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The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a
language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or often Written language, writing. The structure of languag ...
, widely spoken throughout
Maritime Southeast Asia Maritime Southeast Asia comprises the countries of Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Singapore. Maritime Southeast Asia is sometimes also referred to as Island Southeast Asia, Insular Southeast Asia ...
,
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mala ...

Madagascar
, the islands of the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents o ...

Pacific Ocean
and
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
(by
Taiwanese aborigines Taiwanese may refer to: * Taiwanese language Taiwanese, also known as Taigi, Taiwanese Hokkien (), Taiwanese Minnan, Hoklo and Holo, is a variety of the Hokkien Hokkien () is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may ...
). There are also a number of speakers in
continental Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the conti ...

continental Asia
. They are spoken by about 386 million people (4.9% of the
world population In demographics Demography (from prefix ''demo-'' from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is oft ...

world population
). This makes it the fifth-largest language family by number of speakers. Major Austronesian languages include
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
(
Indonesian Indonesian is anything of, from, or related to Indonesia, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It may refer to: * Indonesians, citizens of Indonesia ** Native Indonesians, diverse groups of local inhabitants of the archipelago ** Indonesian w ...

Indonesian
and Malaysian), Javanese, and
Tagalog Tagalog may refer to: Language * Tagalog language Tagalog (, ; ) is an Austronesian languages, Austronesian language spoken as a first language by the ethnic Tagalog people, who make up a quarter of the population of the Philippines, and as a se ...
(
Filipino Filipino may refer to: * Something from or related to the Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas or ''Filipinas'' ), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, ...
). According to some estimates, the family contains 1,257 languages, which is the second most of any language family. In 1706, the Dutch scholar
Adriaan Reland Adriaan Reland 1676 - 1718 Adriaan Reland (also known as ''Adriaen Reeland/Reelant'', ''Hadrianus Relandus'') (17 July 1676, De Rijp, North Holland North Holland ( nl, Noord-Holland ) is a Provinces of the Netherlands, province of the Netherlan ...

Adriaan Reland
first observed similarities between the languages spoken in the
Malay Archipelago The Malay Archipelago ( ceb, Kapupud-ang Malay, ms, Kepulauan Melayu, tgl, Kapuluang Malay, jv, Nusantara) is the archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of ...

Malay Archipelago
and by peoples on islands in the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents o ...

Pacific Ocean
. In the 19th century, researchers (e.g.
Wilhelm von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt (, also , ; ; 22 June 1767 – 8 April 1835) was a philosopher, , , diplomat, and founder of the , which was named after him in 1949 (and also after his younger brother, , a ). He is espe ...

Wilhelm von Humboldt
, Herman van der Tuuk) started to apply the
comparative method In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
to the Austronesian languages. The first extensive study on the history of the
sound systemSound system may refer to: Technology * Sound reinforcement system, a system for amplifying audio for an audience * High fidelity, a sound system intended for accurate reproduction of music in the home * Public address system, an institutional speec ...

sound system
was made by the German linguist Otto Dempwolff. It included a reconstruction of the
Proto-Austronesian Proto-Austronesian (commonly abbreviated as PAN or PAn) is a proto-language. It is the reconstructed ancestor of the Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of co ...
lexicon. The term Austronesian was coined by Wilhelm Schmidt. The word is derived from the German ''austronesisch'', which is based on
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
''
auster Auster Aircraft Limited was a British aircraft manufacturer from 1938 to 1961.Willis, issue 122, p.55 History The company began in 1938 at the Britannia Works, Thurmaston near Leicester, England, as Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England) Limited, maki ...
'' "south" and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
'' νῆσος'' ("island"). The family is aptly named, because most Austronesian languages are spoken by island dwellers. Only a few languages, such as
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
and the
Chamic languages The Chamic languages, also known as Aceh–Chamic and Achinese–Chamic, are a group of ten languages spoken in Aceh Aceh () is the westernmost Provinces of Indonesia, province of Indonesia. It is located on the northern end of Sumatra, with ...
, are
indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to a particular place. The term ' ...
to mainland Asia. Many Austronesian languages have very few speakers, but the major Austronesian languages are spoken by tens of millions of people. For example, Malay is spoken by 250 million people. This makes it the eighth most-spoken language in the world. Approximately twenty Austronesian languages are
official An official is someone who holds an office (function or , regardless whether it carries an actual with it) in an or government and participates in the exercise of , (either their own or that of their superior and/or employer, public or legally ...

official
in their respective countries (see the
list of major and official Austronesian languages This is a list of major and official Austronesian languages, a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most ...
). By the number of languages they include, Austronesian and Niger–Congo are the two largest language families in the world. They each contain roughly one-fifth of the world's languages. The geographical span of Austronesian was the largest of any language family before the spread of
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. Some European languages of ...
in the colonial period. It ranged from
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mala ...

