The Migration Pathway of the Proto Nuclear Micronesians_A Linguistic Trail

Jae Jung Song
2009 Macrolinguistics  
Over the last five decades or so, historical linguists have proposed as many as four different hypotheses concerning the migration pathway of Proto Nuclear Micronesians (i.e. the ancestors of Nuclear-Micronesian-language speakers): Proto Nuclear Micronesians may have reached Micronesia by moving from northern Vanuatu, from the Cristobal-Malaitan region, from the Admiralty or the St Matthias Islands, or even from somewhere in the vast southeast Solomons-New Hebrides region. This article provides
more » ... an overview of these hypotheses, coming to the conclusion that there is no conclusive linguistic evidence, historical-comparative or otherwise, for any of the hypotheses. In view of this state of affairs, the article makes use of Johanna Nichols's population typology model so as to understand better the migration route of Proto Nuclear Micronesians. This innovative model has been developed to investigate geographical distributions of structural properties with a view to making inferences about human migration. In particular, the structural property of possessive classifiers, which is one of the major structural characteristics of Micronesian languages, is selected in order to ascertain how this structural property is distributed in the wider geographical areas surrounding Micronesia. Proto Nuclear Micronesians must have carried their propensity for a large number of possessive classifiers in their language(s) when travelling from somewhere into Micronesia. There is a distinct possibility that whomever Proto Nuclear Micronesians interacted linguistically (as well as culturally and genetically) with must have shared the same structural propensity. By interpreting the geographical cline of possessive classifiers from the higher to lower end (i.e. the largest to the lowest number of possessive classifiers), it will be possible to trace the migration pathway of Proto Nuclear Micronesians back to their immediate homeland. This population-typology exercise points to the Santa Cruz Islands, via northern Vanuatu, as the place from which Proto Nuclear Micronesians entered
doi:10.26478/ja2009.3.3.2 fatcat:flmnj5cwkferrdcusz62nep6eq