In the June 2010 issue of this journal, Lichtenberk argued that the Longgu/ Malaita/Makira (formerly “Cristobal-Malaitan”) and Guadalcanal-Nggelic languages are coordinate branches of a Southeast Solomonic subgroup, and he contends that this “goes against” Blust’s Malaita-Micronesian hypothesis. Although the evidence he presents for Southeast Solomonic is convincing (and the group already generally accepted), Lichtenberk’s presentation neglects two important points. The first is that the Malaita-Micronesian hypothesis was proposed to account for innovations, including unambiguous replacement innovations in lexicon, known only in Nuclear Micronesian and Longgu/Malaita/ Makira languages, and this distribution must be explained. The second is that Geraghty introduced an alternative to the family tree model that plausibly accounts for conflicting patterns of exclusively shared innovations. An application of Geraghty’s model for what he calls “Tokalau Fijian-Polynesian” to the present case suggests that the Nuclear Micronesian languages differentiated out of a dialect chain in the Southeast Solomons, and that this dialect chain was then reincorporated into the greater Southeast Solomonic speech area as a result of centuries of subsequent contact and coevolution.


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pp. 559-567
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