Madagascar
off the southeastern coast of Africa to
Easter Island Easter Island ( rap, Rapa Nui; es, Isla de Pascua) is an island and special territory of Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a continent ...

Easter Island
in the eastern Pacific.
Hawaiian Hawaiian may refer to: * Hawaii state residents, regardless of ancestry * Native Hawaiians, the current term for the indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands or their descendants * Hawaiian language Historic uses * things and people of the Kingdo ...
,
Rapa Nui Easter Island ( rap, Rapa Nui; es, Isla de Pascua) is an island and special territory of Chile Chile (, ; ), officially the Republic of Chile (), is a country in western South America. It occupies a long, narrow strip of land between ...
, Māori, and
Malagasy Malagasy may refer to: *Someone or something from Madagascar *Malagasy people *Malagasy language *Malagasy Republic *Related to the culture of Madagascar See also

*Madagascar (disambiguation) {{disambiguation Language and nationality disambi ...
(spoken on Madagascar) are the geographic outliers. According to
Robert Blust Robert A. Blust (born 1940, ) is a prominent linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, s ...
(1999), Austronesian is divided into several primary branches, all but one of which are found exclusively in
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
. The
Formosan languages The Formosan languages are the languages of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, all of which are Austronesian. The Taiwanese indigenous peoples recognized by the government are about 2.3% of the island's population. However, only 35% speak their ...

Formosan languages
of Taiwan are grouped into as many as nine first-order subgroups of Austronesian. All Austronesian languages spoken outside Taiwan (including its offshore
Yami language Yami language (), also known as Tao language (), is a Malayo-Polynesian The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. The Malayo-Polynesian languages are spoken by the A ...
) belong to the
Malayo-Polynesian The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. The Malayo-Polynesian languages are spoken by the Austronesian peoples outside of Taiwan, in the island nations of Southeast A ...
(sometimes called ''Extra-Formosan'') branch. Most Austronesian languages lack a long history of written attestation. This makes reconstructing earlier stages—up to distant Proto-Austronesian—all the more remarkable. The oldest inscription in the
Cham language Cham (Cham: ꨌꩌ) is a Malayo-Polynesian language of the Austronesian family, spoken by the Cham of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion ...
, the
Đông Yên Châu inscriptionThe Đông Yên Châu inscription is an Old Cham inscription written in an Old Southern Brahmi script, found in 1936 at Đông Yên Châu, northwest of Trà Kiệu near the old Champa Champa ( Cham: ''Nagarcam'' ; vi, Chăm Pa) was a colle ...
dated to the mid-6th century AD at the latest, is the first attestation of any Austronesian language.


Typological characteristics


Phonology

The Austronesian languages overall possess
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
inventories which are smaller than the world average. Around 90% of the Austronesian languages have inventories of 19-25 sounds (15-20 consonants and 4-5 vowels), thus lying at the lower end of the global typical range of 20-37 sounds. However, extreme inventories are also found, such as
Nemi Nemi is a town and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a local administrative division of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, co ...
(
New Caledonia ) , anthem = "Soyons unis, devenons frères" , image_map = New Caledonia on the globe (small islands magnified) (Polynesia centered).svg , map_alt = Location of New Caledonia , map_caption = Location of New Caledonia , mapsize = 290px , s ...

New Caledonia
) with 43 consonants, or Northwest Mekeo (
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (PNG; , ; tpi, Papua Niugini; ho, Papua Niu Gini), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea ( tpi, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niugini; ho, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niu Gini), is a country in Oceania ...

Papua New Guinea
) with only 7 consonants. The canonical root type in
Proto-Austronesian Proto-Austronesian (commonly abbreviated as PAN or PAn) is a proto-language. It is the reconstructed ancestor of the Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of co ...
is disyllabic with the shape CV(C)CVC (C = consonant; V = vowel), and is still found in many Austronesian languages. In most languages, consonant clusters are only allowed in medial position, and often, there are restrictions for the first element of the cluster. There is a common drift to reduce the number of consonants which can appear in final position, e.g. Buginese, which only allows the two consonants /ŋ/ and /ʔ/ as finals, out of a total number of 18 consonants. Complete absence of final consonants is observed e.g. in
Nias Nias ( id, Pulau Nias, Nias language: ''Tanö Niha'') is an island located off the western coast of Sumatra Sumatra is one of the Sunda Islands of western Indonesia. It is the largest island that is fully within Indonesian territory, as wel ...
,
Malagasy Malagasy may refer to: *Someone or something from Madagascar *Malagasy people *Malagasy language *Malagasy Republic *Related to the culture of Madagascar See also

*Madagascar (disambiguation) {{disambiguation Language and nationality disambi ...
and many
Oceanic languages The approximately 450 Oceanic languages are a branch of the Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages () are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), ...

