The speakers of Austronesian languages settled only the fringes of the Papuan expanse, mainly offshore islands and some pockets along the coast of the New Guinea mainland. The largest subgroup of the Austronesian family consists of the Oceanic family, which branched out from its most likely homeland New Britain and colonized the islands of the Pacific. In his introduction to Studies in languages of New Britain and New Ireland Malcolm Ross remarks: “It is reasonable to infer that the newly arrived Austronesian speakers interacted with Papuan inhabitants, and it seems very likely that it was contact with Papuan speakers that led to innovations in this Austronesian speech which turned it into what we label ‘Proto Oceanic’”(1996b:2). The same scenario has been suggested for Proto Oceanic’s sister clade SHWNG and the contested subgroup Central Malayo-Polynesian (CMP) in eastern Indonesia (Klamer, Reesink, and Van Staden 2008:135-139), accounting for what Himmelmann (2005) identified as a typological subgroup of Austronesian, the preposed possessor languages.
The workshop will focus on bringing together early career researchers. The lack of study of Papuan-Austronesian contact in the Wallacea is due to a dearth of basic research in the form of documentation of the many languages in the region. A new generation of scholars conducting field-intensive research, however, means that careful consideration of the different Papuan-Austronesian contact and its outcomes is increasingly possibly.