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Updated: 6/21/2020


Austronesian Comparative Dictionary

Cognate Sets


Na    Ne    Ni    Nu    














*Na₁ conjunction: and


PAN     *Na₁ conjunction: and

Tsou hoand
Saaroa ɬaand (things, but not people)
Proto-Rukai *laand


PMP     *na₅ conjunction: and

Tboli neand
Maloh na-naand
Tae' naand (iko na aku ‘you and I/me’)
Buginese naand
Makassarese naand
Leti naand
Tubetube naand, so, but
Babatana (Avasö) naand
Sengga naand
'Āre'āre naand
Sa'a nacopulative, and

Note:   Cf. Tsuchida (1976:11) Proto-Rukai-Tsouic *ɬa ‘and’. Mills (1975:784) proposes PAn *(n)a, but cites forms only from Sulawesi. Given the brevity of this form, as well as other CV competitors for this meaning that are nearly as well-attested, the similarity of forms outside the Tsouic subgroup may be a product of chance.


*Na₂ already


PAN     *Na₂ already

Basai naalready
Trobiawan (kuman) naalready
Pazeh laalready


PMP     *na₄ already

Itbayaten nanow, already
Kapampangan nanow, already
Tagalog nanow; already; soon; about to
Remontado naalready, now
Bikol naalready; yet; ever (nagháliʔ na siyá? ‘Has she already gone?’ or ‘Has she gone yet?’)
Romblomanon nanow, already
Masbatenyo naparticle: already, now (Adi na sinda ‘They are here already’)
Aklanon naparticle showing that an action has begun and/or is enduring; now, already, just
Waray-Waray nadenotes completion of development; already
Hiligaynon naalready, still, yet (Alás dos na ‘It is already two o’clock’)
Cebuano naparticle following the first word of the predicate, now [so-and-so] is the case by now, will be the case by a certain point of time; (with commands and exhortations) [do] now!; ayaw na ‘Stop (doing)! Enough!
Subanon naalready
Tiruray nathen; yet
Mapun nanow (indicates the arrival of the time of an expected event or the attainment of an expected state, or indicates that before the situation was different but now it has changed; already (indicates the occurrence of an event or the attainment of a state sooner than expected)
Tausug nasignals the arrival of the time of an expected event or the attainment of an expected state: now; signals the occurrence of an event or the attainment of a state sooner than expected: already
Kadazan Dusun noalready, grammatical particle
Labuk-Kinabatangan Kadazan -noalready, no longer, not anymore, now (particle with negatives)
Kelabit nəhalready
Asilulu naa particle indicating finality (weu na ‘I’ll be going then’)
Mbula nathen (Sombe yaŋ isu, na ko nio aŋma som [FUT rain 3sg. fall, then IRR 1sg 1sg.come NEG] ‘If it rains, then I won’t come to you’)

Note:   Also Yami rana ‘already’, Itbayaten dana ~ rana ‘already, now’, Pangasinan la ‘already’. The resemblance of the Asilulu and Mbula forms to the others cited here may be a product of chance.


*Nabek breakers, surf, waves


PAN     *Nabek breakers, surf, waves

Paiwan lʸaveksea, ocean


PMP     *nabek breakers, surf, waves

Subanon nabokwave at sea, breaker on shore
Palauan lábəktime of large ocean swells and strong current; large ocean swells accompanied by strong current
Chamorro napuwave, rough water, surf
Hawu nawasurf, wave of sea
Selaru nahato flow


POC     *napok breakers, surf, waves

Lau nafosurf, wave of sea
Sa'a nahosurf, wave
Arosi nahosurf, waves on the beach
Gilbertese naowaves, billows, breakers
Puluwat wave, to be many waves, as in a strong sea
Lakona nawwave
Raga nafowave

Note:   Also Rotinese nafa (expected **nafe) ‘wave, waves’.


*NaCeŋ vegetables


PAN     *NaCeŋ vegetables

Amis dateŋgeneric term for vegetables; any kind of cooked food served except rice
  pisa-dateŋ-anvegetable garden
Hoanya lasənvegetables
Kanakanabu natə́ŋəvegetables
Saaroa lhatəŋəvegetables
Rukai (Budai) ɭacəŋəvegetables
Rukai (Mantauran) ɭacəŋəa vegetable: Solanum nigrum
Paiwan lʸatseŋvegetables, non-staple vegetal foods (cultigens or wild)
  lʸ<m>atseŋto prepare vegetable foods
  ki-lʸatseŋto pick plants for vegetables; to buy vegetables


PMP     *nateŋ vegetables

Itbayaten nateŋgathered vegetables
Ilokano natéŋvegetable
Agta (Dupaningan) nataŋvegetable
  i-nataŋcook vegetables
Ibaloy nateŋvegetables (said to be from Ilokano)
Bikol natóŋtaro leaves; taro

Note:   This comparison was first proposed by Tsuchida (1976:150).


*Nali cicada


PAN     *Nali cicada

Proto-Rukai *la-laLicicada
Maranao lalicicada

Note:   Although initial *N is rare, and there is thus little evidence to decide the matter, it appears that *N normally merged with *n in PMP. If so, Maranao lali is assumed to show a sporadic assimilation of the first consonant to the second.


(Formosan only)

*Namat iron (metal)


PAN     *Namat iron (metal)

Taokas tamatiron
Kavalan namatiron; weapon

Note:   This is a critically important comparison that should be considered in conjunction with *diNaŋ ‘rust’. According to Tsuchida (1982) in May, 1917 the form tamat was recorded by an unnamed Japanese colonial policeman from one of the last speakers of Taokas, which soon after became extinct. This material was then transferred to the pioneering Formosan linguist Naoyoshi Ogawa, where it remained in his notebooks until it was rediscovered in recent decades. No other reflex of *Namat is known, and there are essentially two reasonable explanations for this distribution. One is that the word is a loan from Taokas to Kavalan or vice-versa (or perhaps from an intermediate language that has since lost it, such as the inadequately known Liulang). Within modern times Taokas and Kavalan have not been in contact, and they are separated by a considerable mountain massif now peopled by speakers of Atayal However, there is some evidence that the Atayalic peoples have moved northward into their present territory within the past few centuries (Blust 1996:283-288), and it is thus possible that prior to the Atayal reaching their historically attested distribution the Taokas had a wider east-west territorial spread than they had when linguistic and ethnographic recording in this part of Taiwan began during the Japanese colonial period starting in 1895.

