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Language contact and substrate in the languages of Wallacea: Introduction

Schapper, Antoinette

1. What is Wallacea?1 The term “Wallacea” originally refers to a zoogeographical area located between the ancient continents of Sundaland (the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, and Bali) and Sahul (Australia and New Guinea) (Dickerson 1928). Wallacea includes Sulawesi, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba, Timor, Halmahera, Buru, Seram, and many smaller islands of eastern Indonesia and independent Timor-Leste (Map 1). What characterises this region is its diverse biota drawn from both the Southeast Asian and Australian areas. This volume uses the term Wallacea to refer to a linguistic area (Schapper 2015). In linguistic terms as in biogeography, Wallacea constitutes a transition zone, a region in which we observe the progressive attenuation of the Southeast Asian linguistic type to that of a Melanesian linguistic type (Gil 2015). Centred further to the east than Biological Wallacea, Linguistic Wallacea takes in the Papuan and Austronesian languages in the region of eastern Nusantara including the Minor Sundic Islands east of Lombok, Timor-Leste, Maluku, the Bird’s Head and Neck of New Guinea, and Cenderawasih Bay (Map 2). 

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