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Linguistics Austronesian Linguistics
by
Alexander Adelaar

Introduction

Austronesian linguistics is the linguistic study of languages belonging to the Austronesian language family. The more than 1,200 Austronesian languages occupy a vast area. Traditionally, they are spoken in the Pacific in the area bounded by Hawai’i in the northeast, Taiwan in the northwest, Easter Island in the southeast, New Zealand in the southwest, and Wallis Island in the south. In Southeast Asia they are spoken in the Philippines; in Brunei Darussalam; and in most parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and East Timor. Minorities speaking Austronesian languages are also found in some regions in Vietnam, Kampuchea, southern Thailand, and coastal South Burma. Much further to the west, speakers of Austronesian languages are found in Madagascar, along the East African coast. Australian languages, the Austro-Asiatic (Orang Asli) languages in the Malay peninsula, and the Papuan languages in and around New Guinea do not belong to the Austronesian language family. Genetically, the Austronesian language family has several primary branches. Most of these consist of only one or several of the twenty or so Austronesian languages of Taiwan (the so-called Formosan languages). Only one branch, Malayo-Polynesian, includes all other Austronesian languages. Historically, the Austronesian language family is commonly believed to have originated in Taiwan, from whence its members spread to other parts of Southeast Asia, to the Pacific, and to Madagascar (see Blust 2009, cited under Textbooks).

Textbooks

The study of Austronesian linguistics has been greatly facilitated in the early 21st century by the appearance of some fairly comprehensive textbooks. One of the more recent of these, Blust 2009, gives a solid overview of most fields of interest regarding Austronesian languages in general, with a slight bias toward historical linguistics. Adelaar and Himmelmann 2011 and Lynch, et al. 2002 also have historical information but are more typologically oriented and cover complementary parts of the Austronesian-speaking region. Lynch 1998 is also limited in geographical scope, aiming at a wide readership and including Papuan languages.

  • Adelaar, Alexander, and Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, eds. 2011. The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar. 2d ed. Routledge Language Family Series. London: Routledge.

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    A basic reference work and introduction to Austronesian languages outside the Pacific, emphasizing typological diversity.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 2009. The Austronesian languages. Pacific Linguistics 32. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A basic reference work and introduction, treating the main aspects of synchronic linguistics (sound systems, lexicon, morphology, syntax) and historical linguistics (classification, sound change, reconstruction, culture history). It also gives information on the geography, demography, ecology, and sociolinguistics of Austronesian languages.

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  • Lynch, John. 1998. Pacific languages: An introduction. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i.

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    An elementary introduction for a wide readership to the Austronesian and non-Austronesian languages in the Pacific.

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  • Lynch, John, Malcolm Ross, and Terry Crowley. 2002. The Oceanic languages. Richmond, UK: Curzon.

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    A basic reference work and introduction to Austronesian languages in the Pacific, emphasizing typological diversity.

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Reference Works

Except for Krupa 1982, the publications in this section are not limited to Austronesian languages but contain a wealth of easily accessible information concerning them. They are in fact indispensable for general orientation and as points of reference. Brown 2006 and Lewis 2009 have the world’s languages in their scope. Wurm and Hattori 1981 and Wurm and Hattori 1983 constitute a two-volume atlas of Pacific languages. Wurm, et al. 1996 is an atlas with a wider geographic scope, focusing on contact languages. Both works contain extensive background information and useful references. Krupa 1982 is a compact guidebook to the relatively homogeneous group of Polynesian languages.

Bibliographies

Many Austronesian-speaking regions lack adequate and up-to-date bibliographies. Blust 2009 (cited under Textbooks) discusses various bibliographies dedicated to Austronesian languages. That information will not be repeated here but should be consulted in conjunction with the present sources, which complement it. Some of these sources are literature reviews rather than bibliographies, but their inclusion is motivated by the dearth of bibliographical information, especially for regions such as East Timor and Madagascar. Readers are also referred to Lynch, et al. 2002 (cited under Textbooks) and to individual chapters in Adelaar and Himmelmann 2011 (also cited under Textbooks) for up-to-date bibliographic information about various individual Austronesian languages.

Formosan Languages

Li 1992 is reasonably complete up to the early 1990s; it is complemented by Li 1995 and Li 2001 up to 2001. Tsuchida 2001 focuses on Japanese publications and a few references not mentioned elsewhere.

  • Li, Paul Jen-kuei. 1992. The internal and external relationships of the Formosan languages. Taipei: National Museum of Prehistory Planning Bureau.

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    The bibliographic information in this source is reasonably complete up to the early 1990s.

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  • Li, Paul Jen-kuei. 1995. The present state and prospects for research on Formosan Aboriginal languages. In Papers from the First Symposium on Taiwan Native Cultures, 229–246. Taipei: National Taiwan Normal Univ.

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    A literature survey complementing Li 1992, with references until 1995. In Chinese, but the reference list can still be consulted for European titles by readers who do not know Chinese.

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  • Li, Paul Jen-kuei. 2001. Formosan languages: The state of the art. In Austronesian Taiwan: Linguistics, history, ethnology, and prehistory. Edited by David Blundell, 45–67. Berkeley, CA: Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

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    A literature survey complementing Li 1992 and Li 1995, with references until 2001.

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  • Tsuchida, Shigeru. 2001. Japanese contribution to the linguistic studies of the Formosan indigenous languages. In Austronesian Taiwan: Linguistics, history, ethnology, and prehistory. Edited by David Blundell, 68–94. Berkeley, CA: Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

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    Basically a survey of Japanese contributions until 2001. Overlaps with Li 1992, Li 1995, and Li 2001, but not entirely.

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Malagasy

Malagasy bibliographical information is particularly hard to obtain. References on Malagasy Language and Linguistics is the most extensive source, but it is not annotated. Dez 1988 and Rasoloson and Rubino 2005 are not bibliographies but have the advantage of directing the uninitiated reader to the most important literature. None of these sources is complete.

Other

Combrink, et al. 2008, Eldridge 1985, Hull 1998, and Reid 1981 cover specific areas. Polynesian Literature List is somewhat unstructured and can best be used in conjunction with the bibliographical data provided in Krupa 1982 (cited under Reference Works) and Lynch, et al. 2002 (cited under Textbooks). Reid 1981 is a valuable supplement to the various Philippine bibliographies discussed in Blust 2009 (cited under Textbooks). The Linguistic Bibliography Online and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) Bibliography are ongoing publications and include a wealth of information on Austronesian languages as part of a more general coverage.

Journals and Publication Series

The following journal and publication series are primary sources of Austronesian linguistics, although they also include other languages spoken in areas adjacent to the Austronesian region. Oceanic Linguistics, Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications, and Pacific Linguistics have the languages of insular Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and Australia in their scope. Pusat Bahasa publishes only on the languages of Indonesia. The series PALI Language Texts is mainly concerned with Micronesian languages. There are various other sources for publications on Austronesian linguistics, but these do not focus in particular on Austronesian languages or on linguistics (see Blust 2009, cited under Textbooks, for an overview).

Mailing Lists

An-lang serves those interested in the entire Austronesian linguistic field, and SEALANG-L serves those interested in languages of Southeast Asia. Many other lists are limited to individual languages or particular thematic areas of interest and are not cited here.

Sourcebooks and Databases

The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database contains word lists for 797 languages. (Databases involving etymological reconstructions are listed under Etymological Sources.) It was created to facilitate a study of the Austronesian past, combining lexical data with biological phylogenetic methodology. Greenhill, et al. 2008 is an explanation of this methodology and the purpose of this database. Ogawa and Asai 1935 is a sourcebook for Formosan languages; this monumental work has had a great impact on the development of Formosan linguistics. Tryon 1995 is a general sourcebook for Austronesian linguistics. Although somewhat uneven in its language descriptions, it provides easy access to many Austronesian languages and especially their basic vocabularies.

