Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 48, no. 2 (2009)


Palauan Historical Phonology: Whence the Intrusive Velar Nasal?
Robert Blust, 307

One of the more striking features in the historical phonology of Palauan is the addition of a velar nasal before word-initial vowels. Because final vowels were unstressed, and almost always disappeared, it is difficult to determine whether a velar nasal would also have been added after final vowels had they been retained. However, a number of loanwords, mostly from Spanish and English, show the addition of a velar nasal after word-final vowels. The change in native vocabulary is exceptionless, while that in loanwords is irregular. Moreover, the two changes appear to be historically disconnected, yet they suggest a common canonical target that persisted over many generations of speakers.

A Peircian Approach to Hiligaynon Causatives
Ryan Corradini, 337

The morphological function of causation in Austronesian languages is deceptively complex. From both a semantic as well as a syntactic point of view, pa-affixation affects verbal roots differently from nonverbal roots. Moreover, the semantic, syntactic, and morphological restrictions evident in the formation
of causative verbs employed in languages of the region seem arbitrary at first examination—indeed, linguists have historically deferred to pragmatics to sort out the distinctions of meaning for various constructions. However, a novel application of the early twentieth-century philosophy of C. S. Peirce (1839–1914) can be shown to successfully account for these variations. This paper outlines the basics of this Peircian grammar, and uses it as the basis for a discussion of the various functions of the morphological causative pa- in the central Philippine language of Hiligaynon. While brief, this treatment could easily extend to other derivational processes in the language, as well as other languages in the larger Austronesian family.

Possessive Nominalization in Kove
Hiroko Sato, 346

Kove, an Oceanic language of Papua New Guinea, has both direct and indirect possessive constructions. Indirect possession is expressed with two different possessive markers, a and le, depending upon the relation between the possessor and the possessee. These morphemes mark a distinction between active and passive possession. Active possession, where a possessor is the agent in the
event or the notional subject of a nominalized verb, is expressed by le-type, while passive possession, where a possessor is the patient in the event or the notional direct object of a nominalized verb, is expressed by a. The le-type and the a-type markers cannot stand next to one another. However, they can cooccur at different structural levels if the erstwhile direct object is a lexical noun phrase, and the le-type marker has in its scope the possessive construction that contains the a-type marker.

Existential Constructions in Isbukun Bunun
Hsiao-hung Iris Wu, 364

This paper has two main goals. First, I demonstrate how the peculiar morphosyntactic properties of the theme NPs in Isbukun Bunun existential sentences can be derived under an expletive account. The properties under investigation include structural Case marking, the emergence of definiteness restrictions, and the resistance of theme NPs to Ᾱ-extraction. Second, I argue for a small clause analysis of existential sentences in Isbukun Bunun. In particular, based on word orders, island effects, the comparison with possessive constructions, and the coordination facts, I argue that the existential predicate in Isbukun Bunun selects a small clause as its sole internal argument. I also discuss how the proposal developed for Isbukun Bunun might generalize to, and shed light on, the impersonal constructions in natural languages.

Oceanic Possessive Classifiers
Frantisek Lichtenberk, 379

In their article “Heads in Oceanic Indirect Possession,” published in this journal in 2007, Palmer and Brown make two main claims. First, they argue that the elements that have been analyzed in the recent literature as possessive classifiers are, in at least some Oceanic languages, directly possessed nouns. And second, they argue that these nouns are the heads of indirect possessive constructions. The present study critically reviews their evidence and concludes that (i) there is evidence against analyzing those elements as nouns; and (ii) there is no convincing evidence that those elements are heads. The elements in question form a category of their own, for which the designation “possessive classifiers” is appropriate.