The second explanation, of course, is that these terms are simply the last relics of a word that was used by the original Austronesian settlers of Taiwan in the period 5,500-6,000 BP. Since known reflexes of *diNaŋ ‘rust’ are restricted to Saisiyat and Paiwan, where borrowing is effectively not an issue, this second explanation for reflexes of *Namat seems clearly to be favored. The issue of early Austronesian knowledge and possible use of iron has come up before in conjunction with a different set of comparisons (Blust 1976, 1999), with the strongest evidence pointing to a language ancestral to those in at least the Philippines and western Indonesia, but not Taiwan. The evidence for *diNaŋ ‘rust’ and *Namat ‘iron’ pushes the inferences for knowledge of iron back to the earliest stages of reconstructed history in the Austronesian language family. Given the predominant view among archaeologists and other scholars that use of the iron is a relatively late development in island Southeast Asia these linguistic comparisons are sure to come under fire. However, both comparisons are firmly established, and they provide two independent lines of evidence leading to the same conclusion. In discussing the material culture of the Formosan aborigines Chen (1988:146) rather matter-of-factly notes that “Spears are used by all tribes,” and he describes a wide variety of spears and harpoons, all of which have iron heads. He also notes that arrowheads were commonly made of iron, but he provides no information of any kind on metallurgy in general, or the process of making iron points for spears or arrows in particular, and we are not told whether the earliest Chinese reports on the aborigines noted that they were using iron-tipped arrows and spears. However, given the two independent pieces of linguistic evidence cited here it seems clear that anyone wishing to understand the culture history of the Austronesian-speaking peoples must give serious consideration to the possibility that iron was used on Taiwan for the manufacture of at least arrow and spear/harpoon heads from a far earlier time than is commonly accepted. Whether this continued after the Austronesian migration to the Philippines and beyond is a distinct question.

Finally, Saisiyat malat ‘knife’ may reflect this form with metathesis (*Namat > *maNat), a possibility suggested to me in correspondence by David Zorc.


*Naŋuy to swim


PAN     *Naŋuy to swim

Basai nanuyto swim
Trobiawan naŋuyto swim
Kavalan naŋuyto swim
Saisiyat laŋoyswim
Pazeh saa-laŋuybuoy; fins
Sakizaya mi-ðaŋuyto swim
Amis (Kiwit) mi-ɬaŋuyto swim
Tsou ruu-hŋuzuto swim
Kanakanabu m-aka-naŋúluto swim
Saaroa maka-ɬaŋoloto swim
Proto-Rukai *laŋoyswim
Puyuma laŋuyswim (according to some informants it is breaststroke)
  pa-la-laŋuymake something swim, let something swim
Paiwan ɬaŋuyto swim; to immerse one’s body in water (as to bathe)
  pa-ɬaŋuyto cause swimming or immersion


PMP     *naŋuy to swim

Agta (Dupaningan) mag-naŋoyto swim
Casiguran Dumagat naŋóyto swim
Ibaloy naŋoyswimming
  ma-neŋoygood swimmer
  man-naŋoyto swim
  naŋoy-anplace for swimming
  naŋoy-ento swim across something (as a river)
Ilongot (Kakiduge:n) naŋuyto swim
Moken naŋoyto swim
Dampelas naŋi-naŋito swim
Bare'e mo-naŋuto swim
  po-naŋuswimming place, manner of swimming
Mori Atas mo-naŋoito swim
Moronene no-naŋito swim
  mo-naŋito swim
Buginese naŋeto swim
Bonerate naŋuto swim
Popalia naŋu-naŋuto sport in the water
Chamorro næŋuto swim
Ngadha naŋuto swim
  naŋu tuato drink palm wine
Keo naŋuto swim
Palu'e naŋuto swim
Li'o naŋuto swim
Sika nanito swim, of people and animals; to drift, of objects
Lamaholot naŋeto swim
Adonara naŋeto swim
Kédang naŋito swim
Kodi ŋani <Mto swim
  ŋani <Mto swim
Waiyewa naŋito swim
Lamboya naŋito swim
Anakalangu ŋani <Mto swim
Kambera ŋeni <Mto swim
Hawu naŋi ~ naŋeto swim
Dhao/Ndao naŋito swim
Tetun nanito swim; to climb (of plants)
Erai nanito swim
Tugun nanito swim
Roma nanito swim
East Damar n-nanito swim
Leti nanito swim
Luang n-nanito swim
Wetan (ka)-nanito swim
Selaru r-nauto swim
Fordata r-naŋuto swim
Kei naŋto swim
Kola nanto swim
Ujir ai nento swim
W.Tarangan (Ngaibor) neŋto swim
Masiwang nakuto swim
Proto-Ambon *naŋuto swim
Hitu nanuto swim
Asilulu nanuto swim and dive around in fairly shallow water
  nanu-nanuto swim for some time
Buruese naŋoto swim


PAN     *N<um>aŋuy to swim

Kavalan m-naŋuyto swim
Saisiyat l<om>aŋoyto swim
Atayal (Mayrinax) l<um>aŋuyto swim
Proto-Atayalic *l<um>aŋuyto swim
Pazeh mu-laŋuyto swim
Siraya l<m>aŋoyto swim
Puyuma mə- laŋuyto swim
Paiwan ɬ<m>aŋuyto swim, bathe

Note:   Also Moken maŋoy, Chamorro ñæŋu ‘to swim’.


(Formosan only)

*Naqeji boundary between adjacent rice fields


PAN     *Naqeji boundary between adjacent rice fields

Pazeh laaziboundary
Paiwan (Southern) lʸa-lʸaqedi-anboundary between fields

Note:   Li and Tsuchida (2006) give Pazeh laazi < lazi ‘boundary’ without explanation, but the longer form seems clearly to be the more conservative of the two.