Synchronic Linguistics

Scholarly publications about Austronesian linguistics can generally be divided into synchronic and diachronic studies, although there are admittedly some publications that do not fit that division.

General Typology

The following publications are typological surveys of various areas within the Austronesian-speaking region. Lynch, et al. 2002 covers the Oceanic subgroup, whereas Himmelmann 2005 discusses the typological diversity in Austronesian languages outside the Pacific. Reid and Liao 2004 deals with languages in the Philippines, and Ross 2004 with Oceanic languages. Ross and Teng 2005 and Starosta 1988 focus on Formosan languages.

  • Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2005. The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar: Typological considerations. In The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar. Edited by Alexander Adelaar and Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, 110–181. London and New York: Routledge.

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    An excellent introduction to the typological diversity of Austronesian languages outside the Pacific. Applying a basic division into symmetrical voice languages and preposed possessor languages, the author gives a compact overview of features typifying Austronesian languages in general and of features diverging from the general pattern.

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  • Lynch, John, Malcolm Ross, and Terry Crowley. 2002. The Oceanic languages. Richmond, UK: Curzon.

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    Chapter 3 in this reference work provides a good typological overview of Oceanic languages.

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  • Reid, Lawrence A., and Hsiu-chuan Liao. 2004. A brief syntactic typology of Philippine languages. Language and Linguistics 4:140–158.

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    A concise and lucid overview of the similarities and differences between Philippine languages in their morphosyntactic makeup, proving the author’s point that the typological unity of these languages is a fallacy.

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  • Ross, Malcolm D. 2004. The morphosyntactic typology of Oceanic languages. Language and Linguistics 4:491–541.

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    A typological overview of the morphosyntax of Oceanic languages.

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  • Ross, Malcolm David, and Stacy Fang-Ching Teng. 2005. Formosan languages and linguistic typology. Language and Linguistics 6:739–781.

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    Many studies tend to cast a Philippine analytical framework on the morphosyntax of Formosan languages. Ross and Teng describe this morphosyntax in its own right, enabling a more differentiated view of the structures of these languages.

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  • Starosta, Stanley. 1988. A grammatical typology of Formosan languages. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology 59:541–576.

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    An early but still very useful first introduction to Formosan typology. Reprinted in Formosan Linguistics: Stanley Starosta’s Contributions, edited by Elizabeth Zeitoun (Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, 2009).

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Grammars

Reading grammars is an excellent way to get to know the languages of a certain genetic or typological group. Following are some exemplary grammars representing languages spoken in the Oceanic and non-Oceanic parts of the Austronesian region. They are selected on the basis of quality, thoroughness, and readability.

Oceanic

The selection of grammars in this section also tries to reflect the regional diversity of Oceanic languages. This diversity is especially pronounced in Vanuatu, where 104 of the 506 Oceanic languages are spoken. Bauer 1997 and Mosel and Hovdhaugen 1992 are descriptions of Polynesian languages, and Sohn 1975 describes a Micronesian language. Bril 2002 is concerned with a language from New Caledonia, and Lichtenberk 1983 and Lichtenberk 2008 with languages from the eastern New Guinea area and the Solomon Islands, respectively. Hyslop 2001 and François 2003 describe languages from Vanuatu.

  • Bauer, Winifred. 1997. The Reed reference grammar of Māori. Auckland, New Zealand: Reed.

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    A very complete and up-to-date grammar of a Polynesian language, written for a general audience. Concentrates on syntactic structures. Proposes that words can belong to various word classes. With useful references commenting on previous research.

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  • Bril, Isabelle. 2002. Le nêlêmwa (Nouvelle-Calédonie): Analyse syntaxique et sémantique. Collection langues et cultures du Pacifique 16. Dudley, MA: Peeters.

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    Describes a New Caledonian language. Nêlêmwa is an ergative language with a complex deictic system and many possessive and numeral classifiers.

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  • François, Alexandre. 2003. La sémantique du prédicat en mwotlap (Vanuatu). Collection linguistique de la Société de Linguistique de Paris. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters.

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    A thorough description of Mwotlap (Motlav), a language from Motolava in the Banks Islands, Vanuatu, and part of the North Vanuatu linkage. Gives particular attention to tense, aspect, and mood markers.

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  • Hyslop, Catriona. 2001. The Lolovoli dialect of the North-East Ambae language, Vanuatu. Pacific Linguistics 515. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A grammar of Northeast Ambae, a head-marking language with AVO/SV word order from Ambae Island, Vanuatu (North Vanuatu linkage). Pays due attention to spatial reference, possessive constructions, serial verb constructions, and clause structure.

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  • Lichtenberk, Frantisek. 1983. A grammar of Manam. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i Press.

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    The grammar of an SOV language spoken on Manam and Boesa islands, off New Guinea’s northern coast. A classic among grammars of Oceanic languages.

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  • Lichtenberk, Frantisek. 2008. A grammar of Toqabaqita. 2 vols. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110199062Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    With its 1,356 pages, this grammar of Toqabaqita (Malaita, Solomon Islands) is probably the most complete description of any Oceanic language. It also deals with discourse patterns and contact phenomena involving Solomon Islands Pijin.

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  • Mosel, Ulrike, and Even Hovdhaugen. 1992. Samoan reference grammar. Oslo, Norway: Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture/Scandinavian Univ. Press.

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    A standard work dealing with the Tautala lelei (literary) variety of Samoan. Raises interesting questions about syntactic change. With information on the history and variety of Samoan.

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  • Sohn, Ho-min. 1975. Woleaian reference grammar. PALI Language Texts: Micronesia. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i Press.

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    Probably the best description of a Micronesian language; Woleaian is a Trukese (Nuclear Micronesian) language. Written with a readership of both linguists and native speakers in mind. Focuses on the clause and its parts rather than on complex sentences.

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Non-Oceanic

As in the previous section, the choice of grammars that follow tries to reflect regional diversity. Durie 1985, van der Tuuk 1971, Klamer 1998, van den Berg 1989, and van den Heuvel 2006 describe languages from different parts of Indonesia, each with its own distinct typological features. Note that Toba Batak and Acehnese, which are both spoken on Sumatra Island, in West Indonesia, are typologically very different. Toba Batak is a conservative language with many features retained from Proto-Austronesian; Acehnese is a rather atypical Austronesian language, owing to past Austro-Asiatic influence. Schachter and Otanes 1972 describes Tagalog, and Zeitoun 2007, a Formosan language.

  • Durie, Mark. 1985. A grammar of Acehnese on the basis of a dialect of North Aceh. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and Cinnaminson, NJ: Foris.

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    An influential first description of a split intransitive syntax (where S is marked in different ways depending on whether it controls the action, and these ways are analogous to A and O marking).

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  • Klamer, Marian. 1998. A grammar of Kambera. Mouton Grammar Library 18. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110805536Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thorough and clearly written description of a polysynthetic Central Malayo-Polynesian language (Sumba Island, Lesser Sundas, Indonesia). Kambera has a nominative/accusative argument structure with some interesting deviations. It makes use of ideophones in verbal morphology.

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  • Schachter, Paul, and Fe T. Otanes. 1972. Tagalog reference grammar. Berkeley: Univ. of California.

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    Not recent, but still the best grammar of a language that has had a great impact on Austronesian typological and historical linguistics.

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  • van den Berg, René. 1989. A grammar of the Muna language. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and Providence, RI: Foris.

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    An exemplary description of a Southeast Sulawesi language (Indonesia); well written, without unnecessary terminology or much theoretical discussion.

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  • van den Heuvel, Wilco. 2006. Biak: Description of an Austronesian language of Papua. PhD diss., Univ. of Amersterdam.

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    A comprehensive description of a Bird’s Head language (Papua, Indonesia; belonging to the South Halmahera-West New Guinea subgroup). Also interesting because of its role as a trade language and because of the many changes it has undergone through contact with Papuan languages.