Maranao Revisited: An Overlooked Consonant Contrast and its Implications for Lexicography and Grammar
Jason William Lobel and Labi Hadji Sarip Riwarung, 403

This paper revisits Maranao, a Philippine language spoken on the island of Mindanao. In spite of its being the object of foreign inquiry for nearly a century, major errors have persisted in the analysis of its phonology and verb system. However, several now-deceased Muslim Maranao scholars unknowingly deciphered their language’s phoneme system in the early 1970s in the process of trying to develop a more ideal orthography than had previously been in use. This breakthrough, unnoticed by linguists until now, allows for revision of the phonological analysis and for a better understanding of its historical development. In turn, such a revision is a prerequisite to the analysis of the morphophonemically complex verbal system, which by its nature cannot be properly analyzed unless based on a clear understanding of the language’s phonological system. Finally, by examining the shortcomings of the nearly one hundred years of studies of the Maranao language, linguists can learn many lessons that, hopefully, will help them avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

Adverbial Verbs and Adverbial Compounds in Tsou: A Syntactic Analysis
Henry Y. Chang, 439

The aim of this paper is twofold. On the one hand, it gives a systematic description of adverbials in Tsou. On the other, it illustrates how adverbials are syntactically represented and derived in Tsou. Two types of adverbial constructions can be identified. In one type, adverbials are realized as adverbial verbs and situated between a temporal/modal auxiliary and a lexical verb, and they take the prefixes a-/i’-. In the other type, adverbials occur as bound roots and combine with an event-denoting lexical prefix, yielding an adverbial compound. It is argued that adverbial verbs are generated as functional heads above Voice/vP, whereas adverbial compounds are generated as lexical heads under Voice/vP. This analysis accounts for a number of otherwise puzzling asymmetries, including the following: (i) an adverbial compound can stand alone and take nominal arguments but an adverbial verb cannot; (ii) an adverbial compound can be marked for Locative Voice and Referential Voice but an adverbial verb cannot; (iii) the root of an adverbial compound is restricted to event adverbials, but the root of an adverbial verb is free from this restriction; (iv) the prefix of an adverbial compound can be voice-marked, but the prefix of an adverbial verb is invariant; and (v) adverbial verbs must precede adverbial compounds, not the other way around.


Low Vowel Dissimilation Outside of Oceanic: The Case of Alamblak
Juliette Blevins, 477

Alamblak is the easternmost of the Sepik Hill languages spoken in East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. Alamblak phonology (Bruce 1984) includes an alternation involving low vowel dissimilation, a process that, until recently, appeared to be limited to Oceanic languages (Blust 1996a, 1996b, Lynch 2003). Finding a parallel sound pattern in a non-Austronesian language of New Guinea allows several questions raised by Blust (1996b) to be answered. However, phonetic motivation for this recurrent sound change remains unclear.

Labiodental ɱ in Drubea
John Hajek, 484

While labiodental [ɱ] occurs frequently across the world’s languages as a predictable nasal allophone before labiodental fricatives [f] and [v], a new source for the same segment not previously reported elsewhere is described here. In Drubea, it arises through nasal spreading from a nasal vowel to a preceding oral fricative. While partly assimilatory in nature, we see that it is also partially dissimilatory in effect with greater segmental consequences than usually associated with the appearance of [ɱ] in the world’s languages.


In Memoriam, Isidore Dyen, 1913–2008
Robert Blust, 488


Ross Clark. 2009. *Leo tuai: A comparative lexical study of North and Central Vanuatu languages.
Reviewed by John Lynch, 509

Josiane Cauquelin. 2008. Ritual texts of the last traditional practitioners of Nanwang Puyuma.
Reviewed by Raleigh Ferrell, 514

Malcolm Ross, Andrew Pawley, and Meredith Osmond, eds. 2008. The lexicon of Proto Oceanic: The culture and environment of ancestral Oceanic society.
Reviewed by Mark Merlin, 518

Hans-Martin Gärtner, Paul Law, and Joachim Sabel, eds. 2006. Clause structure and adjuncts in Austronesian languages.
Reviewed by Maria Polinsky, 522

Bill Palmer. 2009. Kokota Grammar.
Reviewed by Bethwyn Evans, 532


Index of Languages in Volume 48, 539

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