Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 53, no. 2 (2014)


Complex Noun Phrases and Formal Licensing in Isbukun Bunun
Hsiao-hung Iris Wu, 207

This paper investigates the syntactic status of nominal modifiers in Isbukun Bunun, an Austronesian language spoken in Taiwan. In Isbukun Bunun, nominal modifiers such as possessors, adjectives, demonstratives, and relative clauses precede the head noun they modify, and they may or must be linked to the head noun by an associative marker tu. Based on the observed NP-ellipsis facts and the formal licensing condition, I argue that the associative marker tu is a complementizer, and the structure it introduces should be accommodated under the adjunction analysis, whereas various existing alternative complementation approaches that view tu as a head selecting the modified phrase as its complement fail to capture the noted properties regarding ellipsis.

Positional Verbs in Nen
Nicholas Evans, 225

In this paper, I lay out the workings of the rather unusual system of positional verbs found in Nen, a language of the Morehead-Maro family in Morehead district, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. Nen is unusual in its lexicalization patterns: it has very few verbs that are intransitive, with most verbs that tend to be intransitive cross-linguistically realized as morphologically middle verbs, including ‘talk’, ‘work’, ‘descend’, and so on. Within the fifty attested morphologically intransitive verbs, forty-five comprise an interesting class of “positional verbs,” the subject of this paper; the others are ‘be’, its derivatives ‘come’ and ‘go’ (lit. ‘be hither’ and ‘be thither’), and ‘walk’. Positional verbs denote spatial positions and postures like ‘be sitting’, ‘be up high’, ‘be erected (of a building)’, ‘be open’, ‘be in a tree-fork’, ‘be at the end of something’.

Positional verbs differ from regular verbs in lacking infinitives, in possessing a special “stative” aspect inflection and an unusual system for building a four-way number system (building large plurals by combining singular and dual markers), and in participating in a productive three-way alternation between positional statives (like ‘be high’), placement transitives (like ‘put up high’), and get-into-position middles (like ‘get into a high position’). The latter two types are more like normal verbs (for example, they possess infinitives and participate in the normal TAM series), but they are formally derived from the positionals.

The paper concludes by situating the Nen system regionally and typologically. Similar systems are found in related languages, but with the exception of the Eastern Torres Strait language Meriam Mer, no comparable system has been reported anywhere in New Guinea—the “classificatory verbs” known from languages like Ku Waru are quite different, serving primarily to classify objects rather than to give spatial dispositions. On the other hand, rather similar systems are found in some parts of Meso-America and the Amazon.

Eastern Polynesian: The Linguistic Evidence Revisited
Mary Walworth, 256

For the past fifty years, historical linguistics and archaeology have provided seemingly mutually corroboratory evidence for the settlement of east Polynesia. However, more recent findings in archaeology have shifted this relationship out of balance, calling previous conclusions into question. This paper first reviews the generally accepted archaeological and linguistic theories of east Polynesia’s settlement, then describes the recent archaeological findings, highlighting the areas where the evidence from the two disciplines is now discordant. In sections four and five, I examine the linguistic data from Eastern Polynesian languages and propose a new, contact-based model for the region. The new linguistic model ultimately demonstrates that the settlement of east Polynesia and the development of the Eastern Polynesian languages occurred in one major period of dispersal, with subsequent spheres of contact among central Polynesian communities, producing the pattern of cultural and linguistic traits we see today.

Vowel Length in Niuean
Nicholas Rolle, Donna Starks, 273

At the surface level, Niuean has a three-way distinction between vowels of the same quality: short vowels, written as <a> ; double (or rearticulated) vowels, written as <aa> ; and long vowels, written as <ā>. While the Polynesian literature suggests that the distinction between long and double vowels is one based on stress assignment, little evidence has been presented to support such a claim for Niuean. This paper presents a series of arguments on how best to understand the status of Niuean vowels. We argue that double and long vowels are reducible to an underlying sequence of two identical short vowels and support this analysis with two main pieces of evidence: a corpus of words in Sperlich’s dictionary of Niuean show long vowels and double vowels to be in complementary distribution; and phonetic analyses of Niuean words suggest that the phonetic difference between long and double vowels can best be captured in terms of pitch height rather than duration, a main correlate of stress.

