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Reviewed by:
  • Selected papers from the Eighth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics
  • Malcolm D. Ross
Elizabeth Zeitoun and Paul Jen-kuei Li, eds. 1999. Selected papers from the Eighth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics (Preparatory Office), Academia Sinica. 671 pp. Cloth.

This substantial volume contains twenty-one of the seventy papers presented at the Eighth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (8ICAL), held in Taipei in December 1997. Unlike many collections of conference papers, this one has been subject to a rigorous review and revision process, resulting in a volume [End Page 445] whose substance lies not just in its size (it has 671 pages) but in its content and its contribution to Austronesian linguistics.

The first three papers in the volume are the keynote addresses on the genealogy of Austronesian by Lawrence Reid, Robert Blust, and Andrew Pawley. These are reviewed in some detail below. The remaining papers are grouped into three sections: diachronic studies, phonetics and phonology, and syntax. Under diachronic studies we find John Wolff, who revisits Proto-Austronesian monosyllabic roots, Ross Clark on Proto-Polynesian numerals, and Richard McGinn on the subgrouping of Rejang (Sumatra). The phonetics and phonology section includes papers by Abigail Cohen and William Ham on Madurese consonants, Niken Adisasmito-Smith on degemination in Indonesian, Richard Wright on Tsou (Taiwan) consonant clusters, and Alexander Adelaar on the retrieval of an extinct phonology from Siraya (Taiwan) written sources. The syntax section is the largest, and, because of the conference venue, has a particular focus on the Formosan languages of Taiwan. Of its eleven papers, seven have a Formosan language as their subject matter, and four of these deal with members of the Atayalic group. Of the four, three are on Seediq: Yung-Li Chang on its bound pronouns, Arthur Holmer on instrument focus, and Naomi Tsukida on locative, existential, and possessive clauses. Stanley Starosta writes on Atayal case marking. The other three Formosan-related papers are by Heng-syung Jeng on Bunun tense and aspect, Chih-Chen Jane Tang on clausal complements in Paiwan, and Paul Jen-kuei Li on Basay. The four papers on extra-Formosan languages are by JoAnn Gault on ergativity, subject, and focus in Sama Bangingi' (Philippines), Simon Musgrave on emotion verbs in Acehnese (Sumatra), and Marian Klamer on grammaticalized quotations in Kambera, Buru, and Tukang Besi (eastern Indonesia).

It is beyond the scope of this review to summarize every paper in the volume, and, apart from the three keynote contributions, my choice of papers has been governed by my own interests, which lie largely in diachrony. In fact, there are more papers to interest the historical linguist than the catalogue above might suggest.

The whole volume has a distinctly westward bias. All but three papers concern western Malayo-Polynesian and Formosan languages, the exceptions being Clark (Polynesian), Klamer (eastern Indonesia), and Pawley (much of Austronesian, with an Oceanic emphasis). This bias is partly due to the fact that Oceanicists have since 1993 held separate conferences and partly because 8ICAL was held in Taiwan. Readers' reactions to this bias will vary, but for me it is a positive that this volume has much to say about the somewhat neglected Formosan languages, given their striking diversity and their importance to the study of Austronesian linguistic prehistory.

Lawrence Reid's contribution "New linguistic evidence for the Austric hypothesis" summarizes already published pieces of evidence for the hypothesis that the Austroasiatic (AA) and Austronesian (AN) language stocks are related and adds some new evidence. (Actually, Reid's hypothesis is more complex: he infers that Austric split first into Austroasiatic and Austro-Tai, and that the latter then split into Austronesian and Tai-Kadai, but the Austro-Tai phase is mentioned only in passing.) Pieces of evidence are as follows. (1) The Nicobarese causative verbal [End Page 446] infix <um> is taken to be cognate with the PAN infix *<um> that marked a verb as unergative intransitive and formed deverbal nouns expressing nonagentive causers (e.g., Bontok s<um>akít 'that which makes [someone] sick'). (2) PAN and PAA are both taken to have been ergative, with a contrast beween nominative and genitive pronouns, the genitive denoting...