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Limaish is a daughter of Pituish. It is defined by two innovations:
1. *lima ‘five’. This originates in *lima, *qa-lima ‘hand’. *lima displaces PAN *RaCep, the main word for ‘five’ on the northern half of the west coast: Saisiyat, Pazeh, Favorlang, Babuza, Taokas. (cognate set #2 in the ABVD). *lima is virtually universal in the rest of Taiwan, Malayo-Polynesian and—outside of Chinese loanwords—Kra-Dai.
2. Limaish languages are also characterized by the appearance of a special series of numerals used with human referents. There is no evidence for such a series in the languages upstream of Limaish: Taokas, Favorlang, Babuza, Pazeh, Kaxabu, Kulon, Saisiyat, Luilang. The Limaish human numerals are derived out of the main series by means of Ca- reduplication, where ‘C’ is a copy of the base’s initial consonant, and –a is the plural marker of human and personal nouns. Because this series is initially a plural one, at the time it arises, a numeral for ‘one’ cannot be part of it. In the immediate daughters languages of Proto-Limaish, Thao and Atayal, tata and qutux, both ‘one’, respectively, serve to count things and humans. Here is a list of Limaish languages with Ca-reduplicated numerals for human reference:
Thao (Blust 2003): ta-tusha ‘two’, ta-turu ‘three’, ʃa-ʃpat ‘four’, ra-rima ‘five’, pa-pitu ‘seven’ (here)
Atayal (Mayrinax): ra-rusa? ‘two’, ta-tuu ‘three’, sa-spat ‘four’, a-ima ‘five’ (here)
Siraya (Adelaar 2011) da-ruha ‘two’, ta-turo (-u) ‘three’, pa-xpat ‘four’, ra-rĭma ‘five’, pa-pĭto (-u) ‘seven’.
Bunun (Isbukun) ta-cini (?) ‘one’, da-dusa ‘two’, ta-tau ‘three’, sa-sapaat ‘four’, a-ima/ha-hima ‘five’, a-apnum ‘six’, pa-pitu ‘seven’, va-vau ‘eight’, sa-siva ‘nine’, ma-masan ‘ten’ (here)
Rukai: Tanan Rukai does have a separate series for counting humans (and animals), but instead of Ca- reduplication, the series is marked by ta- prefixation (here).
Kanakanabu: tacíni ‘one’, tasúsa ‘two’, tatúlu ‘three’, sasúpatə ‘four’, lalíma ‘five’, nanəmə ‘six’, papítu ‘seven’, laláalu ‘eight’, sasía ‘nine’, mamáanə ‘ten’ (here).
Saaroa: tsa-tsiɬi ‘one’, sa-sua ‘two’, ta-tulu ‘three’, a-upatɨ ‘four’, la-lima ‘five’, a-ɨnɨmɨ ‘six’, pa-pitu ‘seven’, la-la-alu ‘eight’, sa-sia ‘nine’ (here)
Tsou: Tsou has a vestigial Ca-reduplicated series, limited to sasupatə ‘four’ (here)
Kavalan has a series of numerals for counting humans, but replaces Ca-reduplication by prefixation of kin-, after the break-up of Eastern Walu-Siwaish.
The Formosan Puluqish languages: Amis, Puyuma, Paiwan, have either lost the series (Amis), or mark it with a prefix (Puyuma mia-, Paiwan ma-). Nevertheless Puluqish languages outside of Taiwan, like Itbayaten and Chamorro, tell us that Proto-Puluqish did have a human counting series marked by Ca-reduplication:
Itbayaten: da-doha ‘two’, la-lima ‘five’, pa-pito ‘seven’, wa-waxo ‘eight’, sa-siyam ‘nine’ (here)
Chamorro: ta-to ‘three’, fa-fiti ‘seven’, gua-gualo ‘eight’, sa-sigwa ‘nine’ (here; fa-fiti is incorrectly assigned to ‘six’).
Most Malayo-Polynesian languages lack an independent series of numerals for human reference but occasionally forms with Ca-reduplication crop up among a language’s numerals, e.g. Tagalog dalawa ‘two’, tatlo ‘three’.
The Kra-Dai languages do not preserve the left edge of words well enough for us to detect a Ca- reduplication with confidence.
Adelaar, Alexander K. 2011. Siraya, Retrieving the Phonology, Grammar and Lexicon of a Dormant Formosan Language. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Blust, Robert A. 2003. Thao Dictionary. Nankang: Institute of Linguistics (preparatory office), Academia Sinica.
Eugene Chan, Numeral Systems of the World’s Languages. Online at https://mpi-lingweb.shh.mpg.de/numeral/. Accessed May 25, 2020.