Austronesian languages

Ethnicity Austronesian peoples
Maritime and parts of Mainland Southeast Asia, Oceania, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Andaman archipelago and parts of Hainan and Madagascar
Linguistic classification One of the world's primary language families
Proto-language Proto-Austronesian
ISO 639-2 / 5 map
Glottolog aust1307[1]
Distribution of Austronesian languages

The Austronesian languages are a language family that is widely dispersed throughout Maritime Southeast Asia, Madagascar and the islands of the Pacific Ocean, with a few members in continental Asia.[2] Austronesian languages are spoken by about 386 million people (4.9%), making it the fifth-largest language family by number of speakers, behind the Indo-European languages (46.3%), the Sino-Tibetan languages (20.4%), the Niger-Congo languages (6.9%), and the Afro-Asiatic languages. Major Austronesian languages with the highest number of speakers are Malay (Indonesian and Malaysian), Javanese, and Filipino (Tagalog). The family contains 1,257 languages, which is the second most of any language family.[3]

Similarities between the languages spoken in the Malay Archipelago and the Pacific Ocean were first observed in 1706 by the Dutch scholar Adriaan Reland.[4] In the 19th century, researchers (e.g. Wilhelm von Humboldt, Herman van der Tuuk) started to apply the comparative method to the Austronesian languages, but the first comprehensive and extensive study on the phonological history of the Austronesian language family including a reconstruction of Proto-Austronesian lexicon was made by the German linguist Otto Dempwolff.[5] The term Austronesian itself was coined by Wilhelm Schmidt (German austronesisch, based on Latin auster "south wind" and Greek νῆσος "island").[6] The family is aptly named, as the vast majority of Austronesian languages are spoken on islands: only a few languages, such as Malay and the Chamic languages, are indigenous to mainland Asia. Many Austronesian languages have very few speakers, but the major Austronesian languages are spoken by tens of millions of people and one Austronesian language, Malay (including both Indonesian and Malaysian variants), is spoken by 250 million people, making it the 8th most spoken language in the world. Approximately twenty Austronesian languages are official in their respective countries (see the list of major and official Austronesian languages).

Different sources count languages differently, but Austronesian and Niger–Congo are the two largest language families in the world by the number of languages they contain, each having roughly one-fifth of the total languages counted in the world. The geographical span of Austronesian was the largest of any language family before the spread of Indo-European in the colonial period, ranging from Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa to Easter Island in the eastern Pacific. Hawaiian, Rapa Nui, and Malagasy (spoken on Madagascar) are the geographic outliers of the Austronesian family.

According to Robert Blust (1999), Austronesian is divided in several primary branches, all but one of which are found exclusively on Taiwan. The 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) belong to the Malayo-Polynesian branch, sometimes called Extra-Formosan.

Most Austronesian languages lack a long history of written attestation, making the feat of reconstructing earlier stages – up to distant Proto-Austronesian – all the more remarkable. The oldest inscription in the Cham language, the Đông Yên Châu inscription, but with the influence of Indo-European languages, dated to the mid-6th century AD at the latest, is also the first attestation of any Austronesian language.


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 (Ross 2002):

  • The first group includes, besides the languages of the 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 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/-[a]kən), 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, Old Javanese, Balinese, Sasak and several Sulawesi languages seem to represent an intermediate stage between these two types.[7][8]
  • 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.

The Austronesian languages tend to use reduplication (repetition of all or part of a word, as in wiki-wiki or agar-agar). Like many East and Southeast Asian languages, most Austronesian languages have highly restrictive phonotactics, with generally small numbers of phonemes and predominantly consonant–vowel syllables.


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 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 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 gives word lists (coded for cognateness) for approximately 1000 Austronesian languages.


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, making it difficult to recognize boundaries between branches. However, it is clear that the greatest genealogical diversity is found among the Formosan languages of Taiwan, and the least diversity among the islands of the Pacific, supporting a dispersal of the family from Taiwan or China. The first comprehensive classification to reflect this was Dyen (1965).

The seminal article in the classification of Formosan—and, by extension, the top-level structure of Austronesian—is Blust (1999). 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, and is shown below. The Malayo-Polynesian languages are frequently included within Blust's Eastern Formosan branch due to their shared leveling of proto-Austronesian *t, *C to /t/ and *n, *N to /n/, their shift of *S to /h/, and vocabulary such as *lima "five" which are not attested in other Formosan languages.

