Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 54, no. 1 (2015)


Finiteness in Sundanese
Eri Kurniawan, William D. Davies, 1
The topic of finiteness is rarely broached in the closely related Indonesian-type languages, in which verbs have no morphological tense marking, nouns have no overt case marking, and there is only limited morphological agreement. As they are the typical morphological manifestations, the relevance of finiteness is difficult to discern. Sundanese is no exception to this. There is evidence, however, that finiteness is critical to the licensing of subjects in Sundanese. What distinguishes Sundanese from many other languages is that finiteness is covert rather than being overtly marked, just as has been proposed for Chinese, Lao, Slave, and others.

The Expression of Modality in Kanakanavu
Yi-Yang Cheng, Li-May Sung, 17
This study investigates the expression of modality in Kanakanavu, a critically endangered Formosan language spoken in southern Taiwan. We demonstrate that the language shows two independent systems of modality that are distinguished based on both semantic and formal properties. On the one hand, there are three modal expressions of possibility that semantically involve three paths of sense extension, and are morphosyntactically associated with three types of verb serialization. On the other hand, the language exhibits an epistemic-evidential system that involves four speaker-oriented adverbial expressions that occur in clause-initial position. We further show that there are variations among five Formosan languages concerning the sense extension of possibility expressions, and that a unique case of necessity—anticipative necessity—is shared by Kanakanavu, Tsou, Mayrinax Atayal, and Seediq. Typologically, the modal system in Kanakanavu shows a lack of alignment between event modality and epistemic modality, the latter exhibiting a stronger bond with evidentiality. This observed phenomenon is in sharp contrast to commonly found European/English-type modal systems in which the event-epistemic overlap is prevalent.

The Position of Enggano within Austronesian
Owen Edwards, 54
Questions have been raised about the precise genetic affiliation of the Enggano language of the Barrier Islands, Sumatra. Such questions have been largely based on Enggano’s lexicon, which shows little trace of an Austronesian heritage. In this paper, I examine a wider range of evidence and show that Enggano is clearly an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Polynesian (MP) subgroup. This is achieved through the establishment of regular sound correspondences between Enggano and Proto–Malayo-Polynesian reconstructions in both the bound morphology and lexicon. I conclude by examining the possible relations of Enggano within MP and show that there is no good evidence of innovations shared between Enggano and any other MP language or subgroup. In the absence of such shared innovations, Enggano should be considered one of several primary branches of MP.

The Anim Languages of Southern New Guinea
Timothy Usher, Edgar Suter, 110
In this paper, we propose a new family of Papuan languages. The Anim languages are spread across the lowlands of south New Guinea on both sides of the border between Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian Province of Papua. They share a system of four genders that manifest themselves in adjective agreement and in the demonstratives. Two demonstratives can be reconstructed. The demonstrative *tV ‘that’ has the gender forms *te (masculine singular), *tu (feminine singular), *ti (plural masculine and feminine), *to/*ta (neuter 1), and *ti (neuter 2). We also reconstruct a singulative suffix and the pronominal object prefixes of the verb. Most Anim languages are only sparsely documented, and much of our data come from survey word lists. We present 44 sets of Anim lexical cognates, including both nouns and verbs. In combination with the fuller lexical evidence for the four subfamilies, this allows positing regular sound correspondences for 13 of the 17 Anim languages.

Perceptual Metathesis in Tsou: A Reanalysis of Segment Transposition in Voice Paradigms
Gujing Lin, 143
In Tsou, a group of verb stems displays a peculiar ordering contrast in which a vowel + consonant sequence in ACTOR VOICE is transposed in the corresponding NONACTOR VOICE, as seen in the contrast of teʔsi ‘sew, ACTOR VOICE ’ vs. tʔes-a ‘sew, PATIENT VOICE ’ and tʔes-neni ‘sew, REFERENTIAL VOICE ’. This study argues that Tsou segment transposition can be viewed as an instance of perceptual metathesis, in which the long-durational cues of an underlying postvocalic consonant extend and affect the realization of the adjacent vowel, resulting in a reinterpretation of the acoustic effects as being caused by a prevocalic consonant. Through an exploration of the phonetic characteristics of the sounds involved and the context in which they appear, this study presents a unified treatment of three puzzling aspects of Tsou segment transposition: (i) transposing consonants are limited to laryngeals and palatal glides; (ii) the direction of the change appears ambiguous (VC > CV or CV > VC) due to the undetermined status of the underlying order; and (iii) the VC ~ CV alternation is confined to specific voice categories, which raises questions about whether the nature of the change is purely phonologically defined, or requires reference to specific morphosyntactic categories.

