Talk:Austronesian languages

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"mpt" is a cobweb - anyone know what the link was for? — Preceding unsigned comment added by PierreAbbat (talkcontribs) 17:38, 30 March 2002 (UTC)


What about 'wiki'-'wiki'. I thought that meant quicker. In that case, the duplication is not a plural. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:26, 23 August 2003 (UTC)

Reduplication has a number of functions in most Austronesian languages just as it has in many other languages. Forming plurals is only one of them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dougg (talkcontribs) 02:08, 17 December 2003 (UTC)

'vowels are quite commen'???[edit]

'vowels are quite common'??? What's that supposed to mean? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:37, 31 October 2003 (UTC)

I'm not sure what the author of the article meant when he/she were writing this, but I think this must refer to the syllabic structure of the languages in the group. In Malay, for example, you can only have the structure "CV" or "CVC", like in the word tidur (tee-door). In Hawaiian, "CV" is even the only possible syllabic structure. <Barra> — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:09, 11 April 2004 (UTC)

Links to language not island[edit]

I've reverted this because the links must go to the language - not the island. ie to Tongan not Tonga. Secretlondon 11:25, Dec 3, 2003 (UTC)

"low entropy"?[edit]

and, "the text is quite repetitive in terms of the frequency of sounds"? I'm wondering what this is supposed to mean. Perhaps it's saying that Austronesian languages typically have smallish inventories of phonemes? If so, why not say it like that? {subst:unsigned|Dougg|02:12, 17 December 2003 (UTC)}}

You're right on the smallish phoneme inventory. But low entropy here, in my opinion, can as well mean smallish number of possible syllables. In English you can have "drum", "drab", "dream", "drown", "drive", "drop", etc. i.e. so many possible syllables can be formed from a single consonant cluster. Chinese, in contrast, have small syllabic repertoire. There are "xin", "xian", "xiao" but no "xa", "xo", or "xui". The same can be said with the majority of Austronesian languages. <Barra> — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:09, 11 April 2004 (UTC)

Sorry, but "entropy" is a meaningless word linguistically. Saying Chinese has low "entropy" because its phonotactics allow xia but not xa is like saying English has low entropy because it allows [hæŋ] but not *[ŋæh]. kwami 11:20, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)


I just learned that the iterative version of mountain in Japanese yama, is yamayama (many mountains). This is identical in usage in the Austronesian language family. Ancheta Wis 21:47, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Yes, reduplication expressing plurality (or iterativity, a kind of plurality) is found in many languages the world over. Dougg 07:47, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

On the other hand, there are many Austronesian loans in Japanese. This fact led to a hypothesis, believed by some linguists that Japanese is in fact a language with an Austonesian substratum and Altaic superstratum. Meursault2004 07:56, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Is there a list out there of these loans? I tried finding them myself, but was unsuccessful. I heard the same thing about Okinawan, too, but I went through my Okinawan books and couldn't find any words that could be Austronesian. I think the only Japanese word that was similar is 飲む nomu meaning to drink. The root is inom in Tagalog. --Chris S. 12:32, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
Unfortunately I don't have any list either. Other examples are ki (tree, wood. Malay: kayu), hi (fire. PAN *Xapuy) and sawa (swamp. Malay: sawah, "paddyfield"). BTW I think the Talagog inom is a passive form. In Old Javanese, the word for water is wway or wwe. To drink is umwe and inum(we) is a passive form based on an active verbal form. Meursault2004 13:01, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
There are no identifiable Austronesian loanwords in Japanese. The whole idea of some special Austronesian-Japonic connection is unproved and merely perpetuated by infantile amateurs who have been deluded by superficial features such as reduplication or open syllables. As for Old Javanese umwe ("to drink") and Tagalog inom, these words could just as easily be compared with Manchu omi- ("to drink") or Old Chinese 飲 *eum ("drink"). In fact, if one considers Meursault2004's suggestion that Tagalog inom is actually an inflected passive form and not the basic Tagalog word for "to drink," then the Manchu and Chinese words actually seem like a better match to the Austronesian word for "to drink" than the Japanese word nom-. Ebizur 09:21, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Altaic migration into Japan preceded the settlement of Taiwan by Austronesian speakers by at least several thousand years[1]. There is definitely not an Austronesian substrate to the Japonic languages. Ryukyuan dialects may reflect some cultural exchange between Ryukyuans and Formosans, but nothing indicating a genetic relationship between Austronesian and Japonic languages. (talk) 04:05, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Austronesian subgrouping[edit]

Austronesian was never 'formerly referred to as Malayo-Polynesian'. Austronesian consists of two subgroups, Malayo-Polynesian languages and Formosan languages, the latter being spoken within Taiwan. It was only when it was realised that the Formosan languages group with the Malayo-Polynesian that it was decided to have a new top-level name to refer to these two groups, but Malayo-Polynesian was never used to refer to what is now known as Austronesian.

Malayo-Polynesian is in turn divided into Western and Central-Eastern. The Western subgroup is not also known as 'Continental' (there are only a very few Austronesian languages found in continental Asia), and the Central-Eastern is not also known as Oceanic, that's a separate subgroup at a lower level.

If no-one minds, I'll try to fix this up sometime. -Dougg — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dougg (talkcontribs) 02:18, 17 December 2003 (UTC)

From the article: "All of the said languages except Hawai'ian have official status in the countries and territories of the Pacific Ocean." However, the article Hawaiian states that the Hawaiian language is an official language of the State of Hawaii. What exactly this means, of course, is up to some question. --FOo 07:29, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)

How about Melanesian languages? These are also Austronesian, aren't they? Meursault2004 18:53, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

No. They're in another group entirely. <Barra>

Of course they're Austronesian. The vast majority of Austronesian languages were formerly called Melanesian, though the term has no genealogical significance today. kwami 11:23, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I do confirm that they are Austronesian. It's strange to stress on that even at the beginnings of linguistics, a lot of specialists considered (wrongly) the melanesians as quite different from the other Austronesians. Mostly racism. Enzino 19:49, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

No, Melanesian languages are those spoken in Melanesia: this is not a linguistic genetic grouping, although it may reflect biological genetics (see below). Melanesia refers to New Guinea and the nearby islands to the east, where people have noticeably darker skin ('melanesia' = 'black islands') and includes Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu (all having Austronesian languages only), the Solomons (both Austronesian and Papuan languages) and the other islands westwards up to and including New Guinea and a couple of islands further east (a mixture of Austronesian and Papuan languages, the latter in a number of groupings). This term was applied in the 19th century, along with the other terms Polynesia (many islands) and Micronesia (small islands). (by Jules Dumont d'Urville, a French explorer, in 1831, Enzino)

It may be that the reason for people across this contiguous area having similarly darker skin (than their Polynesia and Indonesian neighbours) is due to the pre-existing Papuan population. On the other hand, it may be something environmental, or something else. Dougg

It is not currently accepted as a cladistic node, but it once was. If I remember correctly, the c. 1950 Columbia Encyclopedia divided Malayo-Polynesian into Western and Eastern, with Eastern divided into Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian. Linguistic classifications followed racial classifications for centuries.
As for the earlier point about AN and MP never being synonymous, even the 15th edition (1980) of the Encyclopedia Britannica starts its article with "The Austronesian language family, also called Malayo-Polynesian". It divides the languages into Western AN, or Indonesian (including the Formosan languages as a sub-sub-subgroup: the Formosan languages have been recognized as AN for centuries; and all of modern Western and Central MP), and Eastern AN, or Oceanic (modern Eastern MP). It gives an alternate classification, where Western AN is broken up into Atayalic, Hesperonesian, and various Eastern Indonesian branches, but Oceanic is still a primary branch. At least Melanesian is no longer recognized by this point. --kwami 07:20, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Melanesian is not a branch. The former subgroupings were exactly based on Jules Dumont d'Urville (racial) classification. The colour of Melanesian and its origin is a (racial) legend. All the Austronesian have been in contact with Papua, including Polynesians and Micronesians, please for more details, have a look on The Lexicon of Proto-Oceanic, Ross, Pawley and Osmond, Pacific Linguistics 545, ANU, Canberra 1998 (vol I) and 2003 (vol II).Enzino

Theories of migration[edit]

Aren't there competing theories of how the languages have spread? If so, it'd be better to present alternatives. Right now only one is presented and with rather strong emphasis (e.g. word such as confirmed). I prefer "supported" rather than "confirmed". 00:16, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC).

Of course, there are competing theories. One good book on this matter is On the road of the winds (An Archaelogical History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact, of Patrick Vinton Kirch, University of California Press, 2000). It describes the different theories. But the indicated theory is the good last one... Enzino 09:22, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Stephen Oppenheimer has written a book "Eden in the East" (ISBN 0753806797) in which he proposes that the original Austronesian homeland was the Ice Age Sundaland continental shelf. The main reasons he suggests that the homeland can't be either Taiwan or China (both of which incidentally would have formed part of the extended east Asian landmass during the Ice Age) - a) There are no Malayo-Polynesian languages hailing from Taiwan. If there is no evidence for Malayo-Polynesian in Taiwan, there is no reason why the deep diversity of the Formosan languages cannot be a result of their island isolation after the Ice Age; b) no prima facie evidence for a direct mainland Chinese origin for Austronesian. Unlike Chinese languages, Austronesian languages are neither tonal nor monosyllabic. Even if one takes issue with the above, ask yourself: "Why would people migrate at the end of an Ice Age?" Yes, you've got it! The loss of their original homeland due to flooding/sea level rise! Sunil 17:06, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