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 Central Malayo-Polynesian languages are similar to each other not because of close genealogical relationships, but rather because they reflect strong substratum effects from non-Austronesian languages. The second migration was that of the Oceanic languages into Polynesia and Micronesia (Greenhill, Blust & Gray 2008).

In addition to Malayo-Polynesian, thirteen Formosan families are broadly accepted. Debate centers primarily around the relationships between these families. Of the classifications presented here, Blust (1999) links two families into a Western Plains group, two more in a Northwestern Formosan group, and three into an Eastern Formosan group, while Lee (2008) also links five families into a Northern Formosan group. The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database (2008) accepts Northern, rejects Eastern, links Tsouic and Rukai (two highly divergent languages), and links Malayo-Polynesian with Paiwan in a Paiwanic group. Ross (2009) 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 (Li 2004). 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.[9]

Blust (1999)


(clockwise from the southwest)

  Western Plains (Formosan)
  Northwest Formosan
  • Mantauran, Tona, and Maga dialects of Rukai are divergent.
  Paiwan language (southern tip of Formosa)

Li (2008)

This classification retains Blust's East Formosan, and unites the other northern languages. Li proposes a Proto-Formosan (F0) ancestor and equates it with Proto-Austronesian (PAN), following the model in Starosta (1995).[10][11] Rukai and Tsouic are seen as highly divergent,[10] although the position of Rukai is highly controversial.[12]

Ross (2009)

In 2009, Malcolm Ross proposed a new classification of the Austronesian language family based on morphological evidence from various Formosan languages.[13] 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.[14]

  • (Mantauran and Tona–Maga dialects are divergent)
  Nuclear Austronesian

Major languages

Comparison chart

Below is a chart comparing list of numbers of 1-10 and thirteen words in Austronesian languages; spoken in Taiwan, the Philippines, the Mariana Islands, Indonesia, Malaysia, Chams or Champa (in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam), East Timor, Papua, New Zealand, Hawaii, Madagascar, Borneo and Tuvalu.

Austronesian List of Numbers 1-10012345678910
Proto-Austronesian *əsa
Formosan languages 012345678910
Atayal qutuxsazingcyugalpayatmagalmtzyumpitumspatmqerumopuw
Seediq kingaldahaterusepacrimammterumpitummsepacmngarimaxal
Truku kingaldhatruspatrimamataruempitumaspatmngarimaxal
Thao tahatushaturushpattarimakaturupitukashpattanathumakthin
Papora tanu nya tul pat lima minum pitu mehal mesi metsi
Babuza nata naroa natura naspat nahop naitu naito natap maitu tsihet
Taokas tatanu rua tool'a lapat hasap tahap yuweto mahalpat tanaso tais'id
Pazeh adang dusa tu'u supat xasep xasebuza xasebidusa xasebitu'u xasebisupat isit
Saisiyat 'aeihae'roSa'to:lo'SopathasebSayboSi:SayboSi: 'aeihae'maykaSpathae'hae'lampez
Tsou coniyusotuyusʉptʉeimonomʉpituvoyusiomaskʉ
Bunun tasʔadusataupaathimanuumpituvausivamasʔan
Rukai ithadrusatulrusupatelrimaenemepituvalrubangatepulruku
Paiwan itadrusatjelusepatjlimaenempitjualusivatapuluq
Puyuma isazuwatelupatlimaunempituwaluiwapulu'
Kavalan usiquzusautuluuspatulimaunemupituuwaluusiwarabtin
Basay tsa lusa tsu səpat tsjima anəm pitu wasu siwa labatan
Amis cecaytosatolospatlimaenempitofalosiwamo^tep
Sakizaya cacaytosatolosepatlimaenempitowalosiwacacay a bataan
Siraya sasaat duha turu tapat tu-rima tu-num pitu pipa kuda keteng
Taivoan tsaha' ruha toho paha' hima lom kito' kipa' matuha kaipien
Makatao na-saad ra-ruha ra-ruma ra-sipat ra-lima ra-hurum ra-pito ra-haru ra-siwa ra-kaitian
Yami asadoraatloapatlimaanempitowaosiyampoo
Qauqaut iszusdorsoprimənpitarsiutor
Malayo-Polynesian languages 012345678910
Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *əsa
Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian (MP) languages 012345678910
Sunda–Sulawesi languages 012345678910
Acehnese sifar









