Proto-Oceanic language

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Proto-Oceanic (abbr. POc) is a proto-language that language comparatists since Otto Dempwolff have proposed as the probable common ancestor to the group of Oceanic languages. Proto-Oceanic is itself an Austronesian language and so therefore a descendant of the Proto-Austronesian language (PAN), the common ancestor of the Austronesian languages.

Proto-Oceanic was probably spoken about 4200 years ago, in the Bismarck Archipelago, east of Papua New Guinea. Archaeologists and linguists currently agree that its community more or less coincides with the Lapita culture.

Linguistic characteristics[edit]

The methodology of comparative linguistics, together with the relative homogeneity of Oceanic languages, make it possible to reconstruct with reasonable certainty the principal linguistic properties of their common ancestor, Proto-Oceanic. Like all scientific hypotheses, these reconstructions must be understood as obviously reflecting the state of science at a particular moment in time; the detail of these reconstructions is still the object of much discussion among Oceanicist scholars.

Phonology[edit]

The phonology of POc can be reconstructed with reasonable certainty.[1] Proto-Oceanic had five vowels: *i, *e, *a, *o, *u, with no length contrast.

Twenty-three consonants are reconstructed. When the conventional transcription of a protophoneme differs from its value in the IPA, the latter is indicated:

Labiovelar Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
Stop Voiceless *pw /pʷ/ *p *t *c *k *q
Prenasalized *bw /ᵐbʷ/ *b /ᵐb/ *d /ⁿd/ *j /ᶮɟ/ *g /ᵑɡ/
Nasal *mw /mʷ/ *m *n /ɲ/
Fricative *s
Rhotic Flap[2] *R /ɾ/
Trill *r
Prenasalized *dr /ⁿr/
Lateral *l
Glide *w *y /j/

Basic word order[edit]

Many Oceanic languages of New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Micronesia are SVO, or verb-medial, languages. SOV, or verb-final, word order is considered to be typologically unusual for Austronesian languages, and is only found in some Oceanic languages of New Guinea and to a more limited extent, the Solomon Islands. This is because SOV word order is very common in some non-Austronesian Papuan languages in contact with Oceanic languages. In turn, most Polynesian languages, and several languages of New Caledonia, have the VSO word order. Whether Proto-Oceanic had SVO or VSO is still debatable.

Lexicon[edit]

Plant names[edit]

Pawley and Ross (2006)[edit]

Reconstructed Proto-Oceanic terms for horticulture and food plants (other than coconuts):[3]


Tubers and their culture
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*mwapo(q) taro (possibly all Araceae)
*talo(s) taro, Colocasia esculenta
*piRaq giant taro, elephant ear taro, Alocasia macrorrhiza
*bulaka swamp taro, Cyrtosperma chamissonis
*kamwa kind of wild taro (?)
*qupi greater yam, Dioscorea alata; yam (generic)
*pwatik potato yam, aerial yam, Dioscorea bulbifera
*(s,j)uli(q) banana or taro sucker, slip, cutting, shoot (i.e. propagation material)
*wasi(n) taro stem (used for planting)
*bwaŋo new leaves or shoots, or taro tops for planting
*up(e,a) taro seedling
*pasoq[-i] to plant (tubers)
*kotiŋ to cut off taro tops


Bananas
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*pudi banana, Musa cultivars
*joRaga banana, Australimusa group
*sakup kind of cooking banana: long with white flesh (presumably Eumusa group)