Some Recent Proposals Concerning the Classification of the Austronesian Languages
Robert Blust, 300

The comparative method is a relatively well-defined tool that has been employed successfully in the classification of languages for two centuries. In recent years, there have been several proposals about the classification of the Austronesian languages that violate basic principles of method. Because some of these have been advanced by scholars who are well established in other branches of linguistics, they have acquired an influence that is out of proportion to their scientific merit. This paper addresses three of these proposals: the Austronesian-Ongan hypothesis of Juliette Blevins, the Quechua-Austronesian hypothesis of E. M. Kempler-Cohen, and the higher phylogeny of Austronesian and the position of Tai-Kadai by Laurent Sagart. By carefully delimiting the analytic operations that belong to the comparative method and those that do not, it is shown that each of these scholars makes use of illicit operations to justify inferences about the classification of Austronesian languages, whether this involves claims about relationships that are external to the family or internal to it.

Pukapukan and the NO-EPn Hypothesis: Extensive Late Borrowing by Pukapukan
William H. Wilson, 392

That East Polynesian (EPn ) and the Northern Outliers (NO) subgroup together as NO-EPn within the larger Nuclear Polynesian (NPn ) subgroup is supported with 73 shared innovations given in an earlier publication by Wilson, and 130 newly identified shared innovations in this paper. The major challenge to the NO-EPn hypothesis is a proposal that Pukapukan and EPn form a unique P-EPn subgroup, either apart from all other NPn languages or with the NO languages and possibly also Tuvaluan and Tokelauan. Closely related to this proposal is a hypothesis that Pukapuka (rather than the Central Northern Outliers) served as the “staging post” for the settlement of East Polynesia. The lexicon of Pukapukan includes both words directly inherited from Proto-Nuclear Polynesian (PNPn ) and words indirectly inherited from PNPn through borrowing from EPn languages. Here I investigate whether any innovations shared uniquely by Pukapukan and EPn (or NO-EPn ) are directly inherited. The absence of such directly inherited innovations indicates that there is no unique P-EPn subgroup. Instead, quite late in the history of EPn , a Tokelauan-like Pukapukan borrowed heavily from EPn languages of the Tahitic subgroup, with some additional borrowings from languages spoken on Tikopia and other nearby Outliers.

Gradual Epenthesis: Echo Vowels in Austronesian Languages
Kuo-Chiao Lin, 443

Couched in Harmonic Serialism, this paper uses as examples echo vowel epenthesis in four Austronesian languages—Budai Rukai, Maga Rukai, Selayarese, and Rarotongan—to demonstrate that epenthesis, like many other phonological phenomena, involves gradual, harmonically improving derivations. This paper also draws a comparison with parallel Optimality Theory to show that Harmonic Serialism is a more satisfactory theory of vowel epenthesis in terms of typological prediction.

The Nature and Underlying Representations of Long Vowels and Diphthongs in Fataluku
Tyler Heston, 467

Fataluku is an underdocumented Papuan language spoken by approximately 37,000 individuals in East Timor, a nation in island Southeast Asia. After providing some background information on the phonology of Fataluku, this paper discusses the presence and phonological representations of surface long vowels and diphthongs. The evidence shows that vowel length is indeed contrastive, but both long vowels and diphthongs are represented underlyingly as sequences of vowels rather than as true unit phonemes.

Malagasy Personal Pronouns: A Lexical History

Alexander Adelaar, Kikusawa Ritsuko, 480

This paper traces the history of pronouns in various regional forms of Malagasy and proposes a reconstruction of Proto-Malagasy pronouns. Four sets of pronouns are reconstructed for Proto-Malagasy: a default nominative set marked with Ø, a topicalized nominative set in which 1st person pronouns are marked with a form *i, a genitive set marked with *=n-, and an oblique set marked with *an=. The development of some pronouns is shown to provide clues for the internal classification of Malagasy varieties. The Proto-Malagasy pronouns are also compared with external references and higher-order reconstructions, namely pronouns from the closely related Southeast Barito languages in Borneo and Proto–Malayo-Polynesian. Finally, an attempt is made to reconstruct Proto-Southeast Barito pronouns.


Comparative grammar and typology: Essays on the historical grammar of the Austronesian languages by Alain Lemaréchal
Reviewed by William A. Foley, 517

The lexicon of Proto Oceanic: The culture and environment of ancestral Oceanic society ed by Malcolm Ross, Andrew Pawley, and Meredith Osmond
Reviewed by Paul Geraghty, 524

A grammar of Balantak: A language of Eastern Sulawesi by René van den Berg and Robert L. Busenitz
Reviewed by Alexander Adelaar, 528

Mato grammar sketch by Scot F. Stober
Reviewed by Frantisek Lichtenberk, 536

Index of Languages in Volume 53