*Nasu cook by boiling


PAN     *Nasu cook by boiling     [doublet: *nasuk]

Paiwan lʸ-m-atuto boil (meat)
  ma-lʸatubecome boiled (meat)
  se-pa-lyatuto be boiled accidentally along with meat


PMP     *nasu cook by boiling     [doublet: *nasuk]

Uma -nahucook (in water)
Tae' nasucook, cooked
Buginese nasucooked
  man-nasuto cook
Wolio nasuto cook, boil
Kambera ma-nahuto cook, boil (meat, rice, lontar sap)
Rotinese nasuboil in water, cook
Tetun nasucooking of meat, vegetables, etc.
Leti nasuto cook
Wetan naito cookj
Dobel ʔa-nayto boil, cook by boiling
Motu nadu-acook by boiling
Halia nasto cook
Selau nascook

Note:   Given the Paiwan distinction between ly<m>atu ‘to boil (meat)’ and pi-natuk ‘to boil’, it is possible that PAn *Nasu referred specifically to the boiling of meat and that the doublet *nasuk referred to boiling of vegetables, or to boiling of food in general. Mills (1981) suggests ‘Proto-Indonesian’ *nasu( ) ‘to cook’, but cites no Formosan cognates.


*NataD outside


PAN     *NataD outside

Saisiyat lataroutside
Rukai (Budai) látaɖəoutside
Rukai (Tanan) latáɖəoutside
Proto-Rukai *lataɖəoutside


PMP     *natad cleared area around house, cleared ground in village

Bikol nátadthe front yard of a house
  ka-nátada neighbor
  mag-nátadto be neighbors
Masbatenyo nátadyard, courtyard, patio
Cebuano nátadyard of a house or building; sphere of work or activity
Kadazan Dusun natadcourtyard, house compound
Tombonuwo natadyard
Ida'an Begak natadyard
Lun Dayeh natada field; a resting place made along a jungle trek; weed or clear grass before planting
  natad rumaʔthe lawn or cleared area around a house
Lun Dayeh (Long Semado) natadfield
Kelabit natadopen ground near the longhouse where children like to play spinning tops
Toba Batak nataropen, clear, visible
Rejang nateutthe village square, an open space in the center of the village
Old Javanese natargrounds, yard (in front or around a building, house, temple, etc.); ground, surface of a piece of cloth on which the pattern is painted
Balinese natahthe complex surrounded by a wall, within which are the buildings constituting the family home; also the yard among the buildings
Rembong natarvillage; yard around a house; field
Kambera natarufront yard of a house, village square
Tetun natarrice paddy, a field (usually covered with water)
Yamdena natardance and gathering place, village square
Kei natatyard; bald part
Bugotu natalevel ground, a plain; to be level


POC     *natar space outside the village

Dobuan natalalarge uninhabited space between two villages

Note:   Also Malay latar ‘surface, background; prevailing color’ (< Javanese), Javanese latar ‘yard or grounds around a building; background color, field’. Balinese natah probably is a loan from Javanese that underwent subsequent sound change. This leaves only Toba Batak natar as possibly pointing to *nataD rather than *natad. The basic meaning of this term evidently was ‘cleared land in a village’ (as opposed to jungle/bush), with specific reference to the cleared area around a house, or the village square used as a meeting place. From that basic sense it evolved in some languages into terms referring cleared agricultural land (Tetun), or baldness (Kei). I assume that the gloss for Saisiyat latar is underspecified.


*Nayad a plant: Sambucus formosana


PAN     *Nayad a plant: Sambucus formosana

Saisiyat (Taai) layara plant: Sambucus formosana
Bunun (Takituduh) naðaʔa plant: Sambucus formosana
Puyuma layaɖa plant; as a medicine, the boiled leaves are used to wash young women who have given birth: Sambucus formosana

Note:   Based on these and several other non-corresponding forms Li (1994:253) proposed ‘Proto-Formosan’ *NayaDEbulus formosana, Sambucus formosana’.

TOP      Na    Ne    Ni    Nu    





*Neŋ look, see


PAN     *Neŋ look, see

Paiwan lʸeŋlook at
Maranao neŋobserve by sight; sight
Murik neŋface
Kayan i-neŋsee, look; face


*NeŋNeŋ stare, look fixedly


PAN     *NeŋNeŋ stare, look fixedly     [doublet: *teŋteŋ 'stare, look fixedly']

Amis neŋneŋto look, see
  neŋneŋ-enlook at someone or something
  ta-neŋneŋ-ansomething to look at and get an idea from
Paiwan lʸ-em-eŋlʸeŋto see
Casiguran Dumagat neŋneŋto stare (of the staring of an infant at what is before it)
Pangasinan neŋneŋlook at, see
Maranao neneŋsee, discern with the eye
Lundu nanaŋsee
Balinese neŋneŋgaze, stare at

Note:   With root *-Neŋ ‘ stare, look fixedly.’

TOP      Na    Ne    Ni    Nu    










(Formosan only)

*Nibu lair, den of an animal


PAN     *Nibu lair, den of an animal     [doublet: *Rubu]

Saisiyat libonest
Proto-Atayalic libuden, nest
Favorlang/Babuza sjibonest
Thao zifunest (of bird, termite), beehive
Paiwan lʸivuden or nest of rat or wild pig


(Formosan only)

*Nihib rock shelter, cave under a rock


PAN     *Nihib rock shelter, cave under a rock

Saisiyat ka-lhibcave under a rock
Amis dihifcave, den
Amis (Kiwit) ɬihivcave
Puyuma ilib <Mcave (Ting 1978); a cliff notch where human beings can rest (Cauquelin 2011)
Paiwan lʸivcavern, cave, den
  cu-a-lʸivplace where there are many caves (or rock overhangs)
Paiwan (Western) lʸivshelter under overhanging rock

