Seediq language

Kari Seediq
Native to Taiwan
Region central, eastern, and coastal
Ethnicity Seediq, Truku
Native speakers
20,000 (2008)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 trv
Glottolog taro1264[2]

Seediq (pronounced [seˈedæq]) is an Atayalic language spoken in the mountains of Northern Taiwan by the Seediq and Truku people.


Seediq consists of three main dialects (Tsukida 2005). Members of each dialect group refer to themselves by the name of their dialect, while the Amis people call them "Taroko."

  1. Truku (Truku) - 20,000 members including non-speakers. The Truku dialect, transcribed Tailuge in Chinese, gives its name to the Taroko Gorge.
  2. Toda (Tuuda) - 2,500 members including non-speakers.
  3. Tgdaya (Tkdaya, Paran) - 2,500 members including non-speakers.


Seediq syllables have C, CV, or CVC structures, except for some interjections which have CVCC structures (e.g., saws, which is uttered when offering food to ancestors, and sawp, which is the sound of an object blown by the wind). Disyllabic words can take on the following structures:


There are 18-19 consonants and 4 vowels (Tsukida 2005). Vowels in antepenultimate syllables are often /e/. The stressed syllable is usually the penultimate one, and is pronounced with a high pitch. In the Truku dialect stress is on the final syllable resulting in loss of first vowel in CVCCV and CVCCVC structures, for example compare: qduriq > pqdriqun, lqlaqi > lqlqian. In Truku, up to six onset consonants are possible: CCCCCVC(VC), for example: tn'ghngkawas, mptrqdug, pngkrbkan, dmptbrinah.

Affixes include:

  • -an: oblique case
  • ne-: something possessed by the prefixed noun

Clitics, unlike affixes, do not cause phonological alterations on their roots to which they are attached.


Seediq verbs have three types of voices, which are in turn inflected for mood or aspect (Tsukida 2005:313). Nouns, however, do not inflect for voice.

  1. Agent voice - marked by -em- or its allomorphs me or Ø
  2. Goal voice
  3. Conveyance voice

There are four basic aspect/mood categories:

  1. Neutral - same as non-future/imperfective
  2. Perfect - marked by -en-
  3. Non-finite - bare stem
  4. Hortative (i.e., when advising someone) - marked by -a(y/nay)

The future is marked by me-, mpe-, mpe-ke-.

There are a total of five different verb classes (conjugation paradigms). Other verb forms include causatives, reciprocals, and reflexives. Serial verb constructions are also allowed.

Word classes

Teruku Seediq has 11 word classes (Tsukida 2005:295).

Open classes
  • Nouns
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives
Closed classes
  • Numerals
  • Personal pronouns
  • Deictics
  • Adverbs
  • Conjunctives
  • Prepositions
  • Interjections
  • Sentence final particles

Like many other Formosan and Philippine languages, Seediq nouns and verbs behave similarly. Adjectives can be considered as a subcategory of verbs.


The word order of Seediq is VOS, where S corresponds to the argument marked with absolutive case. This argument ordinarily occurs clause-finally, but may be followed by a topicalized ergative argument. Like many of its other Austronesian relatives, Seediq contains voice morphemes marked on the verb which indicate which of the verb's arguments (agent, patient, etc.) is treated as the subject and thus marked with absolutive case. In noun phrases, modifiers follow the head (Tsukida 2005:304). Unlike Tagalog and many other Philippine languages, there are no linkers connecting the heads and modifiers.


There are three types of Seediq clauses (Tsukida 2005):

  1. Interjection clauses
  2. Basic clauses
  3. Existential/possessive clauses

Basic clauses have predicates (usually initial and consisting of single verbs, adjectives, or noun phrases), subjects, and optionally non-subject arguments and adjuncts.