All the Stephen Oppenheimer stuff is extremely interesting and certainly has relatively more credibility than say Dan Brown... but I don't think it has enough support among mainstream academia to warrant putting it on a page about Austronesian languages. :-)
--Ling.Nut 02:58, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Why not? Do the "mainstream" academics have an explanation for why the Austronesians first started migrating, and why there are no Malayo-Polynesian languages spoken in Taiwan? Sunil 17:15, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Stephen Oppenheimer is a credible academic, but his ideas are not representative of the academic consensus on the origin of Austronesian languages. Since his ideas about the origins of Austronesian are a one-man theory, I think they should go on the Stephen Oppenheimer page with a link from Austronesian Languages#Homeland.
As to why there aren't Malayo-Polynesian languages in Taiwan, I think the more cogent question is why aren't there representatives of the other 9 top level supgroups of Austronesian outside of Taiwan -- this is after all the most important linguistic evidence for a Taiwanese homeland. And as to tone and whatnot, check out Chinese language#History. Tone and monosyllabicity both developed in Chinese in the last 3000 years, i.e. long after the Austronesian expansion got under way. So that's not evidence (and did Stephen Oppenheimer really present this as such? Or are you inserting your own hypotheses? Because that's not really done on WP). And your third point was the ice age/flooding thing: possible of course, but sunken homeland hypotheses abound, and they're really hard to (dis)prove. Lots of other migrations have happened in the world without flooding, so I don't see that it provides any knock-down proof either. -- Ngio 23:20, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I've gone ahead an made the changes myself. hasn't responded, and I didn't want to leave the page in the state it was in for too long. I haven't made any changes to the Stephen Oppenheimer page—it mentions 'Eden in the East' already, but not in the context of Austronesian. Somebody who has read the book will have to fix it. Cheers, Ngio 08:32, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
After looking into it further it seems that Stephen Oppenheimer is backing away from his previous linguistic claims and coming to accept that the root of the Austronesian language family is indeed in Taiwan, although he maintains his stance that the geographic origin of the mtDNA markers associated with Austronesian language speakers was in island South East Asia. I'm going to remove the (already truncated) note about him from this page -- it might be appropriate to Austronesian people, but it's not very relevant here, and this page is already a bit cluttered with minority views. -- Ngio 23:04, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

A new stub category has been created[edit]

A new stub category has been created specifically for Austronesian languages: {{au-lang-stub}}. Use {{au-lang-stub}} rather than {{stub}} or {{lang-stub}} to label stubs on Austronesian languages as such.

Stub categorizing is a convenient way to keep track of Austronesian-related stubs and additionally helps in keeping the category of language stubs usable. Whoever feels like it, is invited to browse Category:Language stubs to sift out any Austronesian language stubs... Thanks!

For discussion see: WP:WSS/Stub types#Language and literature and WP:WSS/Criteria#Split of lang-stub. — mark 23:20, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)


The so-called 'Banyumasan language' is just a dialect of Javanese, not an independent language. There are far too many similarities with other variants of Javanese to be called a separate language in its own. See also my comment in the talk page of the Banyumasan language. Meursault2004 09:22, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Changing Oceanic Grouping[edit]

I'm thinking of changing the Oceanic grouping to follow Lynch, Ross and Crowley (2002) The Oceanic Languages. I think this source is more standard for the Oceanic languages the one used, although they're both the same year (with one of the authors the same). Since this will require a number of changes, I thought I'd post this here for a bit before going ahead and doing it.--Sheena V 00:11, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

I would love to see that. I redid the Western MP classification following the articles in Wouk & Ross some time ago, so this would make wikipedia more consistant. The current Oceanic classification I believe is just that of Ethnologue, except for the position of Yapese, which follows suggestions in Wouk & Ross. kwami 01:46, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Okay - I've redone this, and I plan on adding articles for each of the subgroups. I also changed the heading of this section from Consensus Malayo-Polynesian classification to Malayo-Polynesian classification. I wasn't too sure what was meant by 'Consensus' here. Presumably, it's talking about a consensus that some people had come to about the classification - but it's not too clear (consesus by who?). Anyways, I think having the references there is enough. But if someone wants to put it back in, go ahead. Maybe just change something so that it's a bit clearer what it means. Thanks!--Sheena V 12:31, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Many of those articles are already written, so I'm linking to them. I think your time would be better spent updating what's already here! Thanks for the contribution. These leaves only Central MP and Eastern MP beyond Oceanic mired in the 20th century. kwami 19:53, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

why are some languages not listed as Major languages[edit]

  • Gilbertese (i-Kiribati) (68,000)
  • Maori (60,000)
  • Marshallese (> 44,000)
  • Hawaiian (1000 native, 8000 competent)

are listed as major, but not :

--V111P 16:33, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

It was getting to be a real mess, so I tried cleaning it up. I listed all the languages down to a certain population cutoff. I chose 4 million for two reasons: That included Balinese, which is important for the simple reason that everyone has heard of it, and also because the number of languages almost no-one has heard of (Waray etc.) grows substantially once we go below 4 million. Then I added languages that are official in some sovereign nation, as well as Maori and Hawaiian, which are spoken in predominantly English-speaking countries. (This is, after all, English Wikipedia.) And of course Hawaiian is one of the most famous AN languages regardless of its small numbers, and that makes it important IMHO. That said, I think Tongan and Tetum should certainly be included as the languages of sovereign nations.

This was just my attempt to bring some sense to what had been a jumble of languages that wasn't being managed responsibly. Maybe someone else has a better approach? kwami 19:22, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Maybe we could split the category. The first would be either the top 10 Austronesian languages or a list of all Austronesian lanuguages with over 1 million speakers (one million is a nice round number and is a benchmark for "major language" status in the Philippines). The other would be the most notable language(s) of each country, state, region, etc. This way, we could include minor Austronesian languages which are the most spoken in countries that have a relatively smaller population than (Tongan & Samoan, for example) and languages which are indigenous to an area but are outnumbered by the colonizing language (i.e., Hawaiian & Maori). --Chris S. 02:18, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I think splitting the list is a good idea. However, a long list doesn't do us much good: If someone wants to know what "Austronesian" is, telling them it's "Waray" doesn't help. And the list gets quite long after 4M, with few or no languages that are likely to mean anything to most people. (The people they do mean something to will likely already be familiar with Austronesian, and so won't need the list at all.)

Maybe 'official languages' would work for the second list. That would include most of the smaller languages most people have heard of, including all of your suggestions except Paiwan. kwami 06:02, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps 10 million for the first list, then? But then again, how many Austronesian languages with over 1 million speakers could there be? I am counting 28, judging from list of languages by native speakers. But then there's, I think, 11 for 10M+ Either way, it doesn't matter to me much. As for the second list, I intend for languages like Paiwan to be there. So it's not necessarily official, but more like indigenous? I think it's important to mention the Formosan languages in such a list. Just my 2 cents... --Chris S. 04:17, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

10M would work. (There's just seven of them, BTW.) I went down to 4M to include Balinese, but 10M might be better. As for Paiwan, I think we need to ask what purpose this list is supposed to serve. The Formosan languages are notable for cladistics and historical ling, and that's quite evident from their dominant position in the classification section. But they'd just be clutter in a list of languages, because practically no one's heard of them. People should be able to recognize most of the names in such a list, or it's meaningless to them. And why Paiwan and not Amis? Here we're getting back to adding languages just because we like them, which turns into a mess because it encourages everyone to do the same. kwami 12:00, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

For me, it's not a matter of adding meaningless info, but relevant info. Anyway, I see that you did the list already. I had something different in mind - sorted by country rather than language so as to list all the places where Austronesian languages are spoken. An excerpt is below, let me know what you think.
Countries and regions that are home to Austronesian languages (note: in this part, we'd list maybe the top three).
  • Indonesia: Javanese, Sundanese, Indonesian (official)
  • Philippines: Tagalog (official), Cebuano, Ilokano
  • Malaysia: Malay (official), etc.
  • Madagascar: Malagasy (official)
  • Taiwan: Paiwan, Tsou, Ami, (I don't know how many speakers each language has...)
You get the idea. Of course, this list could get pretty big too. --Chris S. 06:54, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
That would be fine. Having context gives unknown names some meaning, and we'd also be listing by relative importance. Maori is important in NZ despite its numbers being nowhere near those of Javanese. But I don't think we should list 3 langs for each country unless they're all significant there. (Do we want to list Tokelau for NZ? Carolinian for the US?) kwami 19:16, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. To handle that, I would probably do:
But then that raises an issue. We'd probably have to do the same for France.
--Chris S. 22:29, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

That's not necessarily a bad way to go. Don't forget Paici for New Cal! kwami 10:29, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Ok, I have made a rough draft at Austronesian languages/country list. So, please take a look, make changes so that it's suitable for framing the article. Thanks. --Chris S. 22:42, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
The FSM languages are official, as I believe are two others (though I'm not sure they have the same status). Should have and many others for New Caledonia too, and in any case the second AN language of that country is Javanese. Moken is also spoken in Thailand. The most important language in PNG after Motu is Tolai/Kuanua. It appears that Pukapukan is officially Cook Islands Maori and therefore also official. (That's a little weird.) And we should link to the language articles. kwami 01:30, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

Hi - I can't really tell from the comments above what the consensus was for those lists. Maybe there isn't one yet. But the first list is currently titled as "languages with native speakers". I was going to change this, but I'm not sure what to change it to. If there's still no consensus, maybe in the meantime it could be left at something like "major languages", which, although it isn't a very helpful term, it's not misleading as "languages with native speakers". Just a thought!--Sheena V 04:45, 10 August 2006 (UTC)


[I'm offering this as a discussion topic. However, I just looked at the dates on these comments. The most recent one was months ago. If no one answers in a few days, I'll edit the article.]

I'm wondering about the article's mention of China as the homeland of Austronesian, as opposed to Taiwan. I'm not sure whether the relevant sentence as it stands is intended to make that assertion, but if it is, then I would have some questions about that.

Certainly the Formosan tribes migrated from somewhere on what is now the mainland, perhaps around 8,000 years ago. Pure common sense as well as genetic and archaeological evidence would suggest this (unless you assume that "the son of Lucy" was actually from Taichung). Then around 6,000 years ago they began migrating from Taiwan to other Austronesian areas (with perhaps a long pause or two in the process). However -- well, perhaps Sagart would have something to say here, but in general the linguistic connection between the mainland and Taiwan is debatable. That is, whatever languages may be "Proto-Formosan" (although that term is debatable), are not recoverable by the comparative method. [The passage states that "none of the relevant mainland languages have survived."] I think the genetic and archaeological evidence is not as relevant as the linguistic evidence, in this particular context.

