Talk by Alexander Adelaar
12:00 - 13:30
University of Cologne / University of Melbourne
MPI SHH Jena
Abteilung Sprach- und Kulturevolution
"Malagasy linguistic history and the development of Malagasy body-part terms"
In this paper I give a short overview of recent insights into the
history of Madagascar, which are based on multidisciplinary
I also explain the various origins of Malagasy body-part terms and
try to interpret them in a general socio-historical context.
Most Malagasy body-part terms are inherited from Proto
Malayo-Polynesian or Proto Southeast Barito (the language directly
ancestral to Malagasy and languages spoken along the Barito River
in South Borneo, the linguistic homeland of Malagasy).
Another large category consists of loanwords (mainly from Malay).
It also includes a few loanwords from Bantu languages and some
Malay loanwords that are ultimately Middle Indian.
Two terms are the result of “homonymies fâcheuses”, that is, they
originated through the replacement or reduction of homonyms that
otherwise had the potential also to refer to something awkward.
Finally, there are quite a few terms that are (or seem to be)
Malay in origin but their source words do not refer to body-part
terms. The source words in question refer to concepts that are
only metaphorically related to body-parts and sometimes have a
negative connotation vis-à-vis the resulting body-part term in