Abstract and Keywords
This chapter gives a general introduction to the Austronesian languages of Taiwan, their important position in the Austronesian language family, and the internal and external relationships of the languages. Bunun, a Formosan language, is described in detail, as an illustration of the structures of Formosan languages. Male and female forms of speech in Mayrinax (an Atayal dialect) are also touched on. Leading Austronesian scholars generally agree that Formosan languages are the most diverse and archaic in the entire Austronesian family. The great diversity of the languages indicates that the Austronesian speakers have settled on the island in a great time depth; hence Taiwan is one of the oldest settlements and conceivably the most likely Austronesian homeland. The most archaic features of the languages indicate that these languages are indispensable for reconstructing Proto-Austronesian. Consequently they are extremely valuable and worth careful study, whether actively spoken today or extinct but with written documents.
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