Help Privacy Policy Disclaimer
  Advanced SearchBrowse




Journal Article

[Review of R. A. Blust The Austronesian languages. 2009. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics]


Terrill,  Angela
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

External Resource
No external resources are shared
Fulltext (restricted access)
There are currently no full texts shared for your IP range.
Fulltext (public)

(Publisher version), 59KB

Supplementary Material (public)
There is no public supplementary material available

Terrill, A. (2010). [Review of R. A. Blust The Austronesian languages. 2009. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics]. Oceanic Linguistics, 49(1), 313-316. doi:10.1353/ol.0.0061.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-31F4-5
In lieu of an abstract, here is a preview of the article. This is a marvelous, dense, scholarly, detailed, exhaustive, and ambitious book. In 800-odd pages, it seeks to describe the whole huge majesty of the Austronesian language family, as well as the history of the family, the history of ideas relating to the family, and all the ramifications of such topics. Blust doesn't just describe, he goes into exhaustive detail, and not just over a few topics, but over every topic he covers. This is an incredible achievement, representing a lifetime of experience. This is not a book to be read from cover to cover—it is a book to be dipped into, pondered, and considered, slowly and carefully. The book is not organized by area or subfamily; readers interested in one area or family can consult the authoritative work on Western Austronesian (Adelaar and Himmelmann 2005), or, for the Oceanic languages, Lynch, Ross, and Crowley (2002). Rather, Blust's stated aim "is to provide a comprehensive overview of Austronesian languages which integrates areal interests into a broader perspective" (xxiii). Thus the aim is more ambitious than just discussion of areal features or historical connections, but seeks to describe the interconnections between these. The Austronesian language family is very large, second only in size to Niger-Congo (xxii). It encompasses over 1,000 members, and its protolanguage has been dated back to 6,000 years ago (xxii). The exact groupings of some Austronesian languages are still under discussion, but broadly, the family is divided into ten major subgroups, nine of which are spoken in Taiwan, the homeland of the Austronesian family. The tenth, Malayo-Polynesian, is itself divided into two major groups: Western Malayo-Polynesian, which is spread throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, and mainland Southeast Asia to Madagascar; and Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, spoken from eastern Indonesia throughout the Pacific. The geographic, cultural, and linguistic diversity of the family