The Info List - Paiwan Language

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Paiwan is a native language of Taiwan, spoken by the Paiwan, a Taiwanese indigenous people. Paiwan is a Formosan language of the Austronesian language family. It is also one of national languages of Taiwan.[2] The number of speakers is estimated to be 66,000.[4]


1 Dialects 2 Phonology 3 Grammar

3.1 Pronouns 3.2 Function words 3.3 Verbs

4 Affixes 5 Notes 6 References

Dialects[edit] Paiwan variants can be divided into the following dialect zones (Ferrell 1982:4–6).

A1 – southern and central

Kuɬaɬau (Kulalao) – used in Ferrell's 1982 Paiwan Dictionary due to its widespread intelligibility and preservation of various phonemic distinctions; also spoken in Tjuabar Village, Taitung County, where Tjariḍik and "Tjuabar" (closely related to Tjavuaɬi) are also spoken. Kapaiwanan (Su-Paiwan) Tjuaqatsiɬay (Kachirai) – southernmost dialect

A2 – central

ɬarəkrək (Riki-riki) Patjavaɬ (Ta-niao-wan)

B1 – northernmost

Tjukuvuɬ (Tokubun) Kaviangan (Kapiyan)

B2 – northwestern

Tjaɬakavus (Chalaabus, Lai-yi) Makazayazaya (Ma-chia)

B3 – east-central

Tjariḍik (Charilik)

B4 – eastern

Tjavuaɬi (Taimali) Tjakuvukuvuɬ (Naibon, Chaoboobol)

This classification should though be corrected with Cheng 2016 as below: Note: A village unnoted of Vuculj/Ravar is by tradition here Vuculj.

Paridrayan group(Ravar)

Paridraæyan /pariɖajan/ Tjailjaking Tineljepan Cavak Tjukuvulj

Timur group

Timur Tavatavang Vuljulju Sagaran (Ravar-Vuculj mixture)

Makazayazaya branch

Kulaljuc Idra Masilidj Makazayazaya Paljulj Kazangiljan Masisi Kazazaljan Apedang Kaviyangan Puljetji Tjuaqau

Eastern branch

Paumeli Tjulitjulik Viljauljaulj Kaljataran Ka'aluan Tjua'au Sapulju Kingku Djumulj Tjukuvulj

Tjagaraus branch

Payuan Padain Piuma

Raxekerek branch(west)

Raxekerek Kinaximan Tjevecekadan

Raxekerek branch(east)

Tjahiljik Tjacuqu Tjatjigelj Tjaqup Rahepaq Kaljapitj Qeceljing Pacavalj Kuvaxeng Utjaqas Ljupetj

Tjala'avus branch

Tjaljaqavus Calasiv Tjanaqasia Pucunug Vungalid Pailjus

Phonology[edit] Kuɬaɬau Paiwan has 23–24 consonants (/h/ is found only in loanwords, and /ʔ/ is uncommon) and 4 vowels (Ferrell 1982:7). Unlike many other Formosan languages
Formosan languages
that have merged many Proto-Austronesian phonemes, Paiwan preserves most Proto-Austronesian phonemes and is thus highly important for reconstruction purposes. The four Paiwan vowels are /i ə a u/. /ə/ is written e in the literature.

Kuɬaɬau Paiwan consonants

labial alveolar retroflex palatal velar uvular glottal

nasal m n


plosive p b t d ɖ c ɟ k ɡ q ʔ



fricative v s z




approximant w l ɬ


Central Paiwan consonants[5]

labial alveolar retroflex palatal velar uvular glottal

nasal m n


plosive p b t d ɖ c ɟ k ɡ q ʔ


ts ~ tʃ

fricative v s z


trill~ fricative

r ~ ɣ

approximant ʋ

ɭ ʎ j

In Northern Paiwan the palatal consonants have been lost, though this is recent and a few conservative speakers maintain them as allophonic variants (not as distinct phonemes). /ʔ/ is robust, unlike in other Paiwan dialects where its status is uncertain, as it derives from *q.

