Abstract

Blust (2005) proposed that certain typological traits in the Austronesian languages of Vanuatu and New Caledonia—here called “Remote Melanesia”—suggest Papuan contact influence in situ. Given the absence of any pre-Lapita archaeological tradition in this area, it now seems best to frame this hypothesis in terms of two closely spaced migrations that appear to be archaeologically indistinguishable. The first wave brought Austronesian speakers of southern Mongoloid physical type into Remote Oceania. The second wave brought Papuan speakers who had acquired the outrigger canoe complex, pottery, and some other elements of material culture from the incoming Austronesians in Near Oceania, but who remained biologically and culturally distinct from them in other ways. In time, the Papuan languages of Remote Melanesia were abandoned in favor of the more uniform and widely dispersed speech of late Proto-Oceanic speakers, but not before leaving traces of their former presence in the form of typological divergence toward a pattern that is more typical of Papuan languages than of Austronesian languages outside Melanesia.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9421
Print ISSN
0029-8115
Pages
pp. 445-459
Launched on MUSE
2009-01-24
Open Access
No
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