Vol. 65 No. 4 (2017)

Suffixation as a Place Naming Strategy in the Central Pacific and its Implications for Prehistory

Published 2017-10-02


  • Native American,
  • toponym,
  • language policy,
  • indigenous


This article uses comparative linguistic data to arrive at some generalizations about the place naming practices of the early inhabitants of the Central Pacific (Fiji, Rotuma, and Polynesia) who are believed to have arrived there some three thousand years ago. In particular it focuses on a pair of suffixes, -(C)a and -(C)aga, that had similar functions of nominalization and were therefore used quite extensively in various types of derivation, including place naming. Many place names so formed are indicators of the environment that prevailed when the place was named, so have great potential value in the reconstruction of prehistory.


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