Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 51, no. 2 (2012)


Whence the East Polynesians? Further Linguistic Evidence for a Northern Outlier Source
William H. Wilson, 289

Anthropologists and linguists have long assumed that East Polynesia was first settled from Central Western Polynesia, most likely from Samoa. Presented here is a very different history, one involving a northern settlement pathway from atolls off the east coast of the Solomon Islands some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) northwest of Samoa. Evidence includes 73 lexical and grammatical innovations reconstructible in the development of several nested Northern Outlier subgroups. East Polynesian is shown to share all of those innovations and thus subgroup with the Northern Outliers. The 73 reconstructions also provide evidence against an “Ellicean” subgroup and associated theories that East Polynesia was settled from Tuvalu, Tokelau, and/or Pukapuka. (See news reports in the Hawaii Tribune Herald, the New Zealand Herald, and on the blog Raising Islands.)

Kena Adversative Passives in Malay, Funny Control, and Covert Voice Alternation
Hiroki Nomoto and Kartini Abd. Wahab, 360

This paper investigates the syntax of kena adversative passives in Malay. First, we establish the relation between kena passives and sentences with kena meaning ‘have to’ as a passive-active pair. These two constructions have been considered unrelated. A close examination of kena passive sentences in relation to their active counterparts reveals that kena is actually not a passive marker but a member of a class of predicates giving rise to funny control, a phenomenon whereby the external argument of these predicates is associated with either the internal or the external argument of the passive clause they embed. This enables a principled syntactic explanation for why kena is used in the two relevant constructions. We argue that voice, both active and passive, is indicated covertly in kena sentences when the lower verb bears no morphological voice marker. It is suggested that “covert voice alternation” is one of the typologically common voice alternations, and it enables us to understand the seemingly manifold voice systems of Austronesian languages in the Malay Archipelago in a more connected manner.

Mood and Transitivity in South Efate
Nick Thieberger, 387

South Efate, an Oceanic language of central Vanuatu, allows the expression of temporal relations in several ways using markers of aspect and mood. Pronominal expression of arguments is obligatory and, as subject proclitics occur in one of three forms (realis, irrealis, and perfect), expression of aspect or mood is required in every sentence. South Efate is one of a group of Vanuatu languages that displays stem-initial mutation, whereby the initial consonant of a very small group of verbs changes to reflect mood. This paper presents evidence that fortis (realis) and lenis (irrealis) stem mutation also correlates with features of transitivity, not a surprising finding following the work of Hopper and Thompson. All else being equal, the fortis form of the verb occurs in clauses that have an overt expression of an object, while the lenis form occurs when there is no object in the clause. A further curiosity is that stem-initial mutation has been maintained for just a small class of verbs, so its correlation with transitivity in just this small class is all the more interesting. This paper explores the relationship between the morphological expression of mood and transitivity in South Efate, and suggests frequency of use as an explanation for the retention of this marginal system that affects only 7 percent of verb stems in the lexicon.

Distinguishing Cognate Homonyms in Indonesian
Waruno Mahdi, 402

Cognate homonyms in standard Indonesian Malay can result from semantic shift, derivational conversion, or idiomatization. One problem in considering such homophonous expressions is how to differentiate between a compound word, a fixed expression, and a free phrase. Particular instances are compound and noncompound expressions having a monosyllabic component that is a clitic when not in a compound. Another source of cognate homonyms is the conversion of verb forms into nouns, or distinct word forms involving identical affixes. Finally, there are homonyms that result from grammaticalization or degrammaticalization.

Marking-Reversals and Their Relevance for Prehistory: An Eastern Indonesian Case
Gregory Forth, 450

In languages of central Flores (eastern Indonesia), domestic goats are labeled with reflexes of the Proto‒Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) term for ‘deer’ (Cervus timorensis). At the same time, deer are named with the same lexeme plus a modifier, being designated in effect as ‘forest goats’. This development is best explained as the product of a marking-reversal. Like most large mammals, both goats and deer were brought to Flores by humans, yet the present naming of goats with reflexes of a PMP term for deer indicates that deer were introduced before goats. While some zooarchaeological evidence suggests deer were first brought to Flores by Europeans in the sixteenth century, other evidence indicates the presence of goats on the neighboring island of Timor for a very much longer period. In this way, particulars of Flores animal nomenclature inform a discussion of the faunal prehistory of the region.

