West-coast Walu-Siwaish (master post)

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The West-coast Walu-Siwaish languages are Papora and Hoanya, two extinct languages, each of them significantly diverse. Their last speakers were interviewed mainly by Japanese linguists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We possess short vocabularies for a number of locations in rough, not fully systematic phonetic transcriptions. Tsuchida (1982) includes a collection of these forms,  now accessible online through the Hoanya and Papora pages of the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database (ABVD; here and here) of Greenhill et al. (2003-).

Despite the difficulties inherent in establishing cognacy given the nature of the data, the Hoanya and Papora words for ‘fire’ and ‘black’, present us with two uniquely shared western Walu-Siwaish innovations. 

A correspondence between Hoanya and Papora voiced coronals  recurs over these comparisons, which include ‘fire’ and ‘black’:

  Hoanya #1-1a Hoanya #1-8 Papora #1-3 Papora #2 
  dz z d d
dzapu zapū dapu dapū
rain mudzas _
modad _
road, path dzalan _ dalan  
black mavidzu mavizū abidu avedoo

‘Fire’. Blust’s Austronesian Comparative Dictionary (ACD; here) assigns the Hoanya and Papora words for ‘fire’ to PANBlust *Sapuy ‘fire’. In their Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database (ABVD), Greenhill et al. (2003-),  do the same, listing the forms  under cognate set #1 (here).   However this will not do, since Blust’s PAN *S goes to s- in Hoanya (*Sikan ‘fish’ > sikan, *Suaji ‘younger sibling’ > suazi, *Sepat ‘4’ > supat) and in Papora as well (*Siwa ‘nine’ > siya, *daqiS ‘forehead’ > ddes). Conversely none of the other Hoanya-Papora words with the same correspondence as ‘fire’ (see the above table) goes back to PAN *S. Either there has been an irregular sound change turning PAN *S into some voiced coronal in the Papora-Hoanya word for ‘fire’, or, more plausibly,  the Hoanya and Papora forms for ‘fire’ are cognates of another word: PMPBlust *dapuR ‘hearth’, even though this last form has not hitherto been observed in Formosan languages. Tsuchida (1969) reconstructs *Z in ‘rain’ (*qu2ZaN), one of the words which exemplify the Papora-Hoanya correspondence (above table). Allowing for the uncertainty due to the lack of  cognates in other Formosan languages, I will write PWS *[Z]apuR. Taking a hint from Wolff (2010) I gloss the form as  ‘cooking fire’. The best solution is to assume that *[Z]apuR displaced Blust’s *Sapuy as ‘fire’ exclusively in western Walu-Siwaish.  For the final consonant, Papora-Hoanya examples of PAN final *-R are few, but *-R falls in Hoanya #1-1b matulu ‘to sleep’ < *ma-tuduR  (this etymon is not found elsewhere in Papora or Hoanya).

‘Black’. The PAN word reconstructed by Blust as *qudem ‘black’ has a broad distribution in Taiwan; but it was displaced, exclusively in Hoanya and Papora, by a word reconstructible as *abid[z]u. There is an apparent cognate in Mongondow: mo-bidu ‘blue’, so that *abid[z]u can be assigned to PWS. However there was competition between *abid[z]u and *qudem in PWS: it is only in western Walu-Siwaish that the former diplaced the latter. In Mongondow mo-bidu has a doublet mo-biru ‘blue’. This mo-biru belongs to a widespread set which Blust (here) treats as borrowed from Malay. Although he admits that in Mongondow “it would normally be assumed that where variants in d, r appear the d variant is historically primary”, he assumes “for the present”  that “Mongondow mo-bidu is a result of analogical back-formation from a loanword with r“. However,  the Hoanya-Papora cognate convincingly shows that d, not r, is primary: indeed, Mongondow d is a match for Papora d, Hoanya dz, as in ‘road, path’ : Papora dalan, Hoanya dzalan, Mongondow daḷan. Only the biru-type forms are part of the loan distribution identified by Blust.


Blust, Robert A. and Stephen Trussel. Ongoing. Austronesian Comparative Dictionary (ACD). Online at http://www.trussel2.com/acd/

Greenhill, Simon, Robert Blust, and Russell Gray. 2003-. Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database (ABVD). Online at  https://abvd.shh.mpg.de/austronesian/.

Tsuchida, S. (1982) A Comparative Vocabulary of Austronesian Languages of Sinicized Ethnic Groups in Taiwan, Part I: Western Taiwan. Memoirs of the Faculty of Letters, No. 7, University of Tokyo. Tokyo, Japan.

Wolff, John U. 2010. Proto-Austronesian phonology with glossary. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "West-coast Walu-Siwaish (master post)," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 18/11/2020, https://stan.hypotheses.org/1065.




