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Updated: 6/21/2020


Austronesian Comparative Dictionary


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*Samaq a plant: Lactuca indica Linn., and Sonchus oleraceus Linn.


PAN     *Samaq a plant: Lactuca indica Linn., and Sonchus oleraceus Linn.

Pazeh samaa plant: Sonchus oleraceus Linn.
  sama binayua plant, Lactuca indica, used to reduce fever (binayu = ‘mountain, forest’)
Thao shamaqlow-lying plant with purple berries and long soft leaves that are boiled and eaten for their antifebrile properties: Lactuca indica
Bunun (Takituduh) samaqa plant, Lactuca indica
Kanakanabu samaʔəplant sp.: Lactuca indica
Rukai (Budai) samaplant sp.: Lactuca indica
Kavalan samicommon sow thistle: Sonchus oleraceus Linn.
Amis samaʔtender edible greens which look somewhat like dandelions
Paiwan samaqan herb: Lactuca indica

Note:   Also Seediq (Tkdaya) sama balay, Tsou samaka, Saaroa samaʔə. This comparison was first noted by Li (1994).


*Samud a plant, sesame: Sesamum indicum


PAN     *Samud a plant, sesame: Sesamum indicum

Saisiyat ʃamorsesame: Sesamum indicum
Kavalan samuzsesame: Sesamum indicum

Note:   Since most varieties of sesame are native to subsaharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent, the antiquity of sesame in Taiwan is unclear. Nonetheless the forms given here exhibit regular sound correspondences, are glossed ‘sesame’ in both sources, and appear to be directly inherited in both languages. It is possible that the referent is a similar plant which is yet to be botanically identified.


*Sanaq river otter


PAN     *Sanaq river otter

Thao shanaqriver otter
Kavalan saniotter
Paiwan sanaqotter

Note:   It is unclear whether this word originally referred to sea otters, river otters or both. Within recorded history sea otters have not extended as far south as Taiwan, so our best guess is that *Sanaq referred exclusively to river otters.


*Sawiki betel nut: nut of Areca catechu


PAN     *Sawiki betel nut: nut of Areca catechu

Thao shawikithe betel palm, Areca catechu; the nut of this palm, commonly chewed as a refreshment
Bunun savikiareca palm and nut; betel nut
Rukai (Mantauran) savikiareca palm and nut; betel nut
Paiwan savikiAreca catechu (tree and nut)
  pu-savikiengaged to be married, betrothed (Western dialect)
Hoanya abikiareca nut

Note:   Also Hoanya abiki, Siraya aviki, Rukai (Tona) θaviki ‘areca nut’. The history of betel chewing in South and Southeast Asia is complex, and the details remain to be fully worked out (Zumbroich 2008). In attested Austronesian-speaking societies from Taiwan to the western Pacific the fruit of the areca palm is chewed as a mild stimulant, either by individuals alone or as part of a social ‘lubricant’, in some cases connected with formal events such as wedding engagements. More exactly, what is chewed is the betel quid, a packet consisting of an outer leaf wrapping the nut and a small quantity of lime made by crushing the shells of marine molluscs or coral. In Taiwan the practice has spread in recent centuries to the Han Chinese community, who must have learned it from the native populace. This word was replaced in PMP by *buaq.

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*Seked stop an activity, take a break, rest


PAN     *Seked stop an activity, take a break, rest

Pazeh mu-seketto rest, to stop
  ta-seked-i na!Let’s rest
Paiwan s<m>ekezto stop, rest
Paiwan (Western) pa-sekezto cause to stop (as automobile); to cause to rest
Paiwan sa-sekez-ana resting place beside a trail

Note:   Also Kavalan tqez ‘to stop, to rest for awhile when walking’.


*Seŋad to breathe


PAN     *Seŋad to breathe

Basai suŋa-suŋalto breathe
Kavalan seŋazto breathe
Puyuma əŋadbreathe


PAN     *S<um>eŋad to breathe

Puyuma m-əŋadto breathe

Note:   Also Puyuma aŋaɖ ‘a breath’, aŋaɖ-an ‘windpipe, bronchial tubes’.

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*Sidi Formosan serow, mountain goat


PAN     *Sidi Formosan serow, mountain goat

Saisiyat ʃiriwild goat, serow
Thao sisinative wild goat, the Formosan serow: Capricornis crispus swinhoei Gray; domesticated goat
Bunun sidigoat
Basai siligoat
Kavalan sizigoat
Amis sirigoat
Puyuma sirigoat
Paiwan sizinative wild goat, the Formosan serow: Capricornis crispus swinhoei Gray


*Sijap broom


PAN     *Sijap broom

Kavalan sinapbroom
Puyuma idapbroom (Ting 1978)

Note:   Ting (1978) cites the Puyuma form in the Pinaski, Ulibulibuk, Kasabakan and Katipul dialects, but Tsuchida (1980) does not give it for the Tamalakaw dialect, nor does Cauquelin (2011) give it for Nanwang Puyuma.


