(to clickable tree)
This marker is reflected in three kinds of contexts:
- In northern Amis, before common nouns, inflected for case as k-u (nominative) t-u (oblique), n-u (genitive) without any number distinction (Bril, in press);
- prefixed to numerals of the non-human series in the southern Tsouic languages: Kanakanabu, Saaroa; and in Kavalan. Modern Rukai dialects do not show it but Ino’s recording of Karei Rukai (Ino 1898:25-33) gives an almost complete series: isa, urisiri, utool, usipat, urima, ulumu, upitoo, uvaŋat, (puruk ’10’ is a loan from Paiwan). The missing u-prefixed word for ‘1’ in Rukai is u-tsani in Karei, discussed here. Vestiges of u-prefixation also exist in Tsou numerals: usupat ‘four’ in one variety of Tsou, here.
- sporadically reinterpreted as an onset consonant w- or v- with PAN nouns beginning in vowels, as noticed by Bril (p.c, April 20, 2020) for Natauran:
*asu, ‘dog’, *u-asu id. > Natauran Amis wacu, Pazeh wazu, Kavalan wasu, Paiwan vatu;
*aNak, ‘child’, *u-aNak id. > Proto-Rukai vanakə (Li 1977);
*amaH2 ‘father’, *u-amaH2 > Natauran Amis wama.
In Fey’s dictionary of Amis one finds pairs like idaŋ/widaŋ ‘friend’, ina/wina ‘mother’.
In order to explain sporadic cases of initial w- or similar in words for ‘dog’, ‘fire’, ‘child’, Dyen (1962) reconstructed a new Austronesian phoneme *W; the random appearance of a common noun prefix is a better interpretation.
Under my model of AN phylogeny, *u- ‘common noun marker’ reconstructs to PAN, being present in the Pazeh word for ‘dog’; Pazeh is regarded as a primary branch of PAN. Usage of *u- as a marker of numerals for non-human reference begins later, in Walu-Siwaish. It is absent from western Walu-Siwaish (Hoanya, Papora), and potentially constitutes a shared innovation supporting a Central-Eastern Walu-Siwaish node.
Bril, I. in press. Northern Amis. Handbook on Formosan languages, ed. by P. Jen-kuei Li, E. Zeitoun, R. De Busser. Leiden: Brill
Dyen, I. (1962) Some New Proto-Malayopolynesian Initial Phonemes. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 82, No. 2 (Apr. – Jun., 1962), pp. 214-215
Fey, V. (1986) Amis dictionary. The Bible Society in the Republic of China.
Ino, Yoshinori 伊能嘉矩. 1998. 巡臺日程 Xún Tái Rì Chéng [A Formosan itinerary]. In 伊能嘉矩番語調查手冊 Ino Yoshinori fānyǔ diàochá shǒucè [Ino Yoshinori’s field records], ed. by : T. Moriguchi, pp. 13-201. Taipei: Southern Materials Center.
Li, Paul Jen-Kuei. 1977. The internal relationships of Rukai. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology 48:1-92.