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A monophyletic Favorlang-Taokas subgroup is supported by these innovations:

1. an innovative numeral for ‘6’: Favorlang and Babuza nataap, Taokas tahap, tákap , takkap (sets #26 and 28 in the ABVD).   These are additive forms based on a 1+5 prototype (*sa-RaCep), different from Saisiyat and Pazeh where ‘6’ is 5+1.

The Favorlang-Babuza form nataap  is composed of natta ‘1’ and achab [ahab] < *RaCep  ‘five’ reduced to [ab]. natta in turn reflects PAN *sa ‘one’ with na- prefixed marker of a derived series of numerals of uncertain functions: na-rroa ‘two’, na-torro-a ‘three’, na-spat ‘four’, na-chab ‘five’, na-taap ‘six’.

Taokas tahap, tákap , takkap ‘six’ is composed of ta- < *sa ‘one’ plus hap, kap, kkap in different dialect points. Initial h, k, kk reflects PAN *R. PAN *C should give Taokas s: here it is lost, presumably after *RaCep was reduced to Rasp through syncope.

2. An innovative word for ‘dog’. Favorlang mado, Babuza mato/malu/mado/malok (dialects), Taokas mato/maro/mazok/marox/malok etc. (dialects), all ‘dog’ (set #9 in ABVD). These forms go back to *ma[d]uq and displace PAN *asu, u-asu ‘dog’.

A Favorlang-Taokas subgroup is common to my phylogeny and to Blust’s.


ABVD (Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database). Online at https://abvd.shh.mpg.de/austronesian/. Accessed June 19, 2020.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Favorlang-Taokas," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 20/06/2020, https://stan.hypotheses.org/937.

Southern Austronesian *sa-puluq-at in numbers 10 to 19

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Jump to Southern Austronesian master post

This post returns to a subject discussed in a 2010 conference paper (here). New facts are presented and the interpretation is slightly modified.

Several Philippine languages belonging to the South-Central Cordilleran subgroup in northern Luzon: Kankanay, Kalinga, Bontok, Ifugao, Balangaw, Inibaloi, have a conjunction reflecting Proto-South-Central Cordilleran *et [ət] ‘and, and then’. In the Central Luzon group of Philippine languages, Kapampangan, not in direct contact with the Cordilleran languages, has at ‘and’, reflecting either *et [ət] or *at. Tagalog, a Central Philippines language, has at ‘and’, which can only reflect *at, unless it is a loan from neighboring Kapampangan at ‘id.’ (personal communications from L. Reid and R.D. Zorc, April 2007). Kapampangan is known to be a source of loanwords to Tagalog. Among the Central Cordilleran languages reflecting *et ‘and’, Isinai, Kalinga and a few others use a phonologically reduced form of that morpheme between pulu ‘ten’ and a following unit numeral. Thus in Kalinga, ‘ten’ is simpulu < *sa-n(g)a-puluq, but ‘eleven’ is simpu:lut osa (Tryon et al. 1995, Vol. 4, 43-45). That last form is analyzable as /sin-pulu=t osa/, where /=t/ ‘and’, /osa/ < *əsa ‘one’. Similarly, ‘twelve’ is simpu:lut duwa /sin-pulu=t duwa/, where /duwa/ < *duSa ‘two’ and /=t/ ‘and’. Kapampangan, the only Central Luzon language with a reflex of *et, does not use it in compound numerals. Although Tagalog may have borrowed the conjunction from Kapampangan, it does use a reduced form of at in compound numerals above ‘20’, in a very similar way to Kalinga and Isinay:


twenty’ < *daduha ‘two’ + nasal linker + *puluq ‘ten’

dalawampút isá

twenty-one’ < *daduhatwo’ + nasal linker + *puluq ‘ten’ + =(a)t ‘and’ + *esa ‘one’

dalawampút dalawá

twenty-two’ < *daduhatwo’ + nasal linker + *puluq ‘ten’ + =(a)t ‘and’ + *daduha ‘two’

The puluq-t-numeral form cannot easily have been borrowed from Cordilleran into Tagalog, as the languages are not in contact: if Tagalog borrowed the conjunction from Kapampangan, Tagalog shows a development parallel to Cordilleran in its use of the conjunction.

There are two possible accounts of the development of the conjunction itself in the Philippine languages. In the first, the conjunction’s oldest form in the Philippines was *et [ət], regularly evolving to at in Kapampangan, and loaned to Tagalog as at. Under that account, the conjunction, inherited only in the South-Central Cordilleran and Central Luzon groups, reconstructs to the northern clade of Philippine languages in the phylogeny of Gray, Drummond and Greenhill (2009), which this post follows for Malayo-Polynesian. Use of the conjunction between *puluq and a following numeral in Cordilleran and in Tagalog must be the result of parallel innovations.

