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one of the traditional groups in the Austronesian, or Malayo-Polynesian, language family, comprising the Austronesian languages (excluding Polynesian) of Melanesia and New Guinea. Some scholars include a large number of Micronesian languages within the Melanesian group. The region in which Melanesian languages are spoken is characterized by exceptional linguistic diversity. Fijian, the largest language group, is spoken by approximately 250,000 persons (1970, estimate); the other languages are spoken by small groups of people. The Mota (New Hebrides) and Motu (southeastern New Guinea) languages have become relatively widespread as languages of communication between ethnic groups.
The Melanesian languages are analytic; syntactic relations are often expressed by pronominal morphemes similar to those of subject and object conjugation. A formal distinction is made between alienable and inalienable possession, for example, in the Mota language: rango-mwa “your leg” and no-mwa wose “your oar.” In the mid-20th century many scholars do not classify the Melanesian languages according to genealogical features. Some Melanesian languages, including Fijian, Rotuman, and many languages of the Solomon and New Hebrides islands, are similar in vocabulary and probably in origin to the Polynesian languages; together these languages belong to the eastern Oceanic group.
REFERENCESPuchkov, P. I. Formirovanie naseleniia Melanezii. Moscow, 1968.
Ray, S. H. A Comparative Study of the Melanesian Island Languages. Cambridge, 1926.
Capell, A. A Linguistic Survey of the South- Western Pacific, new ed. Noumea, 1962.
Capell, A. “Oceanic Linguistics Today.” Current Anthropology, 1962, no. 4.
IU. KH. SIRK