Banjar asaduataluampatlimaanampituwalusangasapuluh
Batak, Toba sadaduatoluopatlimaonompituualusiasampulu
Buginese ceddiduatelluempalimaennengpituaruaaseraseppulo
Cia-Cia 디세
Cham saduaklaupaklimanamtujuhdalapansalapansapluh
Javanese (Kawi)b[15] sunya








Old Javanese[16] dassa
(sa' / sak)
Javanese (Krama) nolsetunggalkalihtigasekawangangsalenempituwolusangasedasa
Javanese (Ngoko)[17] nolsiji from sahijiloro from ka-rwa (ka-ro)telupapatlimaenempituwolusangasepuluh
Kelantan-Pattani kosongsoduwotigopaklimonetujohlapesmilespuloh
Madurese nolsettongdhuwa'tello'empa'lema'ennempetto'ballu'sanga'sapolo
Makassarese ᨒᨚᨅ
Standard Malay
(both Indonesian and Malaysian)
Minangkabau ciekduotigoampeklimoanamtujuahsalapansambilansapuluah
Moken cha:?thuwa:?teloj
(cʰɛwaːy / sɛwaːy)
Sasak sekekdueteloempatlimeenampitukbaluksiwaksepulu
Sundanese ᮔᮧᮜ᮪
Terengganu Malay kosongseduwetigepaklimenangtujohlapangsmilangspuloh
Tetun nolidaruatoluhatlimanenhituualusiasanulu
Tsat (HuiHui)c sa³³ *,
ta¹¹ **
tʰua¹¹kiə³³pa²⁴ma³³naːn³²su⁵⁵paːn³²tʰu¹ paːn³²piu⁵⁵
There are two forms for numbers 'one' in Tsat (Hui Hui; Hainan Cham) :
^* The word sa³³ is used for serial counting.
^** The word ta¹¹ is used with hundreds and thousands and before qualifiers.
Borneo–Philippine languages 012345678910
Ilocano ibbong
Ibanag awantaddayduwatalluappa'limaannampituwalusiyammafulu
Pangasinan sakeyduwataloapatlimaanempitowalosiyamsamplo
Kapampangan alametung/ isa'aduaatluapatlimaanampituwalusiyamapulu
Tagalog ᜏᜎ
Bikol warasarôduwátulóapatlimáanompitówalósiyámsampulû
Aklanon uwaisaea
Karay-a wara(i)saradarwatatloapatlimaanəmpitowalosiyamnapulo
Onhan isyadarwatatloupatlimaan-ompitowalosiyamsampulo
Romblomanon isaduhatuyoupatlimaonumpitowayosiyamnapuyo
Masbatenyo isad
Hiligaynon walaisaduhatatloapatlimaanompitowalosiyamnapulo
Cebuano walausaduhatuloupatlimaunompitowalosiyamnapulo
Waray warayusaduhatuloupatlimaunompitowalosiyamnapulò
Tausug isaduwaupatlimaunumpituwalusiyamhangpu'
Maranao isaduatelupatlimanempituualusiausapulu'
Benuaq (Dayak Benuaq) erayduaqtoluuopaatlimaqjawatnturuwalosiesepuluh
Lun Bawang/ Lundayeh na luk dihecehduehteluhepatlimehenemtudu'waluhliwa'pulu'
Dusun aisoisoduotoluapatlimoonomturuwalusiamhopod
Malagasy aotraisa
Sangirese (Sangir-Minahasan) sembaudaruatateluepalimaenengpituwalusiomapulo
Oceanic languagesd 012345678910
Fijian saivaduaruatoluvaalimaonovituwaluciwatini
Hawaiian 'ole'e-kahi'e-lua'e-kolu'e-hā'e-lima'e-ono'e-hiku'e-walu'e-iwa'umi
Kiribati akeateuanauouatenuaauanimauaonouaituawanuaruaiwatebwina
Māori koretahiruatoruwhārimaonowhituwaruiwatekau
Marshallese[25] o̧ojuonruojiluemānļalemjiljinojimjuonralitōkratimjuonjon̄oul
Motue[26] taruatoihaniimatauratoihitutaurahanitaurahani-tagwauta
Niuean nakaitahauatolufalimaonofituvaluhivahogofulu
Rapanui tahiruatorurimaonohituva'uivaangahuru
Rarotongan Māori kareta'iruatorurimaono'ituvaruivanga'uru
Rotuman taruafoluhakelimaonohifuvạlusivasaghulu
Sāmoan otasiluatolufalimaonofituvaluivasefulu
Tahitian hō'ē
pititorumahapaeōnohituva'uivahō'ē 'ahuru
Tongan noatahauatolufanimaonofituvaluhivahongofulu
taha noa
Trukese eetérúúwéénfáánniimwoonfúúswaanttiwengoon
Tuvaluan tahi

