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Is Malayo-Polynesian a primary branch of Austronesian? A view from morphosyntax

conference contribution
posted on 2024-03-29, 18:50 authored by Yen-Hsin ChenYen-Hsin Chen, Jonathan Kuo, Kristina Gallego, Isaac Stead
An understudied morphosyntactic innovation, reanalysis of the Proto- Austronesian (PAn) stative intransitive prefix ∗ma- as a transitive affix, offers new insights into Austronesian higher-order subgrouping. Malayo- Polynesian is currently considered a primary branch of Austronesian, with no identifiably closer relationship with any linguistic subgroup in the homeland (Blust 1999, 2009/2013; Ross 2005). However, the fact that it displays the same innovative use of ma- with Amis, Siraya, Kavalan and Basay-Trobiawan and shares the merger of PAn ∗C/t with this group suggests that Malayo-Polynesian and East Formosan may share a common origin - the subgroup that comprises the four languages noted above. This observation points to a revised subgrouping more consistent with a sociohistorical picture where the out-of-Taiwan population descended from a seafaring community expanding to the Batanes and Luzon after having developed a seafaring tradition. It also aligns with recent findings in archaeology and genetics that (i) eastern Taiwan is the most likely starting point of Austronesian dispersal (Hung 2005, 2008, 2019; Bellwood 2017; Bellwood & Dizon 2008; Carson & Hung 2018) and (ii) that the Amis bear a significantly closer relationship with Austronesian communities outside Taiwan (Capelli et al. 2001; Trejaut et al. 2005; McColl et al. 2018; Pugach et al. 2021; Tätte et al. 2021). Future investigation of additional shared innovations between Malayo-Polynesian and East Formosan could shed further light on their interrelationships.

Funding

Mountain or coast? Solving the Austronesian homeland puzzle

Royal Society of New Zealand

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History

Preferred citation

Chen, Y. -H., Kuo, J., Gallego, K. & Stead, I. (2021, June). Is Malayo-Polynesian a primary branch of Austronesian? A view from morphosyntax. In Diachronica Olomouc (39 (4) pp. 449-489). Plenary talk at the 15th Meeting of the International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (ICAL-15). https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.21019.che

Title of proceedings

Diachronica

Volume

39

Contribution type

Abstract

Publication or Presentation Year

2021-06-28

Pagination

449-489

Publication status

Published

ISSN

0176-4225

eISSN

1569-9714

Place of publication

Plenary talk at the 15th Meeting of the International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (ICAL-15)