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2nd Workshop on the languages of Wallacea


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Following the success of the 1st Workshop of the Languages of Wallacea (KITLV Leiden, 1-2 December 2016), we are holding a 2nd workshop in Leiden on 17 June 2019 after the APLL conference at Leiden University. The special topic of the 2nd Workshop on the Languages of Wallacea will be ‘possession’.

The most famous and perhaps first recognised feature to define the Melanesian Linguistic Area is the so-called “reversed genitive”. As early as Brandes (1884), it was observed that the order of the noun and the possessor was typically “reversed” in the Austronesian languages of Wallacea with the possessor preceding the noun it possessed, while in languages of western Indonesia and the Philippines the possessor typically followed the possessed noun. Possessive classification in Austronesian languages, where nouns are divided into possessive classes that each use distinct constructions for marking the possessive relationship, similarly appears in Wallacea but not to its west. This appearance of these patterns in Austronesian languages coincides with the historically inferred extent of Papuan languages, and they are typically assumed to be the result of contact with or shift from Papuan languages.

Aim workshop
Whilst these observations are certainly important, focus on them has resulted in glossing over of the significant variation that exists in possessive constructions across Wallacean languages. The aim of the workshop is to develop a better picture of the diversity, distribution and origins of possessive constructions in Wallacea. Possible topics for papers are (but not limited to):
• case studies of possession in individual (groups of) languages
• morphosyntatic reconstructions of possession in families/subgroups
• semantics of alienable/inalienable distinctions

Dates and venue
The workshop will be held on 17 June 2019 at the KITLV in Leiden. More information: .

Special topic: Possession.

9.30 – Introduction. Antoinette Schapper

9.45 – The meaning and morphological marking of possessive construction. Elena Karvovskaya

10.30 – Wallacean possession in the Celebic language Banggai. William McConvell

11.15 – Multiple inalienable categories in linguistic Wallacea. Laura Arnold

12.00 – Lunch

13.15 – Simplification in possessive marking in Abui. George Saad

14.00 – Attributive Possession in Roon. David Gil

14.45 – Possession in Cenderawasih Bay: An Overview. Emily Gasser

15.30 – Tea break

15.45 – Adnominal possession in Rembong. Lief Asplund

16.30 – The development of possession in Meto. Owen Edwards

17.15 – Discussion


Photo by Cedric Arnold – East Timor’s coffee.


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KITLV, Room 138
Reuvensplaats 2
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