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This reference grammar of Muna is a digital reprint of René van den Berg’s 1989 Ph.D. dissertation,
defended at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. Muna is an Austronesian language of Southeast
Sulawesi, Indonesia, spoken by over 300,000 people living on the island of Muna, a large, dry coral
island. Unlike the neighbouring language of Wolio on Buton, Muna has never had a written tradition.
The grammar is a systematic theory-neutral description of the language. It offers a wealth of
material, ranging from low-level phonetics through inflectional and derivational morphology to a variety
of syntactic phenomena, including intraclausal syntax. The descriptions are amply illustrated by
examples, most of which are taken from recorded texts. Theoretical discussions are avoided, the
emphasis being on a lucid presentation of the language structures to a large audience. Six Muna texts,
differing in subject matter and in style, complete the description.
Muna has various interesting typological features, including allomorphy of the infix -um-/i, an
elusive article o, three inflectional verb classes, a very distinct definiteness effect (called ‘the definiteness shift’), a complex demonstrative system, a passive which only occurs in relative clauses, several valency changing morphemes, and much use of nominalisation (including reason nominalisation).
Since 1989 van den Berg has continued his involvement with the Muna language. See the SIL
bibliography for references to the Muna dictionaries (Muna-English, Muna-Indonesian), and various
In the interest of making this work available without further delay, we are posting it as it was accepted by the institution that granted the degree with some revisions by the author and no additional editing.