A hitherto undescribed etymon for ‘ten’ occurs in languages of the north and east coasts of Taiwan: Sakizaya, Puyuma, north Formosan ( Kavalan, Basay, Ketagalan).
In his unpublished spreadsheet of Amis and Sakizaya dialects, Tsuchida cited Ma’ibor Sakizaya ce-cay a bataQ-an ‘ten’ (one-LNK-ten). Cauquelin’s Puyuma dictionary (Cauquelin 2015) only has puɭuʔ and məkʈəp for ‘ten’ but ‘twenty’ is maka-bəʈaʔan. The prefix maka- serves in ‘ten’ and multiples of 10, eg maka-telun ‘30’, maka-pətəl ‘30’ etc. It is possible that maka-bəʈaʔan was simplified from maka-ɖua-bəʈaʔan: removing ɖua would cause no ambiguity. Kavalan has Rabtin ‘10’, zusabtin ‘20’ where –btin is the numeral ‘10’ (Li & Tsuchida 2006). One source of Kavalan /i/ is *qa. Vowel syncope is common in Kavalan although the conditions governing this process have not been elucidated. Basay is similar to Kavalan: labatan ‘10’, lusa batan ‘20’, as is Ketagalan ɭabat-an ‘10’, ɭusa batan ‘20’ (Ogawa, cited in Ferrell 1969). All these forms are regular outcomes of *baCaq-an. Puyuma provides the evidence for reconstructing -C- as against -t-.The formative Kavalan Ra-, Basay la-, Ketagalan ɭa– is a distinct morpheme.
A tentative etymology can be offered for evaluation. Tsuchida (1988) glosses the Bunun word bataqan (< baCaq-an, *bataq-an) in Qato and Idhokan dialects as ‘racks (L-shaped – to carry woods)’. Nihira’s Bunun vocabulary gives ‘a carrying board on the back’. The name of a carrying device for multiple objects is a potential source of ‘ten’. Bunun is a Walu-Siwaish language, like the languages where *baCaq-an occurs in ‘10’ or ‘20’.
Cauquelin, J. (2015). Nanwang Puyuma-English dictionary. Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
Ferrell, R. (1969) Taiwan Aboriginal groups: problems in cultural and linguistic classification. Monograph No. 17, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica. Nankang: Academia Sinica.
Li, P. J-K, and S. Tsuchida (2006) Kavalan dictionary. Language and Linguistics monograph series A19. Nankang: Institute of Linguistics (preparatory office), Academia Sinica.
Nihira, Y. (1983) A Bunun Vocabulary (2nd edition). Privately published.
Tsuchida, S. 1988. Comparative word lists of Bunun dialects. Report of the research carried out in 1983. Unpublished manuscript.