Oceanic languages
. Unlike in the languages of Mainland Southeast Asia, tonal contrasts are extremely rare in Austronesian languages. Exceptional cases of tonal languages are Moklen and a few languages of the
Chamic The Chamic languages, also known as Aceh–Chamic and Achinese–Chamic, are a group of ten languages spoken in Aceh Aceh () is the westernmost province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, a ...
, South Halmahera–West New Guinea and New Caledonian subgroups.


Morphology

Most Austronesian languages are
agglutinative languages An agglutinative language is a type of synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express different grammatica ...
with a relatively high number of
affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most language ...
es, and clear morpheme boundaries. Most affixes are
prefix A prefix is an affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) ...
es (
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
''ber-jalan'' 'walk' < ''jalan'' 'road'), with a smaller number of
suffix In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
es (
Tagalog Tagalog may refer to: Language * Tagalog language Tagalog (, ; ) is an Austronesian languages, Austronesian language spoken as a first language by the ethnic Tagalog people, who make up a quarter of the population of the Philippines, and as a se ...
''titis-án'' 'ashtray' < ''títis'' 'ash') and
infix An infix is an affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) a ...
es (
Roviana Roviana is a member of the North West Solomonic branch of Oceanic languages. It is spoken around Roviana and Vonavona lagoons at the north central New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. It has 10,000 first-language speakers and an additional 16,000 p ...
''tavete'' 'work (noun)' < ''tavete'' 'work (verb)').
Reduplication In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

Reduplication
is commonly employed in Austronesian languages. This includes full reduplication (
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
''anak-anak'' 'children' < ''anak'' 'child'; Karo Batak ''nipe-nipe'' 'caterpillar' < ''nipe'' 'snake') or partial reduplication (
Agta The Aeta (Ayta ), Agta, or Dumagat, are collective terms for several Filipino people, Filipino indigenous peoples who live in various parts of the island of Luzon in the Philippines. They are considered to be part of the Negrito ethnic groups a ...
''taktakki'' 'legs' < ''takki'' 'leg', ''at-atu'' 'puppy' < ''atu'' 'dog').


Syntax

It is difficult to make generalizations about the languages that make up a family as diverse as Austronesian. Very broadly, one can divide the Austronesian languages into three groups: Philippine-type languages, Indonesian-type languages and post-Indonesian type languages: *The first group includes, besides the languages of the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
, the Austronesian languages of Taiwan, Sabah, North Sulawesi and Madagascar. It is primarily characterized by the retention of the original system of Philippine-type voice alternations, where typically three or four verb voices determine which semantic role the "subject"/"topic" expresses (it may express either the actor, the patient, the location and the beneficiary, or various other circumstantial roles such as instrument and concomitant). The phenomenon has frequently been referred to as ''focus'' (not to be confused with the usual sense of that term in linguistics). Furthermore, the choice of voice is influenced by the
definiteness In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
of the participants. The word order has a strong tendency to be verb-initial. *In contrast, the more innovative Indonesian-type languages, which are particularly represented in Malaysia and western Indonesia, have reduced the voice system to a contrast between only two voices (actor voice and "undergoer" voice), but these are supplemented by applicative morphological devices (originally two: the more direct *''-i'' and more oblique *''-an/- ən''), which serve to modify the semantic role of the "undergoer". They are also characterized by the presence of preposed clitic pronouns. Unlike the Philippine type, these languages mostly tend towards verb-second word-orders. A number of languages, such as the
Batak languages__FORCETOC__ The Batak languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages spoken by the Batak (Indonesia), Batak people in the Indonesian Provinces of Indonesia, province of North Sumatra and surrounding areas. Internal classification The Ba ...

Batak languages
,
Old Javanese Kawi or Old Javanese is the oldest attested phase of the Javanese language. It was spoken in the eastern part of what is now Central Java and the whole of East Java, Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Repu ...
,
Balinese Balinese may refer to: *Bali, an Indonesian island *Balinese art *Balinese dance *Balinese people *Balinese language **Balinese script **Balinese (Unicode block) *Balinese mythology *Balinese cat, a cat breed *Balinese Gamelan, local music *Balinese ...
,
Sasak The Sasak people live mainly on the island of Lombok Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. It forms part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the ...
and several Sulawesi languages seem to represent an intermediate stage between these two types. *Finally, in some languages, which Ross calls "post-Indonesian", the original voice system has broken down completely and the voice-marking affixes no longer preserve their functions.


Lexicon

The Austronesian language family has been established by the linguistic comparative method on the basis of cognate sets, sets of words similar in sound and meaning which can be shown to be descended from the same ancestral word in
Proto-Austronesian Proto-Austronesian (commonly abbreviated as PAN or PAn) is a proto-language. It is the reconstructed ancestor of the Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of co ...
according to regular rules. Some cognate sets are very stable. The word for ''eye'' in many Austronesian languages is mata (from the most northerly Austronesian languages,
Formosan languages The Formosan languages are the languages of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, all of which are Austronesian. The Taiwanese indigenous peoples recognized by the government are about 2.3% of the island's population. However, only 35% speak their ...

