dual pronouns in different microgroups of Philippine languages is due to drift rather than direct inheritance from the parent of the Philippine languages.

Transitivity Discord in Some Oceanic Languages
Anna Margetts, 30

Some Oceanic languages have clause types that feature intransitive verbs cooccurring with what looks like an object argument. Such constructions are sometimes described as noun incorporation, but there is evidence for two distinct constructions: noun incorporation, and clauses with what I will call transitivity discord, featuring intransitive verbs and object nouns. Such discord constructions have transitive and intransitive features that are manifested on different structural levels and they can be described as showing a mismatch between verb-level and clause-level transitivity. They share features with noun incorporation, but they are structurally different in that the object noun has syntactic independence rather than being part of the verb.

Is there a Bima-Sumba Subgroup?
Robert Blust, 45

For some seven decades a number of Austronesian languages in the Lesser Sunda islands of eastern Indonesia have been assigned to a “Bima-Sumba” subgroup. No evidence has ever been presented for this group, yet through sheer repetition it has come to be accepted by many scholars. A comparative analysis of “Bima-Sumba” languages shows clear support for a Sumba-Hawu group, and limited evidence for a larger genetic unit that includes many or all of the languages of western and central Flores. However, there is no support for a more inclusive subgroup that incorporates Bimanese, unless it also includes languages that were not assigned to the original Bima-Sumba group.

Yet More on the Position of the Languages of Eastern Indonesia and East Timor
Mark Donohue and Charles E. Grimes, 114

The line dividing the Austronesian languages into Western Malayo-Polynesian (WMP) and Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (CEMP) is drawn east of Sulawesi and through the middle of Sumbawa. A number of phonological or semantic changes are claimed as forming the basis of this distinction, as well as the typological profile of the languages to the east being different from those to the west, and a number of lexical items being attested only east of the line. We examine the phonological and semantic innovations, as well as the erratic morphological ones, showing that none of them define the CEMP line, but indicate that (a) the Central Malayo-Polynesian (CMP)–area languages do not convincingly meet the criteria commonly accepted for a subgroup or even a linkage, (b) some of the WMP-area languages exhibit more of the same features found in at least some of the CMP-area languages than do others, and (c) many of the traits ascribed to the CMP- or CEMP-area languages can be found in more conservative WMP-area or Formosan languages as well.

The Undergoer Focus ma- in Kavalan
Shuping Huang and Li-May Sung, 159

This study aims to explore the functions and grammatical status of the Kavalan preverbal affix ma-. In addition to agent focus, locative focus, and referential focus (mainly used to focus the instrumental or benefactive case), Kavalan ma- is found to mark specific sentential focus. This marker behaves like agent focus in terms of its grammatical behavior, and is mainly used in two scenarios: spontaneous events, when the event is conceived of as happening spontaneously without an extraneous causer; and anticausatives, when the patient is the focus and the agent is conceived of as insignificant. In some limited cases, ma- is also used for naturally collective/reciprocal events. In ma-marked clauses, the clausal subject is typically conceived of as a spontaneously affected role, and this marker is therefore termed “undergoer focus” in the present study. Similar grammatical devices are found in two other Formosan languages, Paiwan and Amis, both of which share semantic and syntactic similarities with Kavalan ma-. It has been suggested by Evans and Ross (2001) that the same form ma- is commonly found in Oceanic languages, with different functional manifestations cross-linguistically. Further investigation into the manifestations of similar devices in other genetically related languages may help us to gain a better understanding of internal relationships within the Austronesian language family.

Reefs–Santa Cruz as Oceanic: Evidence from the Verb Complex
Åshild Næss and Brenda H. Boerger, 185

Recent research has shown that the long-standing assumption that the Reefs–Santa Cruz languages have a non-Austronesian substrate is unlikely to be valid: the languages do show regular sound correspondences with Proto-Oceanic (Ross and Næss 2007), and the alleged noun classes cannot felicitously be analyzed as such (Næss 2006). This paper addresses the third argument given in previous work for a non-Austronesian substrate: the complex verb structures. Presenting data from both Natügu (Northern Santa Cruz) and Äiwoo (Reefs), we show that while some of the verb morphology has clear cognates in Proto-Oceanic, other parts can be understood as deriving from an earlier productive process of verb serialization followed by reduction of the forms found in such serialized constructions. Given that both verb serialization and grammaticalization of elements of serializing constructions are well known in Oceanic languages, this leaves no linguistic evidence for a non-Austronesian substrate in Reefs–Santa Cruz.


Possession in Irarutu
René van den Berg and Takashi Matsumura, 213

This short paper offers a description of possessive constructions in Irarutu, an Austronesian language spoken in Indonesian Papua, which belongs to the South Halmahera–West New Guinea subgroup. Possession in Irarutu follows a typical East Malayo-Polynesian pattern distinguishing alienable and inalienable possession, but some of the morphology used to code possession is unusual, including what appears to be possessive infixation.

Typology, Areality, and Diffusion
Mark Donohue, Søren Wichmann, and Mihai Albu, 223

Dunn et al. (2007) state that their typological comparisons do not demonstrate genealogical relatedness in the usual sense, but that the technique does accurately recapitulate trees established by the comparative method. We demonstrate that the signal picked up by their method is areal, rather than genealogical, and suggest that the method, when tested on known language families, will also show a high sensitivity to the effect of diffusion.


In Memoriam, Françoise Ozanne-Rivierre, 1941–2007
Darrell Tryon, 233


John Bowden and Nikolaus Himmelmann, eds. 2004. Papers in Austronesian subgrouping and dialectology.
Reviewed by Alexander Adelaar, 240

Kunio Nishiyama and Herman Kelen. 2007. A grammar of Lamaholot, Eastern Indonesia: The morphology and syntax of the Lewoingu dialect.
Reviewed by John Bowden, 247