Volume 39, Issue 4
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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An understudied morphosyntactic innovation, reanalysis of the Proto-Austronesian (PAn) stative intransitive prefix *ma- as a transitive affix, offers new insights into Austronesian higher-order subgrouping. Malayo-Polynesian is currently considered a primary branch of Austronesian, with no identifiably closer relationship with any linguistic subgroup in the homeland (Blust 19992009/2013Ross 2005). However, the fact that it displays the same innovative use of with Amis, Siraya, Kavalan and Basay-Trobiawan and shares the merger of PAn *C/t with this group suggests that Malayo-Polynesian and East Formosan may share a common origin – the subgroup that comprises the four languages noted above. This observation points to a revised subgrouping more consistent with a socio-historical picture where the out-of-Taiwan population descended from a seafaring community expanding to the Batanes and Luzon after having developed a seafaring tradition. It also aligns with recent findings in archaeology and genetics that (i) eastern Taiwan is the most likely starting point of Austronesian dispersal (Hung 200520082019Bellwood 2017Bellwood & Dizon 2008Carson & Hung 2018) and (ii) that the Amis bear a significantly closer relationship with Austronesian communities outside Taiwan (Capelli et al. 2001Trejaut et al. 2005McColl et al. 2018Pugach et al. 2021Tätte et al. 2021). Future investigation of additional shared innovations between Malayo-Polynesian and East Formosan could shed further light on their interrelationships.


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