I could dredge up many quotes of eminent scholars stating that Taiwan is the homeland of the Austronesian langauges, including one or two that would mention China with a lesser degree of assurance:

Implied in these discussions of subgrouping 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.

Fox, James J. (2004). Current Developments in Comparative Austronesian Studies. Paper prepared for Symposium Austronesia Pascasarjana Linguististik dan Kajian Budaya. Universitas Udayana, Bali 19-20 August.

I'm saying that I think the homeland of Austronesian should be given as Taiwan.

Ling.Nut 04:04, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I completely agree. I think the mainland China connection was given because of the archaeological evidence you mention, but I agree (and have argued elsewhere on WP, see Austronesia where I'm about to make a similar change) that Taiwan is very widely accepted as the homeland of the Austronesian languages (and that somewhere in mainland China might be the homeland for something pre-Austronesian, Proto-Formosan, whatever). Dougg 07:46, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Stephen Oppenheimer has written a book "Eden in the East" (ISBN 0753806797) in which he proposes that the original Austronesian homeland was the Ice Age Sundaland continental shelf. The main reasons he suggests that the homeland can't be either Taiwan or China (both of which incidentally would have formed part of the extended east Asian landmass during the Ice Age) - a) There are no Malayo-Polynesian languages hailing from Taiwan. If there is no evidence for Malayo-Polynesian in Taiwan, there is no reason why the deep diversity of the Formosan languages cannot be a result of their island isolation after the Ice Age; b) no prima facie evidence for a direct mainland Chinese origin for Austronesian. Unlike Chinese languages, Austronesian languages are neither tonal nor monosyllabic. Even if one takes issue with the above, ask yourself: "Why would people migrate at the end of an Ice Age?" Yes, you've got it! The loss of their original homeland due to flooding/sea level rise! Sunil 17:09, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

I think they should study the substratum of Hokkien to know about the mainland austronesians. Kasumi-genx (talk)

embedded links, harvard cites, etc.[edit]

This article seems light on citations & links, perhaps by design. Is this a deliberate choice? For example, I would love to see a citation on this statement:

"However, the only one of these proposals that conforms to the comparative method is the 'Austro-Tai' hypothesis, which links Austronesian to the Tai-Kadai languages."

I'm posting this here for discussion rather than putting a "needs citation" tag anywhere on the article.

I'm also going to add a cite/source for the direct quote of Blench. Hope that's OK.

Ling.Nut 04:19, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Formosan classification I: Source for info?[edit]

I'm looking for the source for Formosan classification I. I've never heard of Kulunic... but of course that doesn't mean it hasn't been suggested. Anyone know a source for this classification? It has ten primary branches, and looks somewhat similar to (Blust 1999), but not the same... certainly not P.J. K. Li... a little help, anyone?

Ling.Nut 03:05, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Suggest add Formosan Classification III (Blust 1999)[edit]

Suggestin for Formosan classification III:

Blust, R. (1999) Subgrouping, circularity and extinction: some issues in Austronesian comparative linguistics. In E. Zeitoun & P.J.K Li (Eds.), Selected papers from the Eighth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (31-94). Taipei: Academia Sinica.

  • Atayalic
    • Atayal
    • Seediq
  • East Formosan
    • Northern
      • Basai-Trobiawan
      • Kavalan
    • Central (Amis)
    • Southwest (Siraya)
  • Puyuma
  • Paiwan
  • Rukai
  • Tsouic
    • Tsou
    • Saaroa
    • Kanakanabu
  • Bunun
  • Western Plains
    • Central Western Plains
      • Taokas-Babuza
      • Papora-Hoanya
    • Thao
  • Northwest Formosan
    • Saisiyat
    • Kulon-Pazeh
  • Malayo Polynesian

Ling.Nut 05:09, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Formosan classifications[edit]

I looked at the history, and the Formosan classifications were originally posted by Kwamikagami, who is on vacation. No one has offered a source for Formosan (I), but I am in the process of researching this further.

However, I suggest replacing Formosan (I) with (Blust 1999), and adding (Li 2003) as a new Formosan (II). This would retain the current Formosan (II) as Formosan (III).

Moreover, the current Formosan (II) is as unreferenced as Formosan (I). I really feel that for a language family as important as Austronesian, all such info needs to be verifiable.

I sincerely hope the wording of this post doesn't sound too negative. I also don't want to be reckless. I am waiting for some input/help. But again, after a week or so, I will just do it...

Ling.Nut 17:24, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

References and Bibliography?[edit]

OK, perhaps I'm showing my ignorance. But is there a reason why there is a section for references and a section for bibliography? Are we saying that "references" are specifically cited in the text, but Bibliography means "something in here is somewhere in one of these"? Is this a deliberate style decision?

I'm adding everything to the (lengthier) Bibliography. If the answer to both questions above is definitely "yes," then I'll move it all to the References.

Thank you for your help Ling.Nut 00:29, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

I looked into Wikipedia style guides on this topic & decided to change things. The recommended organization is References above Further Reading [see Further Reading/External Links.
I know that removing/changing section headings is not recommended, but how many articles link to the References section? Common sense suggests this is a safe move.
If we ever decide that any books/articles in the References section were not used as sources for the article, then we should move them to Further Reading.

Thanks Ling.Nut 02:14, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Ref tags (footnotes) , or harvard citations/refs[edit]

I have used many Harvard citations/references in the text. I vastly prefer this style over footnotes, but perhaps I am biased. I prefer, while I am reading the text, to know who said what. If I want details, I can click the link and see the details. If I don't want details, at least I know who the source is. With the footnote-style, in order to know who is saying what, you always have to stick "according to Blust" into the text, whereas with the academic style, that is an option rather than a necessity. I think the footnotes look ugly at the end of the section, particularly when it references a book rather than a website (just my opinion; please do not misinterpret this as a mini-rant).

I don't know how many people have any opinions one way or the other.

Ling.Nut 16:41, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Structure section[edit]

This section qulaifies as a stub. However, it's harder to write this than a homeland section. Sandboxes aren't allowed, but pasting random snippets on the page would kinda uglify it.

So here are snippets, as a starter. If anyone wants to chip in, or argue, or say I should put them on the article page, or whatever... then all such comments are welcome:

Himmelmann (in The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar) divides the Austronesian languages into two extremely broad groups: "symmetrical voice languages and preposed possessor languages." ("Philippine-type voice alternations" aka "focus")

Himmelmann: "There are only very few features which are sufficiently general and widespread to be considered typological characteristics of the group as a whole, including reduplication, the distinction between inclusive and exclusive pronouns and morphological causatives."

Ling.Nut 19:35, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Link to Austronesian people[edit]

I like the idea of having an article on Austronesian people, and linking to it from this page. However, the page as it currently stands is really new, seems to have errors, and is basically a stub. I hope that page can be put into reasonably decent shape before linking to it. I look forward to helping with that page whenever I have time. Thanks --Ling.Nut 13:31, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

I was just actually thinking of doing that today(create a separate page about the austronesian people). I'm gonna go ahead and add a couple of tags in the article and a disambiguation page. A few link repairs might be in order as well.-- 03:50, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
A dab page for only two articles? Isn't that overkill? Just have the two pages link to each other... when the Austronesian people page is in semi-decent shape. I'm not gonna tag the dab page for deletion right out of hand ( I would prefer for you to do it, since you made it), but I really do not see the need for one...--Ling.Nut 12:06, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
On second thought, I'm changing the dab page to a redirect page, which would be quite useful. See above coments. --Ling.Nut 13:22, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
OK the redir page points to the dab page. I'm leaving everything alone, although I think this is overkill for two articles. --Ling.Nut 13:37, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, the word Austronesian is still used by a number of articles and usually refers to both the austronesian language and the people. It would be a pain to hunt everything down by myself so the disambig page should help. I also added a tag in that page encouraging people to change the link directly to the appropriate subject. I also added a third article referring to the Austronesian homeland.--Chicbicyclist 23:15, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
I found 119 links. Good call. I'll start fixing them now. --Ling.Nut 23:22, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
115 links fixed; all except some protected pages... --Ling.Nut 00:15, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

map in infobox[edit]

I've done extensive searches, I've emailed the Library of Congress, etc etc, but no one has a good public domain or GFDL map of the Austonesian languages.

(IIRC, the Diamond article has the nicest-looking map I've seen. But of course it's copyrighted.)

The map currently in the infobox looks on the article page looks pleasant, but the Austronesian languages are a little pink blotch near the lower right corner. Something that zoomed in more would be infinitely preferable.--Ling.Nut 03:41, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Austronesian 'People'[edit]

Is there any particular reason to italicize the word people in this phrase, in the Homeland section? FilipeS 17:59, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Hi Filipe, I think I was trying to increase the salience of the gap between what we know about the history of the people versus what we know about the history of the language. Looking back, I think I intended to put both of those two words in italics. It does look a bit odd if one of the two words is stressed and the other isn't -- as if I intended to put the first word ("people") in scare quotes, perhaps to suggest that there's no such thing as an Austronesian people. Of course nothing could be further from the truth.
So I'm gonna put the second word in italics now too, but if you wanna remove the italics altogether, then go ahead. They both should be treated the same way; either both should have italics, or both should not. Thanks for pointing this out. --Ling.Nut 21:33, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

"Austronesian has several primary branches, all but one of which are found exclusively on Taiwan"[edit]

Please post archive photos of these people, where available (not artist conceptions); "...ranging from Madagascar to Easter Island. Hawaiian, Rapanui, and Malagasy (spoken on Madagascar) are the geographic outliers of the Austronesian family..." -along with photos of other island people in the described regions. I request this because someone might be mislead into believing these people are Taiwanese when they clearly are not. It is also import because many of these indigenous people are disappearing and the truth should be preserved above ethnocentric anthropological accounts. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 2006-11-03.

  • Mmmm. Well anything is an option, but it would seem unusual to me to put photos of people on an article about a language family. It might be better to add them to the articles of individual groups, where needed.
  • I'll look at the wording again soon and see if it needs to be tweaked a bit to show clearly that the extra-Formosan languages include a very large number of speakers. There's no poulation figures at all. Anybody got a copy of Tryon 1995.. or another likely source...?

