Vinuculjan, Pinayuanan
Native toTaiwan
Ethnicity96,000 Paiwan (2014)[1]
Latin script (Paiwan alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3pwn
Formosan languages 2005.png
Distribution of Paiwan language (dark green, south)
Lang Status 80-VU.svg
Paiwan is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
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Paiwan is a native language of Taiwan, spoken by the Paiwan, a Taiwanese indigenous people. Paiwan is a Formosan language of the Austronesian language family. It is also one of the national languages of Taiwan.[2]


Paiwan variants are seen divided into the following dialect zones by(Ferrell 1982:4–6).

This classification were though be corrected by Cheng 2016 as below: Note: A village unnoted of Vuculj/Ravar is by default placed under Vuculj here.

  • Paridrayan group (Ravar)
    • Paridrayan /pariɖajan/
    • Tjailjaking
    • Tineljepan
    • Cavak
    • Tjukuvulj
  • Timur group
    • Timur
    • Tavatavang
    • Vuljulju
    • Sagaran (Ravar-Vuculj mixture)
  • Makazayazaya branch
    • 'ulaljuc
    • Idra
    • Masilidj
    • Makazayazaya
    • Paljulj
    • Kazangiljan
    • Masisi
    • Kazazaljan
    • 'apedang
    • Kaviyangan
    • Puljetji
    • Tjuaqau
  • Eastern branch
    • Paumeli
    • Tjulitjulik
    • Viljauljaulj
    • Kaljataran
    • Ka'aluan
    • Tjua'au
    • Sapulju
    • Kingku
    • Djumulj
    • Tjukuvulj
  • Tjagaraus branch
    • Payuan
    • Padain
    • Piuma
  • Raxekerek branch (west)
    • Raxekerek
    • Kinaximan
    • Tjevecekadan
  • Raxekerek branch (east)
    • Tjahiljik
    • Tjacuqu
    • Tjatjigelj
    • Tjaqup
    • Rahepaq
    • Kaljapitj
    • Qeceljing
    • Pacavalj
    • Kuvaxeng
    • Utjaqas
    • Ljupetj
  • Tjala'avus branch
    • Tjalja'avus
    • Calasiv
    • Tjana'asia
    • Pucunug
    • Vungalid
    • Pailjus


Kuljaljau Paiwan has 23–24 consonants (/h/ is found only in loanwords, and /ʔ/ is uncommon) and 4 vowels (Ferrell 1982:7). Unlike many other Formosan languages that have merged many Proto-Austronesian phonemes, Paiwan preserves most Proto-Austronesian phonemes and is thus highly important for reconstruction purposes.

The four Paiwan vowels are /i ə a u/. /ə/ is written e in the literature.

Kuljaljau (Kuɬaɬau) Paiwan consonants
Labial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t c k q ʔ
voiced b d ɖ ɟ ɡ
Affricate ts
Fricative voiceless s (h)
voiced v z
Trill r
Approximant w l ʎ j
Central Paiwan consonants[3]
Labial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ ⟨ng⟩
Plosive voiceless p t c ⟨tj⟩ k q ⟨q⟩ ʔ ⟨ʼ⟩
voiced b d ɖ ⟨dr⟩ ɟ ⟨dj⟩ ɡ
Affricate ts ~ ⟨c⟩
Fricative voiceless s (h)
voiced v z
Rhotic r ~ ɣ ⟨r⟩
Approximant ʋ ⟨w⟩ ɭ ⟨l⟩ ʎ ⟨lj, ɬ⟩ j ⟨y⟩

In Northern Paiwan the palatal consonants have been lost, though this is recent and a few conservative speakers maintain them as allophonic variants (not as distinct phonemes). /ʔ/ is robust, unlike in other Paiwan dialects where its status is uncertain, as it derives from *q.

Northern Paiwan (Sandimen) consonants[3]
Labial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɖ ɡ
Affricate ts
Fricative voiceless s (h)
voiced v z
Approximant w l ~ ʎ ɭ j
Southern Paiwan (Mudan) consonants[3]
Labial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t c k q ʔ
voiced b d ɖ ɟ ɡ
Affricate ts
Fricative voiceless s (h)
voiced v z ɣ ~ r
Approximant w ɭ ʎ j

Younger speakers tend to pronounce /ʎ/ as [l]. Fricative [ɣ] is characteristic of Mudan village; elsewhere is Southern Paiwan it tends to be a trill [r], though it still varies [r ~ ɣ ~ ʁ ~ h]. Word-initial *k has become /ʔ/.



The Paiwan personal pronouns below are from Ferrell (1982:14).

Paiwan Personal Pronouns
Type of
Equational Genitive Non-Eq., Non-Gen.
1s. -aken, ti-aken ku-, ni-aken tjanu-aken
2s. -sun, ti-sun su-, ni-sun tjanu-sun
3s. ti-madju ni-madju tjai-madju
1p. (incl.) -itjen, ti-tjen tja-, ni-tjen tjanu-itjen
1p. (excl.) -amen, ti-amen nia-, ni-amen tjanu-amen
2p. -mun, ti-mun nu-, ni-mun tjanu-mun
3p. ti-a-madju ni-a-madju tjai-a-madju

Function words

Paiwan has three construction markers, which are also known as relational particles (Ferrell 1982:13).

  1. a – shows equational relationship; personal sing. = ti, personal plural = tia
  2. nua – shows genitive / partitive relationship; personal sing. = ni, personal plural = nia
  3. tua – shows that the relationship is neither equational nor genitive; personal sing. = *tjai, personal plural = tjaia

Other words include:

Affixed adverbials include (Ferrell 1982:14):

Interjections include (Ferrell 1982:12):


Paiwan verbs have 4 types of focus (Ferrell 1982:30).

  1. Agent/Actor
  2. Object/Goal/Patient
  3. Referent: spatial/temporal locus, indirect object, beneficiary
  4. Instrument/Cause/Motivation/Origin

The following verbal affixes are used to express varying degrees of volition or intent, and are arranged below from highest to lowest intention (Ferrell 1982:37).

  1. ki- (intentional)
  2. pa- (intentional)
  3. -m- (volitionally ambiguous)
  4. si- (volitionally ambiguous)
  5. ma- (non-intentional)
  6. se- (non-intentional)

Paiwan verbs can also take on the following non-derivational suffixes (Ferrell 1982:13).


The Paiwan affixes below are from the Kulalao dialect unless stated otherwise, and are sourced from Ferrell (1982:15–27).


The following affixes are from the Tjuabar dialect of Paiwan, spoken in the northwest areas of Paiwan-occupied territory (Comparative Austronesian Dictionary 1995).



  1. ^ "Amis Remains Taiwan's Biggest Aboriginal Tribe at 37.1% of Total". Focus Taiwan. CNA. February 15, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-02-16.
  2. ^ a b Yuánzhùmínzú yǔyán fāzhǎn fǎ 原住民族語言發展法 [Indigenous Languages Development Act] (PDF) (in Chinese) – via Lìfayuan quanqiu falu zixun wang
  3. ^ a b c Chen, Chun-mei (2006). A Comparative Study on Formosan Phonology: Paiwan and Budai Rukai (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). The University of Texas at Austin. hdl:2152/3758.