Comparison chart-thirteen words

English one two three four person house dog road day new we what fire
Proto-Austronesian *əsa, *isa *duSa *təlu *əpat *Cau *balay, *Rumaq *asu *zalan *qaləjaw, *waRi *baqəRu *kita, *kami *anu, *apa *Sapuy
Tetum ida rua tolu haat ema uma asu dalan loron foun ita saida ahi
Amis cecay tosa tolo sepat tamdaw luma wacu lalan cidal faroh kita uman namal
Puyuma sa dua telu pat taw rumah soan dalan wari vekar mi amanai apue,
Tagalog isa dalawa tatlo apat tao bahay aso daan araw bago tayo / kami ano apoy
Bikol sarô duwá tuló apat táwo harong áyam dálan aldaw bâgo kitá anó kalayó
Rinconada Bikol əsad darwā tolō əpat tawō baləy ayam raran aldəw bāgo kitā onō kalayō
Waray usa duha tulo upat tawo balay ayam,
dalan adlaw bag-o kita anu kalayo
Cebuano usa,
duha tulo upat tawo balay iro dalan adlaw bag-o kita unsa kalayo
Hiligaynon isa duha tatlo apat tawo balay ido dalan adlaw bag-o kita ano kalayo
Aklanon isaea,
daywa tatlo ap-at tawo baeay ayam daean adlaw bag-o kita ano kaeayo
Kinaray-a (i)sara darwa tatlo apat tawo balay ayam dalan adlaw bag-o kita ano kalayo
Tausug hambuuk duwa tu upat tau bay iru' dan adlaw ba-gu kitaniyu unu kayu
Maranao isa dowa t'lo phat taw walay aso lalan gawi'e bago tano tonaa apoy
Kapampangan metung adwa atlu apat tau bale asu dalan aldo bayu ikatamu nanu api
Pangasinan sakey dua,
too abong aso dalan ageo balo sikatayo anto pool
Ilokano maysa dua tallo uppat tao balay aso dalan aldaw baro datayo ania apoy
Ivatan asa dadowa tatdo apat tao vahay chito rarahan araw va-yo yaten ango apoy
Ibanag tadday dua tallu appa' tolay balay kitu dalan aggaw bagu sittam anni afi
Yogad tata addu tallu appat tolay binalay atu daddaman agaw bagu sikitam gani afuy
Gaddang antet addwa tallo appat tolay balay atu dallan aw bawu ikkanetam sanenay afuy
Tboli sotu lewu tlu fat tau gunu ohu lan kdaw lomi tekuy tedu ofih
Lun Bawang/ Lundayeh eceh dueh teluh epat lemulun/lun ruma' uko' dalan eco beruh teu enun apui