--Ling.Nut 01:02, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

The statement in the title is absurd. Please read it again, carefully. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:11, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

Cross-linguistic Comparison Chart[edit]

I think that the column of Javanese has to include Old Javanese words or synonims as well which do reflect PAN words. Meursault2004 08:45, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Tagalog speaker numbers[edit]

Thank you, Christopher Sundita for providing the source for estimates of numbers of Tagalog speakers.

However, if you read the figures provided there closely, you will find that only "Four in every five Filipinos five years old and over had attended at least elementary

Based on the 2000 Census of Population and Housing (Census 2000), of the estimated 66.7 million Philippine household population aged five years and over, 89.06 percent (59.4 million) had attended at least elementary. The average annual growth rate of this segment of population during the 1995 to 2000 period was 2.89 percent."

and that among that approximately 90% of the population

"Nine out of ten can speak Tagalog

Almost all of the household population who were able to attend school can speak Tagalog (96.4 percent). Females (96.49 percent) had a little advantage over the males (96.37 percent).

As expected, almost all of the residents in NCR (99.08 percent), Southern Tagalog (98.71 percent), and Central Luzon (98.57 percent) can speak Tagalog while the lowest was in ARMM (74.55 percent) and Western Mindanao (77.76 percent)."

So if you look at the tables, that is why they they arrive at the figure of 0.8906 x 0.964 = 0.8585384 ie in 2000 they estimated that only 85.86% of the Filipinopeople could speak Tagalog. That is why they have rounded this up to "Nine out of ten can speak Tagalog", but it would be more accurate to say ""seventeen out of twenty can speak Tagalog"

Since that time, teaching in Tagalog as a first medium has reduced, not increased in the non-tagalog areas!

However, even in 2000 your source says:"Three out of ten persons who ever attended school were Tagalog

By ethnicity, nine in ten of the Kapampangans, Pangasinan/Panggalato, Ilokanos, Cebuanos, Tagalog, and Bikolanos had attended at least elementary. On the other hand, only 76.9 percent of the Aggays, 83.5 percent of the Abellings, and 85.6 percent of the Badjaos/Sama Dilauts attended at least elementary.

Among those who ever attended school, 28.5 percent were Tagalog, 13.1 percent, Cebuano; 9.5 percent, Ilocano; 7.8 percent, Hiligaynon/Ilongo; 7.7 percent, Bisaya/Binisaya,;and 6.1 percent, Bikol/Bicol.

Almost all who had attended school were literate"

Now I would grant you that almost all Ilocano speakers have good Tagalog but that is certainly not true of the other groups. I am married into a Negrenses family.

I have, therefore, changed the range to 80-85% of the census population or 68 - 73 million which I have approximated to 70 million even though, I still think that less than 80% of the population of the Philippines could adequately defend themselves on a criminal charge in either English or Tagalog without an interpreter from their native language...

Now when we consider that the Philippines also has one of the highest proportions of infants on the planet and that few children (even growing up with Tagalog speaking parents) under the age of two speak passable Tagalog, you will quickly see that even 70 million is still an overestimate. Gaimhreadhan 23:28, 25 March 2007 (UTC)


It needs improving! I'm working on it!-- 01:03, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Who Are you Writing for?[edit]

If you're writing for an audience beyond a relatively small circle of linguist experts and you really do want to communicate about a topic about which you are clearly hugely knowledageable, can I suggest that you get the article reviewed by a co-editor for language level and comprehensibility. As it stands you really have to want the information badly to get much out of it............which is a shame given the interesting nature of the topic. 06:54, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Removal of cognate comparison table[edit]

I have been bold and removed the table of Austronesian lexical cognates from this article. I acknowledge the work that went in to compiling this list. However,

  • A large table like this is not really appropriate for an encylopaedia article
  • The data is available in a much more reliable form elsewhere on the web (the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database, or ABVD)
  • Much of the data in the table came from the ABVD in any case (as was acknowledged in non-visible html comment above the table)
  • The table was supposed to be in IPA, since you can't form a valid comparison of words between languages if they are written in different orthographies, but speakers of these languages have continually provided national language orthography 'corrections' to the table.
  • I think the table was actually a comparison of cognates from the Malayo-Polynesian subgroup of Austronesian, not Austronesian as a whole (I may be wrong here, but I don't think there were any Formosan languages represented)

I've replaced the table with (the beginnings of) a discussion of Austronesian lexicon. -- Ngio 21:45, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Strong support Ling.Nut 13:19, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Support·Maunus· ·ƛ· 14:16, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Oppose The article needs a chart of some kind for the sake of comparison and just to improve the look of the article in general; it gives the reader an easier way of digesting the information that was given. Other languages and language families have something similar (see Romance languages, Germanic languages, Semitic languages, Uralic languages. etc/_. The point is not to let it get out of hand. It doesn't have to be something extravagant, but something toned down. It's an important staple in language articles such as this. The concerns that you list can be easily addressed. --Chris S. 14:30, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Before we get too carried away here, are we sure that voting is really the way to go? WP is not a democracy, and I don't think we've entered into a dispute yet. It's just that we're still looking for consensus.

While I think that the tables in Romance languages and Germanic languages should go as well, the little table in Semitic languages (six or seven rows and columns) doesn't look too bad. But I still don't think we should put one in unless we have a principled reason for it. -- Ngio 15:14, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

I'm really sorry about the voting format. It was moral support, expressed humorously in voting format.. strong moral support.. I had no idea others would "vote" too! An article is an article; it does not need huge charts. I appreciate the contribs of those who worked hard on the chart. Now we need to find an appropriate place for their work. NO VOTE needed. Ling.Nut 15:25, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
I can see that certain persons DID NOT see that the the table was in IPA. It's too bad that this table was removed.
Joemaza 21:14, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Hoklo Austronesian Substratum?[edit]

There is a website that explores the substratum of Hokkien Kasumi-genx (talk)


The map of Formosa seems to appear twice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:48, 5 October 2009 (UTC) They have different captions and colours. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:51, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Formosan classification moved[edit]

Section on Formosan languages classfication takes up more than half of this article, which is clearly over-represented. At first glance, it even seems to suggest to those who are unfamiliar with the subject that Austronesian languages is equal to Formosan languages, which is misleading. I therefore moved the section to it own arctile Formosan languages. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Anggerik (talkcontribs) 13:38, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

Reverted for now, pending discussion. I have two problems with this: (1) what you moved to Form. was the classification of AN, not the classification of Form; (2) this gives the impression that Form. is a valid language family, when the only Formosan language family is AN as a whole. kwami (talk) 04:21, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
The claim that "the only Formosan language family is AN as a whole" is still disputable. In fact, I would change the classification of Malayo-Polynesian under Paiwanic to its own classification. I've spoken with Simon Greenhill concerning the figure template from the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database which is apparently the only thing that Wikipedia editors of Austronesian seem to rely on. Greenhill spoke of a wrong classification (specifically of Hawaiian) that was, in his words, "very probably the result of unidentified loan words in our database." This being the case, the figure template is currently being revised and may change in some aspects, since the result of such unidentifiable loan words would confound the analysis. Just a heads-up...make sure to comment on the Challenges to the "Mainstream" Hypothesis. :) -Ano-User (talk) 11:20, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure that classification will turn out to be inaccurate in many respects. However, AFAIK no-one has ever demonstrated Formosan as a node within AN, and without that there's no reason we would do so either. — kwami (talk) 12:32, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Formosan is demonstrated as a node consisting of all the aboriginal Taiwanese languages (save Yami) within Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database (see here). Other sources also place Formosan within one group, however, they may differ in phylogenetic structure in terms of branching. — Ano-User (talk) 13:18, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database is not a reliable source as defined by Wikipedia standards. There must be published, peer-reviewed work in a scholarly source. As it stands now, the only published material on the status of the Formosan languages splits them up and does not place them in a single node. --Taivo (talk) 14:12, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
The ABVD's Classification page is NOT their report of how languages should be classified - it's just designed to make languages easier to find. If you actually look at their tree, you can see that it certainly doesn't agree with their Classification page. The ABVD has determined Atayalic and Tsouic to be valid branches, but it by no means supports a Formosan branch. — Stevey7788 (talk) 20:44, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
And so the question remains to be unanswered as to why Wikipedia still uses the ABVD as one of the primary sources for Austronesian's and Malayo-Polynesian's classification if it is not considered to be a reliable source by this site's standards? Maybe I'm just confused as to how the articles are using ABVD, and why Wikipedia still has an article (or "node") supporting (somewhat ambiguously?) a "Formosan languages" branch of Austronesian. If this is another "design" to "make languages easier to find", then this should be noted within the article; it is sort of misleading. -Ano-User (talk) 05:37, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
An article is not the same thing as a node. We also have articles on Papuan languages, Australian languages, and American languages, though basically no-one thinks they're nodes either. — kwami (talk) 05:41, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
True. However, I'm not trying to say that language articles should be nodes. "Papuan languages", "Australian languages", and "American languages" are geolinguistic names covering a broad scale of different language families native to a geographic region rather than a group of languages denoted by a common ancestry. They are families of languages, not language families. -Ano-User (talk) 06:32, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
And "Formosan languages" is a geolinguistic name as well, not a linguistically-defined node within Austronesian. --Taivo (talk) 07:30, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that is still disputable though. -Ano-User (talk) 08:52, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
The only sources which I've seen with a Formosan node are obsolete, written shortly after it was realized just how diverse Formosan was, but before any substantial reconstructive work had been done. — kwami (talk) 11:38, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
At least now an alternative phylogenic tree per Paul Jen-kuei Li (2008) has been added into the article, and that it's not only relying on phylogenetics from sources of one "bandwagon" (though Li admittedly does reflect somewhat on the Blust-Diamond-Bellwood view). That's a start! -Ano-User (talk) 12:53, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

[How does borrowing make it a family?][edit]

Found the superscript

[How does borrowing make it a family?]