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  • van der Tuuk, Herman N.. 1971. A grammar of Toba Batak. Koninklijk Instituut van Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde Translation Series 13. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

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    A rich data source, also for other Batak varieties (Sumatra, Indonesia). These varieties have attracted much interest because of their rich morphology and conservative structure. The original Dutch version (1864–1867) was the first systematic description of an Indonesian language based on fieldwork and trying to avoid a European structural bias.

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  • Zeitoun, Elizabeth. 2007. A grammar of Mantauran (Rukai). Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.

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    The most thorough modern description of a Formosan language, using basic linguistic theory and a morpheme-based approach.

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Morphosyntax

Studies about morphosyntax in Austronesian languages are often preoccupied with voice and tend to concentrate on voice in Philippine languages (particularly Tagalog).

Voice

The questions that are discussed in relation to Austronesian voice include the following: What pragmatic rules are governing the use of voice in the various Austronesian languages? Is Austronesian voice part of an ergative system or a nominative-accusative system, or neither? Have West Indonesian voice systems evolved from Philippine-type ones, and, if so, how did that happen? Is the term voice even appropriate as a label for the kind of syntactic variation found in many western Austronesian languages? Keenan 1976 and Schachter 1976 are influential early papers in a volume edited by Charles Li that initiated a fundamental discussion in typological linguistics on the nature of Subject, Topic, and Actor. Foley 1998 and Himmelmann 2008 discuss the connection between lexical categories and voice in Philippine languages. Wouk and Ross 2002, Arka and Ross 2005, and Austin and Musgrave 2008 are collections of papers seeking to create a more variegated picture of Austronesian voice by investigating its applications in various individual languages.

  • Arka, I Wayan, and Malcolm D. Ross, eds. 2005. The many faces of Austronesian voice systems: Some new empirical studies. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Central in this volume are the questions as to how Austronesian voice differs from nominative-accusative and ergative voice systems, whether its differences entail differences in transitivity, and whether Austronesian languages have a subject comparable to the subject in English.

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  • Austin, Peter K., and Simon Musgrave, eds. 2008. Voice and grammatical relations in Austronesian languages: Studies in constraint-based lexicalism. Stanford, CA: CSLI.

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    The contributors to this volume use a constraint-based syntactic approach in their analysis of voice systems in various Austronesian languages. Each analysis is presented within the frameworks of Lexical-Functional Grammar and Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar.

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  • Foley, William A. 1998. Symmetrical voice systems and precategoriality in Philippine languages. Paper presented at the workshop on Voice and Grammatical Functions in Austronesian Languages, LFG98, Brisbane, Australia.

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    Foley claims that Tagalog roots are precategorial (nouns and verbs are not distinguished) and that Philippine voice systems are symmetric (all verb forms are marked for voice; the Agent is not demoted in nonagent voice; and various arguments can become subject, not just undergoer). He argues that both circumstances are related.

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  • Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2008. Lexical categories and voice in Tagalog. In Voice and grammatical functions in Austronesian languages: Studies in constraint-based lexicalism. Edited by Peter K. Austin and Simon Musgrave, 247–293. Stanford, CA: CSLI.

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    The author discusses the nature of lexical and syntactic categories (which he argues are distinct) and the meaning and lexical category of verbal roots (showing that they are not precategorial). (“Precategorial” means not belonging to a particular word category.)

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  • Keenan, Edward L. 1976. Remarkable subjects in Malagasy. In Subject and topic. Edited by C. N. Li, 247–302. New York: Academic Press.

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    On the nature of the subject in Malagasy. Malagasy is shown to be highly subject prominent, in contrast to Philippine languages. However, although it is not a typical topic-prominent language, it does have certain characteristic topic properties.

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  • Schachter, Paul. 1976. The subject in Philippine languages: Topic, actor, actor-topic, or none of the above? In Subject and topic. Edited by C. N. Li, 491–518. New York: Academic Press.

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    A classic work that has had a great influence on the discussion of the nature of subjecthood in Philippine languages.

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  • Wouk, Fay, and Malcolm D. Ross, eds. 2002. The history and typology of Western Austronesian voice systems. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A collection of papers on voice presented at the Eighth International Conference of Austronesian Linguistics (Taipei, 1997) and the first in a series of collections attempting to study the phenomenon in all its variety. With typological and historical overviews and case studies of languages in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

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Other

Publications in this section concern other issues in Austronesian morphosyntax prominent in the early 21st century. The papers in Ewing and Klamer 2010 discuss argument structure and serial verbs in East Indonesia and East Timor. Gil 1994 deals with the apparent lack of morphosyntactic marking in Riau Indonesian. Himmelmann 2006 is about Tagalog verbal morphology, Kaufman 2010 investigates the word class status of Tagalog nouns and verbs, and Kroeger 1993 discusses Tagalog phrase structure and grammatical relations.

  • Ewing, Michael C., and Marian Klamer, eds. 2010. East Nusantara: Typological and areal analyses. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Papers in this volume focus on argument structure and serial verbs in the Central Malayo-Polynesian languages of East Indonesia and East Timor.

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  • Gil, David. 1994. The structure of Riau Indonesian. Nordic Journal of Linguistics 17.2: 179–200.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0332586500003000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    According to the author, in Riau Indonesian (Riau Islands, Indonesia), syntactic constructions and semantic categories lack overt morphosyntactic expression. In his analysis he argues for a single open syntactic category and unconstrained rules of semantic interpretation.

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  • Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2006. How to miss a paradigm or two: Multifunctional ma- in Tagalog. In Catching language. Edited by Felix Ameka, Alan Dench, and Nicholas Evans, 487–527. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110197693Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Many Tagalog affixes have several functions, which sometimes creates problems for their description. The author shows that ma- belongs to two different paradigms and marks stative as well as potentive verbs.

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  • Kaufman, Daniel. 2010. Austronesian nominalism and its consequences: A Tagalog case study. Theoretical Linguistics 35.1: 1–49.

    DOI: 10.1515/THLI.2009.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A very old question in Tagalog linguistics is whether there is a categorial difference between verbs and nouns. Kaufman gives a new take on the nominal nature of Tagalog verbs, and of Austronesian verbs in general, and receives responses from eight other linguists.

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  • Kroeger, Paul. 1993. Phrase structure and grammatical relations in Tagalog. Stanford, CA: CSLI.

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    In various Tagalog syntactic constructions, information about grammatical relations interacts with information about phrase structure, semantic structure, and discourse structure. Kroeger emphasizes that the analysis of Tagalog is greatly helped by recognizing these various kinds of information as independent subsystems in the grammar.

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Phonology

There is no specific publication addressing the phonological variety of Austronesian languages. In an attempt to solve an issue that has been puzzling historical phonologists for more than a century, Blust 1996 discusses irregular oral and prenasalized obstruent reflexes in Malayo-Polynesian languages, and Ross 1988 does the same for Oceanic languages. Blust 1997 treats some phonological phenomena involving nasality that are recurrent in Borneo (and regions to the west of Borneo). (Blust also deals with various other phonological phenomena in Austronesian languages; for an overview, see chapter 4 of Blust 2009, cited under Textbooks.) French 1988 is a compact analysis of various features in Tagalog phonology; this analysis is also relevant to Philippine languages more generally. Hajek 2010 is a first step in the direction of a phonological overview of Austronesian languages in East Indonesia.

  • Blust, Robert A. 1996. The Neogrammarian hypothesis and pandemic irregularity. In The comparative method reviewed: Regularity and irregularity in language change. Edited by Mark Durie and Malcolm Ross, 135–156. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Blust discusses irregular correspondences between simple and prenasalized intervocalic consonants in Malayo-Polynesian languages.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 1997. Nasals and nasalization in Borneo. Oceanic Linguistics 36:149–179.

