The Morphosyntactic Typology of Oceanic Languages

Translated Titles



Malcolm D. Ross

Key Words

大洋洲語言 ; 典型語言 ; 構詞及句法類型 ; 動詞上之主語標記 ; 動詞上之賓語標記 ; 及物化與去及物化的構詞型態 ; 領屬結構 ; 分句間關係 ; 主語功能 ; Oceanic languages ; canonic type ; typology ; morphosyntax ; verbal marking of subject ; verbal marking of object ; (de-)transitivising morphology ; possession ; interclausal relations ; function of subject



Volume or Term/Year and Month of Publication

5卷2期(2004 / 04 / 01)

Page #

491 - 541

Content Language


Chinese Abstract


English Abstract

The main goal of this paper is to describe some morphosyntactic characteristics that are common to a majority of Oceanic languages. Amidst the typological variety of Oceanic languages, the author defines a canonic language type, i.e., a type widely represented both genealogically and geographically. This type is SVO and has prepositions. Subjects are coreferenced by a prefix or proclitic to the verb, objects by a suffix or enclitic. Verbs often fall into morphologically related pairs with a transitive and an intransitive member. In some languages these verb pairs in turn fall into two classes. With A-verbs, the subject of both members is the Actor. With U-verbs, the subject of the intransitive is the Undergoer, which is to say, it corresponds to the object of the transitive. Against this background the (de-)transitivising morphology of Oceanic languages is described. Possession in the canonic language type takes two forms, direct and indirect. The direct construction encodes inalienable possession, the indirect (which entails a possessive classifier) encodes alienable possession. The paper finishes with a discussion of interclausal relationships in canonic languages. Adverbial and complement clauses display little desententialisation. It is also suggested that subjects in canonic languages generally have only a semantic function, not a reference-tracking function.

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