In a second account, the conjunction’s oldest form in the Philippines was *at. Kapampangan and Tagalog inherited it in that shape, while in the Cordilleran languages the presumably unstressed vowel underwent centralization, to [ət]. Under that account, Tagalog being part of the southern clade, both *at ‘and then’ and the *puluq=at+numeral construction reconstruct higher, to the ancestor of the southern and northern Philippine clades.2

Whether as *et or *at, the Philippine conjunction is reminiscent of the form ato ‘and, with’ in Amis (central Amis: Fey 1986, Namoh 2013) and of the conjunction katu in Paiwan. In Nataoran Amis (Nataoran Amis: Bril fieldwork), atu may occur in numeral expressions (Isabelle Bril, p.c., 11 February 2014):

a cacay-en atu la-tusa ku ni-pabeli itakuan-an tu pawli

HORT one-UV and half NOM PERF.NMZ-give me-OBL ACC banana

Give me one and a half banana (lit. ‘let it be one and a half the giving a banana to me’)

Both Namoh (2013:136) and Bril treat ato~atu as originally composed of a ‘and’ plus =to ‘oblique common noun marker’, drawing a parallel to aci ‘and + personal noun’ (<a ‘and’ + =ci ‘personal noun marker’). The oblique common noun marker to itself is analyzable into t- oblique and u or o common noun marker.

In a northern Amis numeral system recorded by Tsuchida (here), tu, a shortened form of atu, serves in numerals between 11 and 19 as a linker between the locally innovated word for ‘ten’: sabaw , and the following unit number, e.g. sabaw tu tulu ‘13’, sabaw tu lima ‘15’.

Similarly, in a Paiwan dialect recorded by Chang Hsiou-chuan (here), a conjunction katu occurs between *sa-puluq and a following unit number, e.g. tapuluʔ katu ʔunəm ‘16’. katu is analyzeable as katu ‘and-oblique noun marker’, or possibly kaatu ‘andoblique noun marker’.

While *sa-puluq, the Puluqish word for ‘10’ ends in *-q, which correspoponds to -k in Kra-Dai, the Kra-Dai word for ‘10’ ends in *-t, as if it came from *pulut. The Philippine developments suggest an explanation. The following scenario is based on the hypothesis that the oldest Philippine form of the conjuction was *at. It is also possible to explain the facts under the view that it was *et, but the explanation is slightly more complex.

Comparison of Amis and Paiwan leads one to posit a conjunction *atu ‘and’ between *sa-puluq ‘10’ and a following numeral. In PSA the presumably enclitic conjunction was reduced to *at through syncope. Proto-Malayo-Polynesian and Proto-Kra-Dai, the direct daughters of PSA, inherited both *at and the compound numeral construction with it. Proto-Malayo-Polynesian in turn transmitted these to its immediate daughter Proto-Philippines, but the conjunction and construction were lost in Malayo-Polynesian outside of the Philippines. For this to occur, a single loss is required as such a node is supported with 98% posterior probability in Gray, Drummond and Greenhill (2009). Soon after Kra-Dai branched off, and independently from developments in the Philippines, *at ‘and’ was further reduced to /t/, and the resulting *sa-puluqt was reduced to *sa-pulut in PKD. This then evolved to Proto-Hlai *apu:c, Proto-Kra *pwlot. The outcome in Proto-Kam-Tai is unknown because these KD languages have abandoned Austronesian numerals for Chinese ones.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Southern Austronesian *sa-puluq-at in numbers 10 to 19," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 07/05/2020, https://stan.hypotheses.org/881.

Southern Austronesian lexical innovations

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Each of the lexical innovations listed below associates a Malayo-Polynesian form with reconstructions from one or more Kra-Dai branches. The MP side of the comparison either has no Formosan cognates, or cognates with distinct semantics. If it has no Formosan cognate, a Formosan etymon of the same meaning, partly or fully displaced by the MP etymon, exists.

1. PSA *baqbaq ‘mouth’.  Tsuchida’s *ŋuθuq ‘mouth’ (1976:130) is identical with Blust’s *ŋusuq ‘mouth’ and Wolff’s *ŋucuq ‘snout, beak’. This is the highest-reconstructing  Austronesian etymon for ‘mouth’ (humans and animals). It is reflected in Tsouic, Batanic and Oceanic (cognate set #2 here). In MP  *baqbaq ‘mouth’ (cognate set #1 here; see also here) is more widespread. In Taiwan Wolff recognized its precursor in Bunun vaqvaq ‘chin’ (2010:757); Bril (p.c., April 13, 2020) mentioned northern Amis babaq ‘jaw’. The most likely scenario, then, is that *baqbaq, a word for ‘chin’ or (lower ?) ‘jaw’ in a Formosan precursor of PMP, shifted to ‘mouth’ in PMP, competing with *ŋuθuq, ultimately displacing it in Cebuano, Malagasy, Old Javanese and other languages.

