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Oceanic languages: Map

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The Oceanic languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, containing approximately 450 languages. The area occupied by speakers of these languages includes Polynesia as well as much of Melanesia and Micronesia.

Though covering a vast area, Oceanic languages are spoken by only two million people. The largest individual Oceanic languages are Samoan, with over 800,000 speakers, and Eastern Fijian with over 500,000 speakers. Kiribati (Gilbertese), Tongan, Tahitian, Maori, Western Fijian and Kuanua (Tolai) each have over 100,000 speakers.

The common ancestor which is reconstructed for this group of languages is called Proto-Oceanic (abbr. POc).

Classification

The Oceanic languages were first shown to be a language family by Sidney Herbert Ray in 1896. A 2008 analysis of the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database fully supported the unity of Oceanic. However, some of the traditional divisions of that family were not supported. There was no support for grouping the Meso-Melanesian languages with the rest of the Western Oceanic languages, while there was moderate support for grouping it with the erstwhile Central Eastern Oceanic branch.



All branches were fully supported by the 2008 analysis except for Meso-Melanesian, which at 82% confidence was only moderately supported as a unit. In addition, there was moderate support for subgrouping the branches of Oceanic:

References




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