Note:   Also Kavalan lihib ‘cave, ledge’, said to be a “loan from Amis lihib” (Li and Tsuchida 2006:143). This reconstruction is somewhat tentative, since the inclusion of Saisiyat ka-lhib depends on a morpheme division of somewhat dubious status, and without the Saisiyat form the word is attested only in languages that are geographically contiguous, hence raising the prospect of borrowing, a possibility that is strengthened by the apparent borrowing of a dialectal Amis form into Kavalan. In favor of maintaining the comparison, on the other hand, are the observation that medial consonant clusters in Saisiyat always reflect earlier sequences in which an intervening vowel has dropped, and the appearance of an unexplained ka- on a number of other nouns, as Saisiyat (Taai) ka-kliw (< *keRiw) ‘hemp’, kæ-ʔLor ‘pillar’ (< *qelud ‘main house post’, ka-sbol (< *CebuN) ‘smoke’, and ka-tboʃ (< *tebuS) ‘sugarcane’.

Given the specific agreements between Saisiyat and Paiwan (Western) the meaning seems clearly to have been ‘rock shelter, cave under an overhanging rock’ rather than simply ‘cave’. We can only wonder why such a feature of the natural landscape was deemed sufficiently important to be lexically encoded in a unique way, but it is possible that such natural shelters were frequently used by the indigenous population of hunter-gatherers (bearers of the palaeolithic Ch’angpinian archaeological culture) who were encountered by Austronesian-speakers when they arrived in Taiwan, and who disappeared from the island within centuries of that event.


*Nipis thinness (of materials)


PAN     *Nipis thinness (of materials)

Tsou hipsithin, flat


PMP     *nipis thinness (of materials)

Tagalog nipísthinness (as of a slice of cheese)
Hanunóo nipísthinness, referring to
Romblomanon ka-nipisthin (as the shell of a mollusk)
  ka-nipis-nīpisvery thin (as the shell of a mollusk)
Masbatenyo mag-nipísbecome thin (as overused cloth)
  pa-nipis-ánbe thinned (as lumber that is trimmed down for some purpose)
Aklanon nipísto become thin(ner), less thick
  pa-nípisto have a very close call (danger, death); to pass through a crowd or crowded area with great difficulty
Agutaynen nipitthin
  pa-nipit-ento make something thin (as cloth when weaving)
Hiligaynon mag-nipísto be thinner, to reduce in volume or thickness
  nipis-únto be thinner, to reduce in volume or thickness
Cebuano nipísthin, not thick (as the pages of a Bible); thin, scanty; become, make thin; do something on a scanty scale, thin something out (as hair)
  pa-nipíscome too close to another vehicle
  tag-nipísname given to various kinds of long and slender sardines and herrings
Maranao nipisthinness
  nipis-iflatten; to make thin (as wood by whittling)
Binukid nipis-acut it thin! (as in slicing meat)
Manobo (Western Bukidnon) nipisof flat objects, thin
Tiruray nifisthin, as paper
Mapun nipisthinness; slenderness (as of cloth, paper, human body)
  nipis-unto make something thin, make something thinner
Molbog nipisthin
Tausug nipisthinness, flimsiness, sleaziness
  mag-nipisto become thin or thinner
  n<um>ipisto become thin or thinner
  nipis-anto make (something) thinner, take away some thickness
Samal nipisthin
Tombonuwo o-nipisthin
  po-nipis-onto flatten, make thin
Murut (Tagol) a-nipisthin (materials)
Kelabit nipithin, of materials
Kayan ñipihthin (of an object), not of man or animals
Kayan (Uma Juman) ñipithin, of things
Ngaju Dayak ka-nipisthinness
  mampa-nipismake something thin(ner)
Tsat pi⁵⁵thin, of materials
Malay nipisthin; tenuous (skin of fruits, lips, paper)
  limau nipisthe common thin-skinned lime fruit, Citrus aurantiaca
Talaud nipithin
Gayō nipisthin (of materials)
Toba Batak nipisthin
  mar-nipisbecome progressively thinner
  pa-nipis-honmake something thin
Nias a-nifithin, flat; to ameliorate, as a debt
Mentawai nipithin, fine
Sundanese nipisthinly, poorly; become scanty or trifling
  nipis-aketo make thinner
Old Javanese a-nipisthin, weak; lithe, lissom, supple
Javanese jeruk nipissweet lime (from its thin skin)
Sasak nipisthin
Sangir nipiʔthin, flat, scarce, scanty
Bantik nípisiʔthin
Tonsea nipisthin
Tombulu nipisthin
Tontemboan nimpisthin
  n<um>impismake something thin
Mongondow i-nipit-aimake it thinner!
Totoli nipisthin (object)
Boano nipisthin (object)
Dampelas nimpisthin (object)
Balaesang nimpisthin (object)
Banggai ka-nipithinness
  maŋ-ka-nipimake something thin
Bare'e ka-nipithinness, flatness, fineness
Tae' nipiʔthin, flat
Proto-Bungku-Tolaki *nipiQthin (objects)
Buginese nipiʔthin (as cloth)
Makassarese nipisiʔthin, of flat objects; light, in the sense of not being of a serious nature
Wolio makolona nipilime (fruit; with thin skin)
Bonerate mo-nihithin
Muna nifithin (as sarong cloth)
Chamorro ka-nifesthin, flimsy, not thick, sheer
Bimanese nipithin
Komodo nipihthin (of boards, membranes)
Rembong nipisthin
Ngadha nipithin
  pipi nipithin cheeks
  nipi fécidelicate, thin, fine, beautiful
Rotinese niithin, fine, sheer, small; often a predicate of cloth
Helong nihisthin
  nihisthin (of materials)
Tugun nisthin
Hitu maniʔithin
Asilulu maʔusi nipiskind of lime
Gimán manifisthin
Luangiua maŋihithin


PAN     *ma-Nipis thin (of materials)

Kanakanabu ma-nípithin (of materials)
Saaroa ma-ɬipiithin (of materials)


PMP     *ma-nipis thin (of materals)