A reflex of *baqbaq is the word for ‘mouth’ in the Kam-Tai branch of Kra-Dai: Proto-Tai (Pittayaporn) *pa:k D, Proto-Kam-Sui (Thurgood) *pa:k 7, Proto-Ong-Be *ɓa:k D1.  For the  correspondence of PAN *-aq to Kam-Tai *-a:k, compare ‘otter’, PAN  *Sanaq : Proto-Tai *na:k.  Normally a singleton PAN *b in word medial position ought to evolve to Kam-Tai initial *b or *ɓ, not to *p: *p- in this word actually corresponds to PMP *b in the word-internal *-qb- cluster.

2. PSA *biRáq ‘kind of taro’.  An etymon *biRaq has been assigned to PAN in two meanings: ‘leaf’ and ‘taro/wild taro’. Evidently these are related, as the taro’s leaf is remarkable. Blust reconstructs the meaning as ‘taro’ (here) but as shown by Wolff (2010) Saisiyat bilaʔ, Tanan Rukai bia, Kavalan biɣi, Puyuma bira, all mean ‘leaf’. In MP,  the meaning ‘leaf’ has disappeared, all languages indicate ‘taro’ or a meaning derivable from ‘taro’.

In the Kra-Dai languages, *biRaq appears as ‘taro’, never as ‘leaf’: Proto-Kra *p-ɣak D (Ostapirat), Proto-Hlai (Norquest) *ra:k, Proto-Tai (Pittayaporn) *prɯək, proto-Kam-Sui (Thurgood) *ɓra:k 7.  The vowel in the Proto-Tai form points to a precursor with penultimate stress, such as reduplicated *biRaq-bíRaq. Kra-Dai and MP share the loss of the meaning ‘leaf’.

3. PSA -ŋel ‘deaf’. Blust reconstructed PAN * Culi ‘deaf’ (here), Wolff *tilu ‘id’. This word persists in MP, but MP languages add words for ‘deaf’ having root *-ŋel (here), possibly somehow connected with *deŋeR ‘hear’ (Puyuma, Paiwan, MP).

The Kra-Dai languages reflect *ŋel: Proto-Kra (Ostapirat) *ŋel C ‘deaf’.

4. PSA *píntu ‘door’. A PMP word for ‘door’, reflected as Malay pintu, Tagalog pinto, pintu-an reconstructs to PMP as *pintu, even though the cognate set is not recognized by either of Blust or Wolff. Formosan words for ‘door’ often include root *-Neb ‘close’ (Blust; here) so *pintu is clearly innovative. Its etymology is unknown. Metanalysis of a compound including root *-pit ‘hold by pinching’ is a possibility (Wolff 2010; see also Blust’s evidence for this root here).

The Kra-Dai word for ‘door’ is cognate with PMP *pintu. Buyang, a Kra language, has ma tɔ  A2 ‘door’, where ma is the expected reflex of an Austronesian first syllable beginning in a labial (e.g. *walu > ma ðu ‘eight’, *buŋaH1 > ma ŋa C ‘flower’, *maCa > ma ta A ‘eye’), and   A2 reflects an unstressed *-ntu, i.e. a paroxytone PSA prototype *píntu. ‘A2’ is the low variant of tone A: it shows that initial t– went through a voiced stage, as it evolved out of  PSA *-nt-. PSA plain medial *-t- would evolve to Buyang t- with a high-series tone. Compare PSA *taŋkup ‘to cover’, PMP *ta(ŋ)kup or *tuŋkup id., Buyang ta qup D2 id. Proto-Lakkja (Theraphan) also has a low tone in ‘door’: *tɔ: A2.

5. PSA *qi(d)zúR ‘sputum, saliva’. The earliest recontructable Austronesian form for ‘sputum’ or ‘saliva’ is PCEWS *ŋalay, a form reflected in Rukai-Tsouic, Amis, Puyuma and Bashiic (Tsuchida 1976:230). The corresponding reconstruction in Blust’s system: *ŋajay is erroneous, as the medial consonants in Paiwan ŋadjay and –h– in Yami ŋahay are not regular outcomes of PAN *-j-. In MP, *ŋalay is not found except in several Bashiic languages (Yami, Itbayaten, Ivatan…). In KD, Proto-Tai *la:j A, Proto-Lakkja *lei A reflect *ŋalay, and Ferlus (REF), unaware of the Austronesian comparison, reconstructs the Proto-Kam-Sui initial as *ŋl-.

PMP innovates *qi(d)zuR ‘saliva, spittle’ (Blust *qizuR), reflected in the Philippines (Ibaloi, Southern Cordilleran), Toba Batak, Javanese. In KD, the Kra branch reflects *qi(d)zuR: Buyang qa tu B (remember that PSA *-R goes to tone B in KD).

From what precedes, PCEWS *ŋalay and PMP *qi(d)zuR are in competition in Philippine and KD languages, and nowhere else. This fit well with the idea that the competition existed from PSA through an early time in the diversification of MP.