in the Austro-Tai compartment of the Distant relations section, but that question isn't warranted by the preceeding text that essentially but somewhat obscurely claims that the Kradai migrated from the urheimat of the Austro-Tai to Hainan, then back to the coast where they met Malayo-Polynesians, so that any word resemblance between Kradai and Malayo-Polynesians is either due to common heritage or a later loan. The question How does borrowing... is simply due to that the reader accidentally lost an important implicit assumption of the discourse in the paragraph in question. That implies that the paragraph must be clarified:

  • all (or most) implicit assumptions must be made explicit,
  • sentences with too many subordinate clauses must be split into multiple sentences,

and similar language cleanups. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 19:44, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

"Austronesian" not a German loanword[edit]

There are two reasons why the category "German loanwords" is not appropriate here. First, it is not a loanword, if anything, it is a calque, formed from the same Latin/Greek roots that the earlier German "Austronesiche" was formed from. A loanword is a copy and would have been "Austronesish". Calques and loanwords are different things. Second, we do not list every proper noun as a loan word, otherwise "Berlin", "Hamburg", etc. would all have to be called "loanwords" in English. --Taivo (talk) 17:44, 23 October 2010 (UTC)


Sagart's Sino-Austronesian hypothesis is already mentioned in the wider relationships section. It is, at this point, not widely accepted and therefore giving it any greater coverage in this article is WP:UNDUE. --Taivo (talk) 11:36, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Challenges to the "Mainstream" Hypothesis[edit]

While linguists working with language families and their phylogenetic trees have come to a consensus (albeit not fully excepted by other researchers) on the origin of Austronesian, I feel that the main article takes just a one-sided approach to theories concerning the subject, and is therefore biased to a certain extent. There is no reason not to mention competing theories about a given subject within a Wikipedia article, not least a subject as complex as that of the Austronesian language family. I've read the argument posted by the non-user back in 2004 within this discussion page, and it seems that he had noticed the same problem I am seeing. Another non-user suggested a book by Stephen Oppenheimer titled Eden in the East, and while that can be a credible source, those registered users who replied to the suggestion undermined it.

In the "Homeland" section, as well as in other parts of the article, the "Out-of-Taiwan" hypothesis for Austronesian language dispersal is the only given assumption. It should be recognized, however, that there have been several challenges to this assumption on the basis of genetic, as well as linguistic and archaeological, evidence. Several researchers, including Stephen Oppenheimer with Martin Richards (from the Universities of Leeds and Huddersfield), Mutsu Hsu (Tzu Chi University, Taiwan) with Shu-Juo Chen (Stanford University, United States), and Edwina Palmer (University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand) are among those who challenge the "Blust-Diamond-Bellwood bandwagon" (referring to Robert Blust, Jared Diamond, and Peter Bellwood; I quote this from Richard Parker's blog "Austronesian Number's Project: Dead Hand of the Comparative Theory - 2 - Out-of-Taiwan?" accessible at

Oppenheimer and Richards proposed in their article Fast trains, slow boats, and the ancestry of the Polynesian islanders (2001) that the origin of the Austronesian language family traces back to island Southeast Asia. More specifically, they trace the dispersal of the ancestors of Polynesians from somewhere in between Southeast Asia and island Melanesia, even at a date earlier than is usually thought (Oppenheimer and Richards 2001:158). They have shown that there is no direct genetic link to Taiwan regarding the origins of Polynesians, thereby rendering the "Express train model" (Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis) more doubtful. Proving this by taking in to account cranial morphology, globin gene mapping, mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosomal DNA, respectively, Oppenheimer and Richards show the "Slow boat model" to be more consistent with the genetic evidence (2001:167-177). Here is a snippet of what they wrote within the article, and which ends with a rhetorical, but very important, question:

"The implications of this hypothesis [Out-of-Taiwan] for island Southeast Asia are quite staggering. According to the theory, until about 4,000 years ago island Southeast Asia was entirely inhabited by non-Austronesian-speaking ‘Australoid’ foragers. Today, apart from a few Papuan tongues (related to languages of west New Guinea) spoken in the eastern Nusa Tenggara, every single language in island Southeast Asia is now Austronesian. This implies that there was a near complete linguistic and ethnic replacement. It seems extraordinary that such an ethnic sweep – as this was supposed to be – should have left no relicts, linguistic or otherwise, of the former hunter-gatherer inhabitants of the huge island of Borneo, which ranks with New Guinea as one of the great tropical island wildernesses. If Austronesian languages had such difficulty replacing (let alone dominating) the pre-existing languages of Australia and New Guinea, how were they so extraordinarily successful in island Southeast Asia and in such a short time?" (Oppenheimer and Richards 2001:163)

Given that the logic of this paragraph is not flawed, there is no reason why this type of information should not be added to the article. While Mutsu Hsu and Shu-Juo Chen (2006) basically have the same type of genetic evidence as Oppenheimer and Richards, they present some unique data about the Amis people (or Ami) of Taiwan's eastern coast. Here is a quote from their 2006 paper that I feel is worth viewing (the AN's within the following quote stand for "Austronesian"; I've corrected some grammatical mistakes they had made within the paragraphs, I'm guessing their first language was not English):

"Given the evidence from both genetic and archaeological studies, we assert that Taiwan AN populations had temporal root[s] in central or south[ern] China, and most of the [ancestors of the modern] Taiwan AN populations (except Ami) moved to Taiwan from East Asia and remained in Taiwan for a long time. The Ami should [sic] have moved in separately, and kept [contact] with other islanders while they settled in eastern Taiwan. Because [of] the [continuous] gene flow with other islanders blocked its original genotypes, it is still debatable in genetic studies about the migration between the Ami and Southeast Asia.
"The special role of Ami is recommended by many linguistic and archeological evidences. Along with the point made by Bellwood et al. (1995:99) that only one of [Taiwan's] AN [populations] moved out of Taiwan, Tryon (1995) clearly pointed to the diaspora of the Ami. Based on the Ami legend about their ancestral migration, Hsu (2001) disagreed with Tryon’s linguistic inference. However, a new electron probe micro analysis confirmed the Philippine green-colored nephritic jade (2500-1300 BP) was indeed derived from the Fengtian (豐田) deposits in eastern Taiwan (Iizuka & Hung 2005). Taking into consideration [the] archaeological and cultural data, it is safe to suppose a two-way contact between the AN groups in Taiwan and Southeast Asia" (Chen and Hsu 2006:8).

In summary of their conclusions, Hsu and Chen proposed that two ancient migrations had met in Taiwan: one Austronesian-speaking group migrating from the southeastern region of China to the western coast of Taiwan and another migrating from Southeast Asia via the Philippines. Not to be outdone, they also give some inferences about the Tao people (also know as Yami) on the island of Lán Yǔ, off the southeastern coast of Taiwan:

"The origin of the Yami seems to be less ambiguous now. They might have moved to Taiwan together with other Taiwan AN populations and started to move out to Lanyu and extend to [the] Batan Islands only recently. This postulation finds support from archeological evidence. Tsang (2005) found the prehistoric cultures of Lanyu islands undoubtedly identical with those found at the sites of Peinan Culture (卑南) and Huagangshan Culture (花崗山) in the east coast of Taiwan. Besides, the dating of jar burials from old to new were east coast, Lanyu Islands, and Batanes Islands. These findings strongly imply that eastern Taiwan is more likely the common homeland of the ancient inhabitants of both Batanes and Lanyu. This theory opposes the popular belief that the Yami emigrated from Batanese Islands but gains support from the studies of HLA loci (Lin et al. 2000; Chu et al. 2001), Y chromosome lineages (Capelli et al. 2001), and mtDNA lineages (Tajima et al. 2003; Trejaut et al. 2005)" (Chen and Hsu 2006:8-9).

This seems to imply that the Tao people are most likely the cousins of the Amis on Taiwan's eastern coast, even though the Amis have inherited an East Formosan language similar to that of Siraya and Kavalan. Hsu and Chen end their paper with the following paragraph:

"In a breakthrough paper Peter Bellwood (1991:92) has aptly suggested that “complex processes of population assimilation and interaction......all over the Austronesian world would make any simplistic view of a south Chinese or Taiwanese origin for all modern Austronesians quite unforgivable.” To probe the credibility of each model, it requires interdisciplinary cooperation to provide more comprehensive information. In this regard, both archaeological and genetic data are equally critical" (Chen and Hsu 2006:9).

I would have also included linguistic data, but the meaning of the above paragraph is clear and should be taken into account by the writers of the Austronesian languages article.

Edwina Palmer, a Japanese language professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, has written a very interesting article about the origins of the Jomon Japanese and how they are apparently connected to an ancient Austronesian migration predating that of the currently supposed date for the formation of Austronesian. In her article Out of Sunda? Provenance of the Jōmon Japanese (2007), Palmer attempts to "reconcile various seemingly contradictory research results regarding the origins of Jōmon Japanese." and focuses "on testing Oppenheimer’s theory of Holocene outmigration from the former continent of Sundaland in present-day Southeast Asia against the evidence relating to Jōmon Japan and the 'Out of Taiwan' hypothesis for Austronesian language dispersal" (2007:47). Besides giving an earlier date to Austronesian, Palmer's convictions seems to also be supporting the "Greater Austric" hypothesis, in relation to the Ainu of Hokkaido and their language's distant relationship to Proto-Austronesian (PAN). I will comment more about this on a later date.


  • Chen, Shu-Juo, and Mutsu Hsu. (2006) "A homeland or hostland? The power and challenges of genetic studies on Austronesian’s expansion." Academia Sinica. 3.1:1-14.
  • Oppenheimer, Stephen, and Martin Richards. (2001) "Fast trains, slow boats, and the ancestry of the Polynesian islanders." Science Progress. 84 (3):157–181.
  • Palmer, Edwina. (2007) "Out of Sunda? Provenance of the Jōmon Japanese." Japan Review. 19:47–75.

