The ‘language of Tobi’ as presented in Horace Holden’s Narrative

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In 1836 the American sailor and trader Horace Holden published an account of two years’ captivity on the island of Tobi, western Carolines, to which he appended a short vocabulary and numerous sentences in ‘the language of Tobi’. Examination of this material shows that most of the identifiable items in the vocabulary can be traced to Tobian, a Western Chuukic language, which is part of the Nuclear Micronesian subgroup within Austronesian, and for which we have a reasonable amount of modern data. However, the structural and especially syntactic features of the sentences appended in the five ‘dialogues’ consistently show few if any of the morphological features of modern Tobian. This chapter discusses the status of Holden’s material as a probable pidgin with a lexicon showing some admixture from Malay, Palauan and maybe Spanish.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPidgins and Creoles beyond Africa-Europe Encounters
EditorsIsabelle Buchstaller, Anders Holmberg, Mohammad Almoaily
Place of PublicationThe Netherlands
PublisherJohn Benjamins
Number of pages178
ISBN (Print)9789027270764
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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