The historical relations of the papuan languages of alor and pantar

Gary Holton*, Marian Klamer, František Kratochvíl, Laura C. Robinson, Antoinette Schapper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The historical relations of the Papuan languages scattered across the islands of the Alor archipelago, Timor, and Kisar in southeast Indonesia have remained largely conjectural. This paper makes a first step toward demonstrating that the languages of Alor and Pantar form a single genealogical group. Applying the comparative method to primary lexical data from twelve languages sampled across the islands of the Alor-Pantar archipelago, we use form-meaning pairings in basic cognate sets to establish regular sound correspondences that support the view that these languages are genetically related. We reconstruct 97 Proto-Alor-Pantar vocabulary items and propose an internal subgrouping based on shared innovations. Finally, we compare Alor-Pantar with Papuan languages of Timor and with Trans-New Guinea languages, concluding that there is no lexical evidence supporting the inclusion of Alor-Pantar languages in the Trans-New Guinea family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-122
Number of pages37
JournalOceanic Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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