The Indo-Pacific language family proposed by
Joseph Greenbergin 1971 consists of the non-Austronesian languages of New Guineaand neighboring islands, the languages of Tasmania, and the languages of the Andaman Islands.
The proposal was based on rough estimation of lexical similarity and typological similarity and has not reached a stage where it can be confirmed by the standard
comparative methodor the reconstruction of a protolanguageand has therefore not been widely accepted by linguists.
An additional difficulty is the fact that the languages of Tasmania are extinct and so poorly attested that most historical linguists regard them as unclassifiable. The greatest controversy concerns the geographic outliers, Tasmanian and Andamanese.
The languages in the group are primarily
tone languages and feature nouns marked for case, but not necessarily for number, with the SOV word orderbeing most common. [Contemporary linguistics, p400. O'Grady, Dobrovolsky, Katamba. 1997: ISBN 058224691 1 Ppr.]
According to Greenberg, the family consists of fourteen families. He suggested a tentative sub-classification into seven groups, listed in bold below. He presented no evidence for this subgrouping.
Andamanese languages(perhaps only the Great Andamanese languages)Fact|date=November 2007
*Nuclear New Guinea
Central New Guinea languages
**North New Guinea languages
South New Guinea languages
Southwest New Guinea languages
West New Guinea languages
North Halmahera languages
*East New Guinea
East New Guinea languages
*Northeast New Guinea
Northeast New Guinea languages
**Bougainville languages (see
East Papuan languages)
New Britainlanguages (see East Papuan languages)
**Central Melanesian languages (see
East Papuan languages)
Central Solomons languages
***Santa Cruz languages
This classification was never widely accepted, and has largely been supplanted by that of
Stephen Wurm(see Papuan languages). They do not generally agree well. For example:
*Greenberg's West New Guinea family corresponds to four of Wurm's, East Bird's Head, Geelvink Bay, the South Bird's Head and West
Bomberaibranches of Trans-New Guinea, and the Bird's Head branch of West Papuan.
The few similarities are retentions from earlier linguists' work:
*Greenberg's Northeast New Guinea family closely matches Wurm's Madang-Adelbert Range branch of Trans-New Guinea
*Greenberg's Eastern New Guinea family and Wurm's Eastern Main-Section branch of Trans-New Guinea both preserve Tom Dutton's Southeast New Guinea family.
Trans-New Guinea languages
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