On the Grammaticalization of the Kavalan SAY Verb zin
Fuhui Hsieh, 464

SAY verbs cross-linguistically have been widely reported to undergo certain grammaticalization processes and to be used as quotative markers, complementizers, evidential markers, and discourse markers. The main purpose of this study is to investigate the grammaticalization of the SAY verb zin in Kavalan, a highly endangered Austronesian language spoken on the eastern coast of Taiwan. It is shown that the Kavalan SAY verb zin has undergone the process of grammaticalization and come to be used as a semicomplementizer and stance marker. It is proposed that zin has undergone two pathways of grammaticalization and that there are two different forces underlying these two pathways. On the one hand, the mechanism of morphosyntactic reanalysis leads zin to be grammaticalized as a semicomplementizer. On the other hand, it is the forces of (inter)subjectification that lead zin to be open to being reinterpreted as a stance marker.

The Central Luzon Group of Languages
Ronald S. Himes, 490

The Central Luzon microgroup of Philippine languages is composed of Kapampangan, Sinauna, the three major dialects of Sambal, and the Ayta languages spoken in and around the Zambales Mountains in Zambales, Pampanga, and Bataan provinces. A defining phonological feature of this group is the regular /y/ reflex of Proto‒Malayo-Polynesian *R. The languages and dialects in question also share similar pronoun sets and a number of lexical and other innovations. The Northern Mangyan and Bashiic languages also reflect *R as /y/. The former group probably clusters with Central Luzon, but the Bashiic languages lack substantial sharing of innovative items with Central Luzon.

The Proto‒Malayo-Polynesian Multiplicative Ligature *ŋa: A Reply to Reid
Robert Blust, 538

In seeking a plausible morphological source for the “intrusive velar nasal” of Palauan, Reid has argued that the multiplicative ligature *ŋa posited by Blust is invalid, and that the shape of this morpheme in Proto‒Malayo-Polynesian vowel-final numerals from ‘20’ to ‘90’ was *=m, from earlier *na. However, evidence extending from the northern Philippines to eastern Polynesia supports *ŋa, and shows that Reid has confused two distinct morphemes, the attributive ligature *na, and the multiplicative ligature *ŋa. His further attempts to account for the nonetymological velar nasal of Palauan from an independent ligature *ŋ that ultimately reflects *na are unconvincing because they appeal to ad hoc sound changes, because they are largely a prioristic statements of possibility rather than controlled efforts to track evidence in a single language, and because Palauan has a regular reflex of *na in the form of the ligature əl, which closely matches the functions of Tagalog na and the similar attributive ligature in other Philippine-type languages.

Structural Parallels between Vaeakau-Taumako and the Vanuatu Outliers: Capell Revisited
Åshild Næss, 567

This paper examines a set of structural parallels between Vaeakau-Taumako (Pileni), a Polynesian Outlier spoken in Temotu Province in the Solomon Islands, and the Vanuatu Outliers Emae, Ifira-Mele, and Futuna-Aniwa. It shows that these four languages share a set of structural features that is not, as a whole, shared by other known Polynesian languages; other languages may show one or two of the features under discussion, but not all four. It argues that the parallels are too detailed to be coincidental, and asks why it should be that just these four languages show such detailed similarities in structure. While it is not possible on the basis of the available data to decide whether the similarities should be assumed to result from shared origins or contact (or both), it is proposed that they may be seen as tentative support for the suggestion made by Bayard that the Vanuatu Outliers (and West Uvean) received their primary settlement from the Vaeakau-Taumako area, rather than directly from Triangle Polynesia.


Gunter Senft, ed. 2010. Endangered Austronesian and Australian Aboriginal Languages: Essays on language documentation, archiving and revitalization.
Daniel Kaufman, 589

Cynthia Schneider. 2010. A grammar of Abma: A language of Pentecost Island, Vanuatu.
Kilu von Prince, 597

Claire Moyse-Faurie and Joachim Sabel, eds. 2011. Topics in Oceanic morphosyntax.
Robert Early, 602

Foong Ha Yap, Karen Grunow-Hårsta, and Janick Wrona, eds. 2011. Nominalization in Asian languages: Diachronic and typological perspectives.
Elizabeth Zeitoun, 606


Index of Languages in Volume 51, 612