My PhD project "The history of Lamaholot" is part of Marian Klamer's VICI project Reconstructing the past through languages of the present: the Lesser Sunda Islands (2014-2019)
PhD project description
Lamaholot is one of the four languages that are known as Flores-Lembata languages, a group of closely related Austronesian languages in eastern Indonesia. The other Flores-Lembata languages are Sika, Kedang and Alor. As historical records are rare in this area, synchronic language data is one of the main sources to reveal the history of the Lamaholot people. The reconstruction of the people’s past is particularly interesting in the case of Lamaholot because the language shows morpho-syntactic patterns that are untypical for Austronesian languages. These untypical patterns suggest a substrate of a non-Austronesian language. In terms of a historical scenario, this means that it is very likely that once non-Austronesian languages were spoken in this area but their speakers mixed with arriving speakers of an Austronesian language and at some point stopped to transmit their native language to the new generations. Traces of these non-Austronesian languages however are visible in Lamaholot until today.
The first aim of my project is to find more evidence for non-Austronesian traces in Lamaholot by examining synchronic language data collected through fieldwork. The second aim is to reconstruct a contact scenario between local non-Austronesian and incoming Austronesian speakers which led to the language death of the non-Austronesian language(s) and to contact-induced change in the Austronesian language(s), ancestor(s) of Lamaholot today. To build hypotheses on the circumstances of this contact scenario, previous research on similar case studies as well as more general models of contact-induced change will be taken into account. Furthermore, as descriptions of the other Flores-Lembata languages show similar non-Austronesian traces, a shared history is assumed. By comparing the Flores-Lembata languages among each other with a focus on non-Austronesian elements, I would like to address the question if the proposed contact scenario started at a time when Flores-Lembata had not yet split up into separate languages or after diversification was already advanced.
In sum, this project will document and analyze substrate influence in Lamaholot and use this information to reconstruct the history of the Lamaholot people.
Fields of interest
- Austronesian and Papuan languages
- Contact linguistics
- Historical linguistics
- 1987 born in Germany
- 2007-2011 BA in Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia and French linguistics (minor) at the University of Hamburg
- 2012-2014 MA in Linguistics at the University of Leiden
- 2014-today PhD in Linguistics at the University of Leiden