Native toTaiwan
EthnicityPazeh people, Kaxabu people
Native speakers
2 (2013)[1]
  • Pazeh
  • Kaxabu
Language codes
ISO 639-3pzh
(pink, northwest) Saisiyat, Pazeh and Kulon. Some Chinese-language sources designate the white area in the northwest as a Kulon area, as opposed to the small pink circle on this map.[2]
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Pazeh (also spelled Pazih, Pazéh) and Kaxabu are dialects of an extinct language of the Pazeh and Kaxabu, neighboring Taiwanese indigenous peoples. The language was Formosan, of the Austronesian language family. The last remaining native speaker of the Pazeh dialect died in 2010.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2021)

Pazeh is classified as a Formosan language of the Austronesian language family.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2021)

Due to prejudice faced by the Pazeh, as well as other indigenous groups of Taiwan, Hoklo Taiwanese came to displace Pazeh.[3][4]

The last remaining native speaker of the Pazeh dialect, Pan Jin-yu,[5] died in 2010 at the age of 96.[6] Before her death, she offered Pazeh classes to about 200 regular students in Puli and a small number of students in Miaoli and Taichung.[3] However, there are still efforts in revival of the language after her death.


Pazeh has 17 consonants, 4 vowels, and 4 diphthongs (-ay, -aw, -uy, -iw).[7]

Labial Coronal1 Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p b t d k ɡ3 (ʔ)2
Fricative s z4 x h5
Rhotic ɾ
Approximant l j w
  1. /t/ and /d/ do not actually share the same place of articulation; /d/ is alveolar or prealveolar and /t/ (as well as /n/) is interdental. Other coronal consonants tend to be prealveolar or post-dental.
  2. The distribution for the glottal stop is allophonic, appearing only between like vowels, before initial vowels, and after final vowels. It is also largely absent in normal speech
  3. /ɡ/ is spirantized intervocalically
  4. /z/ is actually an alveolar/prealveolar affricate [dz] and only occurs as a syllable onset.[9]
  5. /h/ varies between glottal and pharyngeal realizations ([ħ]) and is sometimes difficult to distinguish from /x/

Although Pazeh contrasts voiced and voiceless obstruents, this contrast is neutralized in final position for labial and velar stops, where only /p/ and /k/ occur respectively (/d/ is also devoiced but a contrast is maintained). /l/ and /n/ are also neutralized to the latter.[10] Voiceless stops are unreleased in final position.

Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid (ɛ) ə (o)
Open a

Mid vowels ([ɛ] and [o]) are allophones of close vowels (/i/ and /u/ respectively).

/a/ is somewhat advanced and raised when adjacent to /i/. Prevocally, high vowels are semivocalized. Most coronal consonants block this, although it still occurs after /s/. Semivowels also appear post-vocally.[13]


The most common morpheme structure is CVCVC where C is any consonant and V is any vowel. Consonant clusters are rare and consist only of a nasal plus a homorganic obstruent or the glide element of a diphthong.[10]

Intervocalic voiceless stops are voiced before a morpheme boundary (but not following one) .[14] Stress falls on the ultimate syllable.[10]

Sound changes

The Pazih language merged the following Proto-Austronesian phonemes (Li 2001:7).

  1. *C, *S > s
  2. *D, *Z > d
  3. *k, *g > k
  4. *j, *s > z
  5. *S2, *H > h
  6. *N, *ñ > l
  7. *r, *R > x

Pazih also split some Proto-Austronesian phonemes:

  1. *S > s (merged with *C); *S2, *H > h
  2. *w > ø, w
  3. *e > e, u


Like Bunun, Seediq, Squliq Atayal, Mantauran Rukai, and the Tsouic languages,[15] Pazeh does not distinguish between common nouns and personal names, whereas Saisiyat does (Li 2000). Although closely related to Saisiyat, the Pazeh language does not have the infix -um- that is present in Saisiyat.


Pazeh makes ready use of affixes, infixes, suffixes, and circumfixes, as well as reduplication.[16] Pazeh also has "focus-marking" in its verbal morphology. In addition, verbs can be either stative or dynamic.

There are four types of focus in Pazeh (Li 2000).

  1. Agent-focus (AF): mu-, me-, mi-, m-, ma-, ∅-
  2. Patient-focus (PF) -en, -un
  3. Locative-focus (LF): -an
  4. Referential-focus (RF): sa-, saa-, si-

The following affixes are used in Pazeh verbs (Li 2000).

The following are also used to mark aspect (Li 2000).


The Pazih affixes below are from Li (2001:10–19).



Although originally a verb-initial language, Pazeh often uses SVO (verb-medial) sentence constructions due to influence from Chinese.

There are four case markers in Pazeh (Li 2000).

  1. ki Nominative
  2. ni Genitive
  3. di Locative
  4. u Oblique

Pazeh has the following negators (Li 2001:46).


