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How useful are lexicostatistical and phylogenetic methods, in plotting the migration of Polynesian peoples across Oceania?  
  • Noah Atkin
Noah Atkin
Imperial College London
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Abstract

The importance of linguistics in the early study of Polynesian migration cannot be overstated. The work of many early linguists traced Polynesian languages back to their origins in South East Asia, and further linguistic analysis showed the Austronesian language family stretched from Madagascar to Easter Island. Historically, Polynesia has been an area where new fields of linguistics are applied, including glottochronology. In the modern day, the historical isolation of Polynesian sea-faring peoples provides a unique opportunity to test theories on early Austronesian migration by applying Bayesian and parsimony based phylogenetic techniques to the Oceanic languages. In this paper I hope to explain how languages were classically examined, and the extent these methods and modern day techniques, have played a role in elucidating the path of migration of these Oceanic sea-faring peoples.