Talk:Malayo-Polynesian languages

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How many speakers?[edit]

The article says that "Western Malayo-Polynesian has about 300 million speakers", but the population of the Philippines (87million) and the population of Indonesia (242million) alone make 329 million. Malaysia adds another 24 million on. I know my method isn't scientific, but it seems there are more than 50 million people being ignored here. I know there are pockets of non-WMP-language speakers, but these would only account for the few million which represent the "more than" in the above "more than 50 million". So this leaves 50 million uncounted WMP speakers. Any objections to changing 300 to 350? Gronky 00:57, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

ok, I've made that change since it seems obvious - and no one has commented since I posted that question. Gronky 00:18, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
The question is how to define "speaker". Ideally, it would be best to have two numbers (or, rather, rough estimates, as that's the best one can hope for): the number of native speakers, and the number of total speakers. 69.140.12.199 03:40, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Malay vs. Malayic[edit]

On 1 June 2006 User:Wai Hong in the section Ethnologue Classification changed the listing of the group Malayic to Malay. Malayic is the Ethnologue name for a group of 70 languages which are dived into five subsets, one of the subsets of Malayic is Malay with one language, another is Malayan with fortysix languages, and a third is Malayic-Dayak with ten languages. I have restored the Ethnologue name. Bejnar 20:28, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Chile?[edit]

Why is there, of all places a "Languages of Chile" template on this page? UncleMatt 00:37, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Easter Island is part of Chile, and its native language is Polynesian. --Krsont 19:44, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

History/origin[edit]

Need section detailing possible date and location of origin of this language group. Badagnani (talk) 03:26, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Other influences[edit]

This is really not my field. However, I am aware that Malayo-Polynesian languages have received influences from Tamil to English. Tamil seems especially relevant, I was informed. It seems relevant to include a sub-chapter where these influences have been most felt. Politis (talk) 08:44, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Simple phonologies?[edit]

I think that we should mention that most Malayo-Polynesian languages have simple phonologies, because there is at least one language (Marshallese) with an incredibly complex phonology.

--186.52.137.105 (talk) 03:29, 20 January 2012 (UTC)


Actually Marshallese does have complex phonology for an austronesian language, but is about average in terms of the number phonemes. The average number of phonemes per language is 30[1]. While Marshallese has many sounds that do not exist in English, it does not mean its phonology is "complex". Marshallese does have significant allophony with its vowels, which is complex, but only 4 vowel phonemes. English has as many as 41 phonemes[2]. The inventory of Marshallese phonology is just 22 consonants and 4 vowels with many allophones. That is just one phoneme above the Tagalog language which is considered to have a less than average number of phonemes. I do not disagree with your arguement that not all Austronesian Languages have simple phonologies, the Malagasy language has 35 total phonemes if you count its affricates, which is above average. Brianc26 (talk) 04:43, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

This particular topic is discussed on a section of the Austronesian languages talk page that I started, and goes on to mention a couple other Oceanic Austronesian languages with complex phonologies. In this particular thread, an unregistered editor correctly comments that the New Caledonian Loyalty Island languages of Drehu, Iaai, and Nengone have large phonemic inventories, the highest number reaching to 45 phonemes. Other Austronesian languages such as Sawai (Halmahera, Eastern Indonesia), Tsou (south-central Taiwan), and Chamorro (Guam), have simple inventories but complex phonotactics for members of the language family. I think the Chamorro language was mentioned because of the geminated consonants that it has. Marshallese has between 22 and 25 consonant phonemes, and, as you said, 4 vowels with several allophones. The phonotactic patterns in Marshallese are CV, CVC, and VC, but with a variety of homorganic clusters.
The Paicî language of New Caledonia has a rather small amount of consonant phonemes, but a large number of vowels (oral and nasal) and three contrastive tones. Erromanga, a native language of southern Vanuatu, also has a rather small amount of consonant phonemes (13-15), but a complex range of consonant clusters.
Given the data provided on the languages, I think it is fair to say that most Malayo-Polynesian (Indonesian, Philippine, Polynesian, etc.) languages have "simple" phonologies. However, there is (a lot) more than one exception, as demonstrated above concerning phonological complexities. -Ano-User (talk) 12:55, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

I'd suggest replacing 'simple phonologies' with 'small phonemic inventories' if that's what the sentence is really supposed to be talking about. Is there a reason not to do this? Cxhh (talk) 01:31, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Yes, the two are not the same thing. You can have a large inventory with little active phonology and vice versa. If our sources talk about inventories, then so should we. It might also be interesting to look at how much this is a Melanesian effect caused by Papuan languages, and the Papuan languages that once underlay the Central–Eastern MP languages. New Guinea and the Amazon are highly statistically significant in the size of their inventories. — kwami (talk) 19:48, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
I'm changing 'simple phonologies' to 'small phonemic inventories', if for no other reason than because otherwise the 'thus...few but frequent sounds' part doesn't make sense. I don't think it's worth pursuing the 'simple phonologies' claim unless someone can find a source that defines a method for measuring the complexity of a phonological grammar and shows that languages in this family are generally simple in that way. This WALS display is suggestive of the revised claim: http://wals.info/feature/1A#4/11.61/163.87 but not a good source in itself, so it's still necessary to find a source to cite. I've added a citation needed tag. Cxhh (talk) 01:34, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Inconsistency in subdivisions[edit]

The list of subdivisions in the infobox, the groups shown in the map, and the text in the body of this article are all mutually inconsistent. I realise that classification within MP remains a contested topic but I think all of this conflicting information is likely to confuse the reader when presented in this way. Ordinary Person (talk) 05:37, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

  1. ^ Hayes, Bruce. Introductory Phonology. West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2009. Page 20
  2. ^ Hayes, Bruce. Introductory Phonology. West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2009. Page 20