Turning owners into actors: Possessive morphology as subject-indexing in languages of the Bougainville region

Project start date: 2005-02 Project end date: 2008-04
A fundamental communicative task for all languages is to show which participant in a sentence is the subject. Languages have various ways of identifying the subject, including word-order, agreement, and case-marking. However, there is another unique and strange method, almost entirely unknown until now, found only in Northwest-Solomonic (NWS), a group of Oceanic languages of the Solomon Islands and Bougainville. In some constructions, these languages indicate subject using word-forms normally indicating possessors of nouns. This use of possessive morphology to mark subjects is theoretically highly significant. To define language fully we must understand the limits on subject-marking. This almost unresearched phenomenon is crucial to our understanding of the fundamental issue of how subjects can be marked. This project investigates this almost unresearched phenomenon: how it works, how it varies, what it does, and where it comes from. Unfortunately, the key languages are highly endangered, so the project is timely, and as a by-product, the project will result in the partial primary documentation of at least one of these languages.
Subject domains: 
Era(s): 
Country/region(s): 
Methods usedCategory
2d scanning and photographyData capture
Content analysisData analysis
Desktop publishing and pre-pressData publishing and dissemination
DocumentationStrategy and project management
General project managementStrategy and project management
General website developmentData publishing and dissemination
Interface designData publishing and dissemination
Moving image captureData capture
PreservationStrategy and project management
Sound analysisData analysis
Sound recordingData capture
Funding sources: 
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Content types created: 
Software tools used: 
Source material used:  
Northwest-Solomonic (NWS), a group of Oceanic languages of the Solomon Islands and Bougainville.
Digital resource created:  
A website with Northwest Solomonic material. "Solos dictionary (version 2.2)", 2010, http://www.newcastle.edu.au/school/hss/research/groups/ELDTA-Group/eltda-projects/materials-in-northwest-solmonic-languages/solos/ "Hakö dictionary", 2007, http://www3.surrey.ac.uk/lcts/bill.palmer/NWS_site/Hak/HakDicWelcome.htm "Kokota dictionary", 2007, http://www3.surrey.ac.uk/lcts/bill.palmer/NWS_site/Kok/KokDicWelcome.htm "Northwest Solomonic materials", http://www3.surrey.ac.uk/lcts/bill.palmer/NWS_site/Index.htm "Papapana draft dictionary", 2007, http://www3.surrey.ac.uk/lcts/bill.palmer/NWS_site/Pap/PapDicWelcome.htm "Simbo dictionary", 2007, http://www3.surrey.ac.uk/lcts/bill.palmer/NWS_site/Sim/SimDicWelcome.htm "Solos dictionary (version 2.0)", 2007, http://www3.surrey.ac.uk/lcts/bill.palmer/NWS_site/Sol/SolDicWelcome.htm "Torau dictionary", 2007, http://www3.surrey.ac.uk/lcts/bill.palmer/NWS_site/Tor/Welcome.htm "Uruava (Poraka) dictionary", 2007, http://www3.surrey.ac.uk/lcts/bill.palmer/NWS_site/Uru/UruDicWelcome.htm "An annotated bibliography of Northwest Solomonic materials", 2006, http://www3.surrey.ac.uk/lcts/bill.palmer/NWS_site/Bibliography/Welcome.htm Digital primary audio gathered in the field during the project. Five hours of this audio has been archived and made available online via the materials website listed above. In addition a further six hours of analogue primary audio data has been digitised, archived and made available online. All digital resources have been archived with the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (www.paradisec.org.au).
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Data Formats created: 
Publications:  
Book:

Bill Palmer, Kokota grammar. (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2009)

Peer review journal articles:

Bill Palmer, "Subject-indexing and possessive morphology in Northwest Solomonic." Linguistics (in press)

Bill Palmer, "Clause order and information structure in Cheke Holo." Oceanic Linguistics 48/1 (2009): 213-249.

Bill Palmer, "Passive and characteristic possession in Oceanic." Studies in Philippine languages & cultures 18 (2008):119-141.

Bill Palmer & Dunstan Brown "Heads in Oceanic indirect possession." Oceanic Linguistics 46/1 (2007):154-164.

Bill Palmer, "Imperfective aspect and the interplay of aspect, tense and modality in Torau." Oceanic Linguistics 46/2 (2007):499-519.

Book chapter:

Bill Palmer, "Pointing at the lagoon: directional terms in Oceanic atoll-based languages." in Language description, history and development: linguistic indulgence in memory of Terry Crowley, eds. J. Siegel, J. Lynch and D. Eades (London: Benjamins, 2007) pp101-117

Bill Palmer, "Kiribati - language situation." In K. Brown (ed) Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. (London: Elsevier, 2006)

Bill Palmer, "Marshall Islands - language situation." In K. Brown (ed) Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. (London: Elsevier, 2006)

Bill Palmer, "Nauru - language situation." In K. Brown (ed) Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. (London: Elsevier, 2006)

Bill Palmer, "Papua New Guinea - language situation." In K. Brown (ed) Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. (London: Elsevier, 2006)

Bill Palmer, "Solomon Islands - language situation." In K. Brown (ed) Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. (London: Elsevier, 2006)

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
University of Surrey

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Professor Greville Corbett, Dr Dunstan Brown
Other staff:Computing officer(s) / Technical supporter(s), PhD student(s), Postdoctoral researcher(s) / Research assistant(s)
External expertise:


Metadata on this arts-humanities.net record
Author(s) of recordGreville Corbett
TitleTurning owners into actors: Possessive morphology as subject-indexing in languages of the Bougainville region
Record created2010-10-04
Record updated2011-01-25 16:23
URL of recordhttp://www.arts-humanities.net/node/3559
Citation of recordGreville Corbett: Turning owners into actors: Possessive morphology as subject-indexing in languages of the Bougainville region. <http://www.arts-humanities.net/node/3559> created: 2010-10-04, last updated 2011-01-25 16:23

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