VI-6. “Synchronic and Diachronic Study of Atayalic Languages” (R1 FY2019)

  • Project Leader : Ochiai Izumi (Kobe City University of Foreign Studies)

Outline of Research

This study will investigate Atayalic languages, including Atayal and Seediq (of the Austronesian language family and spoken by indigenous people of Taiwan), from both synchronic and diachronic perspectives. For synchronic research, I will conduct linguistic fieldwork in Taiwan. For diachronic research, I will collect earlier documents of these languages in both Taiwan and Japan and analyze them in light of the present-day languages. In this project, I will focus on inclusory construction and phonological reconstruction. Through linguistic fieldwork and literature review, a part of Proto-Atayal and Proto-Seediq grammar is reconstructed. Then, by comparing the data of Proto-Atayal and Proto-Seediq, a part of Proto-Atayalic grammar is reconstructed.


Austronesian is a large language family. Its geographical distribution centers around the islands of Southeast Asia and extends to the Pacific and Indian oceans. In this Austronesian speaking area, Taiwan is situated in the northern-most point. Taiwan holds an important position as it is considered to be a homeland of the language family. Taiwan has nine main branches out of ten that split from Proto-Austronesian. This study aims to investigate one of these branches, the Atayalic subgroup (which includes Atayal and Seediq), from both synchronic and diachronic perspectives in order to further clarify their grammar in the time of Proto-Atayalic.

This study tries to clarify the grammar of one of the first-order branches of Proto-Austronesian. If the grammar of Proto-Atayalic is clarified, comparison against the other nine first-order branches becomes more accurate. Then, the grammar of Proto-Austronesian becomes more solid. In addition, comparison against neighboring language families such as Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai, and Austroasiatic becomes more accurate.

This study particularly concerns inclusory construction and phonology of Atayal and Seediq by conducting linguistic fieldwork and investigating previous studies. In both Atayal and Seediq, the proto-structure of inclusory construction, for example we Iban “I and Iban,” is reconstructed and compared to inclusory constructions of other Formosan languages. Typological perspectives on inclusory construction in Formosan languages are also suggested. For phonological reconstruction, the forms in earlier documents and present-day forms are compared in both Atayal and Seediq. This study first focuses on the reconstruction of vowels in both Atayal and Seediq, which may shed light on the vowel system of Proto-Austronesian.


Distribution of Formosan “leaves” (Ochiai forthcoming)

One page in Atayal field note