    DOI: 10.2307/3623074Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses nasal harmony, nasal preplosion, and nasal postplosion in several languages spoken in Borneo and elsewhere.

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  • French, Koleen Matsuda. 1988. Insights into Tagalog: Reduplication, infixation, and stress from nonlinear phonology. Arlington: Univ. of Texas at Arlington.

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    A short study of Tagalog phonology, using autosegmental theory to analyze reduplication and infixation and metrical grid theory to analyze stress. Addresses various issues also applying to Philippine languages in general, such as the phonemicity of initial glottal stops.

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  • Hajek, John T. 2010. Towards a phonological overview of the vowel and consonant systems of East Nusantara. In East Nusantara: Typological and areal analyses. Edited by Michael C. Ewing and Marian Klamer, 25–46. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    An overview of phoneme systems in East Indonesian languages.

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  • Ross, Malcolm D. 1988. Proto Oceanic and the Austronesian languages of western Melanesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Ross tackles the problem of irregular obstruent reflexes in the history of Oceanic languages. He rejects the split into oral and nasal grade reflexes (reflecting oral and prenasalized obstruents in Proto-Oceanic) and proposes instead a three-way obstruent split into oral lenis grade, oral fortis grade, and nasal grade.

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Prosody

Prosody in Austronesian languages remains a largely unexplored area of research. The following publications try to fill the gap, but they deal with only a very limited number of languages or are exploratory in nature. Himmelmann 2010 investigates intonation in an East Timorese language. Van Heuven and van Zanten 2007 discusses stress and intonation in various Indonesian languages. Van Zanten, et al. 2010 gives a survey of stress patterns in Austronesian languages.

  • Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2010. Notes on Waima’a intonational structure. In East Nusantara: Typological and areal analyses. Edited by Michael C. Ewing and Marian Klamer, 47–69. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    On intonation in Waima’a, an Austronesian language of East Timor.

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  • van Heuven, Vincent J., and Ellen van Zanten. 2007. Prosody in Indonesian languages. LOT Occasional Series 9. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap.

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    Stress and intonation in Toba Batak, Court Javanese, Magey Matbat (a Raja Ampat language, West New Guinea), Manado Malay, Betawi Malay, and Kutai Malay.

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  • van Zanten, Ellen, Ruben Stoel, and Bert Remijsen. 2010. Stress patterns in Austronesian languages. In A survey of word accentual patterns in the languages of the world. Edited by Harry van der Hulst, Rob Goedemans, and Ellen van Zanten, 87–111. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.

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    A survey of stress patterns in Austronesian languages.

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Documentary Linguistics, Language Endangerment, and Revitalization

This is a fast-developing new area of linguistics, and language endangerment is as much a reality among Austronesian-speaking languages as it is elsewhere. Florey 2010 and Miyaoka, et al. 2007 discuss the state of language vitality in the western and eastern parts of this region, respectively. Florey also includes a survey of the current documentation projects and activities. Senft 2010 deals with the documentation, archiving, and revitalization of (mostly) Oceanic languages. Thieberger 2006 brings into practice the principles of modern language documentation.

Comparative-Historical Linguistics

The diachronic study of Austronesian languages is well advanced in comparison with that of most other language families. Extensive work has been done on phonology, phonotactics, lexicon, morphosyntax, lexicosemantics, and culture history, not only for Proto-Austronesian, but also for lower-level proto-languages, especially in the Pacific.

General Textbooks

Blust 2009, a general introduction to Austronesian linguistics, covers a wide array of topics pertaining to Austronesian comparative-historical linguistics and is particularly suited as an introduction. For those who read Russian, Sirk 2008 gives an interestingly different perspective on various issues.

Foundational Works

Although there were various historical studies before (Dempwolff 1934, Dempwolff 1937, Dempwolff 1938), his systematic and comprehensive reconstruction of Proto-Malayo-Polynesian phonology became the basis of modern Austronesian linguistics soon after it was published. Note that although Dempwolff called his work a comparative phonology of Austronesian, it is in fact a comparative phonology of Malayo-Polynesian languages, as he did not make use of Formosan data. For earlier Austronesian historical linguistic studies as well as for the history of the discipline in general, see Dahl 1976 (cited under Sound Change) and Blust 2009 (cited under Textbooks).

  • Dempwolff, Otto. 1934. Vergleichende Lautlehre des Austronesischen Wortschatzes. Vol. 1, Induktiver Aufbau einer indonesischen Ursprache. Beiheft zur Zeitschrift für Eingeborenen-Sprachen 15. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.

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    First systematic reconstruction of Proto-Malayo-Polynesian phonology, based on Tagalog, Toba Batak, and Javanese.

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  • Dempwolff, Otto. 1937. Vergleichende Lautlehre des Austronesischen Wortschatze. Vol. 2, Deduktive Anwendung des Urindonesischen auf austronesische Einzelsprachen. Beiheft zur Zeitschrift für Eingeborenen-Sprachen 17. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.

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    Dempwolff 1934’s reconstruction reinforced with evidence from eight more languages.

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  • Dempwolff, Otto. 1938. Vergleichende Lautlehre des Austronesischen Wortschatzes. Vol. 3, Austronesisches Wörterverzeichnis. Beiheft Zeitschrift für Eingeborenen-Sprachen 19. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.

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    Proto-Malayo-Polynesian lexicon, which is the spinoff of Dempwolff’s phonological study. Of historical interest only.

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Subgrouping and Reconstruction

The genetic classification of Austronesian languages has been an ongoing activity. Robert Blust has been most involved in it, and again, his textbook (Blust 2009, cited under Textbooks) is recommended as a good introduction to the matter. As discussed at the beginning of this bibliography, it appears that at the top of the genetic tree the twenty-odd Formosan languages belong to several primary branches of Austronesian, whereas all non-Formosan languages are descended from a single other primary branch, Malayo-Polynesian. It is also clear that further down the tree, the East Malayo-Polynesian languages form a single subgroup with two branches (Oceanic and the North Halmahera-West New Guinea group), the inner articulations of which are well sorted out. Other subgroups have a less solid basis. West Malayo-Polynesian is particularly ill defined and needs much further empirical support, as it basically includes all Malayo-Polynesian languages that do not belong to Central-East Malayo-Polynesian. As well, the Central-East Malayo-Polynesian and Central Malayo-Polynesian subgroups remain controversial and have not met general acceptance among Austronesianists.

Proto-Austronesian

The following publications deal with Proto-Austronesian phonology and morphosyntax. For lexical reconstructions, see Blust’s Austronesian Comparative Dictionary (cited under Etymological Sources). Lemaréchal 2010 points to structural incongruities between Proto-Austronesian and Formosan languages. Wolff 1973 was the first to reconstruct the Proto-Austronesian verb system, which had four voices and looked much like the verb system of a Philippine language, such as Tagalog. Ross 2009 is basically a further refinement of this system. Starosta, et al. 2009, on the other hand, reconstructed a system in which the verbal affixes that in today’s languages are considered voice affixes (or in some analyses applicative affixes) were originally noun-deriving affixes and are still maintained as such in languages across the family.

  • Lemaréchal, Alain. 2010. Comparative grammar and typology: Essays on historical grammar of the Austronesian languages. Orbis Supplementa 35. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters.

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    The author revisits certain aspects of Proto-Austronesian grammar (person markers, the voice system, sentence structure). He concludes that from the perspective of grammaticalization theory, these are hard to reconcile with the grammars of present-day Formosan languages.

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  • Ross, Malcolm D. 2009. Proto-Austronesian verbal morphology: A reappraisal. In Austronesian historical linguistics and culture history: A festschrift for Robert Blust. Edited by Alexander Adelaar and Andrew K. Pawley, 295–326. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A detailed reconstruction of Proto-Austronesian and Proto-Nuclear Austronesian verbal morphology. The author distinguishes four primary branches of Austronesian: Puyuma, Rukai, Tsou, and Nuclear Austronesian (the last is considered ancestral to all other Austronesian languages).

