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  • A bibliography of the languages of Borneo (and Madagascar) by Robert Blust and Alexander D. Smith
  • Michael Boutin and Wa ode Nahla Nurhidayah
Robert Blust and Alexander D. Smith. 2014. A bibliography of the languages of Borneo (and Madagascar). Borneo Research Council Reference Series, vol. 2. Phillips, ME: Borneo Research Council. vi + 218 pp. + CD-ROM. ISBN 1-929900-15-5. $35.00, paper.

Robert Blust, Alexander Smith, and the Borneo Research Council should be thanked for making this valuable research tool available in the form of both a book and an accompanying CD. Blust and Smith (hereafter B&S) begin with a brief history of this bibliography which started with Blust’s 1971 fieldwork in Sarawak, developed over the years in a graduate seminar that he taught at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and culminated with his spring 2013 seminar class.

A two-page introduction (v–vi) briefly explains why the languages of Madagascar and the Sama-Bajau languages of the Philippines and non-Bornean Indonesia are included in the bibliography, but not the Chamic or Malayic languages that lie outside of Borneo.

The bibliography is divided into two main parts. Part 1 (1–12) provides an overview of the languages of Borneo, which includes a discussion of the history, origins, and migrations of Malay, Malagasy, and Sama-Bajau languages. Part 1 also includes an alphabetical list of the languages of Borneo (5–9). Each language name in the list is followed by its subgroup affiliation, its location within Borneo, and its estimated population, together with the date the estimate was made. The authors state that recent immigrant populations to Borneo like speakers of Cocos Islands Malay or Tausug from the southern Philippines have been ignored in the bibliography (5); however, the language name index at the end of the book includes both Tausug (218) and Suluk (the name given to Tausug in Borneo that refers to their point of origin), and some references have been included, for example, Hardaker 1963, 1964, and 1973 (116). Alternate language names such as Aoheng/Penihing (5) are separated in the list of Borneo languages by a slash, which is also used occasionally to separate alternate spellings such as Bookan/Baukan (6). This section could have been improved by providing a comprehensive list of alternate spellings (cf. Dunn 1980).

Part 1 concludes with a list of the references that are also listed in either Part 2.1, 2.2, or 2.3. The use of a letter following the publication date for some references at the end of Part 1 looks odd when only one publication is listed for an author in a particular year. For example, p. 11 has a reference to Blust (1974a), but there is no Blust (1974b) on p. 11. However, p. 65 of Part 2.3 contains both Blust (1974a) and Blust (1974b). The references at the end of Part 1 are usually consistent with those in Part 2. An occasional inconsistency occurs in the use of a letter following a publication date, for example, Blust (1994a) on p. 11 is listed as Blust (1994) on p. 27. At other times, the letter following the date is either incorrect—for example, the second Mihing (1970a) reference on p. 152 should be (1970b)—or is missing altogether—for example, the two references to Miller (1987) on p. 152.

Part 2 begins with a seven-page overview of the literature on the languages of Borneo (13–19). After tracing the history of various bibliographies of the languages of Borneo beginning with Cense and Uhlenbeck (1958), B&S provide an explanation of both what is included in and what is excluded from their bibliography. They also describe how the bibliography [End Page 317] is organized, their research methodology, and their conventions for author names. This overview section ends with a helpful list of frequently used sources and abbreviations (like BMJ for Brunei Museum Journal). The overview is followed by three subparts.

“Part 2.1: Previous bibliographies” (20–21) provides a list of 25 previous bibliographies; however, only one entry, an Index for the Borneo Research Bulletin (20), is annotated by B&S. For bibliographies that have...


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