A new example of PAN *-X

In my 2019 paper proposing a solution to Kra-Dai tonogenesis, I argued that the Kra-Dai tone B originated in two Austronesian endings: *-R, a voiced uvular fricative, already well established as a PAN phoneme; and *-X, a voiceless uvular fricative, not proposed before as a PAN phoneme. I presented 6 examples of PAN *-X with AN and Kra-Dai cognates in section 4.2 of that paper: ‘shoulder’ *qabaRaX, ‘palm of hand’ *dapaX, ‘knee’ *puquX, ‘bran’ *qepaX, ‘grandfather’ *apuX, ‘branch’ *saŋaX. In addition, I gave two examples of *-X without Kra-Dai cognates: ‘thorn’ *duRiX, ‘chaff’ *qeCaX. Later on (in this post), I found additional  Formosan evidence for *-X in *qeCaX. Here I want to present the evidence for a new PAN reconstruction ending in *-X.

Next to the well-known PAN word *susu ‘female breast, udder’ there existed a second form, reflected in Amis cohcoh ‘to suck, suckle’, which had a ‘laryngeal’ coda. Kra-Dai cognates are found in Laji (a.k.a. Lachi, Lati), and they are in tone B:

  • Jinchang Laji (=Flowery Lachi) tɕo44 (< B1) ‘breast, milk’ (Li Yunbing 2000 in ABVD)
  • Tân Lợi Laji co22 (< B12) ‘breast’ (Kosaka Ruichi 2000 in ABVD).

Tân Lợi does not distinguish B1 and B2:

  • co22 ‘breast’ (< B1)
  • (quN0) phu22 ‘shoulder’ (< B2)

While Jinchang does: Jinchang B1 is given as high rising 45 by Ostapirat (2000), mid-high 44 in Li Yunbing (2000), while B2 is mid rising/breathy 24ɦ in Ostapirat (2000): pɦu B2 ‘shoulder’ and low rising 13 in Li Yunbing: quŋ55 pu13 ‘shoulder’ (reconstructed with final *-X in Sagart 2019, cf. above).

Proto-Hlai (Norquest 2007) tɕiɦ B has tone B, like Laji (above), but the front vowel is unexplained. Outside of Norquest’s proto-Hlai, there is no reconstruction of ‘breast’, ‘milk’, or ‘udder’ given for proto-Kra, proto-Tai or proto-Hlai by either of Ostapirat or Pittayaporn.

For the initial correspondence of PAN *s in Lachi, compare *isa ‘one’, Jinchang Laji tɕaŋ44 , Tân Lợi Laji cam22. The nasal ending is an accretion. Bonifacy (1906:277) gives Lati ‘one’ as čam, but simply ča in ‘eleven and ‘twenty-one’ .

These considerations support the new AN reconstruction  *suXsuX ‘to suck, suckle, breast, milk’.


Bonifacy, Auguste. 1906. Etude sur les coutumes et la langue des La-ti. Bulletin de l’Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient 1906, pp. 271-278 (here)

Kosaka, Ryuichi [小坂, 隆一]. 2000. A descriptive study of the Lachi language: syntactic description, historical reconstruction and genetic relation. Ph.D. dissertation. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

李云兵 / Li Yunbing. 2000. 拉基语硏究 / Laji yu yan jiu (A Study of Lachi). Beijing: 中央民族大学出版社 / Zhong yang min zu da xue chu ban she.

Norquest, Peter K. 2007. A phonological reconstruction of proto-Hlai. PhD dissertation, U. of Arizona.

Sagart, Laurent. 2019. A model of the origin of Kra-Dai tones. Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale, 2019, 48 (1), pp.1-29. ⟨10.1163/19606028-04801004⟩

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "A new example of PAN *-X," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 23/02/2022, https://stan.hypotheses.org/1570.