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  • Starosta, Stanley, Andrew K. Pawley, and Lawrence A. Reid. 2009. The evolution of focus in Austronesian. In Formosan linguistics: Stanley Starosta’s contributions. Edited by Elizabeth Zeitoun, 329–481. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.

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    The authors argue that the so-called focus or voice systems of many western Austronesian languages were not present in Proto-Austronesian but developed after the noun-deriving affixes of Proto-Austronesian were reinterpreted as verbal affixes. An influential paper, an abridged version of which had already been published in 1982.

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  • Wolff, John U. 1973. Verbal inflection in Proto-Austronesian. In Parangal Kay Cecilio Lopez: Essays in honor of Cecilio Lopez on his seventy-fifth birthday. Edited by A. Gonzalez, 71–91. Quezon City: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.

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    The first systematic attempt to reconstruct Proto-Austronesian verbal morphology.

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Formosan

As Formosan languages are derived from several first-order branches of Proto-Austronesian, they have an added value for the reconstruction of Proto-Austronesian—in contrast to other Austronesian languages, which supposedly all derive from one single branch. Their special position in the classification of Austronesian languages is largely uncontested. However, questions remained as to the number of first-order branches they represent (a single branch or several ones) and whether they subgroup with Philippine languages at a very high genetic node. Blust (Blust 1995, Blust 1999) goes a long way to show that there are many Formosan branches and that they are genetically distinct from the Malayo-Polynesian languages (and that all Philippine languages belong to the latter). On the basis of strictly phonological evidence, he arrives at ten first-order Austronesian branches, nine of which are Formosan, and one is the Malayo-Polynesian branch. On lexicostatistical and phonological grounds, Peiros 2008 still maintains that there is only one Formosan branch. Zeitoun and Huang 2000 concentrates on a particular aspect of Formosan verb derivation.

  • Blust, Robert A. 1995. The position of the Formosan languages: Methods and theory in Austronesian comparative linguistics. In Austronesian studies relating to Taiwan. Edited by Paul Jen-kuei Li, et al., 585–650. Taipei: Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica.

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    The author shows inherent flaws in the lexical evidence that has been presented for a Formosan-Philippine subgroup as well as for a single Formosan primary branch within Austronesian. He argues that lexical evidence inherently lacks directionality, in contrast to phonological evidence.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 1999. Subgrouping, circularity and extinction: Some issues in Austronesian comparative linguistics. In Selected papers from the Eighth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. Edited by Elizabeth Zeitoun and Paul Jen-kuei Li, 31–94. Symposium Series of the Institute of Linguistics. Taipei: Academia Sinica.

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    The author discusses some of the problems inherent in lexical and typological subgrouping criteria. He classifies Austronesian languages in ten primary branches (nine Formosan branches and Malayo-Polynesian), using phonological evidence only.

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  • Peiros, Ilia. 2008. The Formosan languages. In Past human migrations in East Asia: Matching archaeology, linguistics and genetics. Edited by Alicia Sanchez-Mazas, Roger Blench, Malcolm D. Ross, Ilia Peiros, and Marie Lin, 182–210. London and New York: Routledge.

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    Based on lexicostatistics and a different interpretation of phonological correspondences, the author concludes that Formosan languages form a single primary branch of Austronesian.

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  • Zeitoun, Elizabeth, and L. M. Huang. 2000. Concerning ka-, an overlooked marker of verbal derivation in Formosan languages. Oceanic Linguistics 39:391–414.

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    The author demonstrates that the Austronesian causative prefix *paka- actually consists of the causative prefix *pa- followed by the stative prefix *ka-. Available online through purchase.

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Oceanic

The classification of Oceanic languages is generally worked out in greater detail than that of other Austronesian subgroups, especially since the appearance of Ross 1988, which is also a good starting point for further reading. Chung 1978 is a historical and typological approach to Polynesian syntax. Evans 2003 investigates Proto-Oceanic verb classes and how they could change their valency. Geraghty 1983 is probably the best dialect geography of an Austronesian region, showing how the internal subgrouping of these languages changed because of dialect realignments. Kikusawa 2002 offers a historical explanation for the occurrence of ergative and accusative pronoun systems in Central Pacific languages. Pawley 1973 and Clark 1976 provided the first reconstructions of Proto-Oceanic and Proto-Polynesian morphosyntax, respectively.

  • Chung, Sandra. 1978. Case marking and grammatical relations in Polynesian languages. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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    Deals with syntax from both a typological and historical perspective.

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  • Clark, Ross. 1976. Aspects of Proto-Polynesian syntax. Te Reo Monographs. Auckland: Linguistic Society of New Zealand.

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    The first extensive reconstruction of Proto-Polynesian morphosyntax.

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  • Evans, Bethwyn. 2003. A study of valency-changing devices in Proto Oceanic. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Discusses the system of verb classes in Proto-Oceanic and some of the valency-changing devices it possessed.

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  • Geraghty, Paul. 1983. The history of the Fijian languages. Oceanic Linguistics Monograph Series 19. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i Press.

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    A dialect geography of Fiji. Although it was previously believed that Fijian languages form a subgroup with Polynesian languages and possibly Rotuman (called Central Oceanic), Geraghty shows that only eastern Fijian varieties subgroup with Polynesian and that after their split a partial resynthesis of all Fijian dialects has taken place.

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  • Kikusawa, Ritsuko. 2002. Proto Central Pacific ergativity: Its reconstruction and development in the Fijian, Rotuman and Polynesian languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Some Central Pacific languages have an ergative pronoun system, and others have an accusative one. The author argues that the ergative system was retained from Proto Central Pacific and shows how it must have developed into an accusative system.

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  • Pawley, Andrew K. 1973. Some problems in Proto Oceanic grammar. Oceanic Linguistics 12:103–188.

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    The first reconstruction of Proto-Oceanic morphosyntax.

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  • Ross, Malcolm D. 1988. Proto Oceanic and the Austronesian languages of western Melanesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A landmark study improving the classification of Oceanic languages and the reconstruction of Proto-Oceanic phonology and grammar. It also establishes Western Oceanic as a “linkage” (a collection of languages united by overlapping innovations)

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Central and Eastern Malayo-Polynesian

Blust (Blust 1978, Blust 1993) proposed the Central and East Malayo-Polynesian subgroups as branches of a higher-order subgroup called Central-East Malayo-Polynesian. East Malayo-Polynesian in turn splits into the Oceanic languages and the South Halmahera-West New Guinea subgroup (including the Austronesian languages of South Halmahera and West New Guinea). East Malayo-Polynesian has generally found acceptance, but Central Malayo-Polynesian and Central-East Malayo-Polynesian are controversial. This is clearly demonstrated in Donohue and Grimes 2008’s rejection of the latter two and Blust 2009’s reply. At a much lower classificatory level, Collins 1983 investigates the internal relationships between some (Central Malayo-Polynesian) languages in the Central-East Maluku area. It demonstrates the benefits of combining historical linguistic data with sociohistorical evidence.

  • Blust, Robert A. 1978. Eastern Malayo-Polynesian: A subgrouping argument. In Second International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics: Proceedings, fascicle I, Western Austronesian. Edited by Stephen A. Wurm and Lois Carrington, 181–234. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    An argument is made for Eastern Malayo-Polynesian as a genetic subgroup including the Oceanic languages and the languages of South Halmahera and West New Guinea.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 1993. Central and Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian. Oceanic Linguistics 32:241–293.

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    New evidence is presented for two earlier proposed subgroups, Central Malayo-Polynesian (consisting of languages in the Lesser Sundas and Moluccas) and Central-East Malayo-Polynesian (a higher-order group having the Central and East Malayo-Polynesian subgroups as its main branches).