Distinguishing already from Perfect Aspect: A Case Study of Javanese wis
Jozina Vander Klok, Lisa Matthewson, 172
English already and the perfect aspect are both acceptable in many of the same environments. For example, both can express the recent past, an experiential reading, or a result. In investigating the semantics of a marker with these properties in an understudied language, it is easy to categorize such a marker as either notion. The auxiliary wis in Javanese (Western Malayo-Polynesian) is a case in point: different grammars, typological studies, dissertations, and journal articles on Javanese have glossed wis as expressing already, a (present) perfect, a past tense, or a perfective. However, the semantics of Javanese wis has not been formally studied. In this paper, we first identify several cross-linguistic properties that distinguish already from the perfect aspect. Using these diagnostics, we then propose that Javanese wis cannot be analyzed as a perfect aspect. Instead, wis is a focus operator that presupposes that the focus is a maximal element among a set of ordered alternatives, following Krifka’s recent analysis of English already.

Directional Constructions in Matukar Panau
Danielle Barth, Gregory D. S. Anderson, 206
Matukar Panau has a multilayered system of directional constructions, with a set of directional morphemes used in simple clauses, as directional suffixes, in clause chains, and in core serial verb constructions. This paper describes these constructions and compares the construction inventory to those found in other languages in the Bel family, showing similarities but also showing innovation in Matukar Panau. This paper also posits the path of development that would lead to the current system of multiple, redundant expressions of direction. Based on the comparative data, it is argued that Matukar Panau, and other related Bel languages, must have had a period of nuclear serial verb constructions to result in the current system of structures.

Differential Case in Yalaku
Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, 240
Yalaku, a previously undescribed Ndu language from the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea, has two core cases (nominative and accusative) and four oblique clausal cases (locative-instrumental, allative, dative, and specific locative). The comitative case is used for marking an oblique within a clause, or as a marker of linkage within a noun phrase. In addition to Differential Object Marking, the choice of every core case and most oblique cases has pragmatic overtones. A further additional case-marking system is used if a core argument or an oblique argument is in focus (termed Highlighted Participant case). This principle, similar to that of differential object and subject marking in other languages, extends to the expression of possessor in possessive constructions. The coexistence of two independent systems of Differential Case Marking (based on different parameters) makes Yalaku typologically unusual. The appendix shows how language contact between Yalaku and the neighboring (and unrelated) Kwoma may have played a role in the development of Highlighted Participant case in Yalaku.

Voice at the Crossroads: Symmetrical Clause Alternations in Äiwoo, Reef Islands, Solomon Islands
Åshild Næss, 207
This paper argues that the Äiwoo language of the Reef Islands shows what could be characterized as a symmetrical voice system with three voices: an actor voice, an undergoer voice, and a circumstantial voice. Although it differs from better-described symmetrical voice systems in lacking a syntactic pivot, the overall pattern of morphosyntactic alternations, as well as the discourse-pragmatic function, is essentially that of a symmetrical voice system. Moreover, the Äiwoo system combines the syntactic characteristics of a “Philippine-type” symmetrical voice system with the morphological characteristics of an “Indonesian-type” system in a way that appears to be unusual.

This analysis, while confirming the status of the Reefs-Santa Cruz language group to which Äiwoo belongs as Austronesian, raises doubts about their current classification as Oceanic, since the symmetrical voice system of Proto-Austronesian is usually assumed to have been lost by the time of Proto-Oceanic. Alternatively, the analysis may be taken to imply that current reconstructions of Proto-Oceanic morphosyntax must be revised. Overall, it adds to the complex picture of voice and transitivity-related systems in Austronesian languages, and to the challenges involved in understanding their historical relationships.


“Vowel Length in Niuean” and Déjà Vu
Albert J. Schütz, 308


Ibatan to English dictionary, with English, Filipino, Ilokano, Ivatan indices by Judith Y. M. Maree and Orland R. Tomas
Reviewed by Lawrence A. Reid, 311

A bibliography of the languages of Borneo (and Madagascar) by Robert Blust and Alexander D. Smith
Reviewed by Michael Boutin and Wa ode Nahla Nurhidayah, 317

Fijian Reference Grammar by Albert J. Schütz
Reviewed by Raúl Aranovich, 323

A grammar of Klon: A non-Austronesian language of Alor, Indonesia by Louise Baird
Reviewed by Laura C. Robinson, 328