Austronesian–Ongan languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Austronesian–Ongan
Geographic
distribution
Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Madagascar
Linguistic classification Proposed language family
Subdivisions
Glottolog None

Austronesian–Ongan is a proposed connection between the Ongan and Austronesian language families, published in Blevins (2007). Ongan is a small family of two attested languages in the Andaman Islands, while Austronesian is one of the largest language families in the world, with a thousand languages spread across the Pacific.

Sound correspondences[edit]

Blevins (2007) proposes the following sound correspondences:

Consonants
Proto-Austronesian (PAN) *p *t *k *q *ku *qu *b *d *g *s, *S *c, *C *z *j *h *m *n *ny *N *l *r *R *w
Proto-Ongan (PO) *p *t *k *kw *b *d *j, *g *c *j, *y *h, *y, *∅ *m *n *ny *l, *y *l *r *l, *r *w

There is neutralization and sometimes loss of final nasals in Proto-Ongan, with final **n merged into Proto-Ongan *ŋ, and final **m and **ny partially merged into *ŋ. (The latter merger, and loss, may post-date Proto-Ongan.) Final (oral) stops are lost in multisyllabic words (unstressed syllables?) in Proto-Ongan.

Initial **b drops from Proto-Ongan before **u and perhaps before **i.

**qw and **kw become *kw in Proto-Ongan, and *q/k or *w in Proto-AN.

Proto-Ongan and Proto-AN share a typologically odd restriction against root-initial *m-.

Vowel-initial words in Proto-Ongan correspond to *q in Proto-AN; because the Austronesian forms often include doublets, Blevins believes this is due to epenthesis in Proto-AN.

Vowels in open, non-final syllables
Proto-Austronesian (PAN) *i *u *a *ay#
Proto-Ongan (PO) *i *u, *o *a, *e *e *e#

Final **ay has become *e in Proto-Ongan. *e also derives from **a before palatals, word-finally, and when unstressed.

Proto-Ongan *o typically derives from **u in a checked syllable, or from assimilation as in **wa.

Proto-Ongan *ə is thought to have been an allophone of *e, found before coda nasals except after palatals.

Grammatical correspondences[edit]

Most derivational morphology and grammatical words are so short that the several resemblances between Proto-Ongan and Proto-AN may be chance. However, Ongan morphology does appear to explain an odd situation in Austronesian.

Proto-Austronesian has a limited set of reconstructed vowel-initial roots, all of which are kin terms, body parts, or other readily possessed nouns. Ongan languages have inalienable possession, and inalienably possessed nouns are all vowel initial. Elsewhere, vowel-initial roots in Proto-Ongan correspond to initial *q- in Proto-Austronesian. The complete list of vowel-initial Proto-AN roots reconstructed by Blust is as follows:

Kin
*aki grandfather; *ama father, paternal uncle; *aNak child; *apu grandparent/grandchild; *aya paternal aunt; *ina mother, maternal aunt
Body
*ujung/ijung nose; *ikuR tail; *iSeq urine; *uRat vein, sinew; *utaq vomit
Other
*asu/wasu dog; *aCab cover; *ian home; *uNay splinter

These are all the kinds of words expected in inalienable-possession systems.[1] Blevins suggests that inalienable possession was lost from Proto-Austronesian, presumably after epenthetic *q- was added to vowel-initial words. There are many Proto-AN doublets like *wasu, *asu 'dog'; initial *w- has also been lost from *w-anaN 'right side' and *w-iRi 'left side' in Pazeh and other languages, from what Blust describes as "some now-obscured morphological process".[2] Blevins suggests that in all three cases, the Proto-Austronesian *w- reflects the Proto-Ongan possessive prefix *gw- 'his, her', which remained as a fossil in some daughter languages. Thus proto-Austronesian–Ongan may explain some of the odd patterns found in proto-Austronesian.

Criticism[edit]

The connection between Austronesian and Ongan has not been supported by Austronesianists. Blust (2014)[3] finds that Blevins' conclusions are not supported by her data: Of her first 25 reconstructions, none are reproducible using the comparative method, and Blust claims that the grammatical comparison does not hold up.

References[edit]

  1. ^ *aCab 'cover' may be cognate with Proto-Ongan *otab 'head',
  2. ^ Blevins, p 183
  3. ^ Robert Blust (2014) "Some Recent Proposals Concerning the Classification of the Austronesian Languages", Oceanic Linguistics 53:2:300–391.
  • Blevins, Juliette (2007), "A Long Lost Sister of Proto-Austronesian? Proto-Ongan, Mother of Jarawa and Onge of the Andaman Islands" (PDF), Oceanic Linguistics, 46 (1): 154–198, doi:10.1353/ol.2007.0015, archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-01-11 (available here)