Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton December 4, 2007

Word order in Austronesian from north to south and west to east

  • Mark Donohue EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistic Typology


Donohue (2005a) argues that the SVO order of most southern Austronesian languages found between mainland Southeast Asia and New Guinea is due to contact with non-Austronesian languages. I offer a number of other correlations between word order features and geographic area, establishing that the well-discussed division between “eastern” and “western” (or “Papuan” and “Austronesian”) languages in the Indonesian archipelago is not a crisp one, but is one that should be essentially maintained. Despite the fact that the division, traditionally based on the position of the genitive, generally matches the western boundary of “Central Malayo-Polynesian” (Blust 1993), a better explanation for the break is shown to be influence from languages with a typology matching that found in western New Guinea. At the same time, the much less discussed break between the northern and the southern Austronesian languages is established, mapping the contrast between the northern, “Philippinetype” Austronesian languages and their southern neighbours, despite the lack of any well-accepted genetic boundary between these two areas, implying substratal influence similar to that which characterises the eastern Austronesian languages.

* Correspondence address:Linguistics Program, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, Building 11, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia

Received: 2006-11-21
Revised: 2007-03-22
Published Online: 2007-12-04
Published in Print: 2007-10-19

© Walter de Gruyter

Downloaded on 6.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button