The &#8216;language of Tobi&#8217; as presented in Horace Holden&#8217;s <i>Narrative</i>

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In 1836 the American sailor and trader Horace Holden published an account of two years&#8217; captivity on the island of Tobi, western Carolines, to which he appended a short vocabulary and numerous sentences in &#8216;the language of Tobi&#8217;. 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 &#8216;dialogues&#8217; consistently show few if any of the morphological features of modern Tobian. This chapter discusses the status of Holden&#8217;s material as a probable pidgin with a lexicon showing some admixture from Malay, Palauan and maybe Spanish.


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