• Internal classification of the Alor-Pantar language family using computational methods applied to the lexicon

      Robinson, Laura C.; Holton, Gary (Brill, 2012)
      The non-Austronesian languages of Alor and Pantar in eastern Indonesia have been shown to be genetically related using the comparative method, but the identified phonological innovations are typologically common and do not delineate neat subgroups. We apply computational methods to recently-collected lexical data and are able to identify subgroups based on the lexicon. Crucially, the lexical data are coded for cognacy based on identified phonological innovations. This methodology can succeed even where phonological innovations themselves fail to identify subgroups, showing that computational methods using lexical data can be a powerful tool supplementing the comparative method.
    • Reassessing the wider genetic affiliations of the Timor-Alor-Pantar languages

      Robinson, Laura C.; Holton, Gary (2012)
      The wider genealogical affiliations of the Timor-Alor-Pantar languages have been the subject of much speculation. These languages are surrounded by unrelated Austronesian languages, and attempts to locate related languages have focused on Papuan languages 800 km or more distant. In this paper we examine three hypotheses for genealogical relatedness, drawing on both pronominal and especially lexical evidence. We rely in particular on recent reconstructions of proto-Alor-Pantar vocabulary. Of the hypotheses evaluated here, we find the most striking similarities between TAP and the West Bomberai family. However, we conclude that the evidence currently available is insufficient to confirm a genealogical relationship with West Bomberai or any other family, and hence, TAP must be considered a family-level isolate.