Formosan languages
such as Bunun and Amis all the way south to Māori). Other words are harder to reconstruct. The word for ''two'' is also stable, in that it appears over the entire range of the Austronesian family, but the forms (e.g. Bunun dusa; Amis tusa; Māori rua) require some linguistic expertise to recognise. The
Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database or ABVD is a large database of basic vocabulary lists that mainly covers the Austronesian languages. It also has a comprehensive inventory of basic vocabulary lists for Kra–Dai languages, Hmong–Mien lan ...
gives word lists (coded for cognateness) for approximately 1000 Austronesian languages.


Classification

The internal structure of the Austronesian languages is complex. The family consists of many similar and closely related languages with large numbers of
dialect continua A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a spread of language variety, language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties differ only slightly, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separ ...
, making it difficult to recognize boundaries between branches. The first major step towards high-order subgrouping was Dempwolff's recognition of the
Oceanic Oceanic may refer to: *Of or relating to the ocean *Of or relating to Oceania **Oceanic climate **Oceanic languages **Oceanic person or people, also called "Pacific Islander(s)" Places *Oceanic, British Columbia, a settlement on Smith Island, Br ...

Oceanic
subgroup (called ''Melanesisch'' by Dempwolff). The special position of the languages of Taiwan was first recognized by
André-Georges Haudricourt André-Georges Haudricourt (; January 17, 1911 – August 20, 1996) was a French botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a ...
(1965), who divided the Austronesian languages into three subgroups: Northern Austronesian (= ), Eastern Austronesian (=
Oceanic Oceanic may refer to: *Of or relating to the ocean *Of or relating to Oceania **Oceanic climate **Oceanic languages **Oceanic person or people, also called "Pacific Islander(s)" Places *Oceanic, British Columbia, a settlement on Smith Island, Br ...

Oceanic
), and Western Austronesian (all remaining languages). In a study that represents the first lexicostatistical classification of the Austronesian languages,
Isidore DyenIsidore Dyen (16 August 1913 in Philadelphia Philadelphia, colloquially Philly, is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most populous city in the United States and the most populous city in the state of Pe ...
(1965) presented a radically different subgrouping scheme. He posited 40 first-order subgroups, with the highest degree of diversity found in the area of
Melanesia Melanesia (, ) is a subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabi ...

Melanesia
. The Oceanic languages are not recognized, but are distributed over more than 30 of his proposed first-order subgroups. Dyen's classification was widely criticized and for the most part rejected, but several of his lower-order subgroups are still accepted (e.g. the Cordilleran languages, the or the
Murutic languages The Murutic languages are a family of half a dozen closely related Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoke ...
). Subsequently, the position of the Formosan languages as the most archaic group of Austronesian languages was recognized by Otto Christian Dahl (1973), followed by proposals from other scholars that the Formosan languages actually make up more than one first-order subgroup of Austronesian.
Robert Blust Robert A. Blust (born 1940, ) is a prominent linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, s ...
(1977) first presented the subgrouping model which is currently accepted by virtually all scholars in the field, with more than one first-order subgroup on Taiwan, and a single first-order branch encompassing all Austronesian languages spoken outside of Taiwan, viz.
Malayo-Polynesian The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. The Malayo-Polynesian languages are spoken by the Austronesian peoples outside of Taiwan, in the island nations of Southeast A ...
.


Malayo-Polynesian

The Malayo-Polynesian languages are—among other things—characterized by certain sound changes, such as the mergers of
Proto-Austronesian Proto-Austronesian (commonly abbreviated as PAN or PAn) is a proto-language. It is the reconstructed ancestor of the Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of co ...
(PAN) *t/*C to
Proto-Malayo-Polynesian Proto-Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) is the linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed ancestor of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is by far the largest branch (by current speakers) of the Austronesian languages, Austronesian language family. Proto- ...
(PMP) *t, and PAN *n/*N to PMP *n, and the shift of PAN *S to PMP *h. There appear to have been two great migrations of Austronesian languages that quickly covered large areas, resulting in multiple local groups with little large-scale structure. The first was Malayo-Polynesian, distributed across the Philippines, Indonesia, and Melanesia. The second migration was that of the
Oceanic languages The approximately 450 Oceanic languages are a branch of the Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages () are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), ...

Oceanic languages
into Polynesia and Micronesia.