I figure this discourse to take up a large amount of space, so I will probably start a new section if comments become numerous. -Ano-User (talk) 15:53, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

I've stumbled across a more recent article that seeks to challenge the "Mainstream" hypothesis written by Mark Donohue and Tim Denham (2010). They demonstrate that "linguistic phylogenies for Austronesian languages do not support staged movement from Taiwan through the Philippines into Indo-Malaysia; in addition, the lexical and grammatical structure of many Austronesian languages suggests significant interaction with pre-Austronesian languages and cultures of the region" (Donohue and Denham 2010:223). While the scope differs somewhat from Oppenheimer and Richards as to language change versus interaction, and probably the age of the language family, Donohue and Denham also postulate a different origin of Malayo-Polynesian based on archaeological (in terms of agrarian, horticultural, ceramic finds and the purported origin of the outrigger-canoe in Taiwan) and linguistic evidence. While comments vary concerning the paper's importance, Oppenheimer rightly points out: "What is new, and what will hopefully have most impact in shifting the logjam in the field, is that now there is a linguist leading the challenge" (Donohue and Denham 2010:234). However, the comments made by others (supportive or critical) should unbiasedly be taken into account.
Donohue and Denham, on the other hand, do not claim to refute the theory of Taiwanese Austronesian dispersal, but expose the fact that "Explicit or implicit assumptions of linkages between genetics, linguistics, and archaeology are pervasive in “Austronesian culture history” and continually lead to problems of interdisciplinary circularity" (Donohue and Denham 2010:247-248). In addition, they also expose the Eurocentric biases committed in the insistence that "real (pre)history seemingly begins with the 'Neolithic'" (Donohue and Denham 2010:249). Within the paper, Donohue and Denham propose (in my view) a consistent, and more inclusive, theory of Austronesian language dispersal. The reply to the critics of their approach (Bellwood, Cox, Lansing) should also be taken into consideration.
  • Donohue, Mark, and Tim Denham. (2010) "Farming and Language in Island Southeast Asia: Reframing Austronesian History." Current Anthropology. 51 (2): 223-256. -Ano-User (talk) 15:21, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

If the Ongan languages do turn out to be related to AN, that could cause problems with locating the homeland in Taiwan.

Still, the greatest diversity of AN is on Taiwan. For it not to be the homeland, or at least an early-settled site, the diversity of the actual AN homeland would need to have been wiped out. — kwami (talk) 16:25, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes, if Proto-Ongan and its daughters do turn out to be related to AN, it would pose a problem for the Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis. What is more, it would probably place the development of Proto-Austronesian (PAN) even earlier than what is currently accepted. It would also set a stronger likelihood of a common ancestor with Austric for most Southeast Asian (SEA) languages and some South Asian languages.
On the other hand, I don't really want to start an argument over whether Ongan should be placed within AN or not. Indeed, there are more AN cognates within the modern Ainu language than for Ongan, as far as I've seen. Edwina Palmer notes that Ainu (descending from Jōmon), and perhaps some aspects of Japanese language, should definitely be taken into account for a shift in perspective on AN's origins and age (Palmer 2007:55-56). However, like Donohue and Denham, she does not seek to entirely diminish the Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis, but wants to show that what she calls the "Out-of-Sunda" hypothesis (referring to the Sunda continental shelf during the late Pleistocene or early Holocene ice age) and the former hypothesis are not mutually exclusive.
Following Oppenheimer's theory on the climactic reasons for PAN-speaking peoples' outmigration from Sunda to the SEA mainland and Taiwan about 10,000 years ago, Palmer suggests that the Jōmon people had migrated out of northern Taiwan to the Japanese archipelago via what is now the Ryukyu islands. She also suggests that after a few millennia of entering Taiwan, PAN-speakers (and within this timeframe, perhaps Malayo-Polynesian [MP] speakers) moved south 'out of Taiwan' toward the northern Philippines 6000 years ago, and down further into Malaysia via Borneo, around 3500 years ago. This seems to indicate that by the time of the Out-of-Taiwan migration, there were already Austronesian speaking populations throughout Indonesia and western New Guinea. Indeed, there is a distinction between Philippine languages and Western Malayo-Polynesian [WMP] languages along with Eastern (Oceanic) Malayo-Polynesian [EMP] languages, with a 98% confidence level in the distinction between WMP, and Philippine and Sama-Bajaw languages (FullTreeFigure). Isidore Dyen apparently saw these distinctions also while collecting data on these languages in his fieldwork.
In turn, the migration 'out of Taiwan' must have been a MP-speaking population akin to the Indonesian/Malaysian MP-speaking peoples of the areas they invaded. In other words, the languages of the native and invading populations had a common ancestor, which would be the hypothetical Proto-Malayo-Polynesian (PMP). This is a complicated view of the development/evolution of MP languages, certainly harder to understand compared to the simple Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis, which says there was just one migration in and out of Taiwan. However, the alternative view would probably explain why the Indonesian/Philippine MP languages are more homogeneous than that of the Formosan languages; due to migration out of and back to Sunda, during the Pleistocene and Neolithic, respectively. Both branches of MP apparently borrowed from and developed with each other in a period of just over 3000 years. The important information from the authors I mentioned ought to be mentioned, at least in brief, within the Austronesian languages article. -Ano-User (talk) 08:18, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

The question is how much weight to place on very *marginal* viewpoints. None of the articles you cite are accepted by anyone except the authors of those articles. Oppenheimer and Richards have been peddling their viewpoint based on faulty genetic dates (e.g. Cox, M P. 2005. Indonesian Mitochondrial DNA and Its Opposition to a Pleistocene Era Origin of Proto-Polynesians in Island Southeast Asia. Human Biology.). All of the modern genetics literature (anything by Kayser, Friedlaender, or Stoneking etc) supports the Taiwanese origin of Austronesians. Donohue and Denham's paper is utter rubbish (see the critical responses to that article in Current Anthropology), and see Blust's response in Oceanic Linguistics. The Chen and Palmer references are not even on the radar as far as plausible hypotheses are concerned. In short - the only viewpoint accepted by the *vast* majority of linguists is Blust 1999.
As the author of the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database I'd even say that the emphasis should be on Blust 1999, and not on my analyses.
As for Ongan/Austronesian links, again, these are very debatable. There's a long tradition of linking AN to everything from Tai-Kadai to Sino-Tibetin. If the Ongan links are true, however, then this does not invalidate the Taiwanese origin of AN. Blevins is clearly placing Ongan as a sister group to Austronesian - the question then is where Proto-Austronesian-Ongan was spoken.
Also - complaining about the "simple Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis" shows that you have not read any of the relevant literature. In the last 20 years there's been a lot of work by Blust and Bellwood (amongst others) trying to clarify the population history in Island South East Asia e.g.:
* Blust, Robert. 2010. The Greater North Borneo Hypothesis. Oceanic Linguistics 49, no. 1: 44-118.
* Piper, Philip J, Hsiao-chun Hung, Fredeliza Z Campos, Peter Bellwood, and Rey Santiago. 2009. A 4000 year-old introduction of domestic pigs into the Philippine Archipelago: implications for understanding routes of human migration through Island Southeast Asia and Wallacea. Antiquity 83: 687-695.
* Blust, R. 2005. The linguistic macrohistory of the Philippines: Some speculations. In Linguistics and Anthropology. Parangay Lawrence A Reid, ed. H-C Liao and C R Galvez Rubino, 31-68. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.
20:50, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Simon (talk) 20:51, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Hello Mr. Greenhill, thank you for contributed to this discussion. First, I was throwing various view points out there, whether marginal or not, for I believe it is important to mention them within the Austronesian article, and possibly improve it. I know very well that those articles that I gave are not accepted to be orthodox for a majority of Austronesianists. I've read all of those articles, especially the critical responses to Donohue and Denham's paper, not least Peter Bellwood's. However, they replied to all of the attacks in a professional fashion which is worth noting.
I'll definitely look over those articles by Blust (2005, 2010) and Piper et al. (2009). I've read one of the articles by Kayser et al. (2000) which dealt with Melanesian Y-chromosomal DNA among Polynesians, and part of an article by Su et al. (2000) which, as far as I have read, seems to support the ‘entangled-bank’ model, as opposed to a strict Out-of-Taiwan model. But these probably aren't accepted by orthodoxy either, even though Kayser and Stoneking are among some of the authors, but I'm not sure. I'm sorry if I came out as a bit conceited when I said the "simple Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis" (I should have just said "the more likely hypothesis", as if I were implying Occam's Razor). I am indeed in debt to Professor Blust's research and I often go on to your guys' database for research using the wordlists and cognates (although I'm still a bit skeptical of the reconstructed PAN and PMP). However, what I was trying to point out was that it's not so easy to assume that there could only have been one migration in and out of Taiwan during the past 6,000 or 10,000 years, given the data presented by the authors of the articles I previously cited.
In addition to Kayser et al. and Su et al., there have been challenges posed by Dr. Roger Blench (2010) using agricultural examples with their respective Taiwanese aboriginal tribes. But beyond even that, it looks critically at certain proposals made by Blust (though it would be better if it was an article rather than a powerpoint, in my opinion). Blench's powerpoint introduces some challenges made by archaeologists, "complaining that the diversity of material culture doesn't fit the demographic expansion model very well (e.g. Bulbeck 2008)."
I'll get back to you about this at a later time. -Ano-User (talk) 14:18, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Kayser, Manfred, Silke Brauer, Gunter Weiss, Peter A. Underhill, Lutz Roewer, Wulf Schiefenhöve, and Mark Stoneking. (2000) "Melanesian origin of Polynesian Y chromosomes." Current Biology. 10(20): 1237-1246. PDF version
  • Su, Bing, Li Jin, Peter Underhill, Jeremy Martinson, Nilmani Saha, Stephen T. McGarvey, Mark D. Shriver, Jiayou Chu, Peter Oefner, Ranajit Chakraborty, and Ranjan Deka. (2000) "Polynesian origins: Insights from the Y chromosome." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 97(15): 8225–8228. Online article