dua tiga[27] empat orang rumah,
anjing jalan hari baru kita apa,
Old Javanese esa,
wwang umah asu dalan dina hañar, añar[29] kami[30] apa,
Javanese siji,
awaké dhéwé,
kula panjenengan[31]
Sundanese hiji dua tilu opat urang imah anjing jalan poe anyar,
arurang naon seuneu
Acehnese sa duwa lhèë peuët ureuëng rumoh,
asèë röt uroë barô (geu)tanyoë peuë apui
Minangkabau ciek duo tigo ampek urang rumah anjiang labuah,
hari baru awak apo api
Lampungese sai khua telu pak jelema lamban kaci ranlaya khani baru kham api apui
Buginese se'di dua tellu eppa' tau bola asu laleng esso baru idi' aga api
Temuan satuk duak tigak empat uwang,
jalan aik,
bahauk kitak apak apik
Toba Batak sada dua tolu opat halak jabu biang dalan ari baru hita aha api
Kelantan-Pattani so duwo tigo pak oghe ghumoh,
anjing jale aghi baghu kito gapo api
Chamorro håcha,
hugua tulu fatfat taotao/tautau guma' ga'lågu[32] chålan ha'åni nuebu[33] hita håfa guåfi
Motu ta,
rua toi hani tau ruma sisia dala dina matamata ita,
dahaka lahi
Māori tahi rua toru whā tangata whare kurī ara hou tāua, tātou/tātau
māua, mātou/mātau
aha ahi
Tuvaluan tasi lua tolu toko fale kuli ala,
aso fou tāua a afi
Hawaiian kahi lua kolu kanaka hale 'īlio ala ao hou kākou aha ahi
Banjarese asa duwa talu ampat urang rūmah hadupan heko hǎri hanyar kami apa api
Malagasy isa roa telo efatra olona trano alika lalana andro vaovao isika inona afo
Dusun iso duo tolu apat tulun walai,
tasu ralan tadau wagu tokou onu/nu tapui
Kadazan iso duvo tohu apat tuhun hamin tasu lahan tadau vagu tokou onu,
Rungus iso duvo tolu,
apat tulun,
tasu dalan tadau vagu tokou nunu tapui,
Sungai/Tambanuo ido duo tolu opat lobuw waloi asu ralan runat wagu toko onu apui
Iban satu, sa,
siti, sigi
dua tiga empat orang,
rumah ukui,
jalai hari baru kitai nama api
Sarawak Malay satu,
dua tiga empat orang rumah asuk jalan ari baru kita apa api
Terengganuan se duwe tige pak oghang ghumoh,
anjing jalang aghi baghu kite mende, ape,
gape, nape
Kanayatn sa dua talu ampat urakng rumah asu' jalatn ari baru kami',
ahe api


The protohistory of the Austronesian people can be traced farther back through time than can that of the Proto-Austronesian language. From the standpoint of historical linguistics, the home (in linguistic terminology, Urheimat) of the Austronesian languages is the 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. According to Robert Blust, the Formosan languages form nine of the ten primary branches of the Austronesian language family (Blust 1999). Comrie (2001:28) 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 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 Sapir (1968), 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. Li 2006), 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 (Peiros 2004). To get an idea of the original homeland of the Austronesian people, scholars can probe evidence from archaeology and genetics. 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., Melton et al. 1998), while others mirror the linguistic research, rejecting an East Asian origin in favor of Taiwan (e.g., Trejaut et al. 2005). Archaeological evidence (e.g., Bellwood 1997) 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 (Diamond 2000). It is believed that this migration began around 6,000 years ago (Blust 1999). 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 Sagart (2002), is a minority one. As Fox (2004:8) 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 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, derive from more recent migration to the mainland (Thurgood 1999:225).

Hypothesized relations

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


A link with the Austroasiatic languages in an 'Austric' 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. Paul K. Benedict extended the Austric proposal to include the Tai–Kadai and Hmong–Mien families, but this has not been followed by other linguists.


A competing Austro-Tai proposal linking Austronesian and Tai–Kadai is supported by Weera Ostapirat, Roger Blench, and Laurent Sagart, and is based on the traditional comparative method. Ostapirat (2005) proposes a series of regular correspondences linking the two families and assumes a primary split, with Tai–Kadai speakers being the Austronesians who stayed behind in their Chinese homeland. Blench (2004) suggests that, if the connection is valid, the relationship is unlikely to be one of two sister families. Rather, he suggests that proto-Tai–Kadai 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 and Sinitic.


French linguist and Sinologist Laurent Sagart considers the Austronesian languages to be related to the Sino-Tibetan languages, and also groups the Tai–Kadai languages as more closely related to the Malayo-Polynesian languages.[34] He also groups the Austronesian languages in a recursive-like fashion, placing Tai–Kadai as a sister branch of Malayo-Polynesian. His methodology has been found to be spurious by his peers.