Primary branches on Taiwan (Formosan languages)

In addition to
Malayo-Polynesian The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. The Malayo-Polynesian languages are spoken by the Austronesian peoples outside of Taiwan, in the island nations of Southeast A ...
, thirteen are broadly accepted. The seminal article in the classification of Formosan—and, by extension, the top-level structure of Austronesian—is . Prominent Formosanists (linguists who specialize in Formosan languages) take issue with some of its details, but it remains the point of reference for current linguistic analyses. Debate centers primarily around the relationships between these families. Of the classifications presented here, links two families into a Western Plains group, two more in a Northwestern Formosan group, and three into an Eastern Formosan group, while also links five families into a Northern Formosan group. splits Tsouic, and notes that Tsou, Rukai, and Puyuma fall outside of reconstructions of Proto-Austronesian. Other studies have presented phonological evidence for a reduced Paiwanic family of Paiwanic, Puyuma, Bunun, Amis, and Malayo-Polynesian, but this is not reflected in vocabulary. The Eastern Formosan peoples Basay, Kavalan, and Amis share a homeland motif that has them coming originally from an island called ''Sinasay'' or ''Sanasay'' . The Amis, in particular, maintain that they came from the east, and were treated by the Puyuma, amongst whom they settled, as a subservient group.


Blust (1999)

(clockwise from the southwest) *
Tsou language Tsou () is a divergent Austronesian language The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...
* Saaroa language *
Kanakanabu language Kanakanavu (also spelled Kanakanabu) is a Southern Tsouic language spoken by the Kanakanavu people, an indigenous people of Taiwan (see Taiwanese aborigines). It is a Formosan language of the Austronesian languages, Austronesian family. The Kan ...
*
Thao language Thao (Thao: Thau a lalawa), pronunciation , also known as Sao, is the language of the Thao people, a tribe of Taiwanese aborigines in the region of Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a co ...
Sao: Brawbaw and Shtafari dialects * Central Western Plains **
Babuza language Babuza is a Formosan languages, Formosan language of the Babuza people, Babuza and Taokas people, Taokas, indigenous peoples of Taiwan. It is related to or perhaps descended from Favorlang language, Favorlang, attested from the 17th century. Babu ...
; old
Favorlang language Favorlang is an extinct Formosan language closely related to Babuza language, Babuza. Although Favorlang is considered by Taiwanese linguist Paul Jen-kuei Li to be a separate language, it is nevertheless very closely related to Babuza. In fact, th ...
: Taokas and Poavosa dialects **
Papora-Hoanya language The Sinicized Papora and Hoanya dialects constituted a Formosan language of Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the ...
: Papora, Hoanya dialects
*
Saisiyat language Saisiyat (sometimes spelled Saisiat) is the language of the Saisiyat people, Saisiyat, a Taiwanese aborigines, Taiwanese indigenous people. It is a Formosan language of the Austronesian languages, Austronesian family. It has approximately 4,750 sp ...
: Taai and Tungho dialects *
Pazeh language Pazeh (also spelled Pazih, Pazéh) is an extinct language of the Pazeh people, Pazeh, a Taiwanese aborigines, Taiwanese aboriginal people. It was a Formosan language of the Austronesian languages, Austronesian language family. The last remainin ...
Kulun *
Atayal language The Atayal language is spoken by the Atayal people The Atayal (), also known as the Tayal and the Tayan, are a Taiwanese indigenous peoples, Taiwanese indigenous people. The Atayal people number around 90,000, approximately 15.9% of Taiwan's tot ...
*
Seediq language Seediq is an Atayalic languages, Atayalic language spoken in the mountains of Northern Taiwan by the Seediq people, Seediq and Taroko people. Subdivisions Seediq consists of three main dialects (Tsukida 2005). Members of each dialect group refer ...
Truku/Taroko * Northern (Kavalanic languages) **
Basay language Basay was a Formosan language spoken around modern-day Taipei in northern Taiwan by the Basay people, Basay, Qauqaut people, Qauqaut, and Trobiawan peoples. Trobiawan, Linaw, and Qauqaut were other dialects (''see East Formosan languages''). Ba ...
: Trobiawa and Linaw–Qauqaut dialects **
Kavalan language Kavalan (Kebalan/kbalan) was formerly spoken in the Northeast coast area of Taiwan by the Kavalan people (噶瑪蘭). It is an East Formosan language of the Austronesian family. Kavalan is no longer spoken in its original area. As of 1930, i ...
**
Ketagalan language Luilang, or ambiguously Ketagalan (Ketangalan, Tangalan; ), was a Formosan language The Formosan languages are the languages of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, all of which are Austronesian. The Taiwanese indigenous peoples recognized by ...
, or Ketangalan * Central ( Ami) ** Amis proper ** Sakizaya *
Siraya language Siraya is a Formosan language spoken until the end of the 19th century by the indigenous Siraya people of Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's ...
* Mantauran, Tona, and Maga dialects of Rukai are divergent (outside Formosa)


Li (2008)