Eastern Walu-Siwaish *layaR ‘sail’

Up one level to Eastern Walu-Siwaish (here)

The cognate set for ‘PAN’ *layaR ‘sail’ in Blust’s ACD (here) (includes the MP forms under Dempwolff’s *layaɣ ‘sail’ plus two Formosan items:

Kavalan RayaR sail of a raft or boat; cloth around a threshing machine
Paiwan la-laya a flag, banner
pu-la-laya to raise a flag, fly a banner
excerpt from Blust’s ACD

Elsewhere, in a note under PAn *qabang ‘boat, canoe’ (here), Blust wrote:Given the independent evidence for PAn *layaR ‘sail’ we can be sure that PAn speakers had boats with sails. However, we cannot be certain that they possessed the outrigger, since *saRman ‘outrigger float’ and other terms connected with the outrigger canoe complex are reconstructible only to PMP. As noted in Blust (1999) the Austronesian settlement of Taiwan may have been accomplished with bamboo sailing rafts, leaving open the possibility that the *qabaŋ was a simple dugout canoe used on interior rivers.”

It is difficult to imagine how sailing rafts with neither outriggers nor a keel—traditional boats with keels are absent in East Asia—would fail to capsize in even moderately strong winds. Evidently Austronesian sailing boats with outriggers did not come into existence through the addition of outriggers to pre-existing saining boats: rather, the outrigger is a prerequisite to the invention of the Austronesian orientable sail. There is in fact evidence that until relatively recently the Formosans used sail-less boats with outriggers. The Atayals had small boats that they used to cross streams (Taintor 1874:34):

“The small boats which the savages use in crossing streams they call mangka. A boat is made by hollowing out a log of wood and fastening a board upon each side of it to prevent its capsizing. They have no oil and chunam for filling the cracks or seams, and hence have to bail constantly. A boat will carry two or three people”

The Basais and Kavalans had ‘huge’ sea-going rowing boats with outriggers fixed with vines which could carry up to 25 people and a large amount of cargo (Chien 2021).

For evidence that Austronesian sails are as old as PAN, Blust essentially relied on his assumption of the correctness of his 10-branch phylogeny: the term being reflected in languages of three of his primary branches, he assumed that *layaR was a PAN word. In my phylogeny, however, *layaR only occurs in Eastern Walu-Siwaish languages, and counts as a Proto-Eeastern Walu-Siwaish innovation. The invention of the sail has the character of a post-PAN technical improvement to the rowing boat with outriggers used by the Basais, Kavalans and Atayals. This makes it likely that the first Austronesians crossed from the mainland to Taiwan on sail-less rowing boats with outriggers, while the out-of-Taiwan event, which brought the MP languages to the Philippines and beyond, was effected with the help of newly-invented sails.


Blust, R. 1999. Subgrouping, circularity and extinction: some issues in Austronesian comparative linguistics. In: Elizabeth Zeitoun and Paul Jen-kuei Li (eds.) Selected Papers from the Eighth International Conference on Austronesian linguistics, 31-94. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics (preparatory office).

Chien Hung-yi (2020) From Bangka Canoe to Shechuan Junk: Commercial Activities along Northeastern Coastal Route (1650s-1750s). Taiwan Historical Research 27, 4:1-34.

Taintor, Edward C. (1874) The Aborigines of Northern Formosa: A Paper Read Before the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Shanghai 1874. privately published.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Eastern Walu-Siwaish *layaR ‘sail’," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 14/02/2022, https://stan.hypotheses.org/1510.


(view clickable tree)

To Limaish

There is some evidence that Thao and Atayalic form a subgroup within Limaish. This subgroup includes Thao and the two Atayalic languages, Atayal and Seediq. First, Thao and Atayalic share the innovation of parallel multiplicative forms for ‘six’ and ‘eight’:

Thao (Blust 2003) makal̥-turu-turu ‘six’ (turu ‘three’);  makal̥-ʃpaʃpat ‘eight’ (ʃpat ‘four’). Shorter forms ka-turu and ka-ʃpat are also attested (here).

Atayal (Mayrinax) (here)  matuuʔ ‘six’ (tuuʔ ‘three’); maspat ‘eight’ ( səpat ‘four’)  (here)

Seediq (here) mataɾu  ‘six’ (təɾu ‘three’); maspat ‘eight’ (səpat ‘four’)

A second piece of evidence for Thao-Atayalic is the uniquely shared future prefix ma– in Blust’s ACD:

PAN     *ma-₂ future prefix

Seediq (Truku)ma-frequent prefix carrying the idea of an indeterminate future
Thaoma-prefix marking the future in actor voice verbs
Excerpt from Blust’s ACD
Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Thao-Atayalic.," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 13/02/2022, https://stan.hypotheses.org/924.