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  • Blust, Robert A. 2009. The position of the languages of eastern Indonesia: A reply to Donohue and Grimes. Oceanic Linguistics 48:36–77.

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    The author refutes the arguments in Donohue and Grimes 2008 against the Central Malayo-Polynesian and Central-East Malayo-Polynesian subgroups.

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  • Collins, James T. 1983. The historical relationships of the languages of Central Maluku, Indonesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    The author investigates the classification of some language groups in the Nunusaku branch of Central-East Maluku (Moluccan), using the comparative method in conjunction with morphosyntactic data and sociohistorical evidence.

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  • Donohue, Mark, and Charles E. Grimes. 2008. Yet more on the position of the languages of eastern Indonesia and East Timor. Oceanic Linguistics 47:114–158.

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    The authors argue that there is no compelling phonological, morphosyntactic, or lexical basis for the Central Malayo-Polynesian and Central-East Malayo-Polynesian subgroups. They point out the dangers of ignoring factors such as geography, contact, and borrowing in language classification.

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Philippine Languages

Philippine languages are classified as West Malayo-Polynesian. However, as indicated in Central and Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, the latter is not a sufficiently tested subgroup but basically a remainder category of unclassified Malayo-Polynesian languages. Blust 1991 believes that Philippine languages form a subgroup together with some of the languages of North Sulawesi. Reid 1992 is about the history of aspect in two Philippine languages. Sneddon 1978 is the reconstruction of a proto-language based on the Minahasa languages, which are considered to be Philippine languages.

  • Blust, Robert A. 1991. The Greater Central Philippines hypothesis. Oceanic Linguistics 30:73–129.

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    It is argued that many Philippine languages are descended from Proto Greater Central Philippines, an ancestral language primarily characterized by the merger of *R and *g to g. This language underwent much territorial expansion, wiping out an older linguistic diversity and causing neighboring languages to change *R to g.

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  • Reid, Lawrence A. 1992. On the development of the aspect system in some Philippine languages. Oceanic Linguistics 31:65–91.

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    An account of the development of aspect and voice systems in Tagalog and Ilocano, showing that whereas Ilocano has maintained the Proto-Austronesian tense-aspect system, with relatively few changes, Tagalog has undergone considerable restructuring, ultimately as the result of the loss of geminate consonants.

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  • Sneddon, James N. 1978. Proto-Minahasan: Phonology, morphology and wordlist. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    The reconstruction of the phonology and morphology of Proto-Minahasan (North Sulawesi, Indonesia).

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Other

Together with the Philippine languages, the languages in this section all belong to the West Malayo-Polynesian category. Several chapters in Wouk and Ross 2002 discuss the histories of West Indonesian voice systems. Mahdi 1988 gives (among others) a detailed overview of the phonological history of Malagasy. Blust 2007, Blust 2010, and Mead 2003 are subgrouping proposals. Adelaar 1992, Nothofer 1975, and Thurgood 1999 are primarily reconstructions of proto-languages.

  • Adelaar, K. Alexander. 1992. Proto-Malayic: A reconstruction of its phonology and part of its morphology and lexicon. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Reconstruction of the language ancestral to Malay and other Malayic varieties, such as Minangkabau and Iban. As the hegemonic language in insular Southeast Asia for at least a millennium and a half, Malay has had an inordinately large influence on other languages in the region.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 2007. The linguistic position of Sama-Bajaw. Studies in Philippine Languages and Cultures 15:73–114.

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    On the basis of phonological and lexical evidence, Blust classifies the Sama-Bajaw languages as a branch of the East Barito subgroup in South Borneo.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 2010. The Greater North Borneo hypothesis. Oceanic Linguistics 49.1: 44–118.

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    The author argues that the languages of Borneo (minus the Barito and Tamanic languages) form a large genetic subgroup also including Malayo-Chamic, Moken, Rejang, and Sundanese within West Malayo-Polynesian.

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  • Mahdi, Waruno. 1988. Morphonologische Besonderheiten und historische Phonologie des Malagasy. Veröffentlichungen des Seminars für Indonesische und Südseesprachen der Universität Hamburg 20. Berlin and Hamburg, Germany: Dietrich Reimer.

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    The history of Malagasy against an alternative interpretation of Austronesian history and classification. Includes a historical phonology of Malagasy and a discussion of some interesting aspects of Malagasy morphology.

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  • Mead, David. 2003. Evidence for a Celebic supergroup. In Issues in Austronesian historical phonology. Edited by John Lynch, 115–141. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Critical phonological evidence is presented for a subgroup including all languages of Sulawesi minus the Gorontalic, Sangiric, and Minahasan languages in the north and the South Sulawesi languages in the south.

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  • Nothofer, Bernd. 1975. The reconstruction of Proto-Malayo-Javanic. Verhandelingen van het KITLV 73. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

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    A phonological reconstruction of the putative stock language common to Malay, Javanese, Sundanese, and Madurese.

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  • Thurgood, Graham. 1999. From ancient Cham to modern dialects: Two thousand years of language contact and change. Oeanic Linguistics Special Publications 28. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i Press.

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    A classification of Chamic languages (including Acehnese) and a reconstruction of Proto-Chamic. With due attention to historical setting, the tendency toward monosyllabism, and the origins of registers and tones.

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  • Wouk, Fay, and Malcolm D. Ross, eds. 2002. The history and typology of Western Austronesian voice systems. Pacific Linguistics 518. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Includes several chapters dealing with the historical development of Austronesian voice.

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External Classifications

There are various subgrouping theories involving Austronesian as a constituent branch, many of which are discussed in Blust 2009. Updated versions of the most current theories are presented in some detail in Sagart, et al. 2005. Ostapirat 2005, Peiros 1998, Sagart 2004, and Sagart 2005 propose various theories involving phylogenetic relationships between Austronesian and other language families. Reid 2005 is a critique of some evidence published in support of a genetic link between Austronesian and Austro-Asiatic; note that Reid is concerned with the nature of the evidence, not with the link as such, which he generally supports.

  • Blust, Robert A. 2009. The Austronesian languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Chapter 10 includes a critical overview of various external classifications that have been proposed.

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  • Ostapirat, Weera. 2005. Krai-Dai and Austronesian: Notes on phonological correspondences and vocabulary distribution. In The peopling of East Asia: Putting together archaeology, linguistics and genetics. Edited by Laurent Sagart, Roger Blench, and Alice Sanchez-Mazas, 107–131. London: RoutledgeCurzon.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203343685Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Adduces solid phonological evidence for a historical link between Austronesian and Krai-Dai (Tai-Kadai) languages.

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  • Peiros, Ilia. 1998. Comparative linguistics in Southeast Asia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Peiros proposes an Austric language family with two primary branches, one combining Austronesian with Tai, the other combining Austro-Asiatic with Miao-Yao. His method is based on an advanced application of lexicostatistics, combining it with qualitative research and avoiding the distorting effects of loanwords.

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  • Reid, Lawrence A. 2005. The current status of Austric: A review and evaluation of the lexical and morphosyntactic evidence. In The peopling of East Asia: Putting together archaeology, linguistics and genetics. Edited by Laurent Sagart, Roger Blench, and Alice Sanchez-Mazas, 134–162. London: RoutledgeCurzon.

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    A critical evaluation of some evidence for the hypothesis that Austronesian and Austro-Asiatic are related.

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  • Sagart, Laurent. 2004. The higher phylogeny of Austronesian and the position of Tai-Kadai. Oceanic Linguistics 43.2: 411–444.

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    A main reference to Sagart’s classification of Tai-Kadai languages as a branch of Austronesian alongside the Malayo-Polynesian branch.

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  • Sagart, Laurent. 2005. Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian: An updated and improved argument. In The peopling of East Asia: Putting together archaeology, linguistics and genetics. Edited by Laurent Sagart, Roger Blench, and Alice Sanchez-Mazas, 161–176. London: RoutledgeCurzon.