This classification retains Blust's East Formosan, and unites the other northern languages. proposes a Proto-Formosan (F0) ancestor and equates it with
Proto-Austronesian Proto-Austronesian (commonly abbreviated as PAN or PAn) is a proto-language. It is the reconstructed ancestor of the Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of co ...
(PAN), following the model in Starosta (1995). Rukai and Tsouic are seen as highly divergent, although the position of Rukai is highly controversial. * F0: Proto-Formosan = Proto-Austronesian ** *** Mantauran *** Maga–Tona, Budai–Labuan–Taromak * F1: ''(unnamed branch)'' ** *** Tsou *** Southern Tsouic **** Saaroa **** Kanakanabu * F2: ''(unnamed branch)'' ** *** Northwestern (Plains) **** Saisiyat–Kulon– Pazeh **** Western ***** Thao ***** West Coast ( Papora
Hoanya 250px, Hoanya people live in middle Taiwan coast area. The Hoanya () are a Taiwanese aboriginal Taiwanese indigenous peoples, also known as the Formosan people, Taiwanese Austronesians, Yuanzhumin or Gāoshān people, are the indigenous peoples ...
Babuza–Taokas) *** Atayalic **** Atayal language, Squliq Atayal **** Atayal language, Ts'ole' Atayal (= C'uli') **** Seediq language, Seediq ** *** Kavalan language, Kavalan–Basay language, Basay *** Siraya language, Siraya– Amis–Nataoran language, Nataoran *** Sakizaya ** ? Southern [uncertain] *** **** Isbukun **** Northern and Central (Takitudu and Takbanuaz) ***


Ross (2009)

In 2009, Malcolm Ross (linguist), Malcolm Ross proposed a new classification of the Formosan language family based on morphological evidence from various Formosan languages. He proposed that the current reconstructions for Proto-Austronesian actually correspond to an intermediate stage, which he terms "Proto-Nuclear Austronesian". Notably, Ross' classification does not support the unity of the Tsouic languages, instead considering the Southern Tsouic languages of Kanakanavu and Saaroa to be a separate branch. This supports Chang's (2006) claim that Tsouic is not a valid group. : Formosan * (Mantauran and Tona–Maga dialects are divergent) * Subdivisions not addressed, apart from Southern Tsouic languages, Saaroa–Kanakanabu being separate from Tsou.


Major languages


History

From the standpoint of historical linguistics, the place of origin (in linguistic terminology, ''Urheimat'') of the Austronesian languages (Proto-Austronesian language) is most likely the Taiwan, main island of Taiwan, also known as Formosa; on this island the deepest divisions in Austronesian are found, among the families of the native
Formosan languages The Formosan languages are the languages of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, all of which are Austronesian. The Taiwanese indigenous peoples recognized by the government are about 2.3% of the island's population. However, only 35% speak their ...

Formosan languages
. According to
Robert Blust Robert A. Blust (born 1940, ) is a prominent linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, s ...
, the Formosan languages form nine of the ten primary branches of the Austronesian language family (). noted this when he wrote:
... the internal diversity among the... Formosan languages... is greater than that in all the rest of Austronesian put together, so there is a major Genetic (linguistics), genetic split within Austronesian between Formosan and the rest... Indeed, the genetic diversity within Formosan is so great that it may well consist of several primary branches of the overall Austronesian family.
At least since , writing in 1949, linguists have generally accepted that the chronology of the dispersal of languages within a given language family can be traced from the area of greatest linguistic variety to that of the least. For example, English in North America has large numbers of speakers, but relatively low dialectal diversity, while English in Great Britain has much higher diversity; such low linguistic variety by Sapir's thesis suggests a more recent origin of English in North America. While some scholars suspect that the number of principal branches among the Formosan languages may be somewhat less than Blust's estimate of nine (e.g. ), there is little contention among linguists with this analysis and the resulting view of the origin and direction of the migration. For a recent dissenting analysis, see . The Austronesian peoples#Prehistory and history, protohistory of the Austronesian people can be traced farther back through time. To get an idea of the original homeland of the populations ancestral to the Austronesian peoples (as opposed to strictly linguistic arguments), evidence from archaeology and population genetics may be adduced. Studies from the science of genetics have produced conflicting outcomes. Some researchers find evidence for a proto-Austronesian homeland on the Asian mainland (e.g., ), while others mirror the linguistic research, rejecting an East Asian origin in favor of Taiwan (e.g., ). Archaeological evidence (e.g., ) is more consistent, suggesting that the ancestors of the Austronesians spread from the South Chinese mainland to Taiwan at some time around 8,000 years ago. Evidence from historical linguistics suggests that it is from this island that seafaring peoples migrated, perhaps in distinct waves separated by millennia, to the entire region encompassed by the Austronesian languages . It is believed that this migration began around 6,000 years ago . However, evidence from historical linguistics cannot bridge the gap between those two periods. The view that linguistic evidence connects Austronesian languages to the Sino-Tibetan ones, as proposed for example by , is a minority one. As states:
Implied in... discussions of subgrouping [of Austronesian languages] is a broad consensus that the homeland of the Austronesians was in Taiwan. This homeland area may have also included the Penghu, P'eng-hu (Pescadores) islands between Taiwan and China and possibly even sites on the coast of mainland China, especially if one were to view the early Austronesians as a population of related dialect communities living in scattered coastal settlements.
Linguistic analysis of the Proto-Austronesian language stops at the western shores of Taiwan; any related mainland language(s) have not survived. The only exceptions, the
Chamic languages The Chamic languages, also known as Aceh–Chamic and Achinese–Chamic, are a group of ten languages spoken in Aceh Aceh () is the westernmost Provinces of Indonesia, province of Indonesia. It is located on the northern end of Sumatra, with ...
, derive from more recent migration to the mainland .


