1 Dialects 2 Phonology
2.1 Consonants 2.2 Vowels
3.1 Overview 3.2 Word classes 3.3 Affixes 3.4 Pronouns 3.5 Demonstratives 3.6 Function words
4 Notes 5 References 6 External links
Dialects Li (1988) splits the Bunun dialects into 3 main branches — Northern, Central, and Isbukun (also classified as Southern Bunun). Isbukun, the prestige dialect, is also the most divergent dialect. The most conservative dialects are spoken in the north.
Bunun was originally spoken in and around Sinyi Township (Xinyi,
Bilabial Labio- dental Dental Alveolar Velar Uvular Glottal
Plosive p t k q ʔ
Implosive ɓ ɗ
Fricative v ð s χ h
Nasal m n ŋ
/ɓ ɗ/ are usually represented as ⟨b⟩, ⟨d⟩. /ð/ is represented as ⟨z⟩, /ŋ/ as ⟨ng⟩, /ʔ/ as ⟨'⟩, and /dʒ/ as ⟨j⟩.
The glides /j w/ exist, but are derived from the underlying vowels /i u/ to meet the requirements that syllables must have onset consonants. They are therefore not part of the consonant inventory. The dental fricative /ð/ is actually interdental (/ð̟/). In the Isbukun dialect, /χ/ often occurs in final or post-consonantal position and /h/ in initial and intervocalic position, whereas other dialects have /q/ in both of these positions. While Isbukun drops the intervocalic glottal stops (/ʔ/) found in other dialects, /ʔ/ also occurs where /h/ occurs in other dialects. (For example, the Isbukun word [mapais] bitter is [mapaʔis] in other dialects; the Isbukun word [luʔum] 'cloud' is [luhum] in other dialects.) The alveolar affricate /dʒ/ occurs in the Taitung variety of Isbukun, usually represented in other dialects as /t/.
Front Central Back
/e/ does not occur in Isbukun.
Grammar Overview Bunun is a verb-initial language and has an Austronesian alignment system or focus system. This means that Bunun clauses do not have a nominative–accusative or absolutive–ergative alignment, but that arguments of a clause are ordered according to which participant in the event described by the verb is 'in focus'. In Bunun, four distinct roles can be in focus:
the agent: the person or thing that is doing the action or achieving/maintaining a state; the undergoer: the person or thing that is somehow participating in the action without being an agent; there are three kinds of undergoers:
patients: persons or things to whom an action is done or an event happens instruments: things (sometimes persons) which are used to perform an action beneficiaries (also called recipients): the persons (sometimes things) for whom an action is done or for whom an event happens
the locative participant: the location where an action takes place; in languages with a Philippine-style voice system, spatial location is often at the same level in a clause as agents and patients, rather than being an adverbial clause, like in English (see  for a discussion of location in Tagalog).
Which argument is in focus is indicated on the verb by a combination of prefixes and suffixes .
a verb in agent focus is often unmarked, but can get the prefix ma- or - more rarely - pa- or ka- a verb in undergoer focus gets a suffix -un a verb locative focus gets a suffix -an
Many other languages with a focus system have different marking for patients, instruments and beneficiaries, but this is not the case in Bunun. The focussed argument in a Bunun clause will normally always occur immediately after the verb (e.g. in an actor-focus clause, the agent will appear before any other participant) and is in the Isbukun dialect marked with a post-nominal marker a. Bunun has a very large class of auxiliary verbs. Concepts that are expressed by auxiliaries include:
negation (ni 'be not' and uka 'have not') modality and volition (e.g. maqtu 'can, be allowed') relative time (e.g. ngausang 'first, beforehand', qanaqtung 'be finished') comparison (maszang 'the same, similarly') question words (e.g. via 'why?') sometimes numerals (e.g. tatini '(be) alone, (be) only one')
In fact, Bunun auxiliaries express all sorts of concepts that in English would be expressed by adverbial phrases, with the exception of time and place, which are normally expressed with adverbial phrases. Word classes Takivatan Bunun has the following word classes (De Busser 2009:189). (Note: Words in open classes can be compounded, whereas those in closed classes cannot.)
Nouns Verbs Adjectives
Demonstratives Anaphoric pronouns Personal pronouns Numerals Place words Time words Manner words Question words Auxiliaries
Affixes Bunun is morphologically agglutinative language and has a very elaborate set of derivational affixes (more than 200, which are mostly prefixes), most of which derive verbs from other word classes. Some of these prefixes are special in that they do not only occur in the verb they derive, but are also foreshadowed on a preceding auxiliary. These are called lexical prefixes or anticipatory prefixes and only occur in Bunun and a small number of other Formosan languages. Below are some Takivatan Bunun verbal prefixes from De Busser (2009).