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    An updated account of the hypothesis that Chinese and Tibetan languages are related to Austronesian ones (which include Tai-Kadai languages as a subdivision).

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  • Sagart, Laurent, Roger Blench, and Alice Sanchez-Mazas, eds. 2005. The peopling of East Asia: Putting together archaeology, linguistics and genetics. London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon.

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    An update of linguistic, genetic, and archaeological research on the origins of East Asian peoples and their mutual affiliations.

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Language Contact

Contact between languages is a main motivation for linguistic change. Toward the end of the 20th century, the insight became established that contact phenomena should be integrated systematically in historical linguistics. Adelaar 2009 offers an example of phonological and lexical changes in an Austronesian language owing to contact with many other languages at several discernible stages of its history. The papers in Dutton and Tryon 1994 deal with these phenomena in various Austronesian regions. Ross 2007 discusses particular contact phenomena. See also Geraghty 1983 (cited under Oceanic), which deals with language convergence on the Fiji Islands.

Lexical Studies

The papers in this section deal with Proto-Austronesian lexicon in different ways. Dyen 1965 is an exercise in lexicostatistics. Marck 2000 is important for its discussion of lexicon pertaining to cosmogony and kinship terminology. The papers in Pawley and Ross 1994 are mainly historical accounts of taxonomic systems in various languages. Ross, et al. 1998; Ross, et al. 2003; Ross, et al. 2008, and Ross, et al. 2011 are encyclopedic accounts of the Proto-Oceanic lexicon pertaining to material culture, the physical environment, plants, and animals.

  • Dyen, Isidore. 1965 . A lexicostatistical classification of the Austronesian languages. Indiana Univ. Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics. Baltimore: Waverly.

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    A thorough application of the lexicostatistical method on a large number of Austronesian languages. Its weaknesses became apparent soon after it was published because some of the ensuing homeland and subgrouping theories were untenable. Of historical interest only.

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  • Marck, Jeffrey. 2000. Topics in Polynesian language and culture history. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A reassessment of the phonological history and classification of Polynesian languages and an analysis of Polynesian lexicon pertaining to cosmogony and kinship.

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  • Pawley, Andrew K., and Malcolm D. Ross, eds. 1994. Austronesian terminologies: Continuity and change. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A collection of twenty-one papers on terminologies and taxonomical systems in Austronesian languages and proto-languages. Discussed are terms pertaining to botany, zoology, kinship, rice agriculture, terrace building, food preparation, the physical environment, and cultural history in general.

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  • Ross, Malcolm D., Andrew K. Pawley, and Meredith Osmond. 1998. The lexicon of Proto Oceanic: The culture and environment of ancestral Oceanic society. Vol. 1, Material culture. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A rich account of Proto-Oceanic material cultural items and their names, provided with explanations, background information, and illustrations.

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  • Ross, Malcolm D., Andrew K. Pawley, and Meredith Osmond. 2003. The lexicon of Proto Oceanic: The culture and environment of ancestral Oceanic society. Vol. 2, The physical environment. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A rich account of the Proto-Oceanic physical environment, provided with explanations, background information, and maps.

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  • Ross, Malcolm D., Andrew K. Pawley, and Meredith Osmond. 2008. The lexicon of Proto Oceanic: The culture and environment of ancestral Oceanic society. Vol. 3, Plants. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A rich account of Proto-Oceanic plant names, provided with explanations, background information, and illustrations.

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  • Ross, Malcolm D., Andrew K. Pawley, and Meredith Osmond. 2011. The lexicon of Proto Oceanic: The culture and environment of ancestral Oceanic society. Vol. 4, Animals. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    A rich account of Proto-Oceanic animal names, provided with explanations, background information, and illustrations.

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Sound Change

Otto Dahl (Dahl 1976, Dahl 1981), Robert Blust (Blust 2009), and John Wolff (Wolff 2010) take the foremost positions in the study of sound change in Austronesian languages. Blust 1990 deals with patterns of sound changes in Austronesian languages, Mahdi 1996 reevaluates the occurrence of alveodental *d alongside retroflex *D in Proto-Austronesian (a much debated topic), and Sneddon 1993 discusses the tendency in Sulawesi languages to develop open final syllables.

  • Blust, Robert A. 1990. Patterns of sound change in the Austronesian languages. In Linguistic change and reconstruction methodology. Edited by Philip Baldi, 231–267. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110886092Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author points out salient types of sound changes in the daughter languages of Proto-Austronesian and Proto-Malayo-Polynesian. He also discusses the correlation between sound change and geography and the meaning of the Regularity Hypothesis in Austronesian historical phonology.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 2009. The Austronesian languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Australian National Univ.

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    Chapter 9 is a substantial account of sound change in Austronesian languages.

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  • Dahl, Otto Christian. 1976. Proto-Austronesian. 2d ed. Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph Series 15. London: Curzon.

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    A thorough evaluation of the Proto-Austronesian phoneme reconstructions made by Dyen (basically written in defense of Dempwolff 1934, Dempwolff 1937, and Dempwolff 1938, all cited under Foundational Works). Although rather technical and a bit outdated, this text also gives much insight into the history of Austronesian historical studies and issues debated in the 1970s.

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  • Dahl, Otto Christian. 1981. Early phonetic and phonemic changes in Austronesian. Oslo, Norway: Universitetsforlaget.

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    A further evaluation of Proto-Austronesian phonemes, more advanced than Dahl 1976. Focusing on phonology only.

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  • Mahdi, Waruno. 1996. Another Look at Proto-Austronesian *d and *D. In Reconstruction, classification, description: Festschrift in honor of Isidore Dyen. Edited by Bernd Nothofer, 1–14. Asia-Pacific/Abera Network 3. Hamburg, Germany: Abera.

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    A revised definition of Proto-Austronesian *d and *D based on the distinctions between their reflexes in languages in Taiwan, the Philippines, and western Indonesia.

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  • Sneddon, James N. 1993. The drift towards open final syllables in Sulawesi languages. Oceanic Linguistics 32:1–44.

    DOI: 10.2307/3623095Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A survey of the tendency in Sulawesi languages to lose final consonants or to add final vowels, demonstrating that open final syllables have developed relatively recently and are not critical for subgrouping.

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  • Wolff, John U. 2010. Proto-Austronesian phonology with glossary. 2 vols. Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell Univ.

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    A reconstruction of Proto-Austronesian phonology based on a thorough investigation of the historical phonologies of many daughter languages. The author tries to reach a more authentic phoneme system by discarding false protophonemes based on evidence from loanwords.

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Root Theory

In Austronesian languages (individually as well as cross-linguistically), the final syllables of roots sometimes have a meaning associated with them. This phenomenon was already investigated approximately a century ago, but Blust 1988 is able to demonstrate the phenomenon more clearly with a much larger database.

  • Blust, Robert A. 1988. Austronesian root theory: An essay on the limits of morphology. Studies in Language Companion Series 19. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

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    From a historical perspective, Austronesian basic roots are disyllabic. However, often the final syllables in these roots also have a semantic association, which is the topic of this book.

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Etymological Sources

Robert Blust has worked systematically on the reconstruction of Proto-Austronesian etyma (lexical protoforms) and etyma from lower-level Austronesian proto-languages, which he has been accumulating from the 1970s onward. He is now working on an Austronesian Comparative Dictionary, which is accessible online but has not yet integrated his older published reconstructions. Those interested in his etymological data are therefore advised to use the online dictionary in conjunction with Blust 1980, Blust 1983–1984, Blust 1986, and Blust 1989. Clark and Biggs 2011 is a standard source for Proto-Polynesian, and Bender, et al. 2003a for Proto-Micronesian. (Those interested in Proto-Oceanic etymologies are referred to Ross, et al. 1998; Ross, et al. 2003; and Ross, et al. 2008, all cited under Lexical Studies.)

