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Traces of language contact: The Flores-Lembata languages in eastern Indonesia

On the 13th of November, Hanna Fricke successfully defended her doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Hanna on this achievement.

Hanna Fricke
13 November 2019
Leiden University Repository


This dissertation reconstructs the history of the Flores-Lembata languages (Austronesian, eastern Indonesia) by investigating traces of contact in the lexicon and grammar. Part I fills a gap in the documentation of the Flores-Lembata languages by providing a descriptive grammar of the previously undescribed Central Lembata language. Part II researches the history of the phonology and the lexicon of the Flores-Lembata languages and provides evidence for both inherited lexical items and a non-Austronesian lexical substrate. Part III examines morpho-syntactic features and their history of contact. Eight atypical structural features of the Flores-Lembata languages are described and evaluated on their potential of being the result of contact with non-Austronesian languages of the area.It is proposed that the Flores-Lembata languages have been in contact with one or more languages typologically similar to the non-Austronesian Alor-Pantar languages that are currently spoken on two adjacent islands. This contact between Flores-Lembata languages and non-Austronesian languages must have been ongoing since the time of Proto-Flores-Lembata until after the break-up of the family into subgroups. The Lamaholot subgroups have gained more non-Austronesian features than the other subgroups. This suggests that the contact of each of the subgroups must have varied in intensity and length.

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