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Updated: 6/21/2020


Austronesian Comparative Dictionary


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*baCaR broomcorn millet: Panicum miliaceum


PAN     *baCaR broomcorn millet: Panicum miliaceum

Proto-Atayalic *basagmillet
Saisiyat (Taai) basaLsmall variety of millet
Agutaynen batala kind of round grain which can be mixed with rice (it is good for making bibingka cakes, and is also fed to chickens)

Note:   Also Malay batari ‘Andropogon sorghum’. The following more restricted reconstructions have been proposed: Proto-Central Philippines *batad ‘a plant: Andropogon sorghum’ (Zorc 1979:43), "Proto-Indonesian *bataD ‘grain sp., millet’ (Mills 1981:65). In addition, Mills notes the material earlier assembled by Heyne (1950). The correct interpretation of the shape and meaning of this comparison is due to Laurent Sagart (p.c.).


*bajiw edible mushroom sp.


PAN     *bajiw edible mushroom sp.

Kavalan baniwmushroom (generic)
Amis faniwmushrooms
Puyuma baliwsmall mushroom that grows in the fields; Puyuma say that it is delicious
Paiwan vadiwedible mushroom sp.

Note:   Based on data from Puyuma, Kavalan and Amis, Li (1994) posited ‘Proto-Southern Formosan *baɬiw’ (= *baNiw). However, Paiwan vadiw cannot be reconciled with this reconstruction.


*baki₂ grandfather


PAN     *baki₂ grandfather   [doublet: *aki]

Seediq bakigrandfather
Saisiyat bakigrandfather
Kavalan baqigrandfather (add.), grandson
Amis fakigrandfather (Ferrell 1969); uncle (the authoritiy figure in the home for giving instructions; Fey 1986)
Hoanya vakigrandfather


*bali₃ wind


PAN     *bali₃ wind

Saisiyat (Taai) baLiɁwind
Pazeh bariwind
Favorlang/Babuza barriwind
Thao fariwind
  min-farito blow, of the wind
Kavalan bariwind
Amis faliwind
Siraya varewind
Puyuma variwind
Paiwan valiwind, air
Papora variwind
Basai vatsiwind
Trobiawan vatsiwind


PAN     *ma-bali₁ windy

Pazeh ma-bariblow, of the wind
Thao ma-fariwindy
Paiwan ma-valiwind-blown
Hoanya ma-baliwindy (glossed as ‘wind’ in Tsuchida 1982)

Note:   This was clearly the PAn word for ‘wind’, and was replaced in PMP by *haŋin, a form that is widespread throughout the Austronesian language family outside Taiwan.


*baliw₃ buy, sell


PAN     *baliw buy, sell

Seediq m-balibuyer, seller
  səm-balibuy and sell; conduct commerce
Saisiyat (Taai) baLiwbuy
Pazeh bariw-ibuy it!
  muxi-bariwto sell
Thao fariwbuy
Kavalan baliwsell


PAN     *b<um>aliw buy

Seediq malibuy, sell
Pazeh mu-bariwto buy


*baŋaS a tree: Melia azedarach


PAN     *baŋaS a tree: Melia azedarach

Saisiyat baŋaʃa tree: Melia azedarach
Tsou fŋosəa tree: Melia azedarach
Kanakanabu vaŋasa tree: Melia azedarach
Kavalan baŋasa tree: Melia azedarach
Amis faŋasChinaberry tree: Melia azedarach
Rukai (Tanan) baŋásəa tree: Melia azedarach
Paiwan vaŋasa tree: Melia azedarach
  lʸa-vaŋasthistle plant, Bidens pilosa
Paiwan (Western) v<n>aŋasto thunder in winter (? a sign that vaŋas are budding)

Note:   This comparison was first proposed by Tsuchida (1976:235). Li (1994) posits ‘Proto-Formosan’ *baŋasMelia azedarach’ for what he evidently intended as *baŋaʃ.


*baŋeS skin


PAN     *baŋeS skin

Saisiyat baŋəʃanimal skin
Amis faŋesskin
Amis (Kiwit) vaŋesskin

Note:   Although it is sometimes assumed, following Dempwolff (1938), that PAn *kuliC meant ‘skin’ (e.g. Tsuchida 1976:225-26, Zorc 1995:1185), this word apparently referred to the peelings of fruits and tubers, and only shifted semantically to ‘skin, bark’ in PMP. The present form, which has previously been completely overlooked even though the Saisiyat and Amis forms appear on the same page in Ferrell (1969:237), appears to be a better PAn candidate for the meaning ‘skin’, since borrowing offers a poor alternative to common inheritance. Like a number of other PAn reconstructions, both those with reflexes confined to Formosan languages and those with reflexes in Formosan and MP languages, this comparison attests the high level of linguistic diversity within Taiwan, which has led to some inferrable PAn forms being retained in only one or two Formosan languages.


