Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages
|East Indonesia and Pacific Islands|
The Central MP languages (red). (In black is the Wallace Line.)
The Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (CEMP) languages form a putative branch of the Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian languages consisting of over 700 languages. The traditional division of CEMP is into Central Malayo-Polynesian and Eastern Malayo-Polynesian. However, Central MP has never been demonstrated to be a valid clade, and Eastern MP is only poorly supported. Mark Donahue does not see CEMP as a whole as being particularly convincing, and suspects that it is a Sprachbund based on a non-Austronesian substrate.
The Central languages are spoken in the Lesser Sunda and Maluku Islands of the Banda Sea, in an area corresponding closely to the Indonesian provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and Maluku and the nation of East Timor (excepting the Papuan languages of Timor and nearby islands), but with the Bima language extending to the eastern half of Sumbawa Island in the province of West Nusa Tenggara and the Sula languages of the Sula Archipelago in the southwest corner of the province of North Maluku. The principal islands in this region are Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Timor, Buru, and Seram. The numerically most important languages are Bima, Manggarai of western Flores, Uab Meto of West Timor, and Tetum, the national language of East Timor.
The Central languages may form a linkage. They are for the most part poorly attested, but they do not appear to constitute a coherent group. Many of the proposed defining features of CMP are not found in the geographic extremes of the area. Therefore some linguists consider it a linkage; a conservative classification might consider CMP to be a convenient term for those Central–Eastern languages which are not Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (Grimes 1991). Languages in the east of Flores and nearby islands, such as Savu, have especially large amounts of apparently non-Austronesian basic vocabulary (Würm 1975), but all of the CMP languages appear to have a non-Austronesian substrate that sets them apart.
The Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages extend from the coasts of Halmahera across the Pacific. They are similarly dubious as a group: per Malcolm Ross, there is "essentially no evidence" that the two branches, Halmahera–Cenderawasih (South Halmahera – West New Guinea) and Oceanic, form an exclusive clade within Malayo-Polynesian. However, the two individual branches are well defined and accepted.
Given the poor support for larger groupings, some of the groups listed here are provisional.
- Sumba–Flores languages
- West Damar
- North Bomberai
- Kowiai (S. Bomberai)
- Central Maluku
- Timor–Babar languages
- Eastern MP
- Fay Wouk and Malcolm Ross (ed.), The history and typology of western Austronesian voice systems. Australian National University, 2002.
- K. Alexander Adelaar and Nikolaus Himmelmann, The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar. Routledge, 2005.