The languages of Vanuatu are uniformly Austronesian, but have long been described as "aberrant." Blust (2005) points out a number of morphosyntactic features of the Vanuatu languages that might provide evidence for a Papuan element in their history. We add to that argument, presenting phonological evidence that links the languages of Vanuatu and New Caledonia with the non-Austronesian languages of New Guinea. Accepting that the earliest archaeological sites in Vanuatu are Lapita sites, we suggest that this implicates non-Austronesian speaking Melanesians in the earliest occupancy of the islands, calling into question assumptions that the Lapita expansion in the Pacific can be unproblematically associated with the expansion of Austronesian languages of the Oceanic subgroup.
|Publication status||Published - 2008|