A Short Grammar of Alorese (Austronesian)
Alorese (Bahasa Alor) (25,000 speakers) is the only indigenous Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) language spoken amongst the Papuan languages of the Alor-Pantar archipelago in south-eastern Indonesia. Like many of the other minority languages spoken in this part of Indonesia, Alorese has not been previously described. This sketch is based on primary data collected by the author during on-site fieldwork in 2003.
While earlier sources suggest that Alorese is a dialect of Lamaholot, this grammar compares the Alorese basic lexicon with that of three Lamaholot dialects, to suggest that Alorese is a language of its own. Another feature that distinguishes Alorese from any of the Lamaholot dialects is its isolating profile, lacking all productive morphology.
There are significant lexical differences between Alorese dialects spoken on Pantar island and those spoken on Alor. The present sketch notes such variation, but emphasis is on the language as it is spoken in Baranusa, west Pantar. Historical and ethnographic evidence is presented to reconstruct the history of its speakers as migrants from the east Flores Lamaholot-speaking region, who arrived in Pantar before or around 1,300 AD. Alorese phonology and morphology are sketched before presenting the major grammatical constructions used. Serial verb constructions, especially directional ones, are often used. Alorese combines head-initial clausal constituent order with post-predicate negation and a clause-final conjunction. It has accusative alignment, the grammatical relations subject and object are expressed by constituent order. Alorese non-declarative sentence types are structurally very similar to declarative ones. Clauses are linked to each by conjunctive linking words or by complementation; complementation is by juxtaposition. Alorese contains words and grammatical constructions that are non-Austronesian. Details are presented suggesting that these are due to different kinds of contact between Alorese and Papuan languages in historic and prehistoric times.
ISBN 9783862881727. Languages of the World/Materials 486. 142pp. 2011.