Just quickly - Kayser's work and most of the other genetics papers do not support the entangled bank at all. Basically all the genetics results (out of labs that aren't Martin Richards') show a Taiwanese origin with lots of admixture in Near Oceania. This fits very nicely with the out of Taiwan theory - which has always accepted large amounts of admixture - AND predicted where it would be found. I think the only person who argued about a really encapsulated Austronesian expansion (with no contact) would be Diamond 1988. None of the other proponents of this theory (Blust, Bellwood, etc) would claim there's no admixture.
In short - there's two major viewpoints: 1. The Taiwanese origin - what I've been calling the "pulse-pause" theory - proposed by Blust, Bellwood, Kayser, Roger Green, etc etc (this incorporates various theories called the "Express Trait", "Out of Taiwan", "Bismarck-Archipelago Indigenous Inhabitants", "Voyaging Corridor Triple-I", "Slow boat from Asia" (amongst other things), and 2. An older Wallacean origin argued for by Oppenheimer and Richards (a "slow boat from Wallacea"). For what it's worth, these two papers (of mine) discuss this in detail [1],[2] Simon
Also for the record - I'm not sure why a non-linguistic theory (like Oppenheimer and Richard's) should be discussed on a page for "Austronesian Languages". O&R don't engage the linguistics literature at all, beyond trying to argue it away. (talk) 00:47, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree. This is the great trap of the genetics, archeology, etc. crowd, that the linguistic evidence is often pigeon-holed or ignored or discounted. One need only see the (continuing) non-linguistic response to Greenberg and Ruhlen to see this illustrated in spades. Linguistics is too often used as an after-the-fact support for a genetic/archeological/historical theory or else ignored when it does not support a particular theory. --Taivo (talk) 00:54, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
I did not say that Kayser's work supported the Entangled Bank model, but actually reflects the 'Slow Boat' model. I said that Su's work reflected the Entangled Bank, for he says that the evidence does not lend support to the other prevailing models, "nearly none of the Taiwanese Y haplotypes were found in Micronesia and Polynesia" (Su et al. 2008:8225). However, I may have erred in my understanding of the article; Su actually concludes "that Southeast Asia provided a genetic source for two independent migrations, one toward Taiwan and the other toward Polynesia through island Southeast Asia" (Su et al. 2000:8225, 8228). Su also uses some data of mtDNA to support this, however, it still does not fully address the linguistic paradigm. This is the reason why I took into consideration Oppenheimer's and Donohue and Denham's linguistic proposals to see if the hypotheses can be linked, but since they are considered "rubbish" by the mainstream, I've considered Li's phylogenic model. I've read some of your article Testing Population Dispersal Hypotheses, which seems to be a detailed explanation of what is on the ABVD, but I still need to read the rest. Much of it has credible data and insights, however, I would critique the part saying " the world's largest and most widely distributed" (Greenhill and Gray 2005:37). Niger-Congo is the world's largest language family, and Indo-European is the most distributed. However, I could not access the other article you recommended, but is there another link that can give me (as well as other readers) access to it? I'll get back to you at a later time. -Ano-User (talk) 04:00, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
You cannot say that either Niger-Congo or Austronesian is the largest language family. It depends on which source you read and how it counts languages. There is no 100% reliable, accurate count of the world's languages so claiming that either one is the largest is a fallacy. When ignoring the post-colonial spread of Indo-European, then Austronesian is, indeed, the most widespread language family--from Easter Island to Malagasy is roughly half the distance around the globe. No other language family was so widely dispersed before 1492. You are still putting too much emphasis on genetic and archeological data here. This is a linguistics article, so information about genetic and archeological proposals must be sidelined and marginal. Only the linguistics counts here--the other factors are minor. --Taivo (talk) 05:24, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
True, I can not say for certain which is the largest in terms of language counts. If the Ubangi languages (which number to approximately 71 within the 255 "Adamawa-Ubangi languages") are taken out of the Niger-Congo classification, the alleged number per Ethnologue of 1,532 languages would drop to about 1,461 languages. And if the Mande languages (which number between 60-70) are excluded, the number 1,461 would drop to ≈ 1,391. Subtracting the 16 Dogon languages would equal to ≈ 1,375, depending, as you said, on how the languages are counted. The approximated number of Niger-Congo languages still amounts to more than that of Austronesian languages, though they are arguably more heterogeneous than Austronesian and the numbers may still get lower as more research is conducted.
Other than the contested Ubangian, Mande, and Dogon languages, Niger-Congo seems to be a well attested group of over 1,300 languages, compared to the approximate 1,257 Austronesian languages. In addition, some linguists, such as Edgar Gregersen and Roger Blench, have shot for considering the Nilo-Saharan languages to be related to, if not within a larger family of, Niger-Congo (of course, this also needs to be studied more). Until there is more data collected by linguists, it's safe to say that Niger-Congo is the world's largest, and perhaps most diverse, language family.
Let's say I did commit a fallacy in claiming that Niger-Congo is the largest, but this might as well have been a counter-fallacy to what Greenhill's paper claimed about Austronesian. To be honest, I grinned at the irony obvious in both mine and Greenhill's claims. In any case, the paper was partially right about Austronesian being widely distributed, but could have added what you recently added to the main article about Indo-European distribution prior to the colonial period. As of today, Indo-European has been the most distributed and influential around the world, whether in negative or positive way. But counter to the claim that "no other language family [besides Austronesian] was so widely dispersed before 1492", Indo-European covered a vast span of Eurasia prior to 1492, with Iceland in the extreme north between Greenland and Europe (see Old Norse), and as far south as India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Of course this isn't as vast as the Malayo-Polynesian expansions spanning from Madagascar to Easter Island, but definitely less sedentary than, say, Sino-Tibetan.
And you are right, I may be putting too much emphasis on genetics and archaeology on a linguistics article discussion. However, there are some rhetorical questions in those articles, such as the first paragraph I quoted from Oppenheimer and Richards (2001) near the top of this discussion, which should be addressed or at least noted within the main article, as to why the linguistic paradigm of the Out-of-Taiwan model stirs controversy similar to what we are currently facing. -Ano-User (talk) 09:39, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Your counting of languages still relies entirely on Ethnologue, which is an uneven source without a specific criterion or set of criteria on what to count as languages and what to count as dialects. For example, Ethnologue counts Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian as separate languages even though these national standards are derived from a single dialect of a larger language and are entirely mutually intelligible. Compare the count in Linguasphere, for example. Linguasphere tries to use a single standard and comes up with 1,179 Austronesian languages, but only 802 Transafrican languages (Niger-Congo minus Mande and Kordofanian). (It also counts 35 Mande and 18 Kordofanian.) This is what I mean by you cannot call either Austronesian or Niger-Congo the largest, because none of the counts are 100% accurate. It's not about whether you include Mande or Kordofanian, it's about the methodology used in distinguishing what constitutes a language and what does not. Ethnologue really doesn't use a standard methodology. The best that can be done is to word the article as I have and simply say that Austronesian is one of the two largest and leave it at that. --Taivo (talk) 13:53, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Very good points you made about the other sources. Linguasphere's methods I'm not so familiar with, but I would agree with them taking out Mande, however Kordofanian I would still reserve for further study. Certainly Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian come from a larger language (Serbo-Croatian), but there still are differences in morphology between the dialects, and those dialects also divide into sub-dialects. You can't say that methodology is not the case in excluding Mande or Kordofanian (though I've said nothing about Kordofanian). The "methodology used in distinguishing what constitutes a language [or in this case, a group of related languages] and what does not" certainly has something to do in language (or language group) inclusion or exclusion within a family. But this is a different topic that we currently shouldn't be arguing over. I was only using the numbers per Ethnologue as an example, but I'll rest my case if Niger-Congo turns out to be as small as 802 (and if Nilo-Saharan doesn't turn out to be related). However, I understand what you are saying in terms of what features should be used in determining what distinguishes one language from another. It is good to see that you have worded the article in that way; for now that is an appropriate addition to it. -Ano-User (talk) 09:34, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
A side note, because this is a pet peeve of mine: Don't confuse the various national standards of literary Standard Serbo-Croatian (which is based on a single sub-sub-sub-dialect, Eastern Herzegovinian) with the Serbo-Croatian dialects such as Kajkavian, Chakavian, Shtokavian and Torlakian. The standard language presents essentially no differences in morphology, hence Serbo-Croatian grammar without any differentiation. The dialects are a very different matter. It's like confusing the German dialects with Standard German of Germany, Austria or Switzerland (and some others) – Swiss German, which includes scores of highly divergent dialects, is a completely different beast from the literary German of Switzerland! –, or the traditional English dialects with the modern written languages of the UK and its various constituent countries, Ireland, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc. – particularly, Scottish English is not Scots!
As for Oppenheimer, there may well have been some sort of migration out of Sundaland, but the identification of this movement with the Austronesian migration is completely arbitrary and implausible as Austronesian is highly unlikely to be this old. If there was a language spread indeed, it could have been anything, quite possibly languages that have long since disappeared completely, or a much older language group anyway. Why not, in fact, Blevins's proposed family, for example? She suggests that not only Ongan and Austronesian, but also the Negrito substrata of the Philippines descend from this. If this is true, we would have a far older and larger family at our hands, one that could very well have originated in Sundaland. Or (only speculating now) if there is really something to the proposed links between (Extended) West Papuan and Great Andamanese as well as some other languages (actually perhaps substrata in them), such as (a substratum of) Aslian, this could be due to an ancient substratum originating in Sundaland, and in fact Timothy Usher has proposed a relationship he calls "Paleo-Sundic" (which recalls Greenberg's Indo-Pacific). It could be easily something like that. It's the same tunnel vision that Renfrew (like Atkinson and Gray) exhibits with regard to the Linear Pottery (the earliest European agriculturalists), as there is absolutely no plausibility, let alone necessity, that they were Indo-European-speaking, and Schrijver's suggestion to tie them to one of the European substrata identified by Kuiper is considerably more attractive, or at least a lot less implausible. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:16, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

I think we should add an additional classification proposed by Isidore Dyen (2006) for a Formosan group of Austronesian. The model lumps the Formosan languages together into one group with subgroups following a similar model done by Dyen and Shigeru Tsuchida at VICAL 2 in 1991. It thereby makes Formosan to be a branch of Austronesian languages containing all the aboriginal languages of Taiwan (save Yami) which have a "Proto-Formosan" ancestor:


(descendants from Proto-Formosan)

  •   North Formosan
    • Atayalic
      • Atayal
      • Sediq
    • Saisiyat
    • Pazeh
  •   South Formosan
    • Bunun
    • Thao
    • Puyumo-Rukaic
      • Rukai-Tsouic
        • Tsouic
          • Tsou
          • South Tsouic
            • Kanakanabu
            • Saaroa
        • Rukaic
          • Lower-three Rukai
          • Rukai Proper
      • Paiwanic
        • Puyumo-Amic
          • Kavalan
          • Ami
          • Puyumic
            • Puyuma
            • Paiwan

But first I would like the main editors of this article to look over the proposal by Dyen to see if it is worth adding, and maybe improve on the model I made above using Dyen's.


