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Lecture

‘Give’ constructions in Austronesian and Papuan languages of eastern Indonesia: a case of structural convergence

Date
Monday 8 April 2019
Time
Series
Descriptive and Anthropological Linguistics Discussion Group
Location
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 1
2311 BZ Leiden
Room
0.06

Abstract

In this paper, we describe and compare give constructions in two closely related Austronesian languages of eastern Indonesia, with the aim of detecting structural borrowing. Lamaholot is spoken on east Flores and its offshore islands surrounded by Austronesian languages, while Alorese is spoken on Alor and Pantar surrounded by Papuan languages of the Alor-Pantar (AP) family. About 600 years ago, Alorese people migrated from the Lamaholot speaking area and settled in the Alor archipelago. Since then they have been in contact with speakers of AP languages, such as Adang. Previous studies have shown that this long-term contact has profoundly affected the Alorese grammar, resulting in morphological simplification and the borrowing of the plural word hire (Klamer 2011; Moro 2018).

By comparing the Alorese give constructions to Lamaholot on the one hand, and to Adang and other AP languages on the other hand, we present evidence of structural borrowing from AP into Alorese. In order to carry out a cross-linguistic comparison, we collected utterances from Lamaholot, Alorese, and Adang using eight video clips showing give events. The use of video clips for elicitation enabled us to generate comparable data of semi-spontaneous speech.

The data show that Lamaholot uses monoverbal constructions with a prepositional recipient to express simple give events (1), while Alorese mostly uses serial verb constructions (2), as also attested in the AP languages (Klamer & Schapper 2012).

(1)

bine

tu

noto

bunga

la

bine

tune

 

female

one

give

flower

loc[1]

female

one

 

‘A woman gives flowers to a woman.’

         (Lamaholot)

                 

(2)

beka

kafae

jilbab

ha

sorong

bunga

neng

ina

kafae

tou

ha

 

child

girl

hijab

prox

pass

flower

give

mother

girl

one

prox

 

‘The girl with the hijab gives flowers to that woman.’

(Alorese)


[1] Abbreviations: loc= locative, prox= proximal demonstrative

In Lamaholot, SVC give constructions are also attested, however these SVCs appear to be iconic as they only occur when there is the additional subevent of “taking the object” before giving it. In Alorese and in AP languages, SVCs are more grammaticalized and they occur across the board.

Since structural borrowing is typically found in communities characterized by child bilingualism (Ross 2013), our findings suggest that the borrowing of give SVCs must have occurred in a relatively small community with children speaking Alorese and one or more AP languages. This scenario is compatible with the early stages of the Alorese history, when the borrowing of the plural word hire took place.

 

References:

Klamer, Marian. 2011. A short grammar of Alorese (Austronesian). Munich, Germany: Lincom Europe.

Klamer, Marian & Antoinette Schapper. 2012. ‘Give’ Constructions in the Papuan Languages of Timor-Alor-Pantar. Linguistic Discovery 10(3).

Moro, Francesca. 2018. The Plural Word hire in Alorese: Contact-Induced Change from Neighboring Alor-Pantar Languages. Oceanic Linguistics57(1), 177-198.

Ross, Malcom. 2013. Diagnosing contact processes from their outcomes: The importance of life stages. Journal of Language Contact, 6(1), 5-47.

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