Sambal (Botolan) ma-nipihthin
Tagalog ma-nipísthin (as cloth, clouds in the sky); flimsy; light and thin
  ná-paka-nipísvery thin; sheer; almost transparent
  pa-nipis-ínto cause something to become thin
  n<um>ipísto become thin
  nipis-ánto make something thin
Hanunóo ma-nipísthin
Romblomanon ma-nipisthin (as the shell of a pearl oyster)
Masbatenyo ma-nipísthin, flimsy, sheer (as cloth)
Aklanon ma-nipísthin, narrow, not thick
Kalamian Tagbanwa ma-nipisthin
Agutaynen ma-nipitthin (as cloth)
Hiligaynon ma-nipísthin, reduced in volume
Palawan Batak ma-nipísthin
Maranao ma-nipisthin in dimension
Binukid ma-nipisthin, not thick (flat object)
Mansaka manipisthin (as paper or cloth)
Mapun ma-nipisthin; slender
Tausug ma-nipisthin (as person, book, pad of paper); (of cloth) flimsy, sleazy
Ngaju Dayak ma-nipisthin (as a board)
Malagasy ma-nifithin
Sangir ma-nipiʔthin, flat, scarce, scanty
Tontemboan ma-nimpisbecome thin
Mongondow mo-nipitthin, as the flesh of fruits
Banggai ma-nipithin
Bare'e ma-nipithin, flat, fine
Tae' ma-nipiʔthin, flat
Popalia mu-nihithin
Palauan mə-lilíutthin and flat; slender
Adonara me-nipithin
Kambera ma-nipihufine, of plaitwork (as a mat)
Hawu mənifine, thin
Dhao/Ndao manithin
Rotinese ma-niibecome thin
Atoni ma-nihisthin
Luang m-nihəthin
Kola manifithin
Soboyo manipithin, of flat objects
Kowiai/Koiwai manifi-nthin
Manam manipithin, fine
Hoava manivisithin
Nduke manivisithin
Roviana manivisithin in texture
Bugotu manivithin
Arosi manihithin
  haʔa-manihito make thin
  manihis-ito be thin from
Tikopia manifi-fithin
Woleaian malif(i)(to be) thin, lack thickness (as cloth)
Apma te-mnipnipthin
Atchin mi-menivnivthin (of materials)
Tongan manifithin, --- of board or paper, etc., but not of stick or thread; thin, sparse, --- of mist, forest, etc.
Futunan mānifithin (in thickness)
Samoan manifibe thin (as paper)
  faʔa-manifigrind, sharpen (as an axe); thinly
Tuvaluan manifithin
  maanifithin (emphatic)
Maori mānihinarrow, contract


POC     *manipi-nipis very thin

Arosi manihi-nihithin
Marshallese mānithin, flimsy (as clothing)
Pohnpeian menipi-nipthin, of flat objects as paper
Mokilese minip-nipthin
Woleaian malifi-lif(to be) thin, lack thickness (as cloth)
Carolinian málifi-lifthin, flimsy, flexible
Peterara manif-nifithin
Baetora manif-nifthin
Vinmavis i-malif-a-lifthin
Bonga manivi-nivthin
Tongan manifi-nificomparatively thin, especially thin, quite thin
  manifi-nifiʔaŋaplace or spot where it is thinnest; temples
Samoan mānifi-nifibe thin (as paper)
Tuvaluan manifi-nifithin (of many)
Rennellese manihi-nihitemple (above cheeks)
Anuta manipi-nipithin

Note:   Also Karo Batak me-nipes ‘be thin, as bamboo, paper, cloth)’, Kambera manipa ‘thin (as cloth)’, Fordata nifit ‘thin’. With root *-pis₂ ‘thin, tenuous; fine’. Although this term evidently referred to the thinness of flat objects in general, it is associated particularly often in sentence examples of the primary sources with woven cloth, and it appears likely that it was applied with very high frequency to describing fabric that was thinner than usual.

Tsuchida (1976) reconstructed PAn *Nix₁əpis ‘thin’, adding a syllable to account for the preconsonantal aspirate of Saisiyat lihpih-an ‘thin (as paper)’. However, numerous other words for this meaning contain a reflex of *-pis₂, as Pazeh halipit ‘thin’, Amis (Kiwit) kuhpits ‘thin’, Paiwan ɬusepit ‘be thin (as paper)’, Kavalan inpis ~ impis ‘thin (like paper)’, Yami ma-taripis ‘thin (as a board)’, Isneg iŋpít ‘thin, tenuous (paper, plates, strings, etc.)’, as well as others that mimic the same root, as with Bunun ma-nisbis ‘thin’ (Ferrell 1969), or Puyuma (Tamalakaw) a-RipiT ‘thin, as a board or the arm’. Given this rampant variation on a common theme there is no special reason to assume that Saisiyat lihpih-an reflects *Nipis rather than being just another innovation that contains a reflex of the root *-pis₂.


*NiSawa breath; to breathe


PAN     *NiSawa breath; to breathe

Kanakanabu ŋisaabreath
Saaroa m-uru-a-nia-niaato breathe
Siraya (Gravius) xinawabreath, inspiration
Siraya (Utrecht ms.) xinawabreath, inspiration


PMP     *nihawa breath; life force, breath soul; to breathe; breathe easily, feel comfort, be at ease, have ‘breathing room’; to rest, take a break

