Barbour, J. R., & William, C. (2017). Writing Lamap: the representation of person markers. Language and Linguistics in Melanesia, 35, 132–151.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13055
Primary school teachers have faced a number of representational issues when developing a standard written form of the Lamap language of Malekula Island, Vanuatu. The issue discussed in this paper concerns the treatment of subject person markers, which teachers variably represent as independent word forms surrounded by space, or as prefixes attached to verbs. We employ linguistic theory in an attempt to resolve the representational issue, applying a selection of word segmentation criteria compiled by Haspelmath (2011) to the Lamap data. The criteria of non-selectivity, free occurrence, and non-coordinatability prove to be of relevance, while the search for morphophonological rules and idiosyncracies results in an interesting but separate discovery. Our analysis indicates that the Lamap person markers display properties of bound forms rather than of independent word forms. There is some evidence for their status as affixes as compared with free-form grammatical particles. While our findings help us to better understand the variation that we have observed in Lamap, ultimately it is the community of emerging Lamap writers who will determine how the language is represented.