zum Inhalt springen

Roots and ruins: A project to document the Aru languages

The Aru archipelago is a group of over a hundred tightly packed islands at the eastern fringe of Indonesia in the Arafura sea between Australia and New Guinea. The archipelago is home to 14 closely related and almost entirely undocumented languages belonging to the Austronesian family. These languages are distinctive for their high levels of innovative vocabulary and grammars that are radically divergent from the Austronesian norm, including verbal agreement with semantic alignment, grammatical gender, agreeing numerals, extensive serial verb constructions and dependency-marking reduplication.
This project is working to deliver extensive, inter-disciplinary docu- mentation of three language-culture systems from the northern part of the Aru archipelago. These are: Ujir, Batuley and Kola. In the face of declining speaker bases, this project is providing a timely multi-media documentation of the languages, combining audio, video and photo materials with text files, glosses and translations. In addition to producing grammatical sketches and lexical materials, the documentation focusses on two little-studied domains: ethnobiology and oral traditions.