Yami inawa-(n)breath
  ŋ-inawa-(ji)to breathe
Itbayaten hinawabreath, respiration
Umiray Dumaget innawebreathe
  paŋ-innawebreath (Jason Lobel p.c.)
Sambal (Bolinaw) ináwabreath (Jason Lobel p.c.)
Pangasinan nawáhave sufficient space, time, etc.
  li-náwabreath; to breathe
Sambal (Tina) ina-náwabreath (Jason Lobel p.c.)
Sambal (Botolan) inawá-wənbreath (Jason Lobel p.c.)
Ayta Maganchi is-náwabreath
  maŋ-is-náwato breathe
  maŋ-ina-náwato breathe (Jason Lobel p.c.)
Kapampangan -ináwarest
  is-náwabreath (Bergaño 1860, Jason Lobel p.c.)
Tagalog gi-nháwaease; comfort; prosperity; wealth; freedom from pain, poverty, trouble, etc.; life of ease; convenience; consolation received, rest, respite, quiet; freedom from anything that tires, troubles, disturbs or pains
Bikol gi-nháwabreath, respiration
  mag-gi-nháwato breathe
Romblomanon gi-nhāwasomeone’s physical condition; someone’s breathing
Aklanon gi-nháwabreath, health
  gi-nháwa(h)to breathe
Waray-Waray gi-nháwato breathe
  ma-gi-nháwacomfortable, satisfied, contented
  ka-gi-nhawa-anthe act of living an easy or comfortable life
Hiligaynon gi-nháwabreath, respiration
  mag-gi-nháwato breathe, to take in air
Cebuano gi-nháwabreath; appetite for eating; one’s feelings
Maranao g-inawabreath; self
  g-inawa-anwindpipe, trachea, nostril
  g-inawa-ʔifriend, pal, chum
Binukid ga-hinawabreath; emotions; to breathe
Manobo (Western Bukidnon) ge-hinawato breathe; breath; center of the emotions; oneself
Mansaka g-inawabreath; self; life
Tiruray fere-nawaa hypostatized life force that causes life, hence breath
  fere-nawa-nanwork that has been interrupted while the worker pauses for a short rest
Mapun ñawaspirit of man or animal; the life principle which comes from God
  ñawa-lihansomething like one’s subconscious that is believed to leave and come back to one’s body while one is sleeping
Yakan niyawasoul, spirit, life principle (all living things --- humans, animals, plants --- are said to have niyawa; if a person is dead his niyawa has left; if sleeping his niyawalihan may wander about)
Tboli nawabreath; spirit; character; feelings
Tausug gi-nhawathe inner part of a person, spirit, the thinking, feeling part of a person (as distinguished from the body); mind, intellect; dignity, self-esteem
  mag-gi-nhawato have or behave with dignity
Kadazan Dusun g-inavoheart, mind, intellect, mood, feelings (seat of affections)
  ko-g-inava-anlove, affection
  g<um>-inavoto love, be fond of
Tombonuwo inawosoul
  mu-inawoto breathe
Bisaya (Limbang) bə-gə-naoto breathe
Iban ñawavoice, sound; mouth; life, existence, breath; hence rest, ‘breather’
Malay ñawalife; soul (in the Moslem sense); life or soul as a term of endearment; life in its association with the breath, and in the narrow sense of not being dead; soul in the sense that it can exist apart from the body
Gayō ñawasoul
Karo Batak nawalife, soul (archaic)
Sundanese ñawasoul; life; also a darling, someone who is adored
  ŋa-ñawaʔ-anto inspire
  ñawaʔ-anto have a soul, be possessed of a soul
Javanese ñawalife force (in living things); soul (immaterial part)
Balinese ñawasoul
Sasak ñawasoul that departs from the body in the afterlife and journeys to Heaven or Hell
Sangir niawasoul; life
Totoli k-inaato breathe
Tialo ñaasoul, spirit (of a living being)
Dampelas ñawasoul, spirit (of a living being)
Bare'e ñawasoul, invisible personality; sometimes also breath as the life-force
Tae' inaaghost; soul; heart; mind
Mandar ñawasoul, spirit, heart
Makassarese ñawabreath, breath of life, life-force; temperament, character; lively, spirited, temperamental (of racing horses)
  aʔ-ñawato breathe, have vitality
Wolio iñawa ~ inawasoul
  sapopenena iñawarespiration, breathing
Muna inawalife-sustaining force, spirit, soul (of people, animals, also maize and rice; when people die this soul leaves the body)


PCEMP     *ñawa breath, breath soul

Bimanese nawasoul
Donggo nawasoul
Manggarai nawasoul
Rembong nawabreath; soul; conscience
Asilulu nawabreath (archaic, in fixed phrases)


PMP     *ma-ñawa to breathe

Tboli m-nawato breathe
Malay mə-ñawato breathe heavily, as in sleep
Tialo me-ñaato breathe
Ampibabo-Lauje mo-ñavato breathe
Bobot manowato breathe


POC     *mañawa to breathe; to rest, take a ‘breather’

Wuvulu manawa-nawafontanelle
Wogeo mañawato rest
Manam manawato rest, take a rest, repose
Vaghua manavaliver (= the seat of life)
Arosi manawato breathe, rest; pant
Tikopia manavato breathe
Gilbertese manawapit of the stomach
Marshallese jabjab-menewashort of breath; out of breath
  me-new-newto breathe; heart; respiration; breath
Chuukese manawlife, health; (fig.) salvation; erection (of penis); character; be alive, healthy, recovered (from illness), saved (spiritually); erect (of penis)
Puluwat mánawlife, life span, salvation; to be alive; to function, as a machine; to be saved, cured; to survive, recover, live
  manawe-táto come to life again, resuscitate; to recover, be cured
Woleaian melawto be alive; give birth to a baby
Rotuman fɔt-manavaheart (in the physical sense only)
Tongan manavawomb; heart; bowels (in Old English) as the seat of affections, of courage, etc.; stomach
  mānavabreathe; breathing, breath
  manava-fasisuffering from lack of sufficient nourishment; undernourished
Niue manavastomach, belly, womb; health (occasionally)
  oti manavaoverdone with work
Futunan manavaabdomen, belly
  mānavato breathe; to rest; to catch one’s breath
  manavābe patient; able to endure; marathon (race)
Samoan manavabelly; waist
  mānavato breathe; stand still, break off, stop (for a rest); be relieved (from duty); breath
Tuvaluan manavastomach; feel pain
  manava-navabeat (of the heart); throb
Kapingamarangi manawaheart; predisposed to; disposition; come up to the surface (from diving)
  mana-manawato throb (as pulse or pain)
  manawa babacalmness, tranquility (of a person); freedom from worry (lit. ‘level heart’)
Nukuoro manavabreath; breathe; having a good lung capacity (able to remain under water for a long time)
Rennellese manabaabdomen, navel, navel cord; breath; fontanel (rare); center of emotions; to breathe; to answer calls of nature; to derive life or substance
  manaba goato hold one’s breath a long time; to hold a breath-holding contest, either on land or under water, as done by children
Anuta manava-navashort of breath
Rarotongan manavamythology: one of the senses of human intelligence, said to be the seat of human emotions, affections, etc., bestowed by the supreme deity I’o on the creation of man; the heart; courage, bravery, spirit, endurance, long-winded, as of a person of exceptional staying power
  manava roalong-lived, full vitality, physical vigor, etc.
Maori manawabelly, bowels; bowels of the earth; heart; breath; patience; mind, spirit
  whaka-manawato encourage, render confident
Hawaiian manawatime, turn, season; chronology; for a short time, infrequent; affections, feelings, disposition; anterior fontanel in the heads of infants; top of the head in adults at position of the fontanel

