The Historical Relationships of the Languages of Central Maluku, Indonesia

Collins, James Thomas

     This study is "a meticulous revision of the classification of the descendants of Proto-Central Maluku . . . The chief basis for this revised classification is phonological innovation. . . . The family trees proposed by other authors are presented in some detail. Having considered the position of the languages of Maluku within the PAN [Proto-Austronesian] family, our attention turns to earlier classification of Maluku languages, in particular those languages described by Stresemann as members of a subgroup which he called 'Sub-Ambon.' Because of the present rudimentary stages of the reconstruction of PAN syntax, it would be rash to attempt a thorough-going analysis of Proto-Central Maluku syntax. Nonetheless certain syntactic phenomena are so widespread in Central Maluku that they suggest the outlines of some aspects of the syntax of the proto-language. Moreover, these syntactic structures affect our interpretation of the phonological development of Proto-Central Maluku." Thus, "three syntactic topics are treated in condensed form: verbal conjugation, genitive systems and independent and dependent verbals." The rest of the chapters "discuss in detail two major sub-groups of Proto-East Central Maluku. They are Three Rivers and Proto-Piru Bay. These two subgroups are branches of the proto-language of western and central Seram, here called Nunusaku. Three Rivers and Proto-Piru Bay have numerous descendants; they include all of the languages which Stresemann considered 'Sub-Ambon' languages and several others. The evidence for these two subgroups as well as the classification of languages within them is presented under various topics, chiefly phonological. A few concluding remarks regarding inherited innovations and change through diffusion and contact appear in the final chapter.