An English Finder List for Proto-Austronesian and Proto-Malayo-Polynesian Etyma

Zorc 1995, a glossary with English finder list, is convenient for the quick retrieval of etyma, although it will probably lose some of its usefulness with the completion of Blust’s Austronesian Comparative Dictionary (cited under Etymological Sources), which can be used interactively.

  • Zorc, R. David Paul. 1995. A glossary of Austronesian reconstructions. In Comparative Austronesian dictionary, an introduction to Austronesian studies. Vol. 1, Fascicle 2. Edited by Darrell T. Tryon, et al., 1105–1197. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

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    A list of 1,650 Proto-Austronesian and Proto-Malayo-Polynesian etyma with English translation, followed by an English finder list.

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Austronesian Culture History

This section includes publications tracing the Austronesian past with the use of linguistic data.

Multidisciplinary Studies of the Past

Multidisciplinary research (combining historical linguistics with archaeology, paleontology, anthropology, or human genetics, or a combination of these) has proven to be highly beneficial in searching the Austronesian past. Bellwood 1997 is a standard introduction to Indonesian and Malaysian prehistory. Bellwood, et al. 1995 is a collection of papers resulting from a conference in 1990 as part of the Comparative Austronesian Project, a multidisciplinary venture carried out at the Australian National University at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. Kirch and Green 2001 is a reconstruction of the Polynesian past on the basis of multidisciplinary data. Sagart, et al. 2005 is a collection of archaeological, linguistic, and genetic papers focusing on the homelands other East Asian language families (including Austronesian) and on subsequent migrations of the speakers of the languages involved.

Society

Blust 1980 and Blust 1993 address the nature of early Austronesian and Malayo-Polynesian social organization. Blust 1980 was particularly thought provoking, as it opposed the views developed in G. P. Murdock’s seminal work of 1949 on social organizations. Blust 1993 adduces further arguments for the theory that Proto-Malayo-Polynesian society had descent groups and a preference for cross-cousin marriages. Blust 1995 demonstrates to nonlinguists how historical linguistics can be applied to the study of early Austronesian environment and society.

  • Blust, Robert A. 1980. Early Austronesian social organization: The evidence of language. Current Anthropology 21.2: 205–247.

    DOI: 10.1086/202430Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author uses comparative linguistic evidence to reconstruct Austronesian social organization and the terminology pertaining to it. The article is followed by comments from several other experts on kinship systems.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 1993. Austronesian sibling terms and cultural history. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 149:22–76.

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    A comparison of Austronesian sibling terms, introducing the linguistic notion of drift to the analysis of kinship systems. It is concluded that Proto-Malayo-Polynesian society favored cross-cousin marriage and must have had descent groups.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 1995. The prehistory of Austronesian-speaking peoples: A view from language. Journal of World Prehistory 9:453–510.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF02221119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author shows to an archaeologist readership how historical linguistics can be used to shed light on the Austronesian homeland, material culture, social and political organization, pathology, and the spirit world.

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Physical Environment, Homeland, and Migrations

Blust 1982 shows how information about the physical environment can be used in support of language classification. Blust 1984–1985 combines migration theory and linguistic paleontology (or the “words and things technique,” i.e., the use of reconstructed vocabulary to make inferences about the objects that were known to speakers of an ancestral stock language). Blust 1994 traces the homeland and migration history of two closely related Austronesian subgroups. Gray, et al. 2009 combines linguistic data with a phylogenetic method used in biology in order to find out about the Austronesian homeland and subsequent migrations.

  • Blust, Robert A. 1982. The linguistic value of the Wallace Line. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 138: 231–250.

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    The Wallace line in Indonesia has marsupials to the east and placental mammals to the west. It is argued that this division provides indirect support for the establishment of the Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian subgroup.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 1984–1985. The Austronesian homeland: A linguistic perspective. Asian Perspectives 26.1:45–67.

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    This paper uses linguistic migration theory and paleontology to establish the Austronesian homeland.

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  • Blust, Robert A. 1994. The Austronesian settlement of mainland Southeast Asia. In Papers from the Second Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. Edited by Karen L. Adams and Thomas John Hudak, 25–83. Tempe: Program for Southeast Asian Studies, Arizona State Univ..

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    About the migration of Malayo-Chamic speakers from Borneo to the western shores of the South China Sea. The author argues that their language(s) formed a dialect chain from eastern Sumatra to central Vietnam that was broken into distinct Malayic and Chamic language communities by later Khmer and Thai incursions.

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  • Gray, R. D., A. J. Drummond, and S. J. Greenhill. 2009. Language phylogenies reveal expansion pulses and pauses in Pacific settlement. Science 323:479–483.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.1166858Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Combining lexical data of four hundred languages with a new Bayesian method developed in biological phylogenetics, the authors find confirmation for an Austronesian homeland in Taiwan some 5,230 years ago, and subsequent Austronesian migrations in southern and southeastern directions.

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Cultural Exchange and Trade

Mahdi 1994 identifies erroneous etyma based on loanwords to obtain insight into the diffusion of material culture. Mahdi 1999 combines multidisciplinary evidence to throw light on contacts with the Indian subcontinent, a particularly ill-studied aspect of the Austronesian past. These contacts were usually explained in terms of a one-way cultural borrowing in which Indians were the active transmitters, and Austronesian peoples in Southeast Asia were passive receivers. However, it has become increasingly clear that the latter were much more actively involved and that the cultural transmission was bilateral.

  • Mahdi, Waruno. 1994. Some Austronesian maverick protoforms with culture-historical implications. Oceanic Linguistics 33:167–229, 431–490.

    DOI: 10.2307/3623005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Some Austronesian etyma are erroneous and based on loanwords. Spotting these gives insight into the dispersal of material culture items, such as metals, coins, spices, trade, stone fortifications, and the double canoe. It also throws new light on grain cultivation and long-distance navigation as well as on the identity of Malayo-Polynesians.

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  • Mahdi, Waruno. 1999. Linguistic and philological data towards a chronology of Austronesian activity in India and Sri Lanka. In Archaeology and language IV: Language change and cultural transformation. Edited by Roger Blench and Matthew Spriggs, 160–242. London and New York: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203208793Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author gives evidence from historical linguistics and old texts to show that in early history, Austronesians spread to the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. He also summarizes supporting evidence already adduced by him in earlier publications and based on boat technology and the spread of plants and spices.

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Acculturation of Hunter-Gatherers

Lawrence Reid (Reid 1994, Reid 2007) tries to unravel the linguistic past of the various Negrito ethnic groups in the Philippines. These groups are phenotypically and culturally different from mainstream Filipinos. They descend from an early hunter-gatherer population who inhabited the country before the arrival of Austronesian speakers, who were farmers. Their separate identity and history seemingly contradict that their current languages not only are Austronesian, but also are affiliated with several distinct Philippine linguistic subgroups.

  • Reid, Lawrence A. 1994. Unraveling the linguistic histories of Philippine Negritos. In Language contact and change in the Austronesian world. Edited by T. E. Dutton and D. T. Tryon, 443–475. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110883091Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author shows that Negrito languages generally subgroup with certain Philippine languages that were spoken in their vicinity in the past. These genetic affiliations are obscured by intensive influence from various other Philippine languages with which the Negrito languages came into contact later on.

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  • Reid, Lawrence A. 2007. Historical linguistics and Philippine hunter-gatherers. In Piakandu ami Dr. Howard P. McKaughan. Edited by L. Billings and N. Goudswaard, 6–32. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines and SIL Philippines.

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    After evaluating several views on the prehistorical relationship between Negritos and in-migrating Neolithic Austronesians, the author uses linguistic evidence to uncover the historical patterns of contact between Negritos and Austronesian farmers. He also discusses evidence for a non-Austronesian substratum in Negrito languages.

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LAST MODIFIED: 10/28/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199772810-0055

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