Other food plants
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*topu sugar cane, Saccharum officinarum
*pijo a kind of edible wild cane or a reed, Saccharum spontaneum
*[ka]timun cucurbit (generic); cucumber, Cucumis sativus
*laqia ginger, Zingiber officinale
*yaŋo turmeric, Curcuma longa
*kuluR breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis
*baReqo breadfruit fruit (?)
*padran pandanus (generic); coastal pandanus, Pandanus tectorius
*kiRe coastal pandanus, Pandanus tectorius
*pakum Pandanus dubius
*ima kind of pandanus with useful leaves
*Rabia sago, Metroxylon spp., mainly Metroxylon sagu
*sag(u) sago starch
*qatop sago fronds, thatch
*talise Java almond, Indian almond, Terminalia catappa
*qipi Tahitian chestnut, Pacific chestnut, Inocarpus fagifer
*[ka]ŋaRi canarium almond, Canarium spp.
*molis citrus fruit or citrus-like fruit
*pau(q) mango, probably Mangifera indica
*wai, *waiwai mango (generic)
*kapika Malay apple and rose apple, Eugenia spp.
*ñonum Morinda citrifolia
*tawan Pometia pinnata
*wasa edible greens, Abelmoschus manihot
*m(w)asoku wild cinnamon, Cinnamomum spp.
*quRis Polynesian plum, hog plum, Tahitian apple, Spondias cytherea
*ñatu(q) kind of tree with avocado-like fruit and hard wood, Burckella obovata
*raqu(p) New Guinea walnut, Dracontomelon dao
*buaq areca palm, Areca catechu


Gardening practices
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*quma garden
*tanoq soil, earth
*poki to clear ground for planting
*sara to dig a hole
*tanum[-i] to plant

Ross (2008)[edit]

Reconstructed plant terms from Malcolm Ross (2008):[4]


Proto-Oceanic plant terms inherited from Proto-Austronesian or Proto-Malayo-Polynesian (65 reconstructions)
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*[a]ñuliŋ Pisonia sp.’
*aRu ‘a shore tree, Casuarina equisetifolia
*bai-bai(t) ‘a cycad, Cycas rumphii
*[baR]baR ‘coral tree, Erythrina variegata
*bitu(ŋ) bamboo sp.’
*botu(ŋ) ‘large bamboo, presumably Bambusa sp.’
*buaq ‘betelnut, areca nut, palm, Areca catechu
*drokol ‘small Dillenia sp.’
*droRu(ŋ) Trema orientalis
*guRu(n) ‘sword grass, Imperata cylindrica
*[ja]latoŋ Laportea and Dendrocnide spp.'’
*kanawa(n) Cordia subcordata
*[ka]tim(o,u)n Cucumis spp. (generic?); cucumber, Cucumis sativus
*kati(p)al ‘a palm with black wood, Caryota sp.’
*kayu ‘tree or shrub: generic name for plants with woody stems and branches, probably not including palms or tree-ferns; wood, stick’
*kiRe ‘coastal Pandanus sp., probably Pandanus tectorius
*kulapu(R) Dillenia schlechteri
*kuluR ‘breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis
*laqia ‘ginger, Zingiber officinale (?)’
*m(ʷ)aso(q)u ‘wild cinnamon, Cinnamomum sp., probably Cinnamomum xanthoneuron; possibly also Cananga odorata
*malo ‘paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera; barkcloth, loincloth’
*naRa Pterocarpus indicus
*ñatuq Burckella obovata
*nini(q) ‘shrub, Donax cannaeformis
*nipaq Nypa fruticans
*niuR ‘coconut palm and/or fruit, Cocos nucifera
*nunuk ‘fig trees, Ficus taxon’
*ŋiRac Pemphis acidula
*p(ʷ)atoRu ‘a cycad, Cycas rumphii
*padran ‘coastal pandanus, Pandanus tectorius; pandanus (generic)’
*pali[s,j]i ‘generic term for grasses and other grass-like plants’
*(p,b)anaRo Thespesia populnea
*para(k) Zingiberaceae spp. with edible rhizomes’
*paRu Hibiscus tiliaceus
*pila(q)u Casuarina equisetifolia
*pinu(q)an Macaranga spp., perhaps Macaranga involucrata
*piRaq ‘giant taro, elephant ear taro, Alocasia macrorrhizos
*piRu(q) ‘fan palm, Licuala sp.’
*pitaquR Calophyllum inophyllum
*pudi ‘banana, Musa cultivars’
*[pu-]pulu ‘betel pepper, Piper betle
*puna ‘vine used for fish poison, probably Derris elliptica
*putun Barringtonia asiatica
*qa(l,R)a Ficus sp.’
*qaramʷaqi Pipturus argenteus
*qasam ‘fern used for tying and binding, Lygodium circinnatum
*(qate-)qate Wedelia biflora
*qauR ‘bamboo spp.'’
*qipil ‘a taxon of hardwood trees including Intsia bijuga and Casuarina equisetifolia
*qu(w)e ‘rattan, Calamus spp.’
*qupi ‘greater yam, Dioscorea alata: yam (generic)
*Rabia ‘sago, Metroxylon spp., mainly Metroxylon sagu (syn. Metroxylon rumphii)’
*raqu(p) ‘New Guinea walnut, Dracontomelon dao
*rarap ‘coral tree, Erythrina spp.'’
*talise Terminalia catappa
*talo(s) ‘taro, Colocasia esculenta
*toŋoR ‘mangrove, Bruguiera spp.; mangroves (generic)’
*topu ‘sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum
*toRas ‘a taxon of hardwood trees including Intsia bijuga’ (?)
*tui Dolichandrone spathacea
*tupa ‘climbing shrubs, Derris spp.’
*wai, *waiwai ‘mango (generic)’
*walasi ‘tree sp. with poisonous sap, Semecarpus forstenii
*waR[e] Flagellaria indica
*waRoc ‘generic term for vines and creepers, plants with creeping or climbing growth structure; string, rope’


