Abstract

Donohue and Grimes (2008) question the validity of the claims (1) that most of the Austronesian languages of eastern Indonesia fall into a Central Malayo-Polynesian (CMP) subgroup that appears to continue a prehistoric dialect chain, and (2) that Central Malayo-Polynesian and Eastern Malayo-Polynesian form a larger Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (CEMP) subgroup. Some of their objections are valid and welcome, but most of the counterarguments they present are based on an approach to the data that diverges sharply from the standard use of the Comparative Method of linguistics, and in certain crucial cases from generally accepted scientific method. A reexamination of individual comparisons shows that many of the exclusively shared innovations that they dismiss stand up to close scrutiny. This is particularly true of CEMP, and while it is not true of CMP, the evidence for geographically extensive diffusion among the CMP languages strongly suggests that all or most of them once formed a dialect chain.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9421
Print ISSN
0029-8115
Pages
pp. 36-77
Launched on MUSE
2009-07-23
Open Access
No
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