This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in Chinese. (January 2013) Click [show] for important translation instructions. View a machine-translated version of the Chinese article. Machine translation like DeepL or Google Translate is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia. Consider adding a topic to this template: there are already 792 articles in the main category, and specifying|topic= will aid in categorization. Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. You must provide copyright attribution in the edit summary accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary is Content in this edit is translated from the existing Chinese Wikipedia article at [[:zh:卡那卡那富語]]; see its history for attribution. You should also add the template ((Translated|zh|卡那卡那富語)) to the talk page. For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation.
Native toTaiwan
RegionMaya Village, Namasia District, Kaohsiung City
Ethnicity250 (no date)[1]
Native speakers
4 (2012)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3xnb

Kanakanavu (also spelled Kanakanabu) is a Southern Tsouic language spoken by the Kanakanavu people, an indigenous people of Taiwan (see Taiwanese aborigines). It is a Formosan language of the Austronesian family.

The Kanakanavu live in the two villages of Manga and Takanua in Namasia District (formerly Sanmin Township), Kaohsiung.[3]

The language is moribund.[4]


The native Kanakanavu speakers were Taiwanese aboriginals living on the islands. Following the Dutch Colonial Period in the 17th century, Han-Chinese immigration began to dominate the islands population. The village of Takanua is a village assembled by Japanese rulers to relocate various aboriginal groups in order to establish easier dominion over these groups.[5]


There are 14 different consonant phonemes, containing only voiceless plosives within Kanakanavu. Adequate descriptions of liquid consonants become a challenge within Kanakanavu. It also contains 6 vowels plus diphthongs and triphthongs. Vowel length is often not clear if distinctive or not, as well as speakers pronouncing vowel phonemes with variance. As most Austronesian and Formosan languages, Kanakanavu has a CV syllable structure (where C = consonant, V = vowel). Very few, even simple words, contain less than three to four syllables.[6]


Kanakanavu consonants
Labial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ ⟨ng⟩
Plosive p ɓ ⟨p⟩ t ɖ ⟨l⟩ c k ʔ ⟨'⟩
Fricative f v s z h
Rhotic ɽ
Approximant w ɫ ⟨hl⟩ ɭ j ⟨y⟩


Front: i, e, a

Central: ʉ, e/ə

Back: u, o


Kanakanavu is usually written with the Latin script. The following are often used to represent sounds in the language: A, C, E, I, K, L, M, N, Ng, O, P, R, S, T, U, Ʉ, V, ' /ʔ.

C represents the phoneme /c/.

L represents the phonemes /ɗ/ and /ɽ/.

P represents both /ɓ/ and /p/.

/ɫ/ is spelled as hl.


  1. ^ Kanakanavu language at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
  2. ^ Kanakanavu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  3. ^ Zeitoun, Elizabeth; Teng, Stacy F. (2016). "Reassessing the Position of Kanakanavu and Saaroa among the Formosan Languages" (PDF). Oceanic Linguistics. 55 (1): 162–198. doi:10.1353/ol.2016.0001. S2CID 148368774. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-05-04 – via
  4. ^ "Did You Know Kanakanabu is Critically Endangered?". Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  5. ^ "Ethnographic Setting". Kanakanavu: An Aboriginal Language on Taiwan. Archived from the original on 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  6. ^ "Phonology". Kanakanavu: An Aboriginal Language on Taiwan. Archived from the original on 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2016-09-26.

Further reading