Several linguists have proposed that Japanese may be a relative of the Austronesian family.[35] Some linguists think it is more plausible that Japanese might have instead been influenced by Austronesian languages, perhaps by an Austronesian substratum. Those who propose this scenario suggest that the Austronesian family once covered the islands to the north as well as to the south. Alexander Vovin calls his reconstruction of Proto-Japanese suggestive of a Southeast Asian origin of the Japonic languages.[36] Several Japanese linguists classify Japanese as "Para-Austronesian".


It has recently been proposed that the Austronesian and the Ongan protolanguage are the descendants of an Austronesian–Ongan protolanguage (Blevins 2007).[37]

Writing systems

Sign in Balinese and Latin script at a Hindu temple in Bali
Manuscript from early 1800s using Batak alphabet

Most Austronesian languages have Latin-based writing systems today. Some non-Latin-based writing systems are listed below.

See also


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Austronesian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. "Austronesian Languages". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  3. Blust, Robert (2016). History of the Austronesian Languages. University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  4. Asya Pereltsvaig (2018). Languages of the World. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-316-62196-7.
  5. Dempwolff, Otto (1934-37). Vergleichende Lautlehre des austronesischen Wortschatzes. (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für Eingeborenen-Sprachen 15;17;19). Berlin: Dietrich Reimer. (3 vols.)
  6. John Simpson; Edmund Weiner, eds. (1989). Official Oxford English Dictionary (OED2) (Dictionary). Oxford University Press. p. 22000..
  7. Adelaar, K. Alexander and Nikolaus Limmelmann. 2005. The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar. P.6-7
  8. Croft, William. 2012 Verbs: Aspect and Causal Structure. P.261
  9. Taylor, G. (1888). "A ramble through southern Formosa". The China Review. 16: 137161. The Tipuns... are certainly descended from emigrants, and I have not the least doubt but that the Amias are of similar origin; only of later date, and most probably from the Mejaco Simas [that is, Miyako-jima], a group of islands lying 110 miles to the North-east.... By all accounts the old Pilam savages, who merged into the Tipuns, were the first settlers on the plain; then came the Tipuns, and a long time afterwards the Amias. The Tipuns, for some time, acknowledged the Pilam Chief as supreme, but soon absorbed both the chieftainship and the people, in fact the only trace left of them now, is a few words peculiar to the Pilam village, one of which, makan (to eat), is pure Malay. The Amias submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the Tipuns.
  10. 1 2 Li, Paul Jen-kuei. 2008. "Time perspective of Formosan Aborigines." In Sanchez-Mazas, Alicia ed. Past human migrations in East Asia: matching archaeology, linguistics and genetics. Taylor & Francis US.
  11. Starosta, S. 1995. "A grammatical subgrouping of Formosan languages." In P. Li, Cheng-hwa Tsang, Ying-kuei Huang, Dah-an Ho, and Chiu-yu Tseng eds. Austronesian Studies Relating to Taiwan, pp. 683–726, Taipei: Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica.
  12. "The position of Rukai is the most controversial: Tsuchida... treats it as more closely related to Tsouic languages, based on lexicostatistic evidence, while Ho... believes it to be one of the Paiwanic languages, i.e. part of my Southern group, as based on a comparison of fourteen grammatical features. In fact, Japanese anthropologists did not distinguish between Rukai, Paiwan and Puyuma in the early stage of their studies" (Li 2008: 216).
  13. Ross, Malcolm. 2009. "Proto Austronesian verbal morphology: A reappraisal." In Alexander Adelaar and Andrew Pawley (eds.). Austronesian historical linguistics and culture history: a festschrift for Robert Blust. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  14. Chang, Henry Yungli. 2006. "Rethinking the Tsouic Subgroup Hypothesis: A Morphosyntactic Perspective." In Chang, H., Huang, L. M., Ho, D. (eds.). Streams converging into an ocean: Festschrift in honor of Professor Paul Jen-Kuei Li on his 70th birthday. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.
  15. Siman Widyatmanta, Adiparwa. Vol. I dan II. Cetakan Ketiga. Yogyakarta: U.P. "Spring", 1968.
  16. Zoetmulder, P.J., Kamus Jawa Kuno-Indonesia. Vol. I-II. Terjemahan Darusuprapto-Sumarti Suprayitno. Jakarta: PT. Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 1995.
  17. Javanese alphabet, pronunciation, and language (Aksara Jawa),
  18. from the Arabic صِفْر ṣifr
  19. Predominantly in Indonesia, comes from the Latin nullus
  20. The Sanskrit loanword "Ekasila" : "Eka" means 1, "Sila" means "pillar", "principle" appeared in Sukarno's speech
  21. In Kedukan Bukit inscription the numeral tlu ratus appears as three hundred, tlu as three, in the word telu is referred to as three in Malay, although the use of telu is very rare.
  22. The Sanskrit loanword "Trisila" : "Tri" means 3, "Sila" means "pillar", "principle" appeared in Sukarno's speech
  23. loanword from Sanskrit पञ्चन् páñcan - see Sukarno's Pancasila: "five principles", Pancawarna: "five colours, colourful".
  24. lapan is a known contraction of delapan; predominant in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
  25. Cook, Richard (1992). Peace Corps Marshall Islands: Marshallese Language Training Manual (PDF), pg. 22. Accessed August 27, 2007
  26. Percy Chatterton, (1975). Say It In Motu: An instant introduction to the common language of Papua. Pacific Publications. ISBN 978-0-85807-025-7
  27. In Kedukan Bukit inscription appears the numeral Tlu ratus as Three hundred, Tlu as Three, in the word Telu is referred as Three in Malay and Indonesian Language although the use of Telu is very rare.
  28. s.v. kawan, Old Javanese-English Dictionary, P.J. Zoetmulder and Stuart Robson, 1982
  29. s.v. hañar, Old Javanese-English Dictionary, P.J. Zoetmulder and Stuart Robson, 1982
  30. s.v. kami, this could mean both first person singular and plural, Old Javanese-English Dictionary, P.J. Zoetmulder and Stuart Robson, 1982
  31. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Javanese English Dictionary, Stuart Robson and Singgih Wibisono, 2002
  32. From Spanish "galgo"
  33. From Spanish "nuevo"
  34. van Driem, George. 2005. Sino-Austronesian vs. Sino-Caucasian, Sino-Bodic vs. Sino-Tibetan, and Tibeto-Burman as default theory. Contemporary Issues in Nepalese Linguistics, pp. 285–338. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2010-10-29. (see page 304)
  35. Benedict (1990), Lewin (1976), Matsumoto (1975), Miller (1967), Murayama (1976), Shibatani (1990).
  36. Vovin, Alexander. "Proto-Japanese beyond the accent system". Current Issues in Linguistic Theory.
  37. Blevins, Juliette (2007), "A Long Lost Sister of Proto-Austronesian? Proto-Ongan, Mother of Jarawa and Onge of the Andaman Islands" (PDF), Oceanic Linguistics, 46 (1): 154–198, doi:10.1353/ol.2007.0015, archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-01-11


