Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 50, no. 1 (2011)


On the Position of Bugotu and Gela in the Guadalcanal-Nggelic Subgroup of Oceanic
Andrew Pawley, 1

Guadalcanal-Nggelic (GN) is one of two branches of the Southeast Solomonic subgroup of Oceanic. Citing phonological and lexicostatistical evidence, several scholars have proposed an internal classification of GN in which Bugotu is an isolate, coordinate with a branch consisting of all remaining languages including Gela. This paper will argue that there are stronger grounds for an earlier and contrary hypothesis of mine that Bugotu and Gela form a closed, second-order subgroup of GN, here labeled Nggelic. The existence of longstanding dialect networks in the GN area means that determining the most probable directions and sequence in which particular innovations spread requires considerable interpretive work. The distribution of morphological innovations points to an early divergence between a dialect area ancestral to the Nggelic and North and West Guadalcanal languages, on the one hand, and a dialect area ancestral to the Southeast Guadalcanal languages, on the other, the two areas being separated by the rugged central mountain range. The fact that there are some lexical isoglosses shared by certain Southeast Guadalcanal languages with North and West Guadalcanal languages exclusively of Nggelic can best bexplained by supposing that, after Nggelic diverged from North and West Guadalcanal, all the Guadalcanal dialects participated in a network of speech communities within which there was considerable but uneven diffusion of lexical items.

Proto-Oceanic *kw
Malcolm Ross, 25

This paper argues for the reconstruction of a rounded velar protophoneme *kw in Proto-Oceanic. This protophoneme occurred, however, in few lexical items. In those reconstructed to date, it always appears before *a and always, with one possible exception, word-initially. The paper concludes with a discussion of the probable status of *kw in Proto-Oceanic.

Interrupted Transmission and Rule Loss in Māori: The Case of ka,
Ray Harlow, Winifred Bauer, Margaret Maclagan, Catherine Watson, Peter Keegan, and Jeanette King, 50

The Māori tense/aspect marker ka has historically two allomorphs: one, /ka:/, which is used when the rest of the verb phrase consists of only two morae, and the other, /ka/, for longer phrases. Recordings of native speakers born toward the end of the nineteenth century show that this distribution was at that time observed with a high degree of consistency. However, more recent speaker groups show variable behavior in this respect, with modern younger speakers tending to show abandonment of the allomorphy in favor of consistent use of the short form. This shift is attributable both to a proportional increase in the use of longer phrases over the same period and to the decreasing use of Māori generally, so that opportunities to acquire the inherited rule have diminished considerably.

The Conceptualization of Emotion Events in Three Formosan Languages: Kavalan, Paiwan, and Saisiyat
Fuhui Hsieh, 65

An important issue in the study of the language of emotion language, from a cognitive perspective, is to investigate how language conceptualizes emotions. Since the 1980s, linguists have been exploring how abstract concepts may be based on conceptual metaphors for bodily, physical concepts. However, conceptual metaphors have been shown not to be a universally preferred strategy in conceptualizing emotion events. Nevertheless, the factor influencing the selection of metaphorical strategies is underexplored and opaque. This study thus sets out to accomplish two goals. First, I postulate that limitation on the linguistic mechanism, namely, nominalization of emotion terms, may constrain language users’ selection of metaphorical strategies in conceptualizing emotion events. My results show that languages having emotion nouns are found to have comparatively rich metaphorical expressions for emotions. To the contrary, in the languages where the linguistic mechanism to encode abstract emotion concepts is inadequate or unavailable, the metaphorical strategy is dispreferred. Second, as emotion events are inherently events of causality, and are characterized by deploying event participants, I examine how grammatical constructions, that is, recurrent syntactic patterns with their associated functions, are made available by the conventional resources of a language, and I investigate how language users in their daily communication conceptualize emotion events and portray participant relations by choosing different grammatical constructions.

A Discourse Explanation of the Transitivity Phenomena in Kavalan, Squliq, and Tsou
Shuanfan Huang and Michael Tanangkingsing, 93

In this study, we investigate the discourse-functional properties of the extended intransitive clause (EIC) in relation to other clause types in three Formosan languages: Tsou, Kavalan, and Squliq. We offer evidence, based on tracking behavior of NPs, to show that case-marking in EICs is motivated by a core/oblique distinction, and that the core/oblique distinction arises in a systematic way from recurrent patterns in discourse. The referents of the oblique-marked argument nominals in EICs in these languages are shown to be consistently much less likely to be tracked or to be continuous than either the nominative or the ergative argument of a nonactor voice clause. The data derived from investigating the tracking behavior of noun phrases suggest that the validity of a grammatical transitive/intransitive distinction in these languages is quite robust, and that the distinction can best be correctly discerned by examining the functioning of various argument nominals in discourse.

Directional Verbs in Vaeakau-Taumako
Åshild Næss, 120

This paper argues that the best way of analyzing the directional morphemes in the Polynesian Outlier Vaeakau-Taumako (Pileni) is as verbs that most frequently—but not exclusively—occur in serialization with another verb. The class of directionals in Polynesian in general is somewhat heterogeneous; most sources classify them as particles or adverbs, while often noting that some items have a limited verbal use, or are homophonous with verbs with similar meanings.

