This chapter presents a case study of a group of Borneo hunter-gatherers of insular South-east Asia. It focuses on the language of the Penan Benalui who live in the Indonesian Province of North Kalimantan (Kaltara) in central Borneo. ‘Penan’ or ‘Punan’ is a term used indiscriminately to refer to most hunter-gatherers in Borneo. Traditionally, in the literature on Borneo, Penan languages have been listed within the Kenyah subgroup (see Gordon 2005, Blust 2007, 2010, Sercombe, 2002 and 2006 among the others) though such classifications have never attempted to make a clear distinction between borrowed and inherited materials. Only the latest version of Ethnologue (Lewis et al. 2013) does justice to the classification locating Penan languages outside the Kenyah subgroup. Penan speaking peoples have been defined as forest dwelling hunter-gatherers while the term Kenyah, a broad ethnic label, has been applied to a number of sedentary groups. Very often, the Penan and Kenyah people are both linguistically and culturally associated and it is the purpose of this chapter to more rigorously assess the complexity of language and history in this particular context of relations between non-sedentary and sedentary populations. Although Penan Benalui is clearly an Austronesian language there are many linguistic elements which disprove the hypothesis that it is a Kenyah language. In general, linguists and anthropologists have proposed that hunter-gatherer groups are separate populations that have borrowed linguistic and cultural elements from agricultural populations (Sellato 1993, 1994) or that these populations are derived from settled agricultural peoples (Blust 1974, Hoffman 1986, Bellwood 1999). In order to assess which evolutionary possibility is more likely, one has to take a rigorous critical approach to the linguistic evidence as well as the larger regional and historical context. In order to do so this article first provides a broad regional overview of the hunter-gatherers and their languages. It then focuses on the phonological, morphological and lexical differences between the Penan Benalui and Kenyah languages and concludes that Penan Benalui, although related, is not a Kenyah language.

Hunter-gatherers of Borneo and the case study of the Penan Benalui

SORIENTE, ANTONIA
2020

Abstract

This chapter presents a case study of a group of Borneo hunter-gatherers of insular South-east Asia. It focuses on the language of the Penan Benalui who live in the Indonesian Province of North Kalimantan (Kaltara) in central Borneo. ‘Penan’ or ‘Punan’ is a term used indiscriminately to refer to most hunter-gatherers in Borneo. Traditionally, in the literature on Borneo, Penan languages have been listed within the Kenyah subgroup (see Gordon 2005, Blust 2007, 2010, Sercombe, 2002 and 2006 among the others) though such classifications have never attempted to make a clear distinction between borrowed and inherited materials. Only the latest version of Ethnologue (Lewis et al. 2013) does justice to the classification locating Penan languages outside the Kenyah subgroup. Penan speaking peoples have been defined as forest dwelling hunter-gatherers while the term Kenyah, a broad ethnic label, has been applied to a number of sedentary groups. Very often, the Penan and Kenyah people are both linguistically and culturally associated and it is the purpose of this chapter to more rigorously assess the complexity of language and history in this particular context of relations between non-sedentary and sedentary populations. Although Penan Benalui is clearly an Austronesian language there are many linguistic elements which disprove the hypothesis that it is a Kenyah language. In general, linguists and anthropologists have proposed that hunter-gatherer groups are separate populations that have borrowed linguistic and cultural elements from agricultural populations (Sellato 1993, 1994) or that these populations are derived from settled agricultural peoples (Blust 1974, Hoffman 1986, Bellwood 1999). In order to assess which evolutionary possibility is more likely, one has to take a rigorous critical approach to the linguistic evidence as well as the larger regional and historical context. In order to do so this article first provides a broad regional overview of the hunter-gatherers and their languages. It then focuses on the phonological, morphological and lexical differences between the Penan Benalui and Kenyah languages and concludes that Penan Benalui, although related, is not a Kenyah language.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11574/173395
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