Takivatan Bunun verbal prefixes
Type of prefix Neutral Causative Accusative
Movement from mu- pu- ku-
Dynamic event ma- pa- ka-
Stative event ma- / mi- pi- ka- / ki-
Inchoative event min- pin- kin-
Movement from: Cu- Dynamic event: Ca- Stative event: Ci- Inchoative event: Cin- Neutral: mV- Causative: pV- Accusative: kV-
A more complete list of Bunun affixes from De Busser (2009) is given below.
agent focus (AF): -Ø undergoer focus (UF): -un (also used as a nominalizer) locative focus (LF): -an (also used as a nominalizer)
Tense-aspect-mood (TAM) affixes
na- irrealis (futurity, consequence, volition, imperatives). This is also the least bound TAM prefix. -aŋ progressive (progressive aspect, simultaneity, expressing wishes/optative usage) -in perfective (completion, resultative meaning, change of state, anteriority) -in- past/resultative (past, past/present contrast) -i- past infix which occurs only occasionally
-Ø agent -un patient -an locative is- instrumental ki- beneficiary
Stationary ‘at, in’: i- Itinerary ‘arrive at’: atan-, pan-, pana- Allative ‘to’: mu-, mun- Terminative ‘until’: sau- Directional ‘toward, in the direction of’: tan-, tana- Viative ‘along, following’: malan- Perlative ‘through, into’: tauna-, tuna-, tun- Ablative ‘from’: maisna-, maina-, maisi-, taka-
ma- Marks dynamic events ma- Marks stative events mi- Marks stative negative events a- Unproductive stative prefix paŋka- Marks material properties (stative) min- Marks result states (transformational) pain- Participatory; marks group actions
pa- causative of dynamic verb pi- causative of stative verb pu- cause to go towards
Classification of events
mis- burning events tin- shock events pala- splitting events pasi- separating events kat- grasping events
bit- 'lightning' kun- 'wear' malas- 'speak' maqu- 'use' muda- 'walk' pas- 'spit' qu- 'drink' sa- 'see' tal- 'wash' tapu- 'have trait' tastu- 'belong' taus-/tus- 'give birth' tin- 'harvest' tum- 'drive'
pu- verbalizer: 'to hunt for' maqu- verbalizer: 'to use' malas- verbalizer: 'to speak'
Pronouns Takivatan Bunun personal pronoun roots are (De Busser 2009:453):
1s: -ak- 2s: -su- 3s: -is- 1p (incl.): -at- 1p (excl.): -ðam- 2p: -(a)mu- 3p: -in-
The tables of Takivatan Bunun personal pronouns below are sourced from De Busser (2009:441).
Takivatan Bunun Personal Pronouns
Type of Pronoun Root Foc. Agent (bound) Non-Foc. Agent (bound) Neutral Foc. Agent Locative Possessive
1s. -ak- -(ʔ)ak -(ʔ)uk ðaku, nak sak, saikin ðakuʔan inak, ainak, nak
2s. -su- -(ʔ)as - suʔu, su - suʔuʔan isu, su
1p. (incl.) -at- - - mita ʔata, inʔata mitaʔan imita
1p. (excl.) -ðam- -(ʔ)am - ðami, nam ðamu, sam ðamiʔan inam, nam
2p. -(a)mu- -(ʔ)am - muʔu, mu amu muʔuʔan imu, mu
Takivatan Bunun Third-Person Personal Pronouns
[Root] -is- -in-
Proximal isti inti
Medial istun intun
Distal ista inta
Iskubun Bunun personal pronouns are somewhat different (De Busser 2009:454).
Iskubun Bunun Personal Pronouns
Type of Pronoun Agent Undergoer Possessive
1s. saikin, -ik ðaku, -ku inak, nak
2s. kasu, -as su isu, su
3s. saia saiʤa isaiʤa, saiʤa
1p. (incl.) kata, -ta mita imita
1p. (excl.) kaimin, -im ðami inam
2p. kamu, -am mu imu
3p. naia inaiʤa naiʤa
Demonstratives Takivatan Bunun has the following demonstrative roots and affixes (De Busser 2009:454):
Proximal: -i Medial: -un Distal: -a
aip-: singular aiŋk-: vague plural aint-: paucal ait-: inclusive generic
Ø-: visible n-: not visible
ʔiti here ʔitun there (medial) ʔita there (distal)
sia anaphoric marker, "aforementioned"; also used as a hesitation marker tu attributive marker duma "others" itu honorific marker
Takivatan Bunun also has definitive markers.
Takivatan Bunun Definiteness Markers
Proximal -ti -ki
Medial -tun -kun
Distal -ta -ka
^ Bunun at
Adelaar, K. Alexander. 2004. The coming and going of ‘lexical prefixes’ in Siraya. Language and Linguistics/語言暨語言學 5(2): 333-361. De Busser, Rik. 2009. Towards a Grammar of Takivatan: Selected Topics. PhD dissertation at the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Jeng, Heng-hsiung. 1977. Topic and Focus in Bunun. Taipei: Academia Sinica. Nojima, Motoyasu. 1996. Lexical prefixes of Bunun verbs. Gengo Kenkyu: Journal of the Linguistic Society of Japan 110: 1-27. Li, Paul Jen-Kuei. 1988. A comparative study of Bunun dialects. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica 59(2): 479-508. Schachter, Paul and Fe T. Otanes. 1972. Tagalog Reference Grammar. Berkeley: University of California Press. 齊莉莎 (Zeitoun, Elizabeth). 2000. 布農語參考語法. Taipei:遠流/YLib. 林太 (Lin Tai), 曾思奇 (Zeng Si-Qi), 李文甦 (Li Wen-Su) and 卜袞 (Bukun). 2001. Isbukun.布農語構詞法研究. Taipei: 讀冊文化/Du-Ce Wen-Hua. Anu Ispalidav. 2014. 布農族語讀本：認識郡群布農族語. Taipei: Shitu Publishing House 使徒出版社.
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