University of Oslo
The Polynesian Outlier language Pileni is spoken by approximately 2, 000 people on a group of small coral islands in Temotu Province, Solomon Islands. Situated in a fairly isolated area of the Pacific, the islands have a long tradition of trade connections with the nearby Reefs and Santa Cruz islands, whose little-described languages do not appear to be Austronesian and so are totally unrelated to Pileni. This prolonged language contact has resulted in a number of features in Pileni which are highly unusual for a Polynesian language. The language has little morphological case-marking and relies mainly on a basic SVO word order for the differentiation of nominal arguments, although word order is flexible according to certain rules.
Pileni is clearly a nominative-accusative language, although certain morphosyntactic processes reflect what may be traces of an earlier ergative morphology.
In the basics of its phonology and morphology Pileni resembles other Polynesian languages, although the phonology is considerably more complex than is common in these languages, with phonemic aspiration on stops and a number of phonetically conditioned consonant alternations. The language exhibits characteristic Polynesian features of morphology such as the distinction between "o-type" and "a-type" possession and a complex system of personal pronouns.
Since this is the first systematic description of the Pileni language and based on a relatively limited material, it must be regarded as preliminary and open to correction. It will, however, provide a useful basis for further studies of the Pileni language.
ISBN 9783895869327. Languages of the World/ Materials 325. 60pp. 2000.