LSA 303: Austronesian and Papuan historical linguistics

Malcolm Ross | six-week course | TuTh 10:30 – 12:15, B-4 Dwinelle Hall

The main subject matter of the course will be topics in the history of Austronesian languages. Some attention will also be given to the history of Papuan languages, but this will occupy only a minority of the course, simply because much less is currently known about this topic. 'History' in this context includes both those aspects of 'culture history' (the movements of peoples and the societal and cultural conditions in which they lived) that can be inferred from language data and 'typological history' (changes in typology, especially morphosyntactic typology).

The course will treat the history of the Austronesian language family from the break-up of Proto Austronesian in Taiwan through to the settlement of Fiji and Western Polynesia. Certain topics will receive more detailed treatment. These will include the history of the Formosan languages of Taiwan, especially with regard to morphosyntax; the morphosyntactic changes which occurred when Austronesian speakers moved into Indonesia; the changes which characterise the Oceanic subgroup; contact between Austronesian and Papuan languages; and the changes which gave rise to the Polynesian subgroup of Oceanic. The course will also provide an introduction to the relatively new field of Papuan historical linguistics, examining both the (ancient) history of Papuan languages as a geographic grouping and the history of the Trans New Guinea family, the largest genealogical group of Papuan languages.

Reading: Selected materials available online.

Prerequisites: A basic knowledge of the method of historical linguistics, whether acquired through reading or through an undergraduate introductory course on historical linguistics.

Areas of linguistics: Areal and historical linguistics; Languages of Australia and the Pacific

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