Central Walu-Siwaish (master post)

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Central Walu-Siwaish (CWS) includes Rukai-Tsouic and Bunun.  Three innovations have been identified, all in the numeral system.

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’.

2. Displacement of *iCid by *ma-sa-N as ‘ten’. PAN *iCid ‘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(d)-an, with nominalizing *-an suffix, suggesting *iCit vas originally a verb root.

The central Walu-Siwaish languages replace *iCid 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.

3. Generalization of *ma-numeral-(ə)N forms  in ’10’ and its multiples up to ’90’.

For multiples of ‘10’, PAN had two strategies: *n-ten, i.e. a unit numeral followed by the word for ’10’, PAN *iCid:  ; and *ma-n-N, a unit numeral in the circumfix ma-…-N.  The second strategy, at first limited to ’20’ and ’30’ (Saisiyat), gradually expanded its scope to include ’40’ and ’50’ in Limaish and Enemish (Thao, Atayalic, Siraya).  In the Central Walu-Siwaish languages the n-ten strategy is abandoned and all the multiples of ten are formed with the circumfix:

 Bunun (Takivatan)Rukai (Tanan)


20ma-pusa-n ma-ʔosá-ləm-pus-kuma-pusa-n ma-pua-ɬɨ
30ma-ti-ʔun ma-toɭo-l m-tuj-huma-tu:-nma-tulu-ɬu
40ma-pat-un ma-soʔatə-l m-sɨptɨ-hɨ ma-sɨpatɨː-nma-upatɨɨ
50 ma-hima-ʔunma-ɭima-lm-emo-hɨ ma-ima-ɨː-nma-lima-ɬɨ
70ma-pitu-ʔun ma-ʔito-l m-pɨtvɨ-hɨma-pituː-nma-pitu-ɬɨ
80ma-vau-ʔun ma-vaɭo-lm-vojvɨ-hɨma-luː-nma-alɨɨ
90ma-siva-ʔun ma-baŋat !!! m-sio-hɨ ma-ɕɨː-nma-sia-ɬɨ
*ma-…N in ’10’ and multiples of ’10’ in CWS languages. Source: Numeral system of the world’s languages

In Rukai, baŋat ‘9’ is a local innovation displacing an earlier form related to *Siwa present in the other CWS languages.  Presumably Tanan ma-baŋat ’90’ displaced an earlier form of the type ma-Siwa-N. ma-baŋat has acquired ma– on the analogy of 10-80 but lacks -l perhaps because alternation between -lə and -l in Tanan makes the suffixal nature of this formative less transparent. In Tsou PAN *N goes to /k/ after /s/, to /h/ otherwise.

The generalization of the *ma-…N strategy in multiples of ’10’ provides the motivation for the replacement of *iCid by *ma-sa-N as ’10’, also a CWS innovation (section 2 above).


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 blog post
Laurent Sagart (2020, April 18). Central Walu-Siwaish (master post). Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian. Retrieved June 25, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/ukcq

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