Subjects can be recognized via (Tsukida 2005):

  1. Voice affix
  2. Clitic pronoun
  3. Quantifier floating
  4. Relativization
  5. Possessum demotion

Function words

Some function words are given below:

  • ni - "and" (conjunction)
  • deni - "and then" (conjunction)
  • 'u, du'u, ga, dega - all meaning "in case that" (conjunction)
  • nasi - "if"
  • 'ana - "even"
  • ka - subordinating conjunction, case marker, linker
  • 'ini - negator
  • 'adi - negates noun phrase predicates, future/perfect verb forms
  • wada - past
  • na'a - "had better, could have done..."
  • dima - "already"
  • hana - "just"
  • ya'asa - "because"
  • niqan - existential predicate (like Tagalog "may")
  • 'ungat - negative existential predicate (like Tagalog "wala")

Deictics include (Tsukida 2005:303):

  • niyi - this, this one
  • ga/gaga - that, that one
  • hini - here
  • hi/hiya - there
  • ga/gaga hiya - over there

There are a total of six prepositions (Tsukida 2005:303):

  • quri - toward, about, in the direction of
  • pa'ah - from
  • bitaq - until, up to
  • saw - like
  • 'asaw - because of
  • mawxay - for the sake of

Stative locatives (e.g., "on the mountain") do not take on any prepositions, but are rather placed directly after the verb without any additional marking.

Predicate extenders

Preverbal elements such as adverbs, demonstratives, and prepositions can be used to extend predicates. Below is a partial list of predicate extenders from Tsukida (2008:308).

  1. Extenders that require neutral verb forms
    1. wada - past
    2. ga(ga) - distal progressive
    3. niyi - proximal progressive
    4. gisu - progressive, state
    5. meha - future, "is going to do"
    6. (me-)teduwa - "be able to do"
    7. nasi - "if"
    8. na'a - "could have done something but did not
  2. Extenders that require non-finite verb forms
    1. 'asi ~ kasi - "at once, suddenly"
    2. pasi - "at once"
    3. kani - "one did not have to do something but did it"
    4. 'ini - negative
    5. 'iya - negative imperative
  3. Extenders that require future forms
    1. saw - "is/was about to do"
    2. rubang - "was about to do"
  4. Extenders that require future/perfect forms of verbs/nouns
    1. 'adi - negative
  5. Extenders that are combined with adjectives/nouns
    1. ma'a - "become"
  6. Extenders without specific requirements
    1. pekelug - "just"
    2. dima - "already"
    3. hana - "at last"
    4. 'ida - "surely"
    5. ya'a - uncertainty
    6. wana - only
    7. 'ana - "even"
    8. ma - "why"
    9. 'alung ~ 'alaw ~ 'arang - "as is expected"
    10. pida - exactly
    11. lengu - "planned to do..."
    12. binaw - confirmation
    13. 'atih - "at the last moment," "nearly"
    14. seperang - "purposefully, on purpose"


Teruku Seediq personal pronouns
Type of
Direct Oblique Independent
Subject Genitive
1s. yaku kenan (ne-)naku =ku =mu
2s. isu sunan (ne-)nisu =su =su
3s. hiya hiyaan ne-hiya - =na
1p. (incl.) 'ita tenan (ne-)nita =ta =ta
1p. (excl.) yami menani (ne-)nami =nami =nami
2p. yamu munan (ne-)namu =namu =namu
3p. dehiya dehiyaan ne-dehiya - =deha


The cardinal numbers are:

  1. kingal
  2. deha
  3. teru
  4. sepat
  5. rima
  6. mataru
  7. mpitu
  8. maspat
  9. mengari
  10. maxal

Other numerals and numeral-related affixes (Tsukida 2005:297):

  • taxa: used for humans - one person
  • 'uwin: used for objects - one object
  • ma- -(u)l: used to form words for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50
  • ma-xa-l: 10
  • m-pusa-l: 20
  • me-teru-l: 30
  • me-sepat-ul: 40
  • me-rima-l: 50


  1. Kari Seediq at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Taroko". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  • Tsukida, Naomi. 2005. "Seediq." In Adelaar, K. Alexander and Nikolaus Himmelmann, eds. 2005. The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar. Psychology Press.

Further reading

  • Lian Haoqi 連皓琦. 2013. 賽德克語太魯閣方言禁忌語與委婉語研究. Hualien, Taiwan: National Dong Hwa University 國立東華大學. ISBN 9789860392883
  • Ochiai, Izumi. 2016. Bu-hwan Vocabulary Recorded in 1874: Comparison with Seediq Dialects. Asian and African Languages and Linguistics No.10, 2016.
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