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Reviewed by:
  • Salako or Badameà, sketch grammar, texts and lexicon of a Kanayatn dialect in West Borneo
  • Daniel Kaufman
K. Alexander Adelaar . 2005. Salako or Badameà, sketch grammar, texts and lexicon of a Kanayatn dialect in West Borneo. Frankfurter Forschungen zu Südostasien 2. Berlin: Harrasowitz Verlag. vii + 328 pp. ISBN 3-447-051012-7. €78, hardcover.

The Salako language, spoken in parts of West Kalimantan and Sarawak, is accepted as belonging to the Malayic family (Adelaar 1992a), but despite this linguistic affiliation, Salako speakers are culturally far removed from present-day Malay groups in Western Indonesia due to the preservation to their traditional lifestyle and religion until relatively recently. The Salako are, of course, not the only "Dayak" people of Kalimantan to be counted in the Malayic family; other such groups include the Iban and the Kendayan. But in contrast to the better-documented Iban language, Salako had not received sufficient attention from linguists prior to Adelaar's earlier publications, especially in regard to grammar and morphology. The present grammar thus represents the first attempt at offering a more holistic picture of the Salako language, and fills an important gap in our knowledge of the Malayic family and the linguistic landscape of West Kalimantan. The grammar, however, as stated in the title, is only a sketch. It covers the fundamental points of the phonology and morphology of the language along with a basic picture of the syntax. The bulk of the book comprises a collection of texts in Salako with English translations and a lexicon. It is the product of Adelaar's fieldwork in Nyarumkop, a Roman Catholic parochial center located in the Singkawang Timur district, Benkayang regency, where he collected data intermittently between the late 1980s and 2004.

In what follows, I review the content and presentation of this publication while at the same time highlighting some points of Salako grammar that are of importance for current issues in linguistics. The relevance of Salako to the reconstruction and subgrouping of Malayic has already been dealt with by Adelaar in several articles (Adelaar 1992a, 1992b, 2004, 2005b).

The book is organized into four parts. Part I is an introduction containing basic information about the speaker community, the history of Salako scholarship, and the recent sociolinguistic situation. Part II is a sketch grammar with subsections covering phonology, morphophonology, and morphosyntax. Part III consists of 20 texts that are mostly narrated stories, procedural texts, and stories explaining Salako customs with a few samples of dialogue included. Part IV, the final part, is a Salako–English lexicon.

The introduction is well written and informative, enriched by Adelaar's longstanding interest in the language area in particular, and in the Malayic family more generally. We are told here about the various linguistic pressures affecting Salako speakers today, the greatest of which is from Indonesian, as is evident from the code-mixing within the texts. This pressure is not new; in earlier times, Adelaar informs us, the Catholic church was responsible for the marginalization of Salako by their promotion of Malay as the official liturgical language. In regard to classification, Adelaar locates Malayic in the framework of his Malayo-Sumbawan hypothesis (Adelaar 2005a) which groups Madurese, Sundanese, Sasak, Sumbawa, Balinese, Chamic, and Malayic into a single subgroup of Malayo-Polynesian. [End Page 624]

The grammar proper, which takes up 63 pages, offers a short but relatively thorough description of the language. The phonology covers basic alternations and distributional patterns, including some brief historical notes on the development of the sound system. The most notable features of Salako phonology are the following:

  1. i. NT without ND

  2. ii. vowel nasalization

  3. iii. nasal preplosion

Feature (i) is phonotactic in nature and exemplifies a counterexample to a claimed universal, namely, that nasal + voiceless obstruent clusters are more marked than nasal + voiced obstruent clusters, and that the former should thus not occur in a language without the latter.1 This uncommon state of affairs is the result of a historical simplification that only affected clusters containing voiced stops, schematized as: *NT>NT, *ND>N. In another apparent flouting of these markedness conditions, Salako attests many cases of nasal accretion (unexplained instances of historical nasal insertion) in exactly the places...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9421
Print ISSN
0029-8115
Pages
pp. 624-633
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-03
Open Access
No
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