6. PSA qa-sáuŋ ‘canine tooth’. The highest reconstructable word for ‘canine tooth’ is *waqit (Blust, ACD), a Formosa-only etymon reflected in Atayal and Puyuma. *bangeliS (Also Blust, ACD), with reflexes in Kavalan and MP, is specifically a word for ‘tusk’. As ‘canine tooth’, *sáuŋ  displaced *waqit in Philippine languages. This became the word for ‘tooth’ in the Kra branch of KD: Proto-Kra *C-tʃuŋ A ‘tooth’ reflects *sáuŋ with a prefixed element, which Buyang qa ɕɔŋ 54 ‘tooth’ shows to have been a velar or uvular: *ka-sáuŋ or *qa- sáuŋ.

7. PSA *sapeléd, *ma-sapeléd ‘astringent’. Blust (ongoing) reconstructed *qasepa ‘astringent’, reflected in Puyuma and MP, and thus assignable to Puluqish. Only in Puyuma is the meaning ‘astringent’: all MP forms (Iban, Malay, Javanese) mean ‘stale’, ‘insipid’, ‘tasteless’. Subsequent to this semantic shift, the Puluqish word was displaced by a new word: PMP *sapeled, with reflexes in the Philippines, Malay and Mongondow (reconstructed in Blust, ongoing). A stative ma-prefix is moreover in evidence in Bikol, Hanunoo. In Kra-Dai, Buyang phat 54 ‘astringent’ reflects a prefixed variant of *sapeled, possibly *ma-sapeled. The Buyang vowel points to a stressed vowel in the PSA prototype, thus *Pfx-sapeléd. Austronesian  vowels except for the last one are  lost in the evolution to Kra. For the reduction of the -pl- internal cluster to -p- in Buyang, compare PSA *sa-puluq-Vt ‘ten’, Buyang put 54 id. Buyang voceless aspirated stops originate in voiceless stops preceded by a voiceless obstruent, here /s/. Proto-Tai ʰwɯət probably has the same origin as Buyang *phat. Of the two words for ‘astringent’, it is the innovated one which occurs in KD.

8. PSA *buŋáH1 and *bujak ‘flower’.  Which was the earliest Austronesian etymon for ‘flower’ ? Despite Blust (ongoing) and Wolff (2010), not *buŋaH1—I reconstruct final H1 in this word based on the correspondence between Aklanon final -h and Proto-Kra-Dai tone C. When examining the semantics of *buŋáH1 one must evidently leave aside languages (Atayal, Seediq, Thao, Amis, Puyuma, Thao) where the referent is ‘sweet potato’, a south American domesticate spread across the Pacific in prehistoric times. Such forms are in all likelihood loanwords, spread from an unknown source. This leaves only the two Southern Tsouic languages Kanakanabu and Saaroa. Inherited reflexes of *buŋaH1,not meaning ‘sweet potato’,  have been reported to occur there. During fieldwork on Saaroa in 2014 by myself and Hsu Tzefu, I elicited vuŋavuŋa < *buŋa-buŋa as ‘ear of foxtail millet’ (here). Wolff (2010) gave Saaroa vuu-vúŋa < *buu-buŋa ‘flower’. For Kanakanabu we have conflicting evidence. Wolff (2010 sub *buŋa) cited vuŋávuŋu, which seems to be vuŋ < *buŋ reduplicated, with final echo vowel; he notes a variant vuŋávuŋ. This does not reflect  *buŋa well—where is final *-a ? more probably it reflects *buŋ-a-buŋ. A root connection to Proto-Philippine *sabuŋ ‘flower’ (here) is possible. Blust (here) cited Kanakanabu buŋa-buŋa ‘flower’, the language source hyperlinked to Tsuchida (1976), but I could not find that form there.  Reconstructing Proto-Southern Tsouic (PST)  from Blust’s Kanakanabu buŋa-buŋa ‘flower’ and my Saaroa vuŋavuŋa ‘ear of foxtail millet’ one obtains PST *buŋa-buŋa ‘outgrowth of a plant’. The meaning ‘flower’ is too narrow.

‘Outgrowth of a plant’ also characterizes the meaning of *buŋáH1 in Philippine languages well: ‘fruit’, ‘seed’, ‘sapling’, ‘outgrowth’, ‘result’ are common meanings. ‘Flower’ is not among them, evidently because *buŋáH1 as ‘flower’ was displaced by *bujak (here). In MP languages from Malagasy to Oceanic where *bujak has not become the word for ‘flower’, the meaning of *buŋáH1 has narrowed down to ‘flower’.

