The Austronesian Homeland and Dispersal

Posted: 20 Feb 2019

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

The Austronesian language family is the second largest on Earth in number of languages, and was the largest in geographical extent before the European colonial expansions of the past five centuries. This alone makes the determination of its homeland a research question of the first order. There is now near-universal agreement among both linguists and archaeologists that the Austronesian expansion began from Taiwan, somewhat more than a millennium after it was settled by Neolithic rice and millet farmers from Southeast China. The first “long pause,” between the settlement of Taiwan and of the northern Philippines, may have been due to inadequate sailing technology, an obstacle that was overcome by the invention of the outrigger canoe complex. The second “long pause,” between the settlement of Fiji–Western Polynesia and of the rest of Triangle Polynesia, may also have been due to inadequate sailing technology, an obstacle that was overcome by the invention of the double-hulled canoe.

Suggested Citation

Blust, Robert, The Austronesian Homeland and Dispersal (January 2019). Annual Review of Linguistics, Vol. 5, Issue 1, pp. 417-434, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3335700 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011718-012440

Robert Blust (Contact Author)

University of Hawaii ( email )

Honolulu, HI 96822
United States

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