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The Alor-Pantar languages: History and typology

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ISBN: 9783944675480 Year: Pages: 477 DOI: 10.26530/OAPEN_533875 Language: English
Publisher: Language Science Press
Subject: Linguistics --- Mathematics
Added to DOAB on : 2014-09-24 15:10:12
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Abstract

The Alor-Pantar family constitutes the westernmost outlier group of Papuan (Non-Austronesian) languages. Its twenty or so languages are spoken on
the islands of Alor and Pantar, located just north of Timor, in eastern In-
donesia. Together with the Papuan languages of Timor, they make up the
Timor-Alor-Pantar family. The languages average 5,000 speakers and are
under pressure from the local Malay variety as well as the national lan-
guage, Indonesian.
This volume studies the internal and external linguistic history of this
interesting group, and showcases some of its unique typological features,
such as the preference to index the transitive patient-like argument on
the verb but not the agent-like one; the extreme variety in morphologi-
cal alignment patterns; the use of plural number words; the existence of
quinary numeral systems; the elaborate spatial deictic systems involving
an elevation component; and the great variation exhibited in their kinship
systems.
Unlike many other Papuan languages, Alor-Pantar languages do not ex-
hibit clause-chaining, do not have switch reference systems, never suffix
subject indexes to verbs, do not mark gender, but do encode clusivity in
their pronominal systems. Indeed, apart from a broadly similar head-final
syntactic profile, there is little else that the Alor-Pantar languages share
with Papuan languages spoken in other regions. While all of them show
some traces of contact with Austronesian languages, in general, borrow-
ing from Austronesian has not been intense, and contact with Malay and
Indonesian is a relatively recent phenomenon in most of the Alor-Pantar
region.

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