This paper examines gender agreement in three little-known languages of the Aru Islands and places them within the larger pattern of “neuter gender” in eastern Indonesia. For each language, I look first at the variety of agreement targets that are controlled by gendered nouns. Secondly, I look at the semantics of nouns that control agreement. I show that whilst having a strongly semantic base involving animacy, gender in Aru languages is a grammatical category in which many nouns denoting certain types of entities that lack discernable biological animacy are assigned to the same gender as that of animate referents. I conclude by considering the system of gender in proto-Aru.
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- Author or Editor: Antoinette Schapper x
This article makes a contribution to the documentation of the genre of oral literature known as zapal amongst the Bunaq, a Papuan-speaking group of central Timor. I present an annotated and translated version of the elaborate zapal entitled Hul Topol or Fall of the Moon. Hul Topol is a lengthy, multi-event narrative which gives etiologies spanning the realms of subsistence, cultural practice and natural order including animal behaviour and appearance.
Historical and linguistic divides among the Bunaq in central Timor
The Bunaq are a Papuan language-speaking people straddling the border of Indonesian West Timor and independent East Timor. This paper looks at the history of the Bunaq as a “border“ people in Timor. “Border“ is interpreted here in two ways, as referring to: (i) a political division, the boundary line separating one country from another, and (ii) a linguistic division, the distinguishing line between Papuan and Austronesian languages. I examine the effect that the Bunaq position at the political and linguistic borders of Timor has had on the people and their language.
Antoinette Schapper and Juliette Huber
The Timor-Alor-Pantar (TAP) language family has a special place in South-East Asian linguistics; its members make up the western extreme of the Papuan language sphere. Along with an exhaustive bibliography of works on the TAP languages, this paper presents a state-of-the-art review of the ongoing documentation of the TAP language family in terms of both linguistic description and (pre-)historical reconstruction. The paper concludes with a consideration of the prospects for future studies of the TAP languages.