The Pazeh personal pronouns below are from Li (2000). (Note: vis. = visible, prox. = proximal)

Pazeh Personal Pronouns
Type of
Neutral Nominative Genitive Locative
1s. yaku aku naki yakuan, yakunan
2s. isiw siw nisiw isiwan
3s. (prox.) imini mini nimini iminiyan
3s. (vis.) imisiw misiw nimisiw misiwan
3s. (not vis.) isia sia nisia isiaan
1p. (incl.) ita ta nita (ta-) itaan
1p. (excl.) yami ami nyam(i) yamian, yaminan
2p. imu mu nimu imuan
3p. (prox.) yamini amini naamini yaminiyan
3p. (vis.) yamisiw amisiw naamisiw yamisiwan
3p. (not vis.) yasia asia naasia yasiaan


Pazeh and Saisiyat are the only Formosan languages that do not have a bipartite numerical system consisting of both human and non-human numerals (Li 2006).[17] Pazeh is also the only language that forms the numerals 6 to 9 by addition (However, Saisiyat, which is closely related to Pazeh, expresses the number 7 as 6 + 1, and 9 as 10 − 1.)

The number "five" in Pazeh, xasep, is similar to Saisiyat Laseb, Taokas hasap, Babuza nahup, and Hoanya hasip (Li 2006). Li (2006) believes that the similarity is more likely because of borrowing rather than common origin. Laurent Sagart considers these numerals to be ancient retentions from Proto-Austronesian, but Paul Jen-kuei Li considers them to be local innovations. Unlike Pazeh, these Plains indigenous languages as well as the Atayalic languages use 2 × 4 to express the number 8. (The Atayalic languages as well as Thao also use 2 × 3 to express the number 6.) Saisiyat, Thao, Taokas, and Babuza use 10 − 1 to express 9, whereas Saisiyat uses 5 + 1 to express 6 as Pazeh does.[18] The Ilongot language of the Philippines also derives numerals in the same manner as Pazeh does (Blust 2009:273).[19]

Furthermore, numerals can function as both nouns and verbs in all Formosan languages, including Pazeh.



  1. ^ Pazeh at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "Táiwān yuánzhùmín píngpǔ zúqún bǎinián fēnlèi shǐ xìliè dìtú" 臺灣原住民平埔族群百年分類史系列地圖 [A History of the Classification of Plains Taiwanese Tribes Over the Past Century]. (in Chinese). August 6, 2009. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Loa, Iok-sin (June 26, 2008). "Pazeh Poets Honored at Ceremony". Taipei Times.
  4. ^ Hua, Meng-ching; Pan, Jason (June 15, 2014). "Pazeh Writers Get Awards for Preserving Language". Taipei Times.
  5. ^ Blust (1999:322)
  6. ^ Li, Jen-kuei 李壬癸 (October 29, 2010). "Xià yīgè xiāoshī de yǔyán shì?" 下一個消失的語言是? [Which Language Will Be Extinct Next in Taiwan?]. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on October 29, 2010.
  7. ^ Blust (1999)
  8. ^ Blust (1999:325–329)
  9. ^ Blust (1999:328)
  10. ^ a b c Blust (1999:324)
  11. ^ Blust (1999:329–332)
  12. ^ Blust (1999:330)
  13. ^ Blust (1999:329)
  14. ^ Blust (1999:326)
  15. ^ Li, Paul Jen-kuei. (1997). "A Syntactic Typology of Formosan Languages – Case Markers on Nouns and Pronouns." In Li, Paul Jen-kuei. (2004). Selected Papers on Formosan Languages. Taipei, Taiwan: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.
  16. ^ Blust (1999:340)
  17. ^ Li, Paul Jen-kuei (2006). "Numerals in Formosan Languages". Oceanic Linguistics. 45 (1): 133–152. doi:10.1353/ol.2006.0014. JSTOR 4499950. S2CID 146593890.
  18. ^ Li, Jen-kuei 李壬癸 (2006b). "Táiwān nándǎo yǔyán de àomì" 台灣南島語言的奧秘 (PDF). Zhōngyāng Yánjiùyuàn xuéshù zīxún zǒnghuì tōngxùn 中央研究院學術諮詢總會通訊 (in Chinese). 15 (1): 59–62. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 27, 2011.
  19. ^ Blust, Robert (2009). The Austronesian Languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. ISBN 0-85883-602-5, ISBN 978-0-85883-602-0.

General references

  • Li, Paul Jen-kuei (2000). "Some Aspects of Pazeh Syntax". In De Guzman, V. P.; Bender, B. (eds.). Grammatical Analysis: Morphology, Syntax, and Semantics. Studies in Honour of Stanley Starosta. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications No. 29. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. pp. 89–108. JSTOR 20000143.
  • Li, Paul Jen-kuei; Tsuchida, Shigeru (2001). Pazih Dictionary / Bāzǎiyǔ cídiǎn Pazih Dictionary / 巴宰語詞典 (PDF). Language and Linguistics Monograph Series No. 2 (in English and Chinese). Taipei: Institute of Linguistics (Preparatory Office), Academia Sinica. ISBN 957-671-790-6.


Further reading