Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 49, no. 2 (2010)


Southern Subanen Aspiration
Jason William Lobel and William C. Hall, 319

Southern Subanen, spoken on the Philippine island of Mindanao, is the only Philippine language known to have contrastive aspiration, which is a rarity in the Austronesian family. While aspirated consonants are common in the world’s languages, Southern Subanen provides us with an uncommon glimpse at how aspirated consonants can develop. Their unique historical derivation in Southern Subanen is such that, in certain environments, aspiration marks semantic contrasts in verbal prefixes and even functions as a marker of nominalization. In this paper, we will analyze the historical sources of this aspiration and its realization in the modern language.

The Amis Left Periphery
Yi-Ting Chen, 339

This paper aims to examine two elements, u and a, in the Amis left periphery, showing that u and a are highly relevant to finiteness and to the tense, aspect, and mood (TAM) of the embedded clause, and are influenced by their other functions. Specifically, Amis u is originally a noun marker, and as a complementizer it tends to occur with other deverbalized devices. Amis a is reported as the future marker in another dialect, and this function may influence the embedded clause that it introduces to very often be an irrealis one. This paper proposes that u is a Finite Head (Fin), while a is either an irrealis Fin or a defective Modal-Aspectual (Mod-Asp). This study also concludes that, in Amis, there are only two levels of complementation: finite Complement Phrase (CP) and infinite Mod-AspP, which is less diverse than in English. This explains why different types of Amis complement clauses are often structured similarly.

Aspiration in Some Varieties of Northern Aslian
John Hajek, 359

In the classification of Aslian languages, phonemic aspiration of stops is considered to be characteristic only of members of the southern branch of the Aslian group. Here I provide all available information on the presence of aspirated voiceless stops in some varieties of northern Aslian, particularly within that part of the Malay Peninsula under Thai control. In addition to the presentation of relevant lexical data, I also discuss the phonemic status, and the origin of aspiration, as well as implications for Aslian phonological typology. Cross-linguistic comparison shows that the rise of phonemic aspiration in northern Aslian is an areal phenomenon, finding close parallels in other languages in the northern Malay Peninsula, as a result of increasing contact with Thai.

Vowel Loss in Tirax and the History of the Apicolabial Shift
John Lynch and Amanda Brotchie, 369

There has been speculation in the literature as to whether the shift from bilabial to apicolabial articulation (and often further to dental) is a sound change inherited by all of those northern Malakula–southern Santo languages that manifest it, or whether it developed in only one language and was borrowed into others. An examination of the phonological history of Tirax, a northern Malakula language, shows that the shift was a relatively late development in that language, and occurred after a rule deleting low vowels. This low vowel deletion rule did not apply in any other language showing the shift. We therefore assume that apicolabials were borrowed into Tirax (where they subsequently became dentals), and we make some proposals concerning the direction of this borrowing in the region.

Gerundive Nominals in Malagasy
Dimitrios Ntelitheos, 389

In this paper, I provide a novel syntactic analysis of nominalizations in Malagasy (Western Austronesian). Malagasy has a nominalizing prefix f- that derives action and abstract nominalizations when attached to the circumstantial voice form of the verb. These nominals exhibit mixed verbal and nominal properties, and their interpretation is often ambiguous between an eventive or a circumstantial meaning. This has led to the assumption that these nominals are formed in the lexicon or a “lexical” syntactic component of syntax: “l-syntax” (Paul 1996). I show that f-nominalizations in Malagasy can in fact be divided into a class of nominals that exhibit mainly nominal properties (“result nominals” in the terminology of Grimshaw 1990), and a second, productive, class of nominals that exhibit internal verbal properties. In order to capture these properties, I propose that gerundive f-nominals are formed in the syntactic component with the nominalizer f- projecting a nominal inflection phrase replacing the tense inflection that appears in finite clauses (cf. also Baker 2005). The analysis maintains the intuition in traditional Malagasy grammars that the nominalizer f- replaces tense (Dez 1980:102; Fugier 1999:43), and predicts that all verbal functional projections below tense should be present, while all clausal projections above tense should be absent. For result gerundive nominals, I assume a lower site of attachment for the nominalizer, and thus the fact that these nominals exhibit less verbal and more nominal properties is attributed to the lack of the relevant verbal functional projections.

Neuter Gender in Eastern Indonesia
Antoinette Schapper, 407

Gender is not a typical feature of Austronesian languages. In the insular region of Indonesia directly west of New Guinea, however, a semantic gender distinction of neuter versus nonneuter is commonplace. In this paper, I argue that this gender distinction is an areal feature that has been independently innovated several times in the Austronesian languages of the region. I further contend that this feature is likely to have developed under influence from Papuan languages possessing similar systems.

Palauan Velar Nasals and the Diachronic Development of PMP Noun Phrases: A Response to Blust
Lawrence A. Reid, 436

This paper is a response to the account by Robert Blust (in the December 2009 issue of this journal) of the origin of the Palauan velar nasals that are found at the beginning of otherwise vowel-initial words and at the end of some Palauan numerals. His claim that they are an “epenthetic” sound change rather than the result of morphological reanalysis is shown to be incorrect. Each of the three objections that Blust raised to the morphological solution of the “mysterious” Palauan velar nasals is shown to be unfounded. It is shown that they are probably fossilized clitic velar nasal ligatures having the same source as those that are found as enclitics on nominal specifiers from Tagalog ang to Malay yang. The paper also responds to Blust’s claims that my earlier reconstruction of Proto–Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) phrase-marking forms and their historical development involve changes unparalleled in historical phonology. A detailed account is provided of what is known about PMP noun phrase structure (especially those with numeral heads), the forms that introduce NPs, and the evidence for reconstructing an attributive marking “ligature” *na (alternating with *=n and *=a) with subsequent changes to *=ŋ and *=ŋa, changes that are commonly found in other languages and that have also left their mark on Palauan.