*Sikad ashamed; shy


PAN     *Sikad ashamed; shy

Pazeh sikatashamed, shy
Kavalan sikazshy, ashamed
  paq-sikazcause to be ashamed, shy or bashful
  qaq-sikazeasily ashamed, shy or bashful


PAN     *ma-Sikad ashamed; shy; modest

Pazeh ma-sikatashamed; shy; reserved, modest
Kavalan m-sikazpolite; shy

Note:   This form appears to be synonymous with PAn *ma-Siaq ‘shy, ashamed’. So far no way has been found to distinguish these two reconstructions semantically.


*Sina a plant: Erechtites spp.


PAN     *Sina a plant: Erechtites spp.

Atayal (Mayrinax) sinaa plant: Erechtites spp.
Saisiyat (Taai) ʃinaɁa plant: Erechtites spp.
Rukai (Budai) la-sia-sinaa plant: Erechtites spp.

Note:   According to Merrill (1954:132) this plant is an introduction from the Americas, raising questions about the referent of *Sina. However, several species of Erechtites are known in the central and southern Philippines, where they are designated by native terms unrelated to this reconstruction (Madulid 2001). The comparison cited here was first noted by Li (1994:259), who reconstructed ‘Proto-Formosan’ *sina.


*SipuR to count


PAN     *SipuR to count

Thao shupilh <Mto count; read, study, learn
Bunun ma-sipulto count; study, learn
Paiwan supusum, amount, number
  ki-suputo read
  s<m>upu <Ato count, reckon

Note:   Thao shupilh was also recorded as cupish and lhupish (Blust 2003:350). It is assumed that the Thao form shows metathesis of the vowels, and Paiwan supu shows assimilation of the first vowel to the second. Other than this the correspondences are regular, and there is no compelling reason to believe that this is a loan distribution. PAn *SipuR was replaced in PMP by *ihap.


*SiSiN omen bird: Alcippe spp.


PAN     *SiSiN omen bird: Alcippe spp.

Seediq (Truku) sisilpetite bird relied on by the Taroko people to foretell luck or misfortune by its flight or its call in all activities that require travel (Pecoraro 1977); it is an omen of bad luck if it flies horizontally in front of people who are on the way to work or hunt, and they will consequently return home. However, if it flies vertically ---especially on the right hand side, they can proceed on their way (Apay Tang, p.c.)
Saisiyat ʃiʃilomen bird (gives bad omens)
Pazeh sisilomen bird, Gray-eyed Nun Babbler, Alcippe morrisonia
Kavalan sisinhwamei, bird sp., Garrulax canours
Paiwan (Western) sisilʸGould’s Quaker-Thrush, Alcippe brunnea brunnea Gould; an important omen bird. Flying from right to left means taboo; heard with tjiḍir [small brown omen bird] it means ‘you will eat pork’.

Note:   This intriguing comparison shows that omen birds, which played a role in the cultures of many documented Austronesian-speaking societies, already had a similar function in PAN society (as they did among the classical Romans). The exact referent of this term remains unclear, although it evidently included birds of the genus Alcippe (thrushes), and its cultural significance apparently was to give warning of the possible negative consequences of engaging in some planned activity.

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*Suaw yawn


PAN     *Suaw yawn   [doublet: *Suab]

Pazeh [suaw]yawn
Thao [shuaw]yawn
Paiwan [suaw]yawn


PAN     *ma-Suaw to yawn

Pazeh ma-suawto yawn
Thao ma-shua-shuawto yawn
Paiwan me-suawto yawn

Note:   Also Bunun su-sua ‘to yawn’. Unlike the doublet *Suab, which occurs as an unaffixed base in many languages, to date reflexes of *Suaw have been found only in affixed forms. I have supplied the base form in square brackets to show that the PAn word almost certainly was *Suaw.


*SulSul to masturbate


PAN     *SulSul to masturbate

Pazeh pa-surusurto masturbate
Kavalan sussurto masturbate
  s<m>ussurto masturbate

Note:   For another example of the development of medial geminates in Kavalan from earlier heterorganic consonant clusters in reduplicated monosyllables cf. PAn *tastas > Kavalan tattas ‘rent, ripped’.


*SuReNa snow


PAN     *SuReNa snow

Thao ulhzasnow, ice, frost
Kavalan suRnasnow, ice, frost
  s<m>uRnato snow
Puyuma urlasnow
Puyuma (Tamalakaw) uRlasnow
Paiwan sulʸaice, snow
  s<m>ulʸato freeze; to snow

Note:   Also Pazeh hahela ‘snow’. Given the origin of the Austronesian languages on Taiwan it is clear that speakers of PAn experienced snow and ice and so had a term to designate these referents. On leaving Taiwan and moving ever further into the tropics and then eastward into the Pacific snow and ice were not encountered again until speakers of Eastern Polynesian languages reached New Zealand and Hawaii many centuries later, at which time new terms had to be innovated.

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