What, then, was the earliest AN word for ‘flower’ ? very probably *buRay, a reconstruction of Dyen’s accepted by Blust   (here). This is based on Saisiyat and Paiwan forms, with the possible addition of Atayal and Kavalan.   In the post-Formosan phase of Austronesian history, *buRay was displaced as ‘flower’ by innovative *bujak and a semantically narrowed version of *buŋáH1. The former took hold in the Philippines, the latter in the rest of Malayo-Polynesian. Kra-Dai reflects both *buŋáH1 and *bujak.

A direct cognate of *buŋáH1 is seen in the Kra branch: Buyang ma ŋa 11 (tone C) ‘flower’, Proto-Kra (Ostapirat) *hŋa C id.. Preinitial ma in Buyang is regular for any labial initial in PSA. *h in Ostapirat’s reconstruction *hŋa C serves to account for the high-series tones in certain Kra varieties, but a reconstruction with *pŋ- or *ɓŋ- would serve the same purpose (the KD reflexes of PSA *b and *d are high-toned in KD), while accounting better for the Buyang pre-initial.

Proto-Tai *ɓlo:k (Pittayaporn) ‘flower’ is a cognate of *bujak .  PSA *j merges with PSA *d as PT *ɗ: *mújiŋ ‘nose’, PT *ɗaŋ A id. ; *púja ‘navel’, PT *ɗwɯ A. When forming a cluster with a preceding labial stop (as inside a trisyllable, where syncope of the second vowel occurs), the stop is retained and *ɗ (like *t-) lenites to l-: PSA *(Pfx-)punti ‘banana’, PT pli: A ‘banana blossom’; PSA *qapejúH2 ‘gall’ : PT *ɓli: A id. (change of *u to *i after *j is regular).

In order to have cognates of both *buŋáH1 and *bujak, KD needs to have branched off at a time when both words were in competition. That would have been the case between the moment when  *buRay was displaced (by *buŋáH1 and *bujak) and the separation between Proto-Philippines and the rest of MP: in other words, around the time of the out-of Taiwan event, c. 2000 BCE.


RETRACTED: PSA *sedút ‘to suck’. Austronesian etyma for ‘to sip, suck’ assignable to pre-MP times are mostly onomatopoetic forms that begin in a sibilant and end in -p: Blust’s PAN *SiRup, *sepsep, *supsup, Wolff’s *siɣup, *cep, *cepecep , *cipecip, etc.  Blust’s PWMP *sedut ‘to sip, suck’ is a minor form with a  patchy but geographically widespread distribution in Sarawak, Lombok and New Guinea.

Kra-Dai has a cognate of *sedut: Proto-Hlai (Ostapirat) *iru:c ‘to suck’, Saek du:t 6, Siamese du:t 2.

This comparison is retracted because of Amis hedot ‘to ingest noisily, making sucking noises’ (Namoh). This apparently reflects *Sedut,  distinct from *sedut (which would give Amis #cedot), but the Kra-Dai forms just cited could reflect either.


Dyen, Isidore. 1995.Borrowing and inheritance in Austronesianistics. In Paul Jen-kuei Li, Cheng-hwa Tsang, Ying-kuei Huang, Dah-an Ho, and Chiu-yu Tseng, eds., Austronesian studies relating to Taiwan:455-519. Symposium Series of the Institute of History and Philology, No. 3. Taipei: Academia Sinica].

Norquest, Peter. 2015. A Phonological Reconstruction of Proto-Hlai. Brill.

Ostapirat, Weera. 2000. Proto-Kra. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 23.1:1-251.

Pittayaporn, Pittayawat. 2009. The phonology of proto-Tai. Unpublished Cornell U. dissertation.

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

Thurgood, Graham. 1988. Notes on the reconstruction of Proto-Kam-Sui. In Jerold A Edmondson and David B. Solnit (eds) Comparative Kadai: Linguistics studies beyond Tai, 179-218. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington publications in Linguistics.

Tsuchida, S. (1976) Reconstruction of Proto-Tsouic phonology. Tokyo: Study of languages and cultures of Asia and Africa monograph series N° 5.

Wolff, John U. (2010) Proto-Austronesian phonology with glossary. 2 vols. Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia program publications.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Southern Austronesian lexical innovations," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 07/05/2020, https://stan.hypotheses.org/875.

Conflated cognate sets in the STEDT II — ‘to spit’

This post continues a previous one on the ST word for ‘excrement’ (here) as represented in the STEDT database.

The STEDT set #601 PTB *m/s-tu:k SPIT (here) is another example of a STEDT etymon conflating two phonetically and semantically similar cognate sets. One has vowel *u (column I in the below table), the other has *a (column II). The form with *u is reflected in e.g. Lushai thuk ‘to spit’, Lepcha tyuk id. Dulong duʔ⁵⁵ ‘vomit’; the etymon with *a by Lushai chhâk ‘to spit’, Atong dak id., Tangkhul (khā) tok ‘mucus’; perhaps also by Nocte a tʰoak ‘to spit’, Chang Naga tok id.

