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    Re: Proof of interaction between Polynesia and South America
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2007 Jun 8, 10:10 +1000

    Frank says:
    > Additionally, I think poultry everywhere should be outraged at this clear
    > insult to their navigational skills. Who says they needed a human,
    > Polynesian or otherwise, to carry them to America.
    
    Go Frank! Maybe the great storm plucked up this unfortunate chook from
    where it was peacefully pecking about on its island home and blew it
    all the way to South America. Why would it need a boat?
    
    > ... But
    > clearly they had no lasting impact. There are no Polynesian dialects spoken
    > along the coast of South America. There are no Polynesian cultural
    > artifacts. It's quite different from every other place where the Polynesians
    > established themselves.
    
    I take your general point. There is no evidence of an enduring colony;
    either in South America or other inhabited places in the Pacific the
    Polynesians may well have visited. Of course, those places that had
    established populations (unlike Hawaii and New Zealand) may have
    simply absorbed the newcomers, or by other means effectively resisted
    colonisation. After enjoying the delivered takeout chicken.
    
    However, as an example of how this may not be the whole story, there
    is a paradise in the Pacific for linguists, known since independence
    in 1980 as Vanuatu.
    
    (Formerly the shared English/French colony called the New Hebrides.
    This bizarre colonial arrangement was known as the condominium, but
    referred to locally as the pandemonium. Relative heights from which
    the competing national flags were flown was one of the more serious
    ongoing issues there, I've heard.)
    
    A paradise for linguists because there are so many languages there
    (three national languages alone) and these are not just regional
    dialects, but also representatives of quite different language
    families. For example, one local language is a corrupted form of Malay
    (the lingua franca for an extended area well to the north west) while
    another is reasonably pure Polynesian. Generally speaking the people
    of Vanuatu are Melanesian, but there is considerable blurring between
    the Melanesian and Polynesian worlds in the Pacific. The further east;
    the more Polynesian, the further west; the more Melanesian. There are
    no 'pure' races, but in broad terms the folk from New Guinea seem to
    be 'pure' Melanesian, from the Marquesas 'pure' Polynesian. In Fiji
    the locals seem to be a mixture of both, although Fiji notionally
    forms part of the Melanesian world.
    
    So is there evidence for colonisation of the place in Vanuatu where a
    reasonably uncorrupted Polynesian dialect is spoken? It would seem so.
    If Polynesians were settled in Vanuatu it is reasonable to assume they
    were also in, or had access to New Caledonia (just to the south) and
    the Solomon Islands (just to the north) and New Guinea (north west) as
    all these places consist of archipelagos of islands, little separated
    by open ocean. Just as the north eastern tip of Australia is only
    separated from New Guinea by a shallow sea studded with islands and
    inhabited by Melanesians.
    
    Went looking for online sites about this, but all I've come up with quickly is
    http://www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj/paclangunit/English_South_Pacific.htm
    which is mainly about English in the South Pacific, although there is
    some information there about local languages, and its not a bad
    introduction to the linguistic story of this area.
    
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