Talking about motion and location in Tuam

Statement of Responsibility:
Bugenhagen, Robert D

Tuam is a dialect of the Oceanic Austronesian Saveeng language (aka Mutu-Tuam) spoken on Tuam and Umboi islands (Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea). To specify locations, an absolute spatial framework based on four wind directions may be used: ragh ‘southeast wind’, yavaar ‘northwest wind’, kaagu ‘north-northeast wind’, and daudao ‘southsouthwest wind’. More commonly, however, use is made of intrinsic and anthropocentric relative spatial frameworks. The absolute framework based on wind direction exhibits a scalar restriction which the other two frameworks lack. It is only used outdoors for Figures which are relatively large in size.

A number of devices specify the directional vectors from Grounds to Figures in locative constructions: a rich set of motion predicates occurring in serialized constructions, positional verbs, prepositions, demonstratives, deictic locative adverbs, proximity adverbs, and locative nouns having inalienable genitives. Most predicates in the language have a single inherent path orientation, either towards, at, or away from a locative Ground, which severely constrains the semantic role of associated prepositional phrases and Subject arguments.

Motion verbs expressing sea travel exhibit specialized senses based on the prevailing winds, with ‘up’ as motion southeasterly and ‘down’ as motion northwesterly. Although it is possible to combine several different devices to very precisely specify a location, in normal conversation this is rare. Speakers normally use the most economical means possible.

pages 60-89
Papua New Guinea
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A Mosaic of languages and cultures: studies celebrating the career of Karl J. Franklin, Kenneth A. McElhanon and Ger Reesink