Proto-Oceanic plant terms inherited from Proto-Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (11 reconstructions)
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*[bual]bual ‘species of palm used for making spears and bows; palm-wood spear or bow, probably Caryota sp.’
*dalo Calophyllum inophyllum
*dradrap Hoya sp.’
*ima Pandanus sp. with useful leaves’
*jasi Cordia subcordata
*kai(k) Albizia sp.’
*[ka]ŋaRi ‘canarium almond, Canarium indicum
*lowaŋa Litsea sp.’
*pail Falcataria moluccana
*pau(q) mango, Mangifera sp. (not Mangifera indica)’
*Reqi ‘sword grass, Imperata cylindrica


Proto-Oceanic plant terms inherited from Proto-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (4 reconstructions)
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*na[su]-nasu Scaevola taccada
*qayawan Ficus, strangler fig taxon’
*tawan Pometia pinnata
*tuRi-tuRi ‘candlenut tree, Aleurites moluccanus’ (?)


Reconstructed terms with no external cognates
Proto-Oceanic plant terms with no known non-Oceanic cognates (97 reconstructions)
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*ba(k,g)a ‘banyan tree, medium-sized Ficus spp., not stranglers’
*babak Falcataria moluccana
*bala ‘taxon including various Euodia spp.’ (?)
*baqun ‘banana cultivar’
*baReko breadfruit
*bau ‘hardwood taxon’
*bele Abelmoschus manihot
*beta breadfruit
*biRi-biRi Hernandia nymphaefolia
*bosi ‘a forest tree with white wood, probably Euodia elleryana
*bou Fagraea spp.'’
*bulu Garcinia sp., perhaps Garcinia novo-guineensis
*b(ʷ)ala ‘tree fern, Cycas or Cyathea sp.’
*bʷau ‘bamboo’
*bʷele ‘bamboo sp.’
*bʷera Musa cultivar’
*drala ‘shrub sp., Vitex trifolia
*(dr,d)aRa(q,k)a ‘wild nutmeg, Myristica sp.’
*i(u)bu Corynocarpus cribbianus
*iguRa Ficus sp. with sandpapery leaves, either Ficus copiosa or Ficus wassa or both’
*ipi ‘Tahitian chestnut, Inocarpus fagifer
*jajal ‘croton, Codiaeum variegatum
*jamaR Commersonia bartramia
*jiRi ‘taxon consisting of Cordyline fruticosa and Dracaena angustifolia
*joRaga ‘banana, Fe’i (?) cultivars’
*ka(mʷa)-kamʷa Ficus sp., perhaps Ficus nodosa
*ka[(r,l)a]qabusi Acalypha spp.'’
*kalaka Planchonella sp.’
*kapika Malay apple, rose apple, Syzygium malaccense
*karagʷam ‘seaweed, seagrass’
*kaRi(q)a ‘taxon of decorative plants’
*kaRi(q)ana Pandanus lamekotensis
*kayu qone Heritiera littoralis
*koka Macaranga spp.'’
*koma(r,R)(o,u) Endospermum sp.’
*kopu ‘bamboo sp.’
*koRa ‘wild mango, Mangifera minor
