Persons and Address Terms in Melanesia: A Contrastive Study

Persons and Address Terms in Melanesia: A Contrastive Study

Masahiko Nose
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2959-1.ch008
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This chapter deals with vocative and address terms of the several Melanesian languages and tries to investigate the grammatical and sociolinguistic characteristics of them. This study is a contrastive study of the six languages which are spoken in Papua New Guinea (Amele, Bel, and Tok Pisin) and Vanuatu (South Efate, Nguna, and Bislama). This study tries to clarify the characteristics of their lexicon (mainly kinship and address terms) and usages of personal pronouns and their verb inflections. Generally, the sample languages are rich in usages of these terms (kinship, personal pronouns, vocatives) whereas creole languages have limited usages and borrowed from English lexicon. Finally, this study claims that there are several rules of defining social relations and their grammatical forms.
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This section describes background of this study and introduces the previous studies of the languages of Melanesia and vocative/ address terms.

Previous Studies on Melanesia and Address Terms

This study reviews two kinds of previous studies which are related to this study. This study observes the previous studies on general linguistic information in Melanesia, and then, persons (together with kinship terms) and vocatives/address terms. As we know, the languages in Melanesia are so diverse grammatically and lexically that there are many languages which have not been described or limited description (cf. Foley, 1986, 2000; Lynch, 1998). Also, many previous studies try to clarify the diversity model, grammaticalization paths, and pragmatic and sociolinguistic factors in the area4. This section introduces the sample languages briefly.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Inclusive: The first-person plural marking including you in front of me. Tok Pisin uses yumi (you and me) for exclusive first-person plural pronoun.

Trans-New Guinea: Also, called Papuan, or non-Austronesian languages in New Guinea Island. The number is less than 500 languages. The languages of the people, who came to New Guinea Island 30,000-50,000 years ago.

Address Terms: When people specify other persons in speaking discourse, they use personal pronouns, kinship terms, nicknames, and vocatives, such as “you,” “father,” “the beard,” and “friend.” These expressions are called as address terms.

Creole: The common language occurred in some place or community, such as a plantation or a factory, and later, it became someone’s native tongue in descendent generation. It is creole and the creole language in South Pacific, and the language became the lingua franca in the area, like Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea, and Bislama in Vanuatu.

Vocative: When people call other person(s), they use vocative, which is independent from syntax. Some languages have vocative case in the grammar for the purpose of calling someone.

Exclusive: The first-person plural marking excluding you in front of me. Tok Pisin uses mipla for exclusive first-person plural pronoun.

Austronesian: The people originated from Taiwan. They sailed from Taiwan to Philippines, New Guinea Islands, and New Zealand and Easter Island, 4,000-5,000 years ago. Their languages are called as Austronesian languages. The number is approximately 1,000 languages.

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