Project Components


The project conjoins qualitative studies of (a) traces of cultural contact (P1) and (b) different types of contact-induced change (P2-P3-P4) with (c) the quantitative study of cultural and language contact (P5), see Table 1.




























Table 1. Overview of research topics, projects and expected outcome.


P1 studies linguistic traces of socio-cultural historical contact events and types of linguistic diffusion. In addition, it will synthesise the results of P2-P3-P4, to produce detailed historical scenarios for particular populations; and compare these with existing proposals on historical linguistic affiliations (Holton et. al. 2012, Schapper and Klamer, to appear).


P2-P3-P4 study contact in different situations. P2 investigates how an Austronesian superstrate language (Indonesian) influences a Papuan Alor-Pantar (AP) language (Abui). P3 studies the influence from four adstrate AP languages on Austronesian Alorese. P3 studies the traces of a (Papuan) substrate in Austronesian Lamaholot. Most theories of contact assume a qualitative difference between change induced by bilingual speakers (P2-P3), and change due to substrate influence when speakers shift to a new language (P4) (Thomason 2010, Winford 2010). This project integrates both sides of the spectrum.


The quantitative project P5 will serve as cross-validation of the results from P1-P2-P3-P4. It will quantitatively model the history and dispersals of the AP family, and test the predictions of P1.


The Lesser Sundas offer a unique laboratory for this research. The project is urgent, as all the languages in question will soon become extinct, and essential data for linguistic theory and socio-cultural history will disappear.


References Link

Exploring the difference between linguistic borrowing and inheritance ...


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Qualitative study of          

cultural contact                                                    





Case studies of

contact-induced change













Quantitative study of

cultural and language


Expected Outcome


- Scenarios for dispersals, migrations and contacts between populations within and across the region.

- Articles in Oceanic Linguistics, Linguistic Typology, Journal of Language Contact, Diachronica.

- Monograph Reconstructing history through language in the Lesser Sunda Islands.


- Reconstruction of the origins of words and grammatical structures in Abui, Alorese and Lamaholot.

- Refined criteria for contact-induced transfer in social situations that vary in intensity of contact, direction of influence, language status, and time-depth.

- Two PhD theses: (i) Indonesian influence in Abui;

(ii) The history of Lamaholot.

- Articles on contact-induced changes in the lexicon and grammar of Alorese, and on the role of parents in the transfer of Alorese to the next generation.


- Create and test scenarios for ancestral culture, dispersals, and linguistic history, using quantitative data on contact in culture and language.

- Various articles (by postdoc or multiple team members).