Insular Southeast Asia: Linguistic and cultural studies in honour of Bernd Nothofer (review)
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Reviewed by
Fritz Schulze and Holger Warnk, eds. 2006. Insular Southeast Asia: Linguistic and cultural studies in honour of Bernd Nothofer. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. xx + 190 pp. ISBN 978-3-447-05477-5. €58.00, paper.

This is a festschrift for Bernd Nothofer, long-time professor of Southeast Asian Studies at Frankfurt, on the occasion of his 65th birthday and implicitly, because he was a professor at a university in Germany, his attendant retirement. The volume opens with an appreciation of Nothofer’s life and publications, followed by a series of articles by his friends and colleagues.

Following Yulia E. K.’s poem “Guruku II” (i.e., “My teacher II”) (ix), Holger Warnk’s piece “Badminton in Brunei: Some personal notes on Bernd Nothofer” (xi–xv) presents an often light-hearted survey of Nothofer’s life, for example, describing his first academic job as a French instructor at Millersville State College in Pennsylvania as “a rather Herculean task” (xi). Of course, Warnk also lauds Nothofer’s seminal work on the languages of Java, including his 1973 Yale PhD dissertation “The reconstruction of Proto–Malayo-Javanic,” which became his first academic publication (Nothofer 1975). Warnk’s compilation of “Publications of Bernd Nothofer” (xvii–xx) includes both scholarly and other publications on language. Interestingly, Nothofer’s first two publications (1972a, b), as well as one of his latest (2006), were newspaper or magazine articles, written in Indonesian, Sundanese, and German, respectively. Nothofer’s work includes three articles in this journal, foremost his influential review article of Blust’s (1988) Austronesian root theory (Nothofer 1990).

Peter K. Austin’s “Content questions in Sasak, Eastern Indonesia: An optimality theoretic syntax account” (1–12) opens the section of substantive papers. Having shown that it is difficult to formulate a movement-based analysis of Sasak questions, Austin argues that an OT-style series of ranked constraints can account for the Sasak data. The principal obstacle for a movement account is the behavior of prepositional phrases that include a question word; instead of just being fronted, such phrases also take on the appearance of head-final postpositional phrases, and auxiliaries can either follow the fronted PP or, bizarrely, intervene between its NP and P components. Austin’s description of the Sasak facts is succinct and lucid, but I for one remain unconvinced of the explanatory value of many such OT accounts: a high-ranked constraint that the WH-focus must be a minimal XP correctly results in an initial NP (rather than a PP), but how is this more than a descriptive generalization in formalistic guise? Despite this theoretical quibble, Austin’s paper is a valuable contribution whose lasting value lies in its presentation of the fascinating Sasak data.

Two papers in this volume address a central concern of Bernd Nothofer’s research: the classification of Malayic languages. James T. Collins’s “Malayic variants of eastern Borneo” (37–51) demonstrates that there is much less linguistic diversity here than in western Borneo, thus still pointing to the latter as the likely Malay homeland. Alexander Adelaar’s “Where does Belangin belong?” (65–82) seeks to classify one such West-Borneoan dialect/language. In his paper “The beginnings and reorganization of the Commissie voor de Volkslectuur (1908–1920)” (85–110), Waruno Mahdi investigates the colonial historical origin of the Indonesian government publishing house, the Balai Pustaka. Besides providing [End Page 468] much data of historical interest, Mahdi concludes that the artificial nature of the school Malay promoted by the Balai Pustaka is responsible for the stilted, unfamiliar quality of the post-war national language, Bahasa Indonesia.

Three further articles in this festschrift are less directly linguistic in content. The article by Karl-Heinz Pampus on “Max Morris—ein Mentawai-Forscher” (13–36) searches for the man behind the classic grammar of the Mentawai language (Morris 1900) and discovers a physician, an autodidact who was otherwise known for his Goethe studies. The paper “Kajian bahasa dan linguistik Melayu di Malaysia: Perkembangan dan hala tuju masa hadapannya” (53–64) by Awang Sarian traces the origins of Malay language studies and linguistics in Malaysia to sixteenth-century bilingual word lists and sketches a list of future needs for the development...