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The brief existence of Saipan Carolinian

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Abstract

Saipan Carolinian emerged as a unique Micronesian language in its own right only about 100 years ago due to a series of migrations from a vast language continuum in the western Caroline Islands to an uninhabited island several hundred miles to the north, an island today known as Saipan. In view of the very shallow history of Saipan Carolinian the value in documenting this language is not for the preservation of ancient traditional knowledge – its parent languages, with their rich ancient traditions will, in fact, likely outlive this offspring language. Rather, it is Saipan Carolinian’s inherited combination of linguistic features from its diverse but very-closely related parent languages that make it well-deserving to document. It offers valuable insights into how a blended language like Saipan Carolinian can derive phonemic features from one source language (Woleaian) and lexical features from another source language (Polowat) – two languages which are mutually unintelligible. This study also reveals that the history of migration events to Saipan is stored on the tongues of its speakers – a story which happens to be in contrast to what is believed by its speakers, but is nonetheless one that is historically accurate based on well-­documented written records.

References

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