Hypothesized relations

Genealogical links have been proposed between Austronesian and various families of East and Southeast Asia.


Austric

A link with the Austroasiatic languages in an 'Austric' phylum (linguistics), phylum is based mostly on typological evidence. However, there is also morphological evidence of a connection between the conservative Nicobarese languages and Austronesian languages of the Philippines.


Austro-Tai

A competing Austro-Tai languages, Austro-Tai proposal linking Austronesian and Kra-Dai was first proposed by Paul K. Benedict, and is supported by Weera Ostapirat, Roger Blench, and Laurent Sagart, based on the traditional comparative method. proposes a series of regular correspondences linking the two families and assumes a primary split, with Kra-Dai speakers being the people who stayed behind in their Chinese homeland. suggests that, ''if'' the connection is valid, the relationship is unlikely to be one of two sister families. Rather, he suggests that proto-Kra-Dai speakers were Austronesians who migrated to Hainan Island and back to the mainland from the northern Philippines, and that their distinctiveness results from radical restructuring following contact with Hmong–Mien languages, Hmong–Mien and Sinitic language, Sinitic. An extended version of Austro-Tai was hypothesized by Benedict who added the Japonic languages to the proposal as well.


Sino-Austronesian

French linguist and Sinology, Sinologist Laurent Sagart considers the Austronesian languages to be related to the Sino-Tibetan languages, and also groups the Kra–Dai languages as more closely related to the Malayo-Polynesian languages. He also groups the Austronesian languages in a recursive-like fashion, placing Kra-Dai as a sister branch of Malayo-Polynesian. His methodology has been found to be spurious by his peers.


Japanese

Several linguists have proposed that Japanese language, Japanese is genetically related to the Austronesian family, cf. Benedict (1990), Matsumoto (1975), Miller (1967). Some other linguists think it is more plausible that Japanese is not genetically related to the Austronesian languages, but instead was influenced by an Austronesian substratum or adstratum. Those who propose this scenario suggest that the Austronesian family once covered the islands to the north as well as to the south. Martine Robbeets (2017) claims that Japanese genetically belongs to the "Transeurasian" (= Altaic languages, Macro-Altaic) languages, but underwent lexical influence from "para-Austronesian", a presumed sister language of
Proto-Austronesian Proto-Austronesian (commonly abbreviated as PAN or PAn) is a proto-language. It is the reconstructed ancestor of the Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of co ...
. The linguist Ann Kumar (2009) proposed that some Austronesians migrated to Japan, possibly an elite-group from Java, and created the Japanese-hierarchical society and identifies 82 plausible cognates between Austronesian and Japanese.


Ongan

proposed that the Austronesian and the Ongan languages, Ongan protolanguage are the descendants of an Austronesian–Ongan protolanguage. But this view is not supported by mainstream linguists and remains very controversial. Robert Blust rejects Blevins' proposal as far-fetched and based solely on chance resemblances and methodologically flawed comparisons.


Writing systems

Most Austronesian languages have Latin script, Latin-based writing systems today. Some non-Latin-based writing systems are listed below. * Brahmi script ** Kawi script *** Balinese alphabet - used to write
Balinese Balinese may refer to: *Bali, an Indonesian island *Balinese art *Balinese dance *Balinese people *Balinese language **Balinese script **Balinese (Unicode block) *Balinese mythology *Balinese cat, a cat breed *Balinese Gamelan, local music *Balinese ...
and
Sasak The Sasak people live mainly on the island of Lombok Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. It forms part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the ...
. *** Batak alphabet - used to write several
Batak languages__FORCETOC__ The Batak languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages spoken by the Batak (Indonesia), Batak people in the Indonesian Provinces of Indonesia, province of North Sumatra and surrounding areas. Internal classification The Ba ...

