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  • Issues in Austronesian Morphology: A focusschrift for Byron W. Bender
  • J. P. Blevins
Joel Bradshaw and Kenneth L. Rehg, ed. 2001. Issues in Austronesian Morphology: A focusschrift for Byron W. Bender. Pacific Linguistics 519. Canberra: Australian National University. vii + 287 pp. A$59, paper. ISBN 0-85883-485-5.

This volume contains a dozen papers dealing with morphological topics in Austronesian, preceded by three chapters that summarize Byron W. Bender's research interests and professional activities. The volume opens with a short reminiscence by Alfred Capelle that recounts his experience working with Bender on the Mar-shallese-English dictionary project, and details Bender's extensive administrative work in the Marshall Islands. George W. Grace provides a brief biographical sketch that emphasizes Bender's long and distinguished record of professional service. The third chapter lists Bender's publications up to 2000.

The twelve papers that follow are organized alphabetically by author rather than thematically, though a number of papers address common issues, and some general themes run through many of the papers in the volume. One intriguing group of papers reconsiders alternations in Oceanic between reflexes of transitive forms in *-i or *-aki(ni) and their intransitive counterparts. In the first of these papers, "The Gil-bertese-i intransitives, high-vowel erasure, and related phenomena," Harrison articulates the descriptive issue raised by the thematic consonants that precede transitive markers. He notes that "if the verb root was one that was consonant-final in Proto Oceanic, then the transitive form will typically reflect the historical root-final consonant as a so-called thematic consonant, which is lost in the unsuffixed intransitives" (106). Yet the loss of thematic consonants in intransitives entails that the transitive [End Page 553] form is not in general predictable from the intransitive form (though the intransitive is generally predictable from the transitive).

A second general issue concerns the origin and interpretation of the forms in -a or -aka that alternate with transitives in -i or aki. Harrison rejects the view that the -a that marks transitive forms in Fijian is the reflex of *-ia, derived from transitive *-i and a 3sg pronominal suffix *-a (Clark 1973), and suggests an alternative source for transitives in -a. Harrison goes on to suggest that transitives in -a may alternate with intransitives in -i in Micronesian.

In "Proto Polynesian *-CIA," Pawley also disputes the claim that forms in -a are reflexes of *-ia. He considers a number of possible sources and surveys a wide variety of patterns in Oceanic before concluding that "Proto Eastern Oceanic had a fairly productive suffix *-a, which derived stative verbs from transitive verbs and which expressed a state resulting from a prior event" (212). This proposal offers an interesting perspective on the range of interpretations associated with forms in -a, and is consistent with Pawley's earlier treatment of the "passive" in Fijian as "an agentless active transitive construction" (Pawley 1973:138).

In "On the morphological status of thematic consonants in two Oceanic languages," Lichtenberk returns to the synchronic status of thematic consonants. Following a detailed discussion of the morphotactic status of thematic consonants in Toqabaquita and Manam, he concludes that "there is evidence both in Toqabaquita and Manam against analysing the thematic consonants as part of the inner base, and there is also evidence against analysing them as part of the transitive or object sufffixes" (145). On the "morpholexemic" account that Lichtenberk proposes, "thematic consonants are separate morphs, but they are semantically empty morphs," so that it is "the transitive verbs as wholes that are signs" (141). This treatment accords with the "word and paradigm" (WP) approach adopted in Bender 1998, 2000, in which words, not morphs, are minimal signs. A word-based account also suggests a solution to the problem posed by the loss of thematic consonants in intransitives. Given that the intransitive is generally predictable from the longer transitive form, the transitive can be regarded as basic and the intransitive as derived. Harrison hints at a similar proposal for the analysis of intransitives in -i when he remarks that "if the transitive morphology for -i intransitive verbs is not agglutinative … then an intransitive form in -i can be identified with the verb...