Manide: An Undescribed Philippine Language
Jason William Lobel, 478

Manide is a language spoken by a population of about 4,000 indigenous Negrito Filipinos living in and around the province of Camarines Norte in the southern part of the large northern Philippine island of Luzon. It has received occasional mention in the linguistics literature, but virtually no data are available for the language. This paper seeks to address this lack, presenting and analyzing lexical and functor data, as well as providing some significant sociolinguistic information about this group.

Negation in Bierebo and the Other Languages of Epi, Central Vanuatu
Peter Budd, 511

This paper describes the expression of negation in Bierebo, and highlights the variety in the negator forms and negative constructions that occur in the Epi languages of Vanuatu. All six Epi languages have separate constructions for realis and irrealis negatives, while four of them display complex discontinuous marking patterns, with up to three negators occurring in Bierebo and Lewo negatives. I argue that, despite some apparent noncognacy among the forms, all of the Epi language negators can in fact be traced to four distinct Proto-Oceanic/Proto–North-Central Vanuatu negative morphemes. Recognizing these origins is especially helpful in understanding the distributions of the contemporary negative forms.


Is Puyuma a Primary Branch of Austronesian? A Reply to Sagart
Stacy F. Teng and Malcolm Ross, 543

Ross (2009) proposes the Nuclear Austronesian hypothesis, according to which the Formosan languages Puyuma, Rukai, and Tsou are each probably a primary branch of Austronesian and all Austronesian languages other than these three belong to a single, Nuclear Austronesian, branch defined by the nominalization-to-verb innovation originally proposed by Starosta, Pawley, and Reid (1981, 1982) for Proto-Austronesian itself. Sagart (2010) argues that there is evidence that Puyuma has also undergone the nominalization-to-verb innovation and is accordingly not a primary branch of Austronesian. In this short paper we show that Sagart’s evidence is based on misanalyses of Puyuma data and that these data do not reflect the nominalization-to-verb innovation. Sagart’s argument against the Nuclear Austronesian hypothesis does not stand up to closer scrutiny.

Malaita-Micronesian Once Again
Robert Blust, 559

In the June 2010 issue of this journal, Lichtenberk argued that the Longgu/Malaita/Makira (formerly “Cristobal-Malaitan”) and Guadalcanal-Nggelic languages are coordinate branches of a Southeast Solomonic subgroup, and he contends that this “goes against” Blust’s Malaita-Micronesian hypothesis. Although the evidence he presents for Southeast Solomonic is convincing (and the group already generally accepted), Lichtenberk’s presentation neglects two important points. The first is that the Malaita-Micronesian hypothesis was proposed to account for innovations, including unambiguous replacement innovations in lexicon, known only in Nuclear Micronesian and Longgu/Malaita/Makira languages, and this distribution must be explained. The second is that Geraghty introduced an alternative to the family tree model that plausibly accounts for conflicting patterns of exclusively shared innovations. An application of Geraghty’s model for what he calls “Tokalau Fijian-Polynesian” to the present case suggests that the Nuclear Micronesian languages differentiated out of a dialect chain in the Southeast Solomons, and that this dialect chain was then reincorporated into the greater Southeast Solomonic speech area as a result of centuries of subsequent contact and coevolution.

‘Sun’ = ‘Eye of the Day’: A Linguistic Pattern of Southeast Asia and Oceania
Matthias Urban, 568

This article deals with the areal distribution of a particular lexicological phenomenon, namely terms for ‘sun’ that can be literally translated as ‘eye of the day’ or the like. It is shown on the basis of a worldwide sample that this denomination is very rare cross-linguistically, and is restricted to languages of the Austroasiatic, Tai-Kadai, and Austronesian language families of Southeast Asia and Oceania. Given its overall rarity, entirely independent innovations of this highly idiosyncratic lexical structure seem improbable, and different historical scenarios to account for its present distribution are presented with particular reference to the Austronesian languages.


Bukawa’s Suprasegmental Journey: A Review of Eckermann (2007)
Joel Bradshaw, 580

Eckermann’s (2007) descriptive grammar of Bukawa sheds new light on an important language long overshadowed by its better-documented sibling, Jabêm (also spelled Yabem). Although the syntax and lexicon of the two languages remain quite similar, the phonology of Bukawa now looks to be far more innovative. Newly voiced obstruents in syllable onsets have destroyed the correlation between obstruent voicing and tone that makes the latter much more predictable in Jabêm. Ross (1993) has proposed that the voicing of onsets in Bukawa depended on their metrical position in iambic feet, such that oral stops on weak syllables were voiced, while those on strong syllables were devoiced. Using new data from Eckermann, this review article proposes that another set of voiced obstruents in Bukawa has arisen via postplosion of the nasal onsets of syllables with nonnasal codas. In syllables with nasal codas, by contrast, nasal onsets are preserved and vowels are nasalized, even when final nasal stops are elided. This suggests that oral vowels are already in some degree of phonemic opposition to nasal vowels in Bukawa, just as they are in Kela, the third sibling in the tiny North Huon Gulf subgroup of Oceanic.


Leonard E. Newell. 2008. Role relationships and lexical descriptions applied to Batad Ifugao.
Reviewed by Hsiu-Chuan Liao, 591

Terry Crowley (ed. by John Lynch). 2006. Nese: A diminishing speech variety of Northwest Malakula (Vanuatu).
Reviewed by Valerie Guerin, 595


Index of Languages in Volume 49, 601