The Oceanic Lexicon Project is producing a seven-volume series reconstructing the lexicon of Proto Oceanic, the language ancestral to most of the Austronesian languages of Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia. By paying particular attention to the semantics of terminologies, we are learning much about the material culture, social organisation, and cosmology of Proto Oceanic  speakers and about the ways in which they categorised and adapted to the environment. The completed series will form a comprehensive reference for anyone working in Oceanic linguistics or archaeology.

      The spread of the  Oceanic languages (see map) across the Pacific was a remarkable event in prehistory. Beginning in the 2nd millenium BC, speakers of the Oceanic branch of Austronesian  spread eastward from north-west Melanesia into previously uninhabited  regions, their speech eventually diversifying into some 450 languages.  This linguistic spread initially corresponds to the expansion of the Lapita Culture (see map), identified by archaeologists

The first five volumes of  The Lexicon of Proto Oceanic are available, published by Pacific Linguistics. Vol 6 will be entitled People: Society, and vol 7, as currently planned, will include reconstruction of  Proto Oceanic grammar, one or more concluding essays, comprehensive indexes, and addenda and corrigenda. The published volumes can be freely downloaded here: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/106908.

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Malcolm Ross,
Oct 19, 2016, 1:19 AM