Note:   Also Ilokano gi-nʔáwa ‘relief, comfort, ease, rest, relaxation’ (< Tagalog?), Pangasinan nawá ‘have sufficient space, time, etc.’, Hanunóo gi-nháwaʔ ‘body, including internal organs, respiratory tract, brain, etc.’, Masbatenyo mag-gi-nháwaʔ ‘breathe, respire, take breaths’, gi-nhawaʔ-án ‘respiratory system’, Acehnese ñawɔŋ ‘the personal soul, life-force’, Mongondow gina ‘breath; mind, heart, nature, disposition, feelings; condition, health; thoughts; meaning’, mo-gina ‘to breathe’, Uma inohaʔ ‘breath’, Buli ñawa ‘soul; life; breath’ (< Malay).

This is a challenging comparison, both formally and semantically. Forms with gi- appear to be a Greater Central Philippine innovation that spread into Ilokano (more recently) and into the languages of Sabah (more anciently). It is unclear whether Pangasinan li-náwa shares the same history (from *Ri-nihawa), or is a product of convergence. If it shares the same history then *Ri-hinawa must be posited for PPh, raising questions about the absence of *Ri- in other non-Greater Central Philippine languages. For this reason I tentatively assume that the li- of Pangasinan li-náwa is unrelated to the gi- of Central Philippine forms such as Tagalog gi-nháwa.

It would be easy to reconstruct PMP *ñawa and ignore the Philippine and Sulawesian forms that point to an original trisyllable, but the highly distinctive semantic agreement of Itbayaten hinawa ‘breath, respiration’, or Tombonuwo inawo ‘soul’ with disyllables such as Malay ñawa ‘life in its association with the breath; soul’ strongly suggests that we are dealing with a single cognate set. Since most AN languages reflect a form in which *i must have followed *n rather than preceding it I reconstruct *nihawa, a trisyllable that is supported by Yakan niyawa, Sangir niawa, and many languages that appear to reflect an original *ñawa. Unless we posit doublets *nihawa, *hinawa this unavoidably implies an independent metathesis in e.g. Itbayaten hinawa, Tombonuwo inawo, Tae' inaa, Muna inawa, and what appears to be a secondary metathesis in Greater Central Philippine forms such as Tagalog gi-nháwa (with syncopated *i in the environment VC__CV).

The reconstruction proposed here differs from that of Tsuchida (1976:229), who posited PAn *ñiSawa with an initial palatal nasal, but also reconstructed *N- in other forms. However, there are problems with this proposal. First, very little evidence has been found to support the claim that PAn *N and *ñ were distinct phonemes. Second, the sound correspondences between Kanakanabu and Saaroa that Tsuchida took to support *ñ are violated by Saaroa in this case (in showing /n/ rather than /ɬ/). Third, most instances of PAn *N clearly became PMP *n, and given a PAn palatal nasal we would expect the Kapampangan form to be **-iñawa, not –inawa (note that the Wolio variant iñawa is also irregular, and is best seen as a sporadic palatalization of n by the preceding high vowel).

Reflexes of PMP *nihawa are particularly interesting in providing one of the rare examples of a phonemic palatal nasal arising from a sequence of *n + ia, much like PAn/PMP *ni-á ‘3sg. genitive’ > POc *-ña ‘3sg possessor’. What is unknown is how many parallel innovations of the form *nihawa > niawa > ñawa must be assumed in order to account for the data in terms that are compatible with currently accepted subgrouping hypotheses. It is clear, for example, that the reanalysis of *nihawa to *-ñawa was already complete in POc *mañawa, parallel to the reanalysis of PMP *ni-á to POc *-ña ‘3sg possessor’, but languages such as Malay evidently developed a palatal nasal in this form through an independent change that followed the same evolutionary path.

Finally, the semantics of *nihawa provide a reminder of the universality of animism, as first clearly stated by Tylor (1871): from the notion ‘breath; to breathe’ there is a link to the ‘breath soul’, and from this to ‘soul; inner self, mind, feelings’, but in another direction to ‘breathe easily, take a break, rest’. Although it may initially appear to be adventitious, the recurrent reference to the fontanel links to the widespread traditional belief that the soul exits the body in dreams or death through the fontanel/top of the head (also clearly linked to the pulsation of breathing in an infant’s still-forming skull).


*Nitaq type of soil, clay


PAN     *Nitaq type of soil, clay

Amis ditaʔclay, type of soil; a lump of clay for making pottery
Puyuma (Tamalakaw) litaHmud

Note:   With root *-taq ‘mud; earth, ground’.


