Introduction to the Languages of the Pacific (PASI 2020/6020)

PacLang_ANU[Photo mosaic of Kanjimei village (PNG) by Darja Hoenigman]

This course provides an introductory overview to the languages of the Pacific, extending from Timor in the west through the island of New Guinea out through Melanesia into Pacific Polynesia. It deals equally with the Austronesian languages which have arrived in the region some three millennia ago and the many Papuan languages whose presence in the region goes back much further in time and which are geographically focussed on the island of New Guinea with outliers in Timor, the Moluccas, and the Solomon Islands.

The emphasis is on giving an understanding of these very diverse language structures, an appreciation of the astounding linguistic diversity of the region (containing around a fifth of the world’s languages), the cultural context of language function and structure, and the continuities between traditional languages and the emergent pidgins and creoles of the region (e.g. Tok Pisin, Bislama, Solomons Pijin and Melayu Papua). No previous exposure to linguistics or to Pacific languages is assumed.

This course will run in Second Semester 2013. For more information, visit the PASI 2020 / 6020 pages, or contact the convenors: Nicholas Evans ( or Alan Rumsey (

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