Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 45, no. 2 (2006)


269, Bound Nominal Elements in Äiwoo (Reefs): A Reappraisal of the “Multiple Noun Class Systems”
Åshild Næss

The little-described Reefs-Santa Cruz (RSC) languages are usually assumed to be of mixed Papuan-Austronesian origin, though attempts at linking them systematically either to known Papuan or Austronesian languages have yielded meager results. One of the main arguments in the literature for the presence of “Papuan structures” in the RSC languages has been the claim that the languages have complex systems of noun classes, described in any detail only for the largest RSC language, Reefs or Äiwoo. This paper examines the claim that Äiwoo has one or more noun class systems, based on fieldwork material. It draws two main conclusions: First, the phenomena in question cannot be felicitously analyzed as noun classes in the usual sense of the term, and bear no obvious resemblance to the Papuan-style gender systems to which they have been compared. Rather, they are bound nominal elements of which some have a mainly nominalizing function, whereas others show characteristic properties of classifiers or class terms. Second, there is little or no evidence that the presence of these elements in the language indicates a non-Austronesian origin or influence. On the contrary, the classifier or class-term system, in fact, has obvious parallels in a number of Oceanic languages of Vanuatu. While this does not entail any conclusions about the genetic status of Äiwoo, or of RSC in general, it is clear that the so-called noun classes do not constitute evidence of a Papuan link.

297, The Benefactive Construction in South Efate
Nick Thieberger

The benefactive construction in South Efate employs a prepositional phrase in the position immediately preceding the main verb. This position facilitates the expression of an additional participant in a sentence without competing for slots held by other participants (core arguments or adjuncts). Possessive morphology encoding the benefactive has been noted for other Oceanic languages, with distinct word-order marking a final stage of grammaticalization of the benefactive. While South Efate shares features with southern Vanuatu languages, it is shown that a preverbal benefactive is an areal feature of several languages to the north of South Efate, potentially supporting South Efate’s position in the Central Vanuatu subgroup.

311, The Origin of the Kelabit Voiced Aspirates: A Historical Hypothesis Revisited
Robert Blust

Kelabit, an Austronesian language spoken in northern Sarawak, has a typologically rare series of true voice aspirates. Contrary to claims in the general phonetics literature, these segments cannot be analyzed as consonant clusters. In earlier publications such as Blust (1969, 1974a,b), the origin of the Kelabit voiced aspirates was attributed to ancestral clusters of voiced obstruent + sibilant that arose from syncope in the reflexes of PAn *bVS, *dVS, *jVS, *zVS, and *gVS. This hypothesis required the expansion of a number of Proto-Austronesian reconstructions through the addition of a vowel after *S, or the addition of a syllable with *S, as in PAn *tebuSu > Proto–North Sarawak *təbSu > Kelabit təbhuh (for earlier PAn *tebuS) ‘sugarcane’, *qapejuSu > Proto–North Sarawak *pədSu > Kelabit pədhuh (for earlier PAn *qapeju) ‘gall (bladder)’, or PMP *ijuSuŋ > Proto–North Sarawak *idSuŋ > Kelabit idh (for earlier *ijuŋ) ‘nose’. Problems with this analysis were pointed out by other scholars, but the alternatives that they proposed were not entirely satisfactory. Some aspects of these alternative proposals, together with additional observations, have now led to a new analysis, in which Kelabit bh, dh, gh, and the historically related segments in other North Sarawak languages are derived from earlier voiced geminates.

339, The Semantics and Pragmatics of Irrealis Mood in Nyulnyulan Languages
William B. McGregor and Tamsin Wagner

The languages of the small Nyulnyulan family of the far northwest of Western Australia all exhibit a grammatical category traditionally dubbed irrealis. In this paper we describe the grammatical expression of this category, and its range of meanings and uses. It is argued that these can be accounted for as contextual senses or pragmatic inferences based on a single encoded core meaning, that the referent situation is construed by the speaker as unrealized. This semantic component remains invariant across all uses of the category, and is not defeasible. Contra claims by some investigators, the realis-irrealis mood contrast is fundamental, and encapsulates a viable conceptual contrast between real and unreal events; epistemic and deontic notions of probability, necessity, desirability, and the like are secondary pragmatic inferences. The irrealis is thus a modal category that can grammaticalize in human languages; indeed, it is a communicatively useful category. We explicate the nature of the conceptual contrast between the construed real and unreal. It is further argued that the notion of scope is essential to an understanding of the irrealis, and its interaction with other mode-like categories. Finally, we situate the Nyulnyulan irrealis in the wider cross-linguistic context of irrealis.

