Lexical flexibility in Oceanic languages

  • 1 Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Afdeling Taal- en Letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Spuistraat 134, 1012 VB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Eva van Lier


While word classes are language-specific categories, lexical flexibility remains under discussion. This article investigates this phenomenon in a balanced sample of 36 Oceanic languages, a genetic group that has figured prominently in this debate. Based on a systematic survey of the morphosyntactic behavior of a range of semantic word types in three propositional functions, it is shown how lexical flexibility can be measured and compared across languages and constructions. While Oceanic flexibility is pervasive in some respects, lexical categorization in these languages does not qualitatively deviate from relevant typological tendencies.

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