AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

A grammar of Papapana with an investigation into language contact and endangerment

by Ellen Louise Smith

Institution: University of Newcastle
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: language contact; language endangerment; language documentation; grammatical description; Oceanic languages
Record ID: 1041539
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/1059853


Research Doctorate - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) This thesis provides a descriptive grammar and investigation into language contact phenomena in Papapana, a virtually undescribed and undocumented, highly endangered Northwest Solomonic (Oceanic, Austronesian) language spoken by 106 fluent speakers in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. The grammar describes the language on various levels, including phonology, morphology and syntax in noun phrases and the verb complex, and syntax at the clause- and sentence-level. Typologically unusual features of Papapana include its patterns of verbal inflectional reduplication and inverse-number marking in the noun phrase, while other interesting features include its postverbal subject-indexing, which interacts with reduplication or mode markers to express a range of functions. This thesis also investigates language contact phenomena in the Papapana speech community, specifically contact-induced grammatical change, and language shift and endangerment. As a precursor to these topics, it describes in detail the demographic, geographical, historical, cultural and sociolinguistic context within which the language is spoken. Papapana displays a partial shift from left-headed to right-headed typology, especially evident in its clause orders, obliques and possessive constructions, and argued to be the result of contact with neighbouring non-Austronesian languages. The final chapter investigates why and to what extent Papapana is an endangered language; it examines motivations for language shift to the official creole language Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea and in the Papapana community, and applies and critically evaluates ethnolinguistic vitality assessment frameworks. This thesis makes a significant contribution to future comparative linguistic and typological research by writing the first comprehensive grammatical description of Papapana while the opportunity to do so remains. The study of language contact is the first detailed account of the linguistic and sociolinguistic effects of the complexities of language contact in the Northwest Solomonic subgroup, and contributes more generally to research on language contact and language endangerment.