*Niteq sap of a tree or plant


PAN     *Niteq sap of a tree or plant     [doublet: *liteq]

Paiwan lʸitjeqsap
Rotinese nita-stree with resinous fruit
Soboyo nito-nsap, pith of trees and plants


*Niwaŋ thinness, slenderness


PAN     *Niwaŋ thinness, slenderness

Thao ziwanslenderness
  makit-ziwangradually become tall and slender, as a sapling
  pia-ziwanmake something more slender, as by shaving or whittling
  Ziwanmale name (‘Slim’)


PMP     *niwaŋ thinness, of people and animals

Isneg na-níwāŋlean, thin, meager, lank
  mag-níwāŋto become lean, etc.
Itawis níwaŋthinness
  na-níwaŋthin (of persons)
Casiguran Dumagat niwaŋskinny, thin (of animate objects)
Bikol mag-níwaŋbecome thin, lose weight
  mag-pa-níwaŋgo on a diet, deliberately try to lose weight
Hanunóo níwaŋthinness, referring to people
Masbatenyo níwaŋthin (refers only to the thinness of an animate being)
  mag-níwaŋbecome thin
Aklanon níwaŋget thinner, become skinny, lose weight
  ka-níwaŋthinness, skinniness
Agutaynen niwaŋthinness
  mag-níwaŋbecome thin, lose weight (as a domestic pig)
Hiligaynon níwaŋthinness
  mag-níwaŋto reduce in weight, become thinner
Cebuano níwaŋthin, not stout
Maranao niwaŋthinness
Mansaka niwaŋbecome thin, as a pig
Kayan ñiwaŋthin, not fat
Kayan (Uma Juman) ñiwaŋthin, of people and animals
Toba Batak mar-niaŋthin (of persons)
Wakasihu i-niwathin (people)


PAN     *ma-Niwaŋ thin, of persons and animals

Thao ma-ziwanslender, long and thin (as bamboo)


PMP     *ma-niwaŋ thin, of people and animals

Bikol ma-níwaŋlean, gaunt, scrawny, skinny, slender, slight, slim, thin (animals, humans)
Hanunóo ma-níwaŋthin, referring to people
Masbatenyo ma-níwaŋthin, as a pig
Aklanon ma-níwaŋskinny, thin
Agutaynen ma-níwaŋthin, skinny
Hiligaynon ma-níwaŋlean, thin, of animals and people
Kayan (Uma Juman) ñiwaŋthin (of people and animals)
Seit maniwathin
Asilulu maniwathin (of cloth or hair)

Note:   Dempwolff (1934-38) posited *(n)ihaŋ ‘thin’. Cf. Zorc (n.d.) PPh *ni(w,o)aŋ ‘thin, lean, skinny’.

TOP      Na    Ne    Ni    Nu    







*Nuka wound


PAN     *Nuka wound

Saisiyat lokathe inflamed corners of the mouth
Amis (Kiwit) ɬukawound, injury
Thao zukapurulent swelling under the skin; boil; wound
  mat-zukawounded; swollen, of a boil or other subcutaneous infection
Siraya (Gravius) lukawound


PMP     *nuka wound

Yami nokaboil, sore
Itbayaten nokawound (infected one)
Cebuano núkasore, infection on the skin, not of great size
Banggai nukaframboesia
Tetun nukaulcer, atrophic sore (difficult to heal, possibly due to poor nutrition)
Leti nuawound
Selaru nuaframboesia, yaws
Proto-Ambon *nugascab
Wakasihu nua-iwound


PAN     *ma-Nuka wounded

Amis ma-dokaʔwounded, hurt


PMP     *ma-nuka wounded

Tolai manua-naulcer, sore, wound
Mota manugaulcer, sore
Toak manuxsore
Pwele manukasore (wound)
Samoan manuʔawound


PWMP     *nuka-en affected by sores, wounded

Cebuano nuka-uninfested with sores
  núkasore, infection on the skin, not of great size
  nuka-uninfested with sores
Banggai nuka-onhave framboesia
  nuka-onhave framboesia

Note:   Also Amis dokaʔ ‘wound, sore, cut’, Mota maniga ‘ulcer, sore’. Oceanic reflexes of *ma-Nukaq were erroneously assigned to *suRat ‘wound’ in Blust (1970), a hypothesis that is now abandoned.


(Formosan only)

*NuqeS bone marrow


PAN     *NuqeS bone marrow

Saisiyat lœʔəʃmarrow
Seediq (Truku) loqebrains; bone marrow
Amis doʔesbone marrow
Amis (Kiwit) ɬuqus nu ukakmarrow (lit. ‘marrow of the bones’)
Bunun nuqusanimal oil
Paiwan lʸuqesbone marrow


*Nusuŋ rice mortar


PAN     *Nusuŋ rice mortar     [doublet: *esuŋ, *li(ŋ)suŋ, *lesuŋ]

Saisiyat lœhœŋmortar
Atayal luhuŋmortar
Proto-Atayalic *luhuŋmortar
Pazeh luzuŋmortar
Bunun nusuŋmortar
Tsou luhŋurice mortar
Saaroa ɬuuŋurice mortar
Puyuma (Tamalakaw) lusuŋa deep mortar used for husking rice grains


PMP     *lusuŋ rice mortar     [doublet: *lesuŋ]

Yami osoŋmortar
Itbayaten xosoŋmortar (pounding tool)
Ivatan hosoŋmortar
Bontok lusuŋmortar, primarily used for pounding rice; to place in a mortar
Kankanaey lusóŋmortar
Kalamian Tagbanwa lusuŋmortar
Agutaynen lotoŋa large wooden mortar used in pounding rice, or grinding or mashing something with a large wooden pestle
Binukid lusuŋlarge mortar (for pounding rice, etc.)
Chamorro lusoŋmortar
West Damar luhñorice mortar
Buli lusiŋmortar

Note:   Also Seediq (Truku) duhuŋ ‘mortar’. It is assumed that PAn *Nusuŋ underwent an irregular change to PMP *lusuŋ, since all known Malayo-Polynesian reflexes point to an initial lateral.


(Formosan only)

*Nutud join two things to give added length (rope, bamboo, etc.)


PAN     *Nutud join two things to give added length (rope, bamboo, etc.)

Kavalan nutuztie two strings together; to connect, join two things to prolong them (bamboo, thread, etc.)
Saisiyat l<om>otorjoin, link

Note:   Also Amis dotoc ‘to add a piece making something long enough; to connect a piece; to continue work the parent did; inheriting’.

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