The Barito Linkage Hypothesis, with a Note on the Position of Basap

Date
2018-06-01
Authors
Alexander D. Smith
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11
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1
Starting Page
13
Ending Page
34
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Abstract
Barito is a large group of languages located primarily along the Barito river, most of Central Kalimantan, western East Kalimantan, and in the case of Malagasy, the island of Madagascar. Traditionally, these languages have been regarded as a subgroup, with all members descended from what one might call Proto-Barito. It has been noted by several authors, however, that Barito languages are only loosely related, and their relationship to each other and to “Proto-Barito” are not universally agreed upon. This paper attempts to define the Barito subgroup with exclusively shared phonological innovations of high quality, but as will be shown, no such innovations exist. Instead, sound changes found in Barito are spread throughout some but not all Barito languages, and no single sound change of any quality can be cited as linking all Barito languages together. It is argued that this distribution of sound changes supports a linkage model, rather than a subgroup model. Furthermore, linkages are defined as evolving from the differentiation of dialects in a chain or network, not from a discrete proto-language. This is interpreted to mean that there was never a Proto-Barito language from which these languages developed. Finally, after presenting the evidence for the Barito linkage hypothesis, the Basap language of northern East Kalimantan is argued, based on a limited set of lexical innovations, to have been a part of an ancient dialect network which stretched from the Barito river in the south to modern Berau regency, in northern East Kalimantan.
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Barito, Basap, Linkage, Historical
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22 pages
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