Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 50, no. 2 (2011)


The First Fifty Years of Oceanic Linguistics
George W. Grace, Byron W. Bender, and John Lynch, 285

The three editors of this journal since it was founded in 1962 look back at how it has grown and changed, with an analysis of who has contributed and what has been contributed.

Languages in Contact: An Exploration of Stability and Change in the Solomon Islands
Angela Terrill, 312

The Papuan-Oceanic world has long been considered a hotbed of contact-induced linguistic change, and there have been a number of studies of deep linguistic influence between Papuan and Oceanic languages (like those by Thurston and Ross). This paper assesses the degree and type of contact-induced language change in the Solomon Islands, between the four Papuan languages—Bilua (spoken on Vella Lavella, Western Province), Touo (spoken on southern Rendova, Western Province), Savosavo (spoken on Savo Island, Central Province), and Lavukaleve (spoken in the Russell Islands, Central Province)—and their Oceanic neighbors. First, a claim is made for a degree of cultural homogeneity for Papuan and Oceanic-speaking populations within the Solomons. Second, lexical and grammatical borrowing are considered in turn, in an attempt to identify which elements in each of the four Papuan languages may have an origin in Oceanic languages—and indeed which elements in Oceanic languages may have their origin in Papuan languages. Finally, an assessment is made of the degrees of stability versus change in the Papuan and Oceanic languages of the Solomon Islands.

Javanese -aké and -akən: A Short History
Alexander Adelaar, 338

Evidence from various Javanese dialects is presented to show that the standard Javanese transitive suffixes -aké and -akən have only recently become part of the Javanese morpheme inventory. They have replaced an earlier transitive suffix *-(ʔ)ən, which is still reflected in Tengger Javanese and in marginal positions in standard Javanese.

The acquisition of -aké and -akən in standard Javanese happened independently of the acquisition of -akən in Old Javanese. This allows a different perspective on the position of Old Javanese in the classification of Javanese dialects: it is most likely not a direct predecessor of standard Javanese.

The spread of -akən to Javanese and other languages is an areal feature. The replacement of *-(ʔ)ən by -akən may have been motivated by a need to reduce the high functional load of *-(ʔ)ən. The form -aké is tentatively explained as a low register back-formation from -akən.

Metaphorical Euphemisms of RELATIONSHIP and DEATH in Kavalan, Paiwan, and Seediq
Amy Pei-jung Lee, 351

This paper investigates metaphorical euphemisms underlying the categories of RELATIONSHIP and DEATH in three Formosan languages: Kavalan, Paiwan, and Seediq, within the framework of Lakoff and Johnson’s Cognitive Metaphor Theory. The term “metaphorical euphemism” is proposed to represent both linguistic and cognitive relations of euphemism and metaphor. A metaphorical euphemism refers to a euphemism that adopts metaphorical mapping of both source and target domains to express the notion of a forbidden domain as a result of conscious choices from pragmatic competence. Given the domains of RELATIONSHIP and DEATH being interconnected socially and culturally, near-universal and specific metaphorical euphemisms of the two domains in the three languages are analyzed from the approach of descriptive sociolinguistics. A cross-linguistic comparison of the three Formosan languages with English and Mandarin Chinese is provided and discussed from the perspectives of cognition and culture.

Na Passive and na- Associative in Abma: Shared Properties; Shared Origin?
Cynthia Schneider, 380

The passive is not widely attested in Melanesian languages, but Abma, an Oceanic language of Pentecost Island, Vanuatu, does have an impersonal passive that is flagged by deleting the subject NP, suffixing the verb with -an ‘passive’, and encoding definiteness (na) on the object NP. Na ‘definite’ is probably related to Proto-Oceanic *a/*na, an article that likely marked the common nonhuman NP as definite. Of course, nonhuman NPs tend to be semantic patients. Abma also has an “associative” construction that codes a special kind of nominal relationship—syntactically and semantically distinct from indirect possession—where the “possessor” NP has little or no control over the “possessed” NP. The “possessor” NP follows an associative marker (of the form na-), and shares semantic and referential properties with passive NPs. This paper examines the present-day instantiation of na as a marker on passive NPs and na- on noncontrolling associative “possessors.” It argues that the two forms have similar functionality, and considers a possible shared origin for the two morphemes.

The Problem of Doubleting in Austronesian Languages
Robert Blust, 399

Historical linguists are familiar with the concept of doubleting, which comes in two causally distinct types. In the first type, here called “contact induced doubleting,” borrowing from a related language or dialect gives rise to lexical pairs like English shirt : skirt or wine : vine. In the second type, called “system-internal doubleting,” traces of earlier morphology that have become synchronically opaque distinguish lexical pairs like English grass : graze, glass : glaze, weave : weft, or earlier stress contrasts produce lexical pairs like English one : an. In most cases, the result is a set of two phonologically and semantically similar forms that have the same etymology, but differ in meaning. Austronesian languages contain numerous examples of both contact-induced and system-internal doubleting. The former type closely resembles the phenomenon in other language families, but the latter is strikingly different, as it involves “word-families” with two, three, four, or in some cases more than four variants, nearly all of which appear to be semantically identical. How these variants arose remains a major theoretical challenge.

