In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in linguistic borrowing, especially with regard to its importance in the reconstruction of pre-history. However, the general literature on borrowing has been based on a somewhat restricted range of data, tending to concentrate on the languages of Europe or the Americas. The Pacific has not figured prominently in such discussions.
Linguists and anthropologists have long considered the Pacific to be a kind of laboratory because the geographical discreteness of its cultures allows clearer inferences to be made than are usually possible in a continental situation. Borrowing in the Pacific is relatively easy to identify and stratify. Its study is, therefore, especially useful in the reconstruction of the linguistic, social and cultural history.
The scope of this volume is not solely restricted to borrowing in Oceanic languages, but includes two papers on borrowing in Fiji Hindi and Fiji English. Authors have been encouraged to address general issues of borrowing from the perspective of data they have derived from their fieldwork, thus avoiding the risk of producing a series of largely similar contributions. The volume also includes a number of seminal and authoritative papers on Pacific borrowing that have been previously published.