Some Lushai etyma with initial chh- [tsh-] reflect an earlier root initial *t- in a specific condition, perhaps when prefixed with *s- (compare the STEDT reconstructions PTB *s-twak ‘go out’, *s-tu ‘vagina’, Lushai chhuak, chhu). Lushai chh- also corresponds to Old Chinese *t- in chhûng ‘the inside of anything’, OC 中 trjuwng < *truŋ ‘center’.

Thus Lushai chhâk ‘to spit’ is likely from *[s-]ta:k, rather than from the first etymon. That word had earlier been made part of set #601: but it is now (June 2019) placed under #540 PTB *k(r)aːk phlegm / sputum / mucus. On the one hand that decision solves a problem with the vowel correspondence, since Lushai -âk could not plausibly reflect an earlier *-u(:)k; at the same time making chhâk a reflex of *k(r)a:k is phonologically unlikely because (1) that etymon is already present in Lushai, as khâk ‘phlegm’, and (2) there are no good parallels for Lushai chh– having evolved out of an earlier *kr-.

There is no clear semantic difference between the two sets. In Lushai, where both occur, the semantic difference appears to relate to the amount of saliva being spat out. The following glosses are extracted from Lorrain’s 1940 dictionary:

1) chhâk (p. 73) chhâk, v. to spit, to expectorate, to spit out, to spit on or upon, to spit at; to put out (as tongue).

2) thuk (p. 488) thuk, v. to spit, to expectorate; to spit out, to spit at, to spit on or upon. (Unless an intensive adverb is used with this word it generally signifies spitting a very small quantity of saliva.)

The second set is in all likelihood cognate with the Chinese word for ‘spit’: 吐 thuX/H < *tʰˤaʔ, *tʰˤaʔ-s. Sagart (2017) shows that one source of OC *-ʔ is PST *-q, which merges with *-k outside of Sinitic.

We are thus able to posit a PST monosyllabic etymon #tʰaq ‘to spit’. That etymon in turn can be compared with PAN *untaq ‘to spit’ (Sagart 2005). The comparative picture is shown below:

Atong dak
Tangkhul (khā) tok  ‘mucus’
Old Chinese 吐 *tʰˤaʔ ‘to spit’
Proto-Austronesian *untaq ‘to spit’

Table 1: two etyma within the STEDT set #601 PTB *m/s-tu:k SPIT, with Chinese and Austronesian cognates.


Lorrain, J. Herbert (1940) Dictionary of the Lushai language. Calcutta : Asiatic Society.

Sagart, L. (2005) Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian: an updated and improved argument. In L. Sagart, R. Blench and A. Sanchez-Mazas (eds) The peopling of East Asia: Putting together Archaeology, Linguistics and Genetics, pp. 161-176. London: RoutledgeCurzon.

Sagart, Laurent (2017). A candidate for a Tibeto-Burman innovation. Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale 46, 101-119.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Conflated cognate sets in the STEDT II — ‘to spit’," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 26/06/2019, https://stan.hypotheses.org/324.

Conflated cognate sets in the STEDT I — ‘excrement’

I have elsewhere (Sagart 2006) pointed out that sound correspondences are a minor part of the grounds on which the cognate sets in Matisoff’s 2003 book were assembled, despite Matisoff’s anger (Matisoff 2007) when the point was made in print. The same applies to the cognate sets in STEDT, which are a more evolved state of those in the book. Granted, to some extent relying on educated guesses is unavoidable in cognatising a large number of related languages: however, the sound correspondences in Matisoff’s book, which are his most recent statement on ST phonological history, are not sufficient to distinguish between phonetically and semantically resemblant etyma in ST.

Consider the STEDT cognate set #572 *kləy ‘excrement’ (here). In several of the languages where this putative etymon is reflected, doublets appear. The most prominent type includes one form with a liquid in its onset (column I) and another without (column II). See table 1.

Kanauri (Sharma)s kli ‘urine’khə ‘shit’
Central Tsangla
le ‘intestines’khi chung ‘buttock’
Bodo (Bhat)bi klə́ ‘liver’bi kí ‘excrement of fish’
Mikir (Grüssner)mék-krí ‘tears’hī ‘feces / shit’
khrə¹¹ ‘body dirt’ci¹¹  ‘body dirt’
Newar (Genetti) ʈi (< kr-) ‘(ear)wax’khi  ‘shit’
Sunwar (Michailovsky)khriː ‘feces’kiː  ‘intestines’

Table 1: doublets in the STEDT cognate set #572 (accessed mid-may, 2019)

The differences in onsets and rhymes between the forms in the two columns are not explained anywhere in Matisoff (2003) or STEDT. They are not due to identified morphological processes applying on a single lexical root. We are dealing with two etyma: the first has an onset cluster, the second does not. Semantically the forms in the first column have more associations with ‘body dirt’ and those in the second column with ‘excrement’.