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  • Comrie, Bernard (2001). "Languages of the world". In Aronoff, Mark; Rees-Miller,, Janie. The Handbook of LinguisticsLanguages of the world. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 19–42. 
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  • Sagart, Laurent (8–11 January 2002). Sino-Tibeto-Austronesian: An updated and improved argument (PDF). Ninth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (ICAL9). Canberra, Australia. 
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  • Terrell, John Edward (December 2004). "Introduction: 'Austronesia' and the great Austronesian migration". World Archaeology. 36 (4): 586–590. doi:10.1080/0043824042000303764. 
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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.
  • Blust, Robert (2013). The Austronesian Languages (revised ed.). Australian National University. hdl:1885/10191. ISBN 978-1-922185-07-5. 
  • Cohen, E. M. K. (1999). Fundaments of Austronesian roots and etymology. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. ISBN 0-85883-436-7
  • 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. ISBN 0-85883-424-3
  • Sagart, Laurent, Roger Blench, and Alicia Sanchez-Nazas (Eds.) (2004). The peopling of East Asia: Putting Together Archaeology, Linguistics and Genetics. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-415-32242-1.
  • Tryon, D. T., & Tsuchida, S. (1995). Comparative Austronesian dictionary: an introduction to Austronesian studies. Trends in linguistics, 10. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3110127296
  • 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

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