*kurat ‘the dye produced from Morinda citrifolia
*m(ʷ)ase ‘wild mulberry, paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera
*ma(i)tagaR(a) Kleinhovia hospita
*mapuqan Flueggea flexuosa’ (?)
*maqota Dysoxylum spp.'’
*maRakita ‘the putty nut, probably Parinari laurina and Parinari glaberrima
*maRako Trichospermum peekelii
*mari(a)sapa Syzygium sp.’
*molis ‘citrus fruit or citrus-like fruit, perhaps Clymenia polyandra
*mʷala(q)u Glochidion philippicum
*mʷalak (?) ‘spider lily, Crinum asiaticum
*mʷaña Pandanus sp., perhaps Pandanus conoideus
*mʷapo(q) ‘taro, Colocasia esculenta
*mʷaruqe Dioscorea sp. or perhaps a cultivar of Dioscorea alata
*nipus Cryptocarya sp.’
*ñoñu Morinda citrifolia
*olaŋa Campnosperma brevipetiolatum
*pakum Pandanus dubius
*pala(ŋ) ‘cut nut, bush nut, Barringtonia novae-hiberniae (green variety?)’
*paliaRua ‘a vine, Merremia peltata
*paqo Heliconia sp.’
*paqu Kleinhovia hospita
*pasa(r,R) Vitex cofassus
*pesi ‘a coastal forest tree, perhaps Pongamia pinnata
*pi(y)uŋ Miscanthus floridulus
*pijo ‘cane or reed taxon, including Saccharum spontaneum
*poipoi Pandanus sp., perhaps Pandanus tectorius
*poka(q) ‘variety of Malay apple
*(p,b)oso ‘kind of taro
*puRe ‘taxon of beach creepers; perhaps prototypically Ipomoea grandiflora and Ipomoea pes-caprae
*pʷa(k,g)e ‘kind of green vegetable (?)
*pʷabosi ‘free-standing small or medium-sized Ficus sp., probably Ficus wassa
*p(ʷ)asa(r,R) ‘large Pandanus sp.’
*pʷatika ‘potato yam, aerial yam, Dioscorea bulbifera
*p(ʷ)awa(t) Cerbera spp., probably Cerbera floribunda and Cerbera manghas
*pʷete ‘bird’s nest fern, Asplenium nidus
*pʷi(r,R)a Cananga odorata
*qarop Premna spp.'’
*qat(V) Terminalia sp. with edible nut’
*(q,k)atita ‘the putty nut, probably Parinari laurina and Parinari glaberrima
*(q)alipa, *lalipa ‘nut sp., possibly canarium almond, Canarium sp.’ (?)
*qope Gyrocarpus americanus
*quRis Spondias cytherea
*(quta)quta ‘grass and weeds (generic)’
*rabum ‘grass’
*Rigi ‘rosewood, Pterocarpus indicus
*sabakap Alstonia scholaris
*sakup ‘banana cultivar with long fruit’ (?)
*seRa Ficus sp., perhaps Ficus adenosperma
*sila ‘Job’s tears, Coix lachryma-jobi
*tamanu Calophyllum sp.’
*taŋa Ficus tinctoria
*tapi(l) ‘puzzlenut tree, Xylocarpus granatum’ (?)
*tapoRa ‘a nut-bearing tree sp.’
*tawasi 'Rhus taitensis
*toRu Cordia subcordata
*udu(r,R) Dioscorea alata cultivar (?)’
*wasa Abelmoschus manihot; green vegetables in general’
*wasi-wasi 'Abroma augusta
*yaŋo ‘turmeric, Curcuma longa