Batak languages
. *** Baybayin - used to write
Tagalog Tagalog may refer to: Language * Tagalog language Tagalog (, ; ) is an Austronesian languages, Austronesian language spoken as a first language by the ethnic Tagalog people, who make up a quarter of the population of the Philippines, and as a se ...
and several Languages of the Philippines, Philippine languages. *** Bima alphabet - once used to write the Bima language. *** Buhid alphabet - used to write Buhid language. *** Hanunó'o alphabet - used to write Hanuno'o language. *** Javanese script - used to write the Javanese language and several neighbouring languages like Madurese language, Madurese. *** Kerinci alphabet (''Kaganga'') - used to write the Kerinci language. *** Kulitan alphabet - used to write the Kapampangan language. *** Lampung alphabet - used to write Lampung language, Lampung and Komering language, Komering. *** Lontara alphabet - used to write the Buginese, Makassarese language, Makassarese and several languages of Sulawesi. *** Sundanese alphabet - used to write the Sundanese language. *** Rejang alphabet - used to write the Rejangese language, Rejang language. *** Rencong alphabet - once used to write the Malay language. *** Tagbanwa alphabet - once used to write various Palawan languages. *** Lontara script#Variants, Lota alphabet - used to write the Ende-Li'o language. ** Cham alphabet - used to write
Cham language Cham (Cham: ꨌꩌ) is a Malayo-Polynesian language of the Austronesian family, spoken by the Cham of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion ...
. * Arabic alphabet, Arabic script ** Pegon alphabet - used to write Javanese, Sundanese language, Sundanese and Madurese language, Madurese as well as several smaller neighbouring languages. ** Jawi alphabet - used to write
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
, Acehnese language, Acehnese, Banjar language, Banjar, Minangkabau language, Minangkabau, Tausug language, Tausug, Cham language, Western Cham and others. ** Sorabe alphabet - once used to write several dialects of Malagasy language. * Hangul - once used to write the Cia-Cia language but the project is no longer active. * Dunging script, Dunging - used to write the Iban language but it was not widely used. * Avoiuli - used to write the Raga language. * Eskayan script, Eskayan - used to write the Eskayan language, a secret language based on Boholano language, Boholano. * Woleai script (Caroline Island script) - used to write the Carolinian language (Refaluwasch). * Rongorongo - possibly used to write the Rapa Nui language. * Braille - used in
Filipino Filipino may refer to: * Something from or related to the Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas or ''Filipinas'' ), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, ...
, Malaysian,
Indonesian Indonesian is anything of, from, or related to Indonesia, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It may refer to: * Indonesians, citizens of Indonesia ** Native Indonesians, diverse groups of local inhabitants of the archipelago ** Indonesian w ...

Indonesian
, Tolai language, Tolai, Motu language, Motu, Māori, Samoan language, Samoan,
Malagasy Malagasy may refer to: *Someone or something from Madagascar *Malagasy people *Malagasy language *Malagasy Republic *Related to the culture of Madagascar See also

*Madagascar (disambiguation) {{disambiguation Language and nationality disambi ...
, and many other Austronesian languages.


Comparison charts

Below are two charts Comparative linguistics, comparing list of numbers of 1-10 and thirteen words in Austronesian languages; spoken in
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
, the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
, the Mariana Islands, Indonesia, Malaysia, Chams or Champa (in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam), East Timor, Papua Region, Papua, New Zealand, Hawaii,
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mala ...

Madagascar
, Borneo, Kiribati, Caroline Islands, and Tuvalu.


See also

* Languages of Taiwan *Proto-Austronesian Language *Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association *List of Austronesian languages *List of Austronesian regions


Notes


References

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

*Bengtson, John D.
The "Greater Austric" Hypothesis
Association for the Study of Language in Prehistory. * *Blust, R. A. (1983). ''Lexical reconstruction and semantic reconstruction: the case of the Austronesian "house" words''. Hawaii: R. Blust. *Cohen, E. M. K. (1999). ''Fundaments of Austronesian roots and etymology''. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. *Marion, P., ''Liste Swadesh élargie de onze langues austronésiennes,'' éd. Carré de sucre, 2009 *Pawley, A., & Ross, M. (1994). ''Austronesian terminologies: continuity and change''. Canberra, Australia: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University. *Sagart, Laurent, Roger Blench, and Alicia Sanchez-Nazas (Eds.) (2004). ''The peopling of East Asia: Putting Together Archaeology, Linguistics and Genetics''. London: RoutledgeCurzon. . * *Tryon, D. T., & Tsuchida, S. (1995). ''Comparative Austronesian dictionary: an introduction to Austronesian studies''. Trends in linguistics, 10. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. *Wittmann, Henri (1972). "Le caractère génétiquement composite des changements phonétiques du malgache."
Proceedings of the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences
' 7.807-10. La Haye: Mouton. *Wolff, John U., "Comparative Austronesian Dictionary. An Introduction to Austronesian Studies", ''Language'', vol. 73, no. 1, pp. 145–56, Mar 1997, ISSN 0097-8507


External links


Blust's Austronesian Comparative DictionarySwadesh lists of Austronesian basic vocabulary words
(from Wiktionary'
Swadesh-list appendix
*
Summer Institute of Linguistics site showing languages (Austronesian and Papuan) of Papua New Guinea.
*
Spreadsheet of 1600+ Austronesian and Papuan number names and systems – ongoing study to determine their relationships and distribution
* *[http://www.pro-classic.com/ethnicgv/maps/map_index.htm 南島語族分布圖] {{DEFAULTSORT:Austronesian Languages Austronesian languages, Language families Languages of Southeast Asia Languages of Oceania Sino-Austronesian languages