Ano-User (talk) 10:18, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Dyen's view in 2006 is nothing new, but a restatement of what he has argued before. It is not widely accepted and the majority of Austronesian scholars do not accept a Formosan node. I also find this particular article to be full of confusing statements, especially when it comes to summarizing Blust. It's not the best edited of papers. --Taivo (talk) 10:50, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, that is what I thought. I agree that it could have been edited better, but the exposition of Blust's accusation of 'circularity' from his 1999 paper is clear. Nevertheless, Dyen's model follows Li's (2008) model, more or less. However, it splits Formosan into Northern and Southern branches using lexicostatistics rather than phonology, similar to how the southern branch in Li's model is grouped. While Li, following Starosta, equates Proto-Formosan (F0) with PAN in his 2008 model, Dyen makes it to be a descendant of an older Austronesian mother tongue, and says that F0 is a close relative to Proto-Philippine (Dyen 2006:3):
"I regard the Formosan languages as a single subgroup and the Philippine subgroup as their closest relative. My view was reached on finding about 475 cognate sets shared by the Philippine subgroup with Formosan languages. It stands in sharp contrast with the 25 cognate shared by Formosan languages only with Oceanic languages."
The sentence could be worded a bit better, but we can see that 475 cognate sets link the Philippine subgroup with Formosan, and these are the terms on which he based his construction of the F0 tree. I do think Dyen could have improved his model by adding the languages that were left out, but the problem is he isn't alive to improve it. He clearly states at the beginning of his paper that his Central Hypothesis "combines the first two alternatives. . .Melanesia-East New Guinea and West New Guinea, as against the third alternative, Taiwan, the locale of the Formosan languages. . .The third alternative is now called the Formosan hypothesis and is supported by Blust and, we are frequently told, a majority of Austronesianists" (Dyen 2006:1). From this we can see it is not just a restatement (though he does quote from his earlier papers), but also a critique on Blust (1999).
The point is, while we are 'frequently told' that the Formosan hypothesis is supported by a "majority" of Austronesianists, why not improve this article by adding what the 'minority' has to say, not least such a notable Austronesianist as Dyen? Of course not to give his paper undue weight, but just to mention his proposal. Or would it be wiser to mention it in a different but related article? -Ano-User (talk) 13:07, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Iʻve added some inline cleanup tags for the following statements:

  1. "The Austronesian languages...have highly restrictive phonotactics, with small numbers of phonemes and predominantly consonant-vowel syllables."

  2. "[I]t 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."

Statement 1 assumes that all Austronesian languages have highly restrictive phonotactics and small numbers of phonemes. First of all, these need some citations. Second, languages like Tsou, Sawai, Chamorro, the New Caledonian-Loyalties and Vanuatuan languages, Marshallese and Fijian have complex phonotactics, and seemingly large phonemic inventories. The article does not really define what constitutes a "small number of phonemes"; if it is referring to the small consonant/vowel inventories of the majority Polynesian languages (like Hawaiian), then it should mention them.

Statement 2 seemingly assumes the validity of statement 1, while only distinguishing the Formosan languages as having the greatest genealogical diversity, and putting all the Pacific Austronesian languages under one scope. Unless "the least diversity among the islands of the Pacific" is stated to mean the languages of Polynesia, it entirely ignores the diversity of Austronesian languages in Melanesia, western Micronesia, and to some extent, Indonesia.

Clarification is needed for the above two statements. (talk) 03:49, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

You pretty much proved the inventory claim: the only inventory you cited that wasn't small was Marshallese, and that is 4 vowels, 24 consonants, which is about average. But yeah, it could be worded to clarify that this is a generalization.
The second statement has nothing at all to do with the first, so I'm removing that tag. There's nothing dubious about it.
Interesting about Marshallese, though: that's 10 consonants plus 2ary artic, presumably from a once non-vertical vowel system. Presumably someone's done the reconstruction: do palatalized and velarized C's come from historically front and back adjacent vowels? — kwami (talk) 13:10, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
Dyen's argument is lexicostatistical? Really? When we have reconstructions to work with? And he places the putative homeland smack in the middle of an area where we know the AN family is not native? Not promising. — kwami (talk) 13:32, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
No. The phonemic inventories of the Drehu, Iaai, and Nengone languages of the Loyalty Islands off of New Caledonia are even larger, ranging from 33-34 consonants and 10-11 vowels/vowel qualities. However, I wasnʻt only talking about inventory size, but also phonotactics, especially in the cases of Tsou and Marshallese. To mention another language from New Caledonia, the article on Paicî states that the language "has a rather simple inventory of consonants, compared to other languages of New Caledonia, but it has an unusually large number of nasal vowels." Relative to other New Caledonian languages, Paicî can be considered "simple," but only in the case of consonant phonemes; 17 vowels (10 oral, 7 nasal) are also found in Paicîʻs phonemic inventory.
The second statement has a lot to do with the first once you realize that in the argument there is, as you said, a generalization. Though, it is correct to say that consonant-vowel syllables are predominant.
Very interesting question on Marshallese consonants and secondary articulation..."presumably" youʻve done the reconstruction?
You didnʻt know Dyenʻs argument is lexicostatistical, or are you being sarcastic? How can you say that Austronesian languages are not native to an area of such great linguistic diversity? Though, I too do not favor lexicostatistical argument in this case, I agree that Wallacea could be a possible alternative homeland for Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian). If anything, the so-called "Papuan" languages in that area could be more intrusive, and the Austronesian languages more native. Such could also be the case with offshore "Papuan" languages in the Solomon Islands. (talk) 04:07, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Li 2005[edit]

The enigmatic reference to "Li 2005" was added in this edit. This edit, made shortly before Charles Gillingham added the "citation not found" tag, makes me suspect that Li 2008 was also meant in the first case – can anyone confirm this? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:12, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Origin of Malay language[edit]

Quote: "only a few languages, such as Malay and the Chamic languages, are indigenous to mainland Asia."

Malay language is indigeneous to central-south Sumatera, so it is not to mainland Asia. To be consistent with the article Malay language.

Dhani irwanto (talk) 02:11, 5 July 2016 (UTC)

While I cannot agree partially that Malay is indigenous to south-central Sumatra, it is clear that it is not indigenous to mainland Asia. (talk) 14:22, 6 September 2016 (UTC)

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A hypothetical family tree for Austro-Tai keeps being inserted into the article. The main problem with that tree is that it does not represent Austro-Tai as defined among the mainstream linguists who propose it. First, it is a Japanese variant that includes Japanese and Korean as parts of Austronesian or "Para-Austronesian". That is not accepted by the linguists who propose Austro-Tai. Second, it includes Hmong-Mien as part of Austro-Tai. That is also not a part of the classic definition of Austro-Tai, which includes only Tai-Kadai and Austronesian. It is a tree that proposes a structure that is two steps removed from the definition of Austro-Tai in the text and is more hypothetical and unsupported than the classic definition of Austro-Tai. Just because you have a source doesn't mean that you can uncritically insert fluff into Wikipedia, especially when it illustrates something different than what the text describes. --Taivo (talk) 14:48, 30 April 2017 (UTC)

@TaivoLinguist: Okay I understand and agree it should be removed since it doesn't correspond with the information as you say. I must also say that I did not "insert fluff" into this page, that diagram has been on this page for some time now. I only reverted an IP user's edit that claimed it was "unproven" hence the reason I reverted it and said it's a "hypothesized" diagram that has been placed in the "Hypothesized relations" section it's not claiming to be a proven concept. Please look at the revision history before making unruly remarks and unjust conclusions based on my edits, it was not my intention to insert "fluff". ( (talk) 00:05, 3 May 2017 (UTC))
Unless you take the time to register as a user with a consistent user name, it is impossible to distinguish your edits from the thousands of other fly-by-night anonymous users that do insert fluff and nonsense into Wikipedia on a regular basis. But as you can see from my comment, that graphic does not represent Austro-Tai, but a minority view. --Taivo (talk) 01:42, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
@TaivoLinguist: No I do NOT need to register if I do not want to, there is a rule on Wikipedia that says there is no need to register if one is not interested. Do not be one of those registered users that belittles IP users. I have now come across three, including yourself, and the two Wikipedia Administrators I have come in contact with did not take the belittling lightly. Take a look back at the history, properly, and you will see who exactly added that image to the page, there is no justification for what you said. As I already said, those comments were unjust. ( (talk) 01:51, 3 May 2017 (UTC))
I did not demand that you register, nor did I belittle you. I simply pointed out that without registering, your contributions are indistinguishable from every other anon IP and insisting that I look back at your history is pointless. If you are going to run around Wikipedia demanding apologies for every imagined slight to your honor, perhaps editing Wikipedia is not an appropriate place to spend your spare time. Do you or do you not agree that the so-called "Austro-Tai" chart is not appropriate here for the reasons I stated above? --Taivo (talk) 03:40, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Did I demand an apology? No I didn't and I have been editing Wikipedia for about four years now as a "dynamic IP user" and I am well acquainted with how things work here. @TaivoLinguist: I already answered that above as it was the very first thing I wrote when I initially messaged you. ( (talk) 04:15, 3 May 2017 (UTC))
Since we agree on the figure, then this thread is successfully finished. --Taivo (talk) 06:05, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

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Mention of new genetics studies need to be kept very brief and fit within the paragraph that already exists for that purpose, not described in length out of keeping with the space allocated to other genetic studies (about a sentence each). --Taivo (talk) 13:27, 24 August 2017 (UTC)

Map doesn't include South Island[edit]

The map of the range of Austronesian languages currently only shows that part of the North Island of New Zealand uses an Austronesian language. Maori is also spoken in the South Island. Ordinary Person (talk) 12:31, 20 November 2017 (UTC)