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Linguistic Melanesia

Abstract : I present a synthesis of some key areal features of Linguistic Melanesia. There are numerous overviews of typological characteristics of Melanesian languages (e.g., Foley 2000, Aikhenvald & Stebbins 2007), but the sheer number of languages in the area means these treatments are often skewed towards a small number (of subsets) of languages. Where broader linguistic features have been identified they have typically been treated individually in disparate specialist publications on the region and have seldom been brought together to clearly define an area of “Linguistic Melanesia”. The approach taken here is to map the synchronic distribution of a range of morphosyntactic, phonological and lexico-semantic features which can be used to demarcate Linguistic Melanesia or significant portions thereof as a convergence zone. Critical in defining the area and sub-areas of Linguistic Melanesia is the opposition between a feature found inside Linguistic Melanesia and its (non-)appearance in the geographically adjoining areas. As a result, each feature will be plotted in relation to the full spread of Austronesian languages both in and outside Linguistic Melanesia. Occasional reference will also be made to the typological behaviour of Australian languages
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Antoinette Schapper. Linguistic Melanesia. Routledge Handbook of Language Contact, 2020. ⟨halshs-02935652⟩

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