380, Numeral Classifiers and Counting Systems in Polynesian and Micronesian Languages: Common Roots and Cultural Adaptations
Andrea Bender and Sieghard Beller

Polynesian and Micronesian languages inherited a decimal number system from Proto-Oceanic, and individually extended it on one or more dimensions: in length by adding terms for larger numbers, in breadth by specifying numeral classifiers for certain objects (prevailing in Micronesia), and in factor by introducing a larger counting unit (prevailing in Polynesia). Specific counting systems are characterized by a combination of these features: They are based on larger counting units (multiplication function) and apply to certain objects only (object specificity). This paper surveys the distribution of each extension type in Polynesian and Micronesian number systems, characterizes the features that they share, and analyzes the constitutive role that numeral classifiers play for specific counting systems. It is concluded that in most of these languages, number systems are composed according to similar principles, while the divergence in classifiers, objects of reference, and factors chosen results from cultural adaptations, some of which might have been responses to socioeconomic requirements and served purposes of cognitive facilitation.

404, On the Multifunctionality of Compound Prepositions in Indonesian
Dwi Novirini Djenar

This paper examines the assumption that the function of compound prepositions in Indonesian (e.g., di atas ‘on top of’, ke dalam ‘into’) is to add specificity. It is argued that, although compounds indeed serve this semantic function, they are not limited to it. Based on a study of a corpus of spoken and written Indonesian, it is shown that in many instances compounds do not add any semantic information other than what is expressible by their simple form counterparts. Compounds may be used simply to render explicit what is inferable from general knowledge. It is further argued that compounds are a marked category. Their distribution tends to be correlated with medium and type of discourse. In addition, as the more explicit or marked member of the simple/compound opposition, compounds serve a similar anaphoric function to full NPs. They can be considered as nonnominal markers that track locations and serve a number of other discourse functions, which include confirming a previously mentioned location, adding an affective dimension to an utterance, and marking discourse transitions. Compounds are therefore claimed to be multifunctional; and while in some instances either the semantic or pragmatic function predominates, in other instances both functions interact to produce the desired interpretation.

429, Niuean and Eastern Polynesian: A View from Syntax
Yuko Otsuka

While the Tongic subgroup of Polynesian, consisting of Niuean and Tongan, is defined by a number of shared innovations, Niuean is known to exhibit phonological and lexical features that can be taken as evidence of Eastern Polynesian (EPn) influence. Niuean also shows syntactic features that are prominent among EPn languages, but absent in Tongan. This paper examines whether these syntactic features can be taken to be shared innovations and hence constitute a basis for a subgroup including EPn and Niuean. The current study suggests that convergent development is the probable explanation for the syntactic similarities between Niuean and EPn.

457, On the Origin of Philippine Vowel Grades
Lawrence A. Reid

The concept of vowel grade by which morphological features in some Indo-European languages are signaled by change in the quality of the vowel of a given form has long been recognized. More recently, the term has also been applied to the variation in vowels that occur in some case-marking prepositional forms in Austronesian languages. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate some of the processes by which vowel grades developed in some Philippine languages. These processes include what has been referred to elsewhere as vowel-grade harmony, an assimilatory process by which the vowel of one case-marking preposition copies that of another. Noun phrases in many Philippine languages are commonly described as being introduced by “phrase markers” that specify certain syntactic and semantic features of the noun phrase they introduce. These are typically unstressed clitic forms having a CV or CVC shape. However, the quality of the vowel varies from language to language. Thus, in Ivatan, the forms that introduce common noun phrases all have an u vowel, while those that introduce personal noun phrases all have an i vowel; in Tagalog the forms that introduce common noun phrases all have an a vowel, while those that introduce personal noun phrases all have an i vowel, like Ivatan. Recognizing that the similarity in vowel quality of “phrase markers” in these languages is commonly the result of vowel-grade harmony and not necessarily the result of regular phonological change provides an explanation for the multiple irregularities that are found in attempting to reconstruct the protoforms of “phrase markers.”

474, The Pronoun System in Galeya: Arguments against a Clitic Analysis
Fumiko S. Yamada

There are two types of pronominal elements for marking subject and object in Galeya (an Oceanic language spoken on Fergusson Island, Papua New Guinea): those that occur independently (full pronouns), and those that must be attached to verbs. As the latter show characteristics shared by both pronouns and agreement affixes, they can be considered to be pronominal clitics. Although the distinction between pronominal clitics and agreement affixes has not always been made explicitly in previous studies of Oceanic languages, it is important for the analysis of the sentence structure of Galeya, in which both types of pronominal elements are present. If we assume that one type of pronominal element is an independent pronoun and the other is an agreement affix, the former should be an argument. If, on the other hand, we take the former to be an independent pronoun and the latter a pronominal clitic, the clitic is taken to be an argument and the independent pronoun an adjunct. By applying certain tests, it is determined that the subject and object markers attached to verbs are grammatical agreement affixes rather than pronominal clitics. This analysis leads us to the conclusion that the word order in Galeya is SOV, the same pattern as is found in neighboring languages.

491, In Memoriam, Per Hage, 1935–2004
Jeff Marck


497, Some Observations on Proto-Austronesian *t to k
Anthony P. Grant


501, I Wayan Arka and Malcolm Ross, eds. 2005. The many faces of Austronesian voice systems: Some new empirical studies.
Reviewed by Norvin W. Richards

505, John Lynch, ed. 2003. Issues in Austronesian Historical Phonology.
Reviewed by R. David Zorc


517, Index of Languages in Volume 45


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