Southern Puluqish (master post) (tentative: Dec. 26, 2022)

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As shown to date on the clickable tree, the Puluqish group has three branches: Northern Puluqish, Paiwan and Southern Austronesian. Some evidence, presented here tentatively, suggests that Paiwan and Southern Austronesian subgroup together, forming a Southern Puluqish group against Northern Puluqish.

1. final denasalization of *nj. PAN *nj (*j in standard orthography) was a palatal nasal which evolved to a prenasalized palatal stop [ɲɟ] through palatal glide fortition. This phoneme was poorly integrated in the consonantal system, which had no prenasalized stops. In a majority of languages the situation was regularized through loss of the nasal component via independent denasalizing shifts. In others, the stop component was lost. In the present phylogeny the last language to exhibit a nasal reflex of *nj in the direct line of evolution from PAN to PMP is Amis (Northern Puluqish). No Southern Puluqish language (Paiwan, MP, Kra-Dai) has nasal reflexes of *nj. This pattern suggests that a last denasalizing change of *nj, reflected in Paiwan and in all MP and Kra-Dai languages took place in Proto-Southern Puluqish.

2. Elimination of *baCaqan ’10’ and generalization of  *puluq. Eastern Walu-Siwaish had innovated *baCaqan ’10’.  Then Puluqish innovated *puluq. The two forms coexist in Puyuma, showing they were in competition in Proto-Northern Puluqish.  In southern Puluqish, there is no competition anymore: *baCaqan has been eliminated and *puluq remains the only word for ’10’. 

3. *b[i]lih ‘to buy, sell’. The PAN word for ‘to buy, sell’, reflected in Saisiyat, Pazeh, Thao, Seediq, Kavalan, was *baliw. This was displaced in Paiwan, MP and Kra-Dai by *b[i]lih ‘buy, sell’: Paiwan veli ‘buy, sell’, Proto-Bisayan *bilíh ‘to buy’ (Zorc < ABVD), Proto-Lakkja (Theraphan) *wlei C2 ‘buy’ (from ABVD). Note Kra-Dai tone C from PAN *-h, the expected development (Sagart 2019).


ABVD:  Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database. Online at Accessed December 26, 2022.

ACD:Austronesian Comparative dictionary. Online at Accessed December 26, 2022.

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⟩

Theraphan L.-Thongkum (1992) A preliminary reconstruction of Proto-Lakkja (Cha Shan Yao). Mon-Khmer Studies 20: 57-89.

Zorc, David Paul. The Bisayan Dialects of the Philippines: Subgrouping and Reconstruction. Canberra, Australia: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1977. As cited in the ABVD.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Southern Puluqish (master post) (tentative: Dec. 26, 2022)," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 26/12/2022,

Politeness shift of PAN 2pl pronoun *-mu to singular

Blust (1977) had argued that a politeness shift changing the PAN 2pl pronoun *-mu to 2sg is a PMP innovation. Sagart (2004) proposed that the Buyang 2sg pronoun ma312 is cognate with PAN *-mu 2pl and PMP *-mu 2sg, thus sharing the PMP plural-to-singular shift. Blust (2014:375) states that u::a is not a recurring correspondence between AN and Buyang, urging caution. The correspondence in fact recurs in the other second-person pronoun, PAN *iSu 2sg, Buyang ɕa54. The Buyang form occurs in the plural form tsum54 ɕa54 2pl, (tsum54 plural marker of personal pronouns).  While the habitual fate of PAN *u is to Buyang u, the fact that it evolves to Buyang a in both  2nd-person pronouns shows we are not dealing with a chance resemblance. The politeness shift to singular of the PAN 2pl pronoun is shared by ̴PMP, Buyang and, to my knowedge, the rest of KD. While the evolution of vowels in 2nd-person pronouns is complex, in KD languages where a 2nd-person pronoun has the phonetic shape /mV/, that pronoun is singular unless accompanied by a plural marker.


Blust, Robert A. (1977) The Proto-Austronesian pronouns and Austronesian subgrouping: a preliminary report. University of Hawai’i working papers in Linguistics 9, 2: 1-15.

Sagart, L. (2004) The higher phylogeny of Austronesian and the position of Tai-Kadai. Oceanic Linguistics 43,2: 411-444.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Politeness shift of PAN 2pl pronoun *-mu to singular," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 24/12/2022,
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