Proto-Western Oceanic plant terms with no known external cognates (22 reconstructions)
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*bara Macaranga spp.’
*basi ‘mango’
*baul ‘mangrove, Rhizophora sp. (?)’
*bʷana Intsia bijuga
*bʷatiq ‘banana cultivar’
*gobu Dioscorea sp.’
*ka(p)ul ‘seed yam’
*kamisa ‘lesser yam, Dioscorea esculenta
*kam(ʷ)apaR Cryptocarya sp.’
*kasuwai ‘mango’
*kobo ‘taxon of Macaranga spp.’
*kokoi ‘mushroom sp.’
*[ku,i]Rim(a,o) Octomeles sumatrana
*lapuka ‘kind of tree with fruit similar to breadfruit, Parartocarpus venenosa’ (?)
*m(ʷ)ali Derris sp.’
*mamisa ‘lesser yam, Dioscorea esculenta
*moke Pandanus sp.’
*mʷa(r,R)e ‘taxon including Codiaeum variegatum and Cordyline fruticosa
*nagi Cordia sp.’
*(s,j)a(q,k)umu Pandanus sp.’
*tabun Garcinia sp.’
*tabuqaR Saccharum edule


Proto-Eastern Oceanic plant terms with no known external cognates (15 reconstructions)
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*bakuRa Calophyllum sp., probably Calophyllum kajewskii
*buka ‘taxon of littoral trees, including Pisonia spp. and Gyrocarpus americanus
*bulipa Ficus sp.’
*gama Finschia cloroxantha
*(k)a(r,l)adroŋa Acalypha sp.’
*koka ‘tree sp., Bischofia javanica
*mabʷe ‘Tahitian chestnut, Inocarpus fagifer
*melo Elaeocarpus angustifolius
*milo Thespesia populnea
*mʷa(q)ele ‘a cycad, Cycas rumphii
*pakalo, *pʷakala (?) Hibiscus sp.’
*paRage Pangium edule
*pinuaq ‘a nut tree, perhaps Canarium sp. (?)’
*rako Heliconia sp., usually Heliconia indica
*sinu ‘taxon of shrubs whose sap causes irritation, including species of Phaleria


Proto-Remote Oceanic plant terms with no known external cognates (6 reconstructions)
Proto-Oceanic Meaning
*buavu Hernandia sp.’
*maRi breadfruit
*sasaRu Abelmoschus manihot
*vaRo Neisosperma oppositifolium
*vuba ‘kind of vine, probably Derris elliptica
*wasi-wasi Sterculia vitiensis

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ See Ross, Pawley, Osmond (1998: 15).
  2. ^ The consonant *R has been recently reconstructed as an alveolar flap by François (2011), p.141.
  3. ^ Pawley, Andrew and Malcolm Ross. 2006. The Prehistory of Oceanic Languages: A Current View. In The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. doi:10.22459/A.09.2006
  4. ^ Ross, Malcolm. Concluding notes, 427-436. In Ross, Malcolm; Pawley, Andrew; Osmond, Meredith (eds). The lexicon of Proto Oceanic: The culture and environment of ancestral Oceanic society. Volume 3: Plants. 2008. Pacific Linguistics 599.

References[edit]

  • François, Alexandre (2011), "Where *R they all? The history and geography of *R loss in Southern Oceanic", Oceanic Linguistics, 50 (1): 142–199, doi:10.1353/ol.2011.0009
  • Lynch, John; Malcolm Ross; Terry Crowley (2002). The Oceanic languages. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon. ISBN 978-0-7007-1128-4. OCLC 48929366.
  • Ross, Malcolm D. (1988). Proto-Oceanic and the Austronesian languages of Western Melanesia. Canberra: Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-85883-367-8. OCLC 20100109.
  • Ross, Malcolm D. (1998). Andrew Pawley; Meredith Osmond (eds.). The lexicon of Proto-Oceanic: Volume 1, Material Culture. Canberra: Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-85883-507-8. OCLC 40267977.
  • Ross, Malcolm D. (2003). Andrew Pawley; Meredith Osmond (eds.). The lexicon of Proto-Oceanic: Volume 2, The Physical Environment. Canberra: Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-85883-507-8. OCLC 40267977.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]