The analysis of directionals as verbal in Vaeakau-Taumako suggests that they are less grammaticalized in this language than in most other Polynesian languages, and so raises the question of how this situation has arisen. One possible explanation is that the presence of verb serialization in Vaeakau-Taumako may have preserved the verbal nature of the directionals longer than in other Polynesian languages. This may in turn have been reinforced through contact with the neighboring Äiwoo language of the Reefs-Santa Cruz group, which has several serialization constructions that are structurally and functionally very similar to those found in Vaeakau-Taumako.

A second possibility is that the difference between Vaeakau-Taumako and other Polynesian languages is only apparent, and that Polynesian directionals in general may have verbal properties to a greater extent than generally recognized. As Polynesian languages are poor in verbal morphology, distinguishing verb serialization from other types of complex verbal constructions in these languages is problematic, which might explain why directionals have typically not been analyzed as verbal.

Where *R They all? The Geography and History of *R-loss in Southern Oceanic Languages
Alexandre François, 140

Some twenty years ago, Paul Geraghty offered a large-scale survey of the retention and loss of Proto-Oceanic *R across Eastern Oceanic languages, and concluded that *R was “lost in proportion to distance from Western Oceanic.” This paper aims at testing Geraghty’s hypothesis based on a larger body of data now available, with a primary focus on a tightly knit set of languages spoken in Vanuatu. By observing the dialectology of individual lexical items in this region, I show that the boundaries between languages retaining vs. losing *R differ for each word, yet they all define a consistent north-to-south cline whereby *R is lost in the south. This cline, which confirms Geraghty’s observations, can be recognized all the way to southern Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Such a neat geographic distribution observed today can be interpreted in historical terms. I propose that the tendency to lose *R emerged somewhere south of Efate, at an early date in the settlement of the archipelago. This sound change triggered a range of individual lexical innovations, each of which spread across what was then a vast social and linguistic network, encompassing the whole of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The geography of *R reflexes constitutes a fossilized picture of prehistoric social networks, as the once unitary world of Lapita settlers was beginning to break down into increasingly diversified dialects—the ancestors of modern languages.

Exploring Mood in Neverver
Julie Barbour, 198

In a preverbal position, all clauses in the Neverver language of Malakula Island (Vanuatu) are either unmarked, or carry the morpheme m- prefixed to the verb. In this paper, I explore the distribution of unmarked and m- marked clauses, examining a number of semantic and grammatical contexts. I seek to establish whether the choice of using an unmarked clause or an m- marked clause is driven by the temporal location of the situation expressed in the clause, or by the status of that situation in reality. In doing so, I aim to test my earlier analysis of Neverver as being a mood language. The results, however, are divided, with temporal location appearing to be more salient in some contexts, and reality status appearing to be more salient in others. Relying predominantly on evidence from a variety of subordinate clause types, I maintain that Neverver is indeed a mood language, although an interpretation of the same morphological category as grammatical tense is certainly plausible in some contexts.

A Proto-Oceanic Passive? Evidence from Bola and Natügu
René van den Berg and Brenda H. Boerger, 221

Though morphological passives are said to be rare in Oceanic languages, we report on such passives in Bola (Western Oceanic), spoken in Papua New Guinea, and Natügu (Temotu Oceanic), spoken in the Solomon Islands. These languages have passive morphemes that are cognate with Proto–Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) *-in- both in form and function, which leads us to conclude that a morphological passive should be reconstructed for Proto-Oceanic (POC).


Final Syllables in Northern Malakula
John Lynch, 247

Although nearly all languages of Malakula in central Vanuatu regularly lose Proto-Oceanic (POc) word-final vowels, there is a group of four languages spoken along the north coast—Nese, Vovo, Botovro, and Vao—in which final vowels are retained if the vowel in the preceding syllable was high. These languages also show a paragogic vowel added after a POc word-final consonant, but again only if the preceding vowel was high. I suggest in this short paper that paragogic vowels were added after all retained final consonants, that a sonority-driven stress shift moved stress from a high penult to a more sonorous nonhigh final vowel, and that only then were final unstressed vowels deleted.

Phalanger Facts: Notes on Blust’s Marsupial Reconstructions
Antoinette Schapper, 258

This squib reexamines the evidence for Blust’s reconstruction of *kandoRa ‘cuscus’ and *mans(aə)r ‘bandicoot’ to the ancestor of the putative Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian subgroup of the Austronesian family. I argue that the reconstructions are problematic, being unable to account for the distribution and semantics of reflexes in the Austronesian languages in eastern Indonesia. Examining data from Austronesian and Papuan languages in this region, I consider alternative histories for marsupial terms involving independent innovations, semantic shifts, and diffusion.


Dr. Hj. Hunggu Tadjuddin Usup, 1940–2010: Northern Sulawesi Linguist
Jason William Lobel, 273


Leonard E. Newell. 2006. Romblomanon dictionary.
Jason William Lobel, 275

Philomena Dol. 2007. A grammar of Maybrat: A language of the Bird’s Head Peninsula, Papua Province, Indonesia.
Mark Donohue, 279