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Systems of Nominal Classification in East Papuan Languages

Systems of Nominal Classification in East Papuan Languages Systems of Nominal Classi²cation in East Papuan Languages Angela Terrill australian national university The existence of nominal classi²cation systems has long been thought of as one of the de²ning features of the Papuan languages of island New Guinea. However, while almost all of these languages do have nominal classi²cation systems, they are, in fact, extremely divergent from each other. This paper examines these systems in the East Papuan languages in order to examine the question of the relationship between these Papuan outliers. Nominal classi²cation systems are often archaic, preserving older features lost elsewhere in a language. Also, evidence shows that they are not easily borrowed into languages (although they can be). For these reasons, it is useful to consider nominal classi²cation systems as a tool for exploring ancient historical relationships between languages. This paper ²nds little evidence of relationship between the nominal classi²cation systems of the East Papuan languages as a whole. It argues that the mere existence of nominal classi²cation systems cannot be used as evidence that the East Papuan languages form a genetic family. The simplest hypothesis is that either the systems were inherited so long ago as to obscure the genetic evidence, or else the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Oceanic Linguistics University of Hawai'I Press

Systems of Nominal Classification in East Papuan Languages

Oceanic Linguistics , Volume 41 (1) – Jun 1, 2002

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-9421
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Abstract

Systems of Nominal Classi²cation in East Papuan Languages Angela Terrill australian national university The existence of nominal classi²cation systems has long been thought of as one of the de²ning features of the Papuan languages of island New Guinea. However, while almost all of these languages do have nominal classi²cation systems, they are, in fact, extremely divergent from each other. This paper examines these systems in the East Papuan languages in order to examine the question of the relationship between these Papuan outliers. Nominal classi²cation systems are often archaic, preserving older features lost elsewhere in a language. Also, evidence shows that they are not easily borrowed into languages (although they can be). For these reasons, it is useful to consider nominal classi²cation systems as a tool for exploring ancient historical relationships between languages. This paper ²nds little evidence of relationship between the nominal classi²cation systems of the East Papuan languages as a whole. It argues that the mere existence of nominal classi²cation systems cannot be used as evidence that the East Papuan languages form a genetic family. The simplest hypothesis is that either the systems were inherited so long ago as to obscure the genetic evidence, or else the

Journal

Oceanic LinguisticsUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jun 1, 2002

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