Northern Paiwan (Sandimen) consonants[5]

labial alveolar retroflex palatal velar glottal

nasal m n


plosive p b t d ɖ

k ɡ ʔ



fricative v s z


trill~ fricative


approximant w l~ʎ ɭ j

Southern Paiwan (Mudan) consonants[5]

labial alveolar retroflex palatal velar uvular glottal

nasal m n


plosive p b t d ɖ c ɟ k ɡ q ʔ



fricative v s z

ɣ ~ r


approximant w

ɭ ʎ j

Younger speakers tend to pronounce /ʎ/ as [l]. Fricative [ɣ] is characteristic of Mudan village; elsewhere is Southern Paiwan it tends to be a trill [r], though it still varies [r ~ ɣ ~ ʁ ~ h]. Word-initial *k has become /ʔ/. Grammar[edit] Pronouns[edit] The Paiwan personal pronouns below are from Ferrell (1982:14).

Paiwan Personal Pronouns

Type of Pronoun Equational Genitive Non-Eq., Non-Gen.

1s. -aken, ti-aken ku-, ni-aken tjanu-aken

2s. -sun, ti-sun su-, ni-sun tjanu-sun

3s. ti-madju ni-madju tjai-madju

1p. (incl.) -itjen, ti-tjen tja-, ni-tjen tjanu-itjen

1p. (excl.) -amen, ti-amen nia-, ni-amen tjanu-amen

2p. -mun, t-mun nu-, ni-mun tjanu-mun

3p. ti-a-madju ni-a-madju tjai-a-madju

Function words[edit] Paiwan has 3 construction markers, which are also known as relational particles (Ferrell 1982:13).

a – shows equational relationship; personal sing. = ti, personal plural = tia nua – shows genitive / partitive relationship; personal sing. = ni, personal plural = nia tua – shows that the relationship is neither equational nor genitive; personal sing. = tjai, personal plural = tjaia

Other words include:

i – be at, in (place) nu – if when na – already (definitely) done/doing or have become uri – definite future negative marker uri – definite future marker ɬa – emphasis, setting apart

Affixed adverbials include (Ferrell 1982:14):


nu-tiaw: tomorrow ka-tiaw: yesterday


nu-sawni: soon, in a little while (future) ka-sawni: a little while ago


nu-ngida: when? (future) ka-ngida: when? (past)

Interjections include (Ferrell 1982:12):

ui – yes ini- no (not do) neka – no, not (not exist) ai – oh! (surprise, wonder) ai ḍivá – alas! uá – oh! (surprise, taken aback) ai ḍaḍá – ouch! (pain)

Verbs[edit] Paiwan verbs have 4 types of focus (Ferrell 1982:30).

Agent/Actor Object/Goal/Patient Referent: spatial/temporal locus, indirect object, beneficiary Instrument/Cause/Motivation/Origin

The following verbal affixes are used to express varying degrees of volition or intent, and are arranged below from highest to lowest intention (Ferrell 1982:37).

ki- (intentional) pa- (intentional) -m- (volitionally ambiguous) si- (volitionally ambiguous) ma- (non-intentional) se- (non-intentional)

Paiwan verbs can also take on the following non-derivational suffixes (Ferrell 1982:13).

-anga: "certainly," "truly doing" -angata: "definitely" (emphatic) -anga: "still, yet, continuing to"

Affixes[edit] The Paiwan affixes below are from the Kulalao dialect unless stated otherwise, and are sourced from Ferrell (1982:15–27).


