Friday, March 3, 2107  |  1p  |  Moore 575 (LING Conference Room)

manoasealThe Languages of Borneo:
A Comprehensive Classification

Alexander D. Smith, Linguistics

Chair: Robert Blust

Borneo is the third largest island in the world, and home to some 100 Austronesian languages (language numbers vary greatly depending on where one draws the sometimes arbitrary line between language and dialect). Borneo has been called both a “hot-spot” for linguistic change and a “cross-roads” for Austronesian comparative linguistics. This dissertation is the culmination of three years of research, based primarily on fieldwork in Borneo, and has several aims: 1) to make available new data on languages of Borneo which were previously undescribed or underdescribed, 2) to use this data to describe the historical phonologies of the languages of Borneo, 3) to delineate lower-level subgroups based on these historical phonologies, 4) to reevaluate Bornean higher-order linguistic subgrouping using Blust’s Greater North Borneo Hypothesis as the current standard, 5) to discuss, based on the composition, geographic positions, and interrelatedness of these subgroups the history of population movements in Borneo from a linguistic perspective. More than anything, however, this is a reference piece. It is designed to give interested parties the most complete overview of Borneo possible. It is hoped that it will serve as a starting point for many more conversations about these languages.