Transitivity in Longgu: The Interdependence of Verb Classes and Valency-Changing Derivations
Deborah Hill, 458

Longgu (Southeast Solomonic) provides an example of the complexity of transitivity in Oceanic languages. This paper outlines the challenges of describing the relationship between morphology and valency-changing devices, and the role that valency-changing devices have in determining the primary valency of a verb in the language. It argues for the need to treat transitivity as an integrated whole, and shows that while subclasses of verbs can be established without regard to morphology, a much fuller understanding is gained through investigating the functions of the verbal morphology. These functions are linked to the semantic transitivity of the clause as well as to valency-changing

Contact-Induced Change in Southern Bougainville
Bethwyn Evans and Bill Palmer, 483

The Northwest Solomonic Austronesian languages of Bougainville and the western Solomon Islands display numerous linguistic characteristics that are atypical of other Austronesian languages of the Oceanic subgroup. These innovative features have been assumed to reflect linguistic contact with the Papuan languages of the region. However, while contact-induced change resulting from social contact between speakers of Austronesian and Papuan languages has been shown to play a significant role in the history of a number of languages and groups of languages in Melanesia, there has been little detailed research on the Northwest Solomonic subgroup.

The Mono-Uruavan languages (Mono, Uruava, and Torau), a subgroup within Northwest Solomonic, are particularly aberrant with regard to grammatical structures. They display right-headed structures including SOV clauses, postpositions, and preposed possessors. We argue that these innovative structures arose through Mono-Uruavan speakers’ social contact with speakers of neighboring Papuan languages of the South Bougainville family (Nasioi, Nagovisi, Buin, Motuna).


‘Eye of the Day’: A Response to Urban (2010)
Robert Blust, 524

It has been claimed that the expression ‘eye of the day’ = ‘sun’ is limited to Austroasiatic, Tai-Kadai, and Austronesian languages, and that within Austronesian it is absent from Taiwan and the Philippines. However, either direct or indirect evidence for this association is globally distributed (including examples from Taiwan and the Philippines). While the concentration of transparent cases seems higher in Southeast Asia and Oceania than elsewhere, this may simply be due to widespread retention of Proto-Austronesian *maCa nu qalejaw ‘sun’, along with the possibility that all three language families are distantly related. Rather than an areally distinctive phenomenon, ‘eye of the day’ = ‘sun’ is better treated as a language universal that, like many other language universals, shows a nonuniform distribution in space.

Languages and Genes Attest Different Histories in Island Southeast Asia
Mark Donohue and Tim Denham, 536

Recent work on autosomal DNA genetic variation across Southeast Asia suggests that genetic diversity largely reflects Pleistocene colonization by modern humans, and was not influenced to any significant degree by major cultural and linguistic changes during the mid to late Holocene (roughly, from ~5,000 years ago to the present). These results seemingly show that the spread of Austronesian languages across Island Southeast Asia was not associated with population movements that were significant enough to affect the overall phylogeny of the autosomal DNA tree. Consequently, the spread of genes is not significantly linked to the spread of languages in Island Southeast Asia; each represents different processes of different antiquity.

Pronominal Number in Mongondow-Gorontalo
Jason William Lobel, 543

This squib presents a short description of the pronominal systems of Mongondow-Gorontalo languages, several of which include count forms that do not seem to be limited in terms of numerical value. Two of these languages have also replaced the historical plural pronouns with forms explicitly marked as trials. Such systems have not been found in any other Philippine or Philippine-
type language, and are only otherwise known to exist in some of the languages of western and central Borneo and in some Oceanic languages.


POLLEX-Online: The Polynesian Lexicon Project Online
Simon J. Greenhill and Ross Clark, 551

The Polynesian lexicon project, POLLEX, was initiated in 1965 by Bruce Biggs in order to provide a large-scale comparative dictionary of Polynesian languages. Since then, POLLEX has grown to include over 55,000 reflexes of more than 4,700 reconstructed forms in 68 languages. These data have enabled many fundamental advances in Polynesian linguistics and prehistory. At almost half a century old, POLLEX is one of the longest-standing databases of linguistic information, and has moved through various incarnations, from typewriter and edge-punched cards, through microfiche to mainframe computer. In the last few years, online databases of linguistic information have become increasingly more prevalent, representing a major shift in the way linguistics is conducted. Online databases provide many advantages over the older forms of data distribution, including high availability, more robust data storage, and easy data manipulation and searching, and they also facilitate the replication of previous studies. This paper announces the latest reincarnation of the POLLEX database as an online resource, POLLEX-Online (http://pollex.org.nz), and describes the technical implementation details.


Dempwolff Reinvented: A Review of Wolff (2010)
Robert Blust, 560

This ambitious study, the result of over forty years of intermittent labor, essentially attempts to restart Austronesian comparative linguistics from the ground up. It rejects several key distinctions made by Dempwolff and accepted by virtually all subsequent scholars, and proposes a number of modifications to the phoneme inventory and word structure that reportedly are motivated at least in part by the author’s belief that Austronesian and Sino-Tibetan are branches of a larger language phylum. The body of the work contains sketches of the historical phonology of 37 languages reaching from Taiwan to Polynesia. These vary greatly in quality, accuracy, and relevance. The book concludes with a glossary of around 1,760 reconstructions, about 95 percent of which are drawn from Dempwolff or from Blust and Trussel’s more recent Austronesian Comparative Dictionary.


Gunter Senft, ed. 2008. Serial verb constructions in Austronesian and Papuan languages.
Reviewed by Joel Bradshaw, 580

Bethwyn Evans, ed. 2009. Discovering history through language: Papers in honour of Malcolm Ross.
Reviewed by Laura C. Robinson, 584

Stacy Fang-Ching Teng. 2008. A reference grammar of Puyuma, an Austronesian language of Taiwan.
Reviewed by Hsiu-Chuan Liao, 590


Index to Oceanic Linguistics Volumes 1–50 (1962–2011), 601

Index of Languages in Volume 50, 677