What is Pollex Online?
Courtesy of the Anthropology Photographic Archive
POLLEX-Online is a large-scale comparative dictionary of Polynesian languages.
Biggs obtained funding for POLLEX through a New Zealand Government Lottery Grant, and a National Science Foundation Grant to the Bernice P. Bishop Museum. This project was first published as a monograph in 1966 (Biggs and Walsh 1966), and a series of subsequent manuscripts and working papers (Biggs, Walsh and Waqa 1970, Biggs 1976, Biggs 1979), before being distributed as a «computer file». Biggs worked on this project until his death in 2000 (Pawley 2001), when it was handed over to Ross Clark.
If you use the POLLEX-Online database, please cite: Greenhill SJ & Clark R (2011). POLLEX-Online: The Polynesian Lexicon Project Online. Oceanic Linguistics, 50(2), 551-559.
I am currently adding cognates from Richard Moyle's newly published Takuu Grammar and Dictionary (Pacific Linguistics 634, 2011 -- see http://pacling.anu.edu.au/ for publication and ordering information). The dictionary is rich in ethnographic detail, and the electronic version on the accompanying CD includes numerous photos and video clips to illustrate various entries.
On the subject of electronic marvels, I should take the opportunity to mention Bill Donner's new Sikiana Archives site (http://www.sikaianaarchives.com/). Bill is an anthropologist who worked on Sikaiana in the early 1980s. He produced a fine small Sikaiana-English dictionary, which unfortunately was published in very limited numbers in Honiara. My photocopy of it disappeared a while ago, so it was just in time that the new site arrived, with the entire dictionary accessible to all online. There is also a wealth of cultural and historical information, photos, songs, etc.
Putting in cognates from these two sources often involves removing (overwriting) entries from sources which at one time were our mainstays for these languages: for Takuu, the unpublished vocabulary by Irwin Howard from the 1970s; for Sikaiana, field notes by Peter Sharples for his M.A.thesis (1968).
I feel some regret at effacing the contributions of these pioneers; but to avoid excessive duplication here, I follow a policy of entering a given word only once, and that from the most accessible (not necessarily the earliest) source. Two or more sources are cited only where they provide significantly different evidence on the form or meaning.
Finally, a note on the glosses given here. Ideally, it would be good to give the full entry for each word cited from the source. For practical reasons, however, I often edit them. Ellipsis (...) in the gloss indicates that potentially significant information has been omitted. This has not been consistently applied throughout, however, and those interested in the semantic nuances and extensions in a given language should always seek out the source for fuller information.
Dear Friends of POLLEX,
Even though most of you would not have known him personally, I wanted to pass along the news that Peter Ranby died last Wednesday in Howick (Auckland).
As a student at the University of Auckland in the 1960s, Peter was part of the team which produced the first published version of POLLEX (Walsh & Biggs 1966). He did field work on the Nanumea dialect of the Tuvalu language, and a description of its syntax was his M.A.thesis (1973). Another product of this research was his Nanumea Lexicon (Canberra, 1980), in which he provided an etymology for each word - in the process proposing many new reconstructions.
After a time in Wellington, he returned to Auckland in the 1980s, where he taught Linguistics 306 (Comparative Polynesian Linguistics) for some years. He would lead his students on cognate-hunting expeditions through the lesser-known reaches of the Outlier world, which resulted in still more new reconstructions. An exchange of papers with Bruce Biggs in the journal Te Reo (1979-80 and 1982) highlighted the complex phonological history of the Anuta language. This was a period when numerous notes, memoranda, proposals, critiques and lists of cognates (often hand-written) passed back and forth among a group including Peter, Bruce Biggs, Andy Pawley and myself, all leading eventually to much improvement and enlargement of our beloved database.
Although Peter had been in retirement for some years, 61 reconstructions on the web site labelled Rby still attest to his work.
Hello and welcome to the POLLEX-Online test server. We're still ironing out bugs and glitches.