ka-: used as an inchoative marker with some stems; past marker ka- -an: principal, main kaɬa- -an: time/place characterized by something ma-ka-: go past, via; having finished pa-ka-: go/cause to go by way of (something/place) ka-si-: come from ken(e)-: eat, drink, consume ki-: get, obtain ku-: my; I (as agent of non-agent focus verb) ɬa-: belonging to a given [plant/animal] category ɬe-: to go in the direction of ɬia-: (have) come to be in/at li-: have quality of ma-: be affected by, be in condition of (involuntary) mare-: having reciprocal relationship mare-ka-: in some general category maɬe-: number of persons me-: agent marker usually involving change of status (used with certain verbs) mere-: be gigantic, super- mi-: agent marker that is usually intransitive (used with certain verbs) mi- -an: pretend, claim mu-: agent marker (certain verbs) ka-na- -anga: every pa-: to cause to be/occur pe-: emerge, come into view pi-: put in/on; do something to pu-: have or produce; acquire pu- -an: place where something is put or kept ma-pu-: do nothing except ... ra-: having to do with r-m-a-: do at/during r-m-a- -an: do at/in sa-: wish to; go to, in direction of; have odor, quality, flavor of pa-sa-: transfer something to; nearly, be on point of doing ki-sa-: use, utilize, employ na-sa-: perhaps, most likely is san(e)-: construct, work on/in ki-sane(e)-: become/act as; one who acts as ru-: do frequently/habitually; have many of se-: people of (village/nation); have quality of; occur suddenly/unexpectedly/unintentionally s-ar-e-: be in state/condition of (involuntary) si-: be instrument/cause/beneficiary of; instrument focus marker; belonging to certain time in past ma-si-: carry, transport su-: your; you (agent of non-agent focus verb); leave, remove, desist from ki-su-: remove or have removed from oneself ta-: past marker tu-: similar to, like ma-ru-: be dissimilar but of same size tja-: our, we (inclusive); more, to a greater extent, further ki-tja-: take along for use tjaɬa- -an: most, -est tjara-: be definitely tjaɬu-: reach/extend as far as tjari-: furthest, utmost tja-u-: to have just done tje-: choose to do at/from ka-tje- -an: containing tji-: used mainly in plant/animal species names (non-Kulalao frozen affix) tji-a-: be/remain at tju-: do/use separately; be/do at certain place m-uri-: search for


-aɬ-, -al-, -ar-: having sound or quality of; involving use of; non-Kulalao -ar-: do indiscriminately, on all sides; non-Kulalao -m-: agent or actor; -n- following /p/, /b/, /v/, /m/; m- before vowel-initial words -in-: perfective marker, action already begun or accomplished, object or product of past action; in- before vowel-initial words


-an: specific location in time/space; specific one/type; referent focus -en: object/goal of action; object focus -aw, -ay: projected or intended action, referent focus -u: agent focus (most subordinate clauses); most peremptory imperative -i: object focus (most subordinate clauses); polite imperative -ɬ: things in sequence; groupings; durations of time

The following affixes are from the Tjuabar dialect of Paiwan, spoken in the northwest areas of Paiwan-occupied territory (Comparative Austronesian Dictionary 1995).


-aḷ-, -aly- 'tiny things' -in- 'things made from plant roots' -an 'place' (always used with another affix) mar(ə)- 'a pair of' (used for humans only) pu- 'rich' ḳay- 'vegetation' sə- 'inhabitants' cua- 'name of a tribe'


-aŋa 'already done' ka- 'to complete' kə- 'to do something oneself' ki- 'to do something to oneself' kisu- 'to get rid of' kicu- 'to do something separately' maCa- 'to do something reciprocally' (where C indicates the initial consonant of the stem) mə- 'to experience, to be something' pa- 'to cause someone to do something' pu- 'to produce, to get something' sa- 'to be willing to do something' calyu- 'to arrive at'


ma- 'being' na- 'with the quality of' səcalyi- 'very' ca- 'more than'


^ Paiwan at Ethnologue
(19th ed., 2016) ^ a b Indigenous Languages Development Act, ROC https://glin.ly.gov.tw/file/legal/tw1406201702.pdf ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Paiwan". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Taiwan
seeks to save indigenous languages http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10602697 7/14/10 ^ a b c Chen, Chun-mei, 2006. A comparative study on Formosan phonology: Paiwan and Budai Rukai.


Ferrell, Raleigh. 1982. Paiwan Dictionary. Pacific Linguistics, Series C, no. 73. Canberra: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian National University.

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Northern Formosan


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Puyuma Paiwan Bunun

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