Native toTaiwan
EthnicityPuyuma people
Native speakers
8,500 (2002)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3pyu
(red) Puyuma
Puyuma is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

The Puyuma language or Pinuyumayan (Chinese: 卑南語; pinyin: Bēinányǔ), is the language of the Puyuma, an indigenous people of Taiwan. It is a divergent Formosan language of the Austronesian family. Most speakers are older adults.

Puyuma is one of the more divergent of the Austronesian languages and falls outside reconstructions of Proto-Austronesian.


The internal classification of Puyuma dialects below is from Ting (1978). Nanwang Puyuma is considered to be the relatively phonologically conservative but grammatically innovative, as in it preserves proto-Puyuma voiced plosives but syncretizes the use of both oblique and genitive case.[2]

Puyuma-speaking villages are:[3]

Puyuma cluster ('born of the bamboo')
Katipul cluster ('born of a stone')


Puyuma has 18 consonants and 4 vowels:

Puyuma Consonants[4]
Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ ⟨ng⟩
Plosive Voiceless p t ʈ ⟨tr⟩ k ʔ ⟨’⟩
Voiced b d ɖ ⟨dr⟩ ɡ
Fricative s
Trill r
Approximant l ⟨lr⟩ ɭ ⟨l⟩ j ⟨y⟩ w
Puyuma Vowels[4]
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid ə ⟨e⟩
Open a

Note that Teng uses ⟨lr⟩ for /ɭ/ and ⟨l⟩ for /l/, unlike in official version. The official orthography is used in this article.



Puyuma verbs have four types of focus:[5]

  1. Actor focus: Ø (no mark), -em-, -en- (after labials), me-, meʔ-, ma-
  2. Object focus: -aw
  3. Referent focus: -ay
  4. Instrumental focus: -anay

There are three verbal aspects:[5]

  1. Perfect
  2. Imperfect
  3. Future

There are two modes:[5]

  1. Imperative
  2. Hortative future

Affixes include:[5]

Verb conjugation example for trakaw "to steal"[6]
Active Patient Locative Causative
Realis Unmarked tremakaw trakawaw trakaway trakawanay
Progressive trematrakaw tratrakawaw tratrakaway tratrakawanay
Durative trematratrakaw tratratrakawaw tratratrakaway tratratrakawanay
Irrealis tratrakaw tratrakawi tratrakawan
Imperative trakaw trakawi trakawu trakawan
Hortative tremakawa


Puyuma has a verb-initial word order.

Articles include:[7]


The Puyuma personal pronouns are:[8]

Puyuma Personal Pronouns (Free)
Type of
Nominative[9] Oblique:
1s. nanku kanku, kananku draku, drananku kanku kuiku
2s. nanu kanu, kananu dranu, drananu kanu yuyu
3s. nantu kantu, kanantu dratu, dranantu kantaw taytaw
1p. (incl.) nanta kanta, kananta drata, drananta kanta taita
1p. (excl.) naniam kaniam, kananiam draniam, drananiam kaniam mimi
2p. nanemu kanemu, kananemu dranemu, drananemu kanemu muimu
3p. nantu kantu, kanantu dratu, dranantu kantaw
Puyuma Personal Pronouns (Bound)
Type of
(Possessor of subject)
1s. =ku ku= ku=
2s. =yu nu= nu=
3s. tu= tu=
1p. (incl.) =ta ta= ta=
1p. (excl.) =mi niam= mi=
2p. =mu mu= mu=
3p. tu= tu=


The Puyuma affixes are:[10]



  1. ^ Puyuma at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Teng (2009), pp. 839, 841.
  3. ^ Zeitoun & Cauquelin (2006), p. 655.
  4. ^ a b Teng (2008), pp. 11, 18.
  5. ^ a b c d Cauquelin (2004), pp. 25–26.
  6. ^ Teng (2008), p. 112.
  7. ^ Cauquelin (1991), p. 27.
  8. ^ Teng (2008), pp. 61–64.
  9. ^ Possessor of subject
  10. ^ Teng (2008), pp. 282–285.


  • Cauquelin, Josiane (1991). Dictionnaire puyuma-français. Paris: Ecole Française d'Extreme-Orient. ISBN 9782855395517.
  • Cauquelin, Josiane (2004). Aborigines of Taiwan: The Puyuma – From Headhunting to the Modern World. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 9780203498590.
  • Teng, Stacy Fang-ching (2007). A Reference Grammar of Puyuma, an Austronesian Language of Taiwan (Ph.D. thesis). doi:10.25911/5D63C47EE2628. hdl:1885/147042.
  • Teng, Stacy Fang-ching (2008). A Reference Grammar of Puyuma, an Austronesian Language of Taiwan (PDF). Pacific Linguistics 595. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. hdl:1885/28526. ISBN 9780858835870.
  • Teng, Stacy Fang-ching (2009). "Case Syncretism in Puyuma" (PDF). Languages and Linguistics. 