Taraon klɑi53, Proto-Northern Naga *C̥-kləy (French 1983), Written Tibetan lci < hlyi, Lepcha tə kli probably belong to the first etymon. Japhug Gyarong tɯ qe ‘excrement’ (Jacques 2015) probably belongs to the second: the Japhug onset cannot originate in a Cl-type cluster (Jacques, p.c.).

With the Chinese word 屎 MC syijX ‘excrement’, one source of MC sy- is OC *l̥-: if OC *l̥- itself can remount to PST *kl-, one seems to have a match to #kləy. However the Proto-Min initial for 屎 is *š-, which excludes OC *l̥-. An OC *l̥- would evolve to Proto-Min *tšh- (Baxter and Sagart 2014:93). Consequently, the Chinese word probably does not belong with the first etymon either. Baxter and Sagart reconstruct 屎 tentatively with a uvular initial, OC *[qʰ]ijʔ. None of the other sources of MC sy-: OC *s.t-, *n̥-, *ŋ̊-, *l̥-, are plausible in this word. Thus 屎 OC *[qʰ]ijʔ probably belongs to the second etymon, like Japhug Gyarong tɯ qe.

The first etymon, with the lateral cluster and ‘body dirt’ semantics, is best compared with Chinese 尸 *l̥əj ‘corpse’, via the notion of ‘carrion’.

The second etymon can be compared with Proto-Austronesian (Blust) *Caqi ‘excrement’. There are reasons within Austronesian to think that this word ended in a laryngeal or back-of-the-mouth fricative (here), although I am not sure anymore of the identity of that phoneme.

In my next post, I will discuss the STEDT *etymon #601 *m/s-tuːk ‘to spit’.


Baxter, William H. and Laurent Sagart. 2014. Old Chinese: a new reconstruction. New York: Oxford University Press.

French, Walter Thomas. 1983. Northern Naga: A Tibeto-Burman mesolanguage. New York, Univ., Diss. Ann Arbor : University Microfilms

Jacques, Guillaume. 2015. Dictionnaire Japhug-chinois-français 嘉绒-汉-法词典 Version 1.0.

Matisoff, J. A. 2003. Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.

Matisoff, J. A. 2007. Response to Laurent Sagart’s review of Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and philosophy of Sino-Tibetan reconstruction. Diachronica 24,2: 435–444.

Sagart, L. 2006. Review: James A. Matisoff (2003) Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman. System and philosophy of Sino-Tibeto-Burman Reconstruction. Diachronica 23,1: 206-223.

Is 袁 yuán ‘long robe’ a ghost word?a response to Guillaume Jacques

In a comment on a post of Guillaume Jacques’s I cited the word 袁 yuán ‘long robe’ as being cognate with Tibetan གོན་ gon “clothing”. This drew a response from Guillaume, from which I extract these passages:

“l’étymologie avec 袁 est difficilement acceptable philologiquement: la glose que tu cites « long robe » est la traduction de celle du shuowen 长衣貌, mais ce mot supposé est sans attestation textuelle (无书证); les dictionnaires ne citent que les gloses de dictionnaires: http://www.guoxuedashi.com/kangxi/pic.php?f=gxhz&p=2055”


“Je pense que l’on ne peut pas utiliser de mots dont l’existence même n’est pas assurée pour faire du comparatisme (en plus quand bien même il aurait existé, la glose X貌 suggère qu’il devait plutôt s’agir d’un idéophone, pas d’un nom).”

Real words do not always occur in the received literature; for instance the Cantonese and Hakka popular word for “egg” has no early Chinese text occurrences, yet it corresponds well to the word “egg” in other ST languages (Baxter and Sagart 2014:324).

Specifically with regard to 袁:

The same word appears written as 褑 and 褤 in the Ji Yun 集韻 with the spelling 于元切= hjwon,and the gloss 衣也 “clothing”. The Ji Yun here is not citing the Shuo Wen, since the characters and the gloss wording are different.

The Shuo Wen itself which says “袁, 长衣貌也” is not citing an earlier dictionary/word list either, since there is no earlier attestation of the character, and the Shuo Wen is the first Chinese dictionary.

Dialectally the word is attested. Huang Kan 黄侃 in his《蕲春语》wrote that a long robe is called 長褑 in his own dialect, noting that the word must be the same as 褑 in the Ji Yun.

Although there are no early text examples of 袁, the character is attested both paleographically and as the head of a phonetic series. It includes 衣 “clothing” and a hand.

There is, then, no reason to assume that 袁 is not a real word. The comparison to WT gon is not problematic.


Baxter, William H. and Laurent Sagart. 2014. Old Chinese: a new reconstruction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "Is 袁 yuán ‘long robe’ a ghost word?a response to Guillaume Jacques," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 08/11/2018, https://stan.hypotheses.org/237.