Linguistic Research Implies Austronesian Expanse Originated with Eastern Taiwanese People
The Austronesian spread is said to have started with indigenous seafarers in eastern Taiwan, according to linguistics.
It is generally agreed upon that speakers of Austronesian languages originated in Taiwan and arrived in the Philippines some 4,000 years ago.
This, along with other seafaring innovations, enabled them to distribute to the Indo-Pacific ocean's islands. They eventually spread as far as Easter Island to the east, Madagascar to the west, Hawaii to the north, and New Zealand to the south after assimilating with the local populations there. An entirely new perspective on the origins of the Austronesian spread has emerged from research on the indigenous languages still spoken in maritime South-East Asia.
This was the final significant human migration that extended over the Pacific Ocean and helped settle Aotearoa. Based on a missed grammatical affix, a recent study1 fills in this gap in the linguistic evidence. It implies that the Malayo-Polynesian people (including Mori) are most closely related to the Amis of eastern Taiwan in the Austronesian language family.
This discovery supports recent findings in genetics and archaeology that point to Taiwan's east coast as the likely starting point for the Austronesian spread. Indigenous communities still living today in this region of Taiwan are believed to have a long history of seafaring.
The second-largest language family in the world is Austronesian. Many studies have been done on the Austronesian languages, which are spoken from Madagascar to Polynesia and include te reo Mori. But there are still a lot of fundamental issues regarding the beginning and first dispersal of this language group. It has been widely accepted for the past 50 years that Malayo-Polynesian is an Austronesian primary branch with no discernible deeper ties to any domestic language. Archaeological data, however, point to a gap of 1,000 years before the exodus.
This means that instead of beginning as a distinct branch, Malayo-Polynesian should have split off from a particular Indigenous tribe in Taiwan. The newly released evidence for the origin of Malayo-Polynesian stems from four Indigenous Austronesian languages' unique use of the grammatical suffix ma.
All four of Taiwan's east coast languages—Amis, Kavalan, Basay-Trobiawan, and Siraya—display a unique use of ma that permits the inclusion of the actor of an action in the sentence. Furthermore, although this structure is officially forbidden in all other Taiwanese Indigenous languages, it is extensively used in Malayo-Polynesian languages. It's interesting to note that the East Formosan major branch of Austronesian includes all four languages, all of which have known maritime history. This proposes a new sub-grouping in which these two groups had a common ancestor. They both utilize the word ma.
According to this theory, the Malayo-Polynesian, including Mori, in the Austronesian homeland are most closely connected to the East Formosan people, including the Amis, the largest Indigenous community in Taiwan. Additionally, it links eastern Taiwan, where three of these four languages are still spoken today, to the beginning of Austronesian expansion.
The updated results suggest a linguistic sub-grouping that is more in line with the socio=historical theory that the out-of-Taiwan expansion was started by a nautical population. It is consistent with recent archaeology discoveries that place the Austronesian expansion's beginning in eastern Taiwan. Furthermore, it agrees with three current genetic research. All three indicate an especially strong bond between the Malayo-Polynesian and Amis people.
Chen, V., Kuo, J., Gallego, M. K. S., & Stead, I. (2022). Is Malayo-Polynesian a primary branch of Austronesian?: A view from morphosyntax. Diachronica. https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.21019.che