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Languages in contact: An exploration of stability and change in the Solomon Islands


Terrill,  Angela
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Language documentation and data mining;

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Terrill, A. (2011). Languages in contact: An exploration of stability and change in the Solomon Islands. Oceanic Linguistics, 50(2), 312-337.

The Papuan-Oceanic world has long been considered a hotbed of contact-induced linguistic change, and there have been a number of studies of deep linguistic influence between Papuan and Oceanic languages (like those by Thurston and Ross). This paper assesses the degree and type of contact-induced language change in the Solomon Islands, between the four Papuan languages—Bilua (spoken on Vella Lavella, Western Province), Touo (spoken on southern Rendova, Western Province), Savosavo (spoken on Savo Island, Central Province), and Lavukaleve (spoken in the Russell Islands, Central Province)—and their Oceanic neighbors. First, a claim is made for a degree of cultural homogeneity for Papuan and Oceanic-speaking populations within the Solomons. Second, lexical and grammatical borrowing are considered in turn, in an attempt to identify which elements in each of the four Papuan languages may have an origin in Oceanic languages—and indeed which elements in Oceanic languages may have their origin in Papuan languages. Finally, an assessment is made of the degrees of stability versus change in the Papuan and Oceanic languages of the Solomon Islands.