- East Nusantara: Typological and areal analyses ed. by Michael Ewing and Marian Klamer
Ewing and Klamer’s edited volume consists of an extensive introductory chapter by the editors, followed by twelve additional chapters, including one chapter by each editor. In the introductory chapter, they explain that the title of the book refers to a “geographical area”; however, the description provided of this area coincides with five political units: four provinces of Indonesia (Nusa Tenggara Timur, Maluku, North Maluku, and West Papua) and all of the nation East Timor. That this “linguistic area” in large part parallels the region discussed by J. C. G. Jonker (1914) perhaps rests on the largely syntactic and morphological basis of both this volume and Jonker’s essay. Indeed, of the twelve analyses (chapters) of this book, two specifically address phonological topics, while the other ten discuss alignment systems and argument encoding, serial verb constructions, and negation, as well as other syntactic and morphological phenomena. Indeed, one of the strengths of this book rests on the editors’ achievement in bringing together analyses of both Austronesian and non-Austronesian languages in the region.
The editors have provided an excellent introduction to this complex region of easternmost Southeast Asia. They even-handedly survey various terms and disputes relevant to both typology and areal studies and provide adequate thumbnail sketches of each of the twelve chapters. Moreover, they survey regional archaeology and various migration hypotheses. Unlike some other edited volumes that seem to be collections of conference papers (for example, Wouk and Ross’s 2002 book produced by the same publisher), this book reflects the very active role of the editors, who apparently solicited contributions from individual scholars as well as members of research teams active in the area, such as the three chapters contributed by scholars connected to the Endangered Maluku Languages project. Another laudable feature of this book is the relatively high level of internal reticulation that the authors themselves have included in their contributions; for example, Baird’s chapter refers to Holton’s and Klamer’s chapters, Florey’s chapter cites Ewing’s chapter, and so forth. In the introduction, the editors often make explicit comparisons of chapters in the book, thus connecting and reminding the reader when the individual authors have not done so.
The book is not divided into structured (labeled) parts, but the organizational flow of the book begins with two chapters on phonology and moves onward to chapters on alignment, grammaticalization, negation, and other grammatical subsystems. Sometimes, chapters from a specific subregion of “East Nusantara” are adjacent to each other, though at other times that is not the case. For example, Baird’s and Klamer’s chapters on non-Austronesian languages of Alor-Pantar appear as chapters 9 and 10, respectively, but Holton’s essay on an Alor-Pantar language is ch. 5. Similarly, Musgrave’s essay on a language [End Page 608] of Central Maluku (ch. 7) follows Ewing’s analysis of another closely related language and its congeners (ch. 6), but Florey’s chapter that also deals (mostly) with Central Maluku languages appears near the end of the book (ch. 11).
In addition to the introduction, two chapters in the book provide broad overviews of languages in the region. In ch. 2, Hajek’s sample of 71 languages includes 44 Austronesian languages and 27 non-Austronesian languages. His sample covers all the subregions of “East Nusantara”; his analysis succeeds in offering a glimpse of the unusual features of some languages as well as useful contextualization of the data within world-wide or areal norms. For example, on average the languages he surveyed display a lower number of vowels compared to the global average, and a much lower consonant inventory size. At the same time, Hajek has been able to identify a number of consonants in his sample that are not usually found in Southeast Asia. He concludes with the expectation that an expansion of the sample will lead to “a more...