Central Walu-Siwaish (master post)

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Central Walu-Siwaish (CWS) includes Rukai-Tsouic and Bunun.  Two innovations have been identified, both of them in the numeral system: the displacement of *isa/*esa/*sa ‘one’ by *Ca-CiNi in the human counting series; and the displacement of *iCit by *ma-sa-N as ‘ten’.

The merger of PAN *H1 and *H2 in word-final position comes close to a shared innovation, being attested in Saaroa (glottal stop followed by echo vowel) and Takituduh Bunun (final -h), as explained by Tsuchida (1976). But as the other Rukai-Tsouic languages reflect both phonemes as zero, the possibility cannot be excluded that the mergers of *H1 and ¨H2  took place independently in Saaroa and Bunun.

1. Displacement of *isa/*esa/*sa ‘one’ by *Ca-CiNi in the human counting series. In Proto-CWS, a word *Ca-CiNi was innovated to serve as ‘one’ (human): Bunun tatini ‘one’ (human) Tsou cihi ‘one’ (human), Kanakanabu: ta-cini (where ta- has replaced Ca- to form a run with ta-susa ‘2’ and ta-tulu ‘three’ (all human); and Saaroa: ca-ciɫi ‘1’ (human). *Ca-CiNi is a human-counting series Ca- reduplication of *CiNi, reflected in Takivatan Bunun (de Busser 2009) as tini means ‘alone, on one’s own’.

A system with two contrasting series of numerals (in addition to the serial counting series), one with Ca- reduplication for human reference and another with CV- reduplication for non-human reference, arose in Austronesian languages in Limaish and Enemish. That system is seen in Siraya, Kanakanabu, Bunun (Isbukun, here), Puyuma; it continued into Malayo-Polynesian. One recurrent problem with the CV- vs. Ca- marking of numerals is that it failed to produce a distinction in those whose first vowel was /a/, especially ‘1’ for which Siraya had sa-saat in both series. As a result there was a tendency in Walu-Siwaish languages to innovate distinct forms of ‘1’ to be used in reference to humans and nonhumans.

2. Displacement of *iCit by ma-sa-N as ‘ten’. PAN *iCit ‘ten’ is attested in most languages of the west coast of Taiwan: Luilang, Pazeh, Favorlang-Babuza, Taokas, Papora, Hoanya. Siraya kyttian is probably *ka-iCi(t)-an, with nominalizing *-an suffix, suggesting *iCit vas originally a verb root.

The central Walu-Siwaish languages replace *iCit with *ma-sa-N as ‘ten’: Bunun (Takituduh, Li 1988) ma-cʔan; Tsou máskə, Kanakanabu ma:nə, Saaroa ma:ɬə, Proto-Tsouic *másaɬə (Tsuchida 1976). Proto-Rukai has *poɭoko ‘ten’ (Li 1977), clearly related to the Puluqish numeral for ‘ten’ (here), but this is evidently a loanword, as already pointed out by Paul J.K. Li and E. Zeitoun, since in inherited words Rukai treats PAN *-q as zero.

*ma-sa-N ‘ten’ consists of *sa, short form of *isa ‘one’, with the circumfix *ma-…-N ‘times’. The glottal stop in Takivatan Bunun (de Busser 2009) masʔan is already present in the word for ‘one’:  tasʔa. Bunun geminates the vowels of monosyllables and inserts a glottal stop between the vowel’s two copies (Wolff 2010:169). In compounds ma-sʔan and ta-sʔa, the vowel’s first copy has been lost.

Although superficially similar, Atayal (Mayrinax) maɣalpuɣ ‘ten’ (which includes lpuɣ ‘to count’) and Seediq (Paran) maxal id. have medial fricatives which cannot reflect *s.


de Busser, Rik. 2009. Towards a grammar of Takivatan Bunun, Selected Topics. PhD thesis, LaTrobe University, Bundoora, Australia.

Li, Paul Jen-kuei. 1977. “The Internal Relationships of Rukai.” In Li, Paul Jen-kuei. 2004. Selected Papers on Formosan Languages. Taipei, Taiwan: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.

Li, P. J.-K. 1988. A c omparative study of Bunun dialects. BIHP 59,2: 479-508.

Wolff, John U. 2010. Proto-Austronesian phonology with glossary. Vol. 1. Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia program publications.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Central Walu-Siwaish (master post)," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 18/04/2020, https://stan.hypotheses.org/748.

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