*baŋun the Japanese cypress: Chamaecyparis obtusa


PAN     *baŋun₁ the Japanese cypress: Chamaecyparis obtusa

Taokas banuncypress tree
Kavalan baŋunironwood: Casuarina equisetifolia; swamp oak; Japanese cypress: Chamaecyparis obtusa


*baqeSiŋ sneeze


PAN     *baqeSiŋ sneeze

Basai basiŋto sneeze
Kavalan bassiŋto sneeze
  ma-bassiŋto sneeze
Paiwan vaqesiŋa sneeze
  v<n>aqesiŋto sneeze (when one sneezes he should say ‘palisi’ [taboo] and if going somewhere he should return home)


*baRaŋ rib (?)


PAN     *baRaŋ rib (?)

Bunun balaŋrib
Tsou farŋərib
Proto-Rukai *baraŋəbelly
Paiwan vaŋ-vaŋchest cavity (anatomical)

Note:   Also Thao falhán ‘rib’, with irregular final stress. The meaning of *baRaŋ is unclear. While it evidently referred to a part of the body that included the region of the thoracic cavity, it is in competition with the better-supported PAn *tageRaŋ in the meaning ‘ribcage’. This comparison was first brought to my attention by Laurent Sagart.


*baRat₂ cucumber: Cucumis sativus


PAN     *baRat₂ cucumber: Cucumis sativus

Pazeh baxatcucumber
Siraya vagatcucumber

Note:   Reflexes of *baRat appear to be restricted to these two languages, and the term was replaced in PMP by *qatimun/katimun. This comparison was first noted by Li (1994).

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*benan deer of the genus Cervus, either the sika deer or sambar deer


PAN     *benan deer of the genus Cervus, either the sika deer or sambar deer

Pazeh benandeer with white spots on the body, (thus the Formosan sika deer: Cervus nippon taiouanus Blyth)
Paiwan venandeer (gen.); Cervus unicolor swinhoei
Favorlang/Babuza binnandeer

Note:   The referent of PAn *benan was clearly distinct from the muntjac or barking deer (PAn *sakeC), but the two witnesses for which we have explicit glosses differ in which of the two larger Cervidae they indicate. This term thus served either as the name for both the sika and sambar deer, or as one of the two that cannot be determined from the available evidence.


*beNbeN banana: Musa sapientum L.


PAN     *beNbeN banana: Musa sapientum L.

Seediq bələbulbanana
Pazeh belebelbanana
Thao fizfizbanana
Bunun bunbunbanana
Kanakanabu ta-bunəbunəbanana
Saaroa ta-bəlhəbəlhəbanana
Proto-Rukai *bələbələbanana
Siraya bulbilbanana tree
Puyuma belbelbanana
Paiwan velʸvelʸbanana
Hoanya bulbulbanana

Note:   Based on Basai, Trobiawan puti ‘banana’ and cognates in Malayo-Polynesian languages reaching as far east as Fiji Wolff (2010) suggests that only PAn *puti can be reconstructed in the meaning ‘banana’. This inference runs against the observation that reflexes of *beNbeN are found in at least some members of every primary branch of Austronesian that is represented in Taiwan (Atayalic, Northwest Formosan, Western Plains, Bunun, Tsouic, Rukai, Puyuma, Paiwan, East Formosan), making this a far stronger candidate.

It must be kept in mind that the Spanish were present in the Taipei basis from 1626-1642, and left loanwords such as baka ‘cow’ (< Span. vaca) and paskua ‘New Year’s Day’ (< Span. Pascua ‘Easter’) in Kavalan. Since the Spanish came to Taiwan from Manila and almost certainly brought Filipinos with them, the typical Malayo-Polynesian words for ‘banana’ in Basai and Trobiawan probably are best attributed to borrowing of a form like Pangasinan punti ‘banana’. Alternatively (since reflexes of PMP *punti are rare in the Philippines, and absent from Tagalog), it is conceivable that both *beNbeN and *puti were found in PAn, the first as a generic term for Musa spp. and the second as the designation for a particular banana species or variety that expanded its field of reference and acquired a preconsonantal medial nasal in PMP. As with other reduplicated monosyllables, it is assumed that the medial consonant cluster in this word was broken up by schwa epenthesis in the separate histories of several Formosan languages, a hypothesis that is further supported by the occurrence of a word-final schwa in Rukai and the Tsouic languages Kanakanabu and Saaroa, which do not permit unambiguous final consonants.


*beRuS a plant: Rhus semialata


PAN     *beRuS a plant: Rhus semialata

Thao flhusha plant with erect yellowing flowerets and dark green leaves that are used to cover the rice during the fermentation stage of wine-making : Rhus semialata Murr. var. roxburghiana DC
Rukai (Budai) bosoRhus semialata Murr. var. roxburghiana DC
Paiwan vusRhus semialata var. roxburghiana (leaves used as soap)

Note:   Part of this comparison was first noted by Li (1994) who, however, was unable to achieve an adequate reconstruction.

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*biliN to follow after someone, walk behind


PAN     *biliN to follow after someone, walk behind

Saisiyat biLilfollow
Paiwan vililʸbe behind (when moving)
  tja-i-vililʸbehind; afterwards
  ki-tja-vililʸto follow after
Paiwan (Western) ma-tja-tja-vililʸgoing along in file
Tsou ua-frihithe last
Kanakanabu pari-vii-viínito follow
Saaroa pari-vaa-vililhito follow
Rukai (Mantauran) ʔau- viliɭito follow

Note:   Tsuchida (1976:141) proposed ‘Proto-Hesperonesian’ *biliN, comparing these Formosan forms with Philippine forms such as Itbayaten vilin ‘request, order, command, message, instruction’, ma-milin ‘leave behind’, Hanunóo bílin ‘order, request, requisition, command’, Hiligaynon bílin ‘request, last words’, mag-bílin ‘to enjoin, to leave behind’, and Cebuano bílin ‘leave something behind; for a wife to be left pregnant when her husband dies’; one’s turn to be left behind; words, orders left by someone; someone who stays behind’, bílin ug púluŋ ‘leave word , pa-bílin ‘stay behind; remain in the same way’. These forms may all belong to a single cognate set, but until clearer evidence of a connection between them emerges they are treated here as distinct.

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*bukuN back (anat.)


PAN     *bukuN back (anat.)

Pazeh bukul ~ bukunback (anat.)
Tsou fʔuhuback (anat.)

Note:   This form is in competition with the better-attested PAn *likud for the meaning ‘back (anatomical)’. Whatever semantic nuance may have distinguished these terms remains unclear.


*bula₂ to give


PAN     *bula₂ to give

Papora bulato give
Kavalan burato give; to pay
  pa-burato ask for something
  sa-bura-nsomething to be given

Note:   Although this comparsion appears to be both phonologically and semantically straightforward it is in competition with the far better-supported *beRay, and so may be a product of convergent innovation.


*bunuR₁ to swell; swollen


PAN     *bunuR₁ to swell; swollen

Pazeh bunuxswell
Kavalan bunurswell


PAN     *ma-bunuR to swell; swollen

Pazeh ma-bunuxto swell; swollen (of a boil or tumor); to boast
Kavalan m-bunurto swell (body part, other)


*bunuS machete


PAN     *bunuS machete

Thao funushbush knife, machete; knife with a blade that is 25-30 cm. long and slightly curved at the tip. It is taken to the fields, on hunting trips, etc.
Amis fonosmachete

Note:   The antiquity of this form is uncertain, as it appears to imply the use of metal to forge tools. To date it is known only in Thao and Amis, which is both an asset and a liability for the reconstruction. The liability arises from its relatively weak attestation, but the asset arises from the unlikelihood of borrowing between languages that are not in contact, or have been in contact within the recorded past.


*buRay flower


PAN     *buRay flower

Saisiyat (Taai) boLayfruit
Paiwan (Southern) bua-buayflower

Note:   Also Atayal buay ‘fruit’, Kavalan muray ‘flower’. This comparison was first proposed by Dyen (1995:486), who commented that the loss of *R in Atayal “is one of a small number of such instances.” If valid, I assume that *buRay meant ‘flower’, since PAn *buaq ‘fruit’ is far better supported.

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Austronesian Comparative Dictionary, web edition
Robert Blust and Stephen Trussel
2010: revision 6/21/2020
email: Blust (content) – Trussel (production)