Puyuma language

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Native toTaiwan
EthnicityPuyuma people
Native speakers
8,500 (2002)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3pyu
Formosan languages 2009.png
(red) Puyuma

The Puyuma language, or Pinuyumayan (Chinese: 卑南語; pinyin: Bēinán Yǔ), is the language of the Puyuma, an indigenous people of Taiwan (see Taiwanese aborigines). It is a divergent Formosan language of the Austronesian family. Most speakers are older adults.

Puyuma is one of the more divergent of the Austronesian languages and falls outside reconstructions of Proto-Austronesian.


The internal classification of Puyuma dialects below is from Ting (1978). Nanwang Puyuma is shown to be the relatively phonologically conservative but grammatically innovative, as it preserves proto-Puyuma voiced plosives but syncretizes the use of both oblique and genitive case.[3]

  • Proto-Puyuma
    • Nanwang
    • (Main branch)
      • Pinaski–Ulivelivek
      • Rikavung
      • Kasavakan–Katipul

Puyuma-speaking villages are:[4]

Puyuma cluster ('born of the bamboo')
Katipul cluster ('born of a stone')
  • Alipai (Chinese: Pinlang 賓朗)
  • Pinaski (Chinese: Hsia Pinlang 下賓朗); 2 km north of Puyuma/Nanwang, and maintains close relations with it
  • Pankiu (Chinese: Pankiu 班鳩)
  • Kasavakan (Chinese: Chienhe 建和)
  • Katratripul (Chinese: Chihpen 知本)
  • Likavung (Chinese: Lichia 利嘉)
  • Tamalakaw (Chinese: Taian 泰安)
  • Ulivelivek (Chinese: Chulu 初鹿)


Puyuma has 18 consonants and 4 vowels:

Puyuma Consonants[5]
Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive Voiceless p t ʈ k ʔ
Voiced b d ɖ ɡ
Fricative s
Trill r
Approximant l ɭ j w
Puyuma Vowels[5]
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid ə
Open a



Puyuma verbs have four types of focus:[6]

  1. Actor focus: Ø (no mark), -em-, -en- (after labials), me-, meʔ-, ma-
  2. Object focus: -aw
  3. Referent focus: -ay
  4. Instrumental focus: -anay

There are three verbal aspects:[6]

  1. Perfect
  2. Imperfect
  3. Future

There are two modes:[6]

  1. Imperative
  2. Hortative future

Affixes include:[6]

  • Perfect: Ø (no mark)
  • Imperfect: Reduplication; -a-
  • Future: Reduplication, sometimes only -a-
  • Hortative future: -a-
  • Imperative mode: Ø (no mark)


Puyuma has a verb-initial word order.

Articles include:[7]

  • i – singular personal
  • a – singular non-personal
  • na – plural (personal and non-personal)


The Puyuma personal pronouns are:[8]

Puyuma Personal Pronouns (Free)
Type of
Nominative[9] Oblique:
1s. nanku kanku, kananku draku, drananku kanku kuiku
2s. nanu kanu, kananu dranu, drananu kanu yuyu
3s. nantu kantu, kanantu dratu, dranantu kantaw taytaw
1p. (incl.) nanta kanta, kananta drata, drananta kanta taita
1p. (excl.) naniam kaniam, kananiam draniam, drananiam kaniam mimi
2p. nanemu kanemu, kananemu dranemu, drananemu kanemu muimu
3p. nantu kantu, kanantu dratu, dranantu kantaw
Puyuma Personal Pronouns (Bound)
Type of
(Possessor of subject)
1s. =ku ku= ku=
2s. =yu nu= nu=
3s. tu= tu=
1p. (incl.) =ta ta= ta=
1p. (excl.) =mi niam= mi=
2p. =mu mu= mu=
3p. tu= tu=


The Puyuma affixes are:[10]

  • ika-: the shape of; forming; shaping
  • ka-: stative marker
  • kara-: collective, to do something together
  • kare-: the number of times
  • ki-: to get something
  • kir-: to go against (voluntarily)
  • kitu-: to become
  • kur-: be exposed to; be together (passively)
  • m-, ma-: actor voice affix/intransitive affix
  • maka-: along; to face against
  • mara-: comparative/superlative marker
  • mar(e)-: reciprocal; plurality of relations
  • mi-: to have; to use
  • mu-: anticausative marker
  • mutu-: to become, to transform into
  • pa-/p-: causative marker
  • pu-: put
  • puka-: ordinal numeral marker
  • piya-: to face a certain direction
  • si-: to pretend to
  • tara-: to use (an instrument), to speak (a language)
  • tinu-: to simulate
  • tua-: to make, to form
  • u-: to go
  • ya-: to belong to; nominalizer
  • -a: perfective marker; numeral classifier
  • -an: nominalizer; collective/plural marker
  • -anay: conveyance voice affix/transitive affix
  • -aw: patient voice affix/transitive affix
  • -ay: locative voice affix/transitive affix
  • -i, -u: imperative transitive marker
  • -in-: perfective marker
  • -em-: actor voice affix/intransitive affix
  • -in-anan: the members of
  • ka- -an: a period of time
  • muri- -an: the way one is doing something; the way something was done
  • sa- -an: people doing things together
  • sa- -enan: people belonging to the same community
  • si- -an: nominalizer
  • Ca- -an, CVCV- -an: collectivity, plurality


  1. ^ Puyuma at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Puyuma". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Teng (2009), pp. 839, 841.
  4. ^ Zeitoun & Cauquelin (2006), p. 655.
  5. ^ a b Teng (2008), pp. 11, 18.
  6. ^ a b c d Cauquelin (2004), p. 25–26.
  7. ^ Cauquelin (1991), p. 27.
  8. ^ Teng (2008), p. 61–64.
  9. ^ Possessor of subject
  10. ^ Teng (2008), p. 282-285.