Oceanic languages

(redirected from Oceanian languages)

Oceanic languages,

aboriginal languages spoken in the region known as OceaniaOceania
or Oceanica
, collective name for the approximately 25,000 islands of the Pacific, usually excluding such nontropical areas as the Ryukyu and Aleutian islands and Japan, as well as Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, whose populations are more closely
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. If Oceania is restricted to the Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian islands, the indigenous tongues spoken on these islands belong for the most part to the Malayo-Polynesian family of languages (see Malayo-Polynesian languagesMalayo-Polynesian languages
, sometimes also called Austronesian languages
, family of languages estimated at from 300 to 500 tongues and understood by approximately 300 million people in Madagascar; the Malay Peninsula; Indonesia and New Guinea; the Philippines;
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). Papuan languages are spoken on the island of New Guinea, which is sometimes considered a part of Melanesia. The Papuan languages are native to the people of New Guinea. They are not, so far as is known, related to the Malayo-Polynesian linguistic family or, for that matter, to any other family of languages. More research is needed to discover how the various Papuan tongues are related to one another and also how many of them there are. Currently, their number is estimated at about 150 languages. When the area of Oceania is extended to include Australia and Malaysia, indigenous languages of the Australian group spoken in Australia (see Australian languagesAustralian languages,
aboriginal languages spoken on the continent of Australia. The Australian languages do not appear to be related to any other linguistic family. The exact number of these languages and their dialects is not known, but has been estimated at about 200; of that
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) may be added to the Malayo-Polynesian stock (predominating in Malaysia as well as in Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia) as tongues of this region.