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The Greater Central Philippines Hypothesis

Robert Blust
Oceanic Linguistics
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Winter, 1991), pp. 73-129
DOI: 10.2307/3623084
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3623084
Page Count: 57
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The Greater Central Philippines Hypothesis
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Abstract

A "Central Philippine" or "Meso Philippine" subgroup has been recognized by many scholars of Philippine languages, sometimes as a component of a larger "Southern Philippine" group. However, both the composition of this group and the criteria used to justify it have varied widely. In this paper I propose that Tagalog, Bikol, the Bisayan complex, South Mangyan (but not North Mangyan), the Palawanic languages (but not Kalamian), all of the languages of Mindanao except the South Mindanao group, and the Gorontalo-Mongondow languages of Sulawesi (but not the more northerly Sangiric and Minahasan languages) continue an immediate protolanguage, here called "Greater Central Philippines" (GCP). This view of the subgrouping of Philippine languages has general similarities with that of Zorc (1986), but differs from Zorc's position in several important respects. The evidence for GCP consists of a number of replacement innovations in the lexicon, lexical and semantic innovations which cannot be shown to involve replacement, and the merger of PAN (Proto-Austronesian) *g and *R. Speakers of PGCP (Proto-Greater Central Philippines) or one of its early descendants underwent a dramatic territorial expansion, probably from a homeland in northern Mindanao or the southern Visayas. This hypothesized expansion had at least the following consequences: (1) it reduced the linguistic diversity in the Visayas and Mindanao, (2) it led to a discontinuous geographical distribution of subgroup members, since one branch of GCP (Gorontalo-Mongondow) moved south past the territorially established Sangiric and Minahasan subgroups of Philippine languages, and (3) in varying degrees, it produced Conant's "stereotyped g" as a reflex of PPH (Proto-Philippines) *R in all non-GCP languages which bordered on GCP languages. More generally, the Greater Central Philippines hypothesis is inconsistent with a model of gradual linguistic differentiation in situ, but shows intriguing parallels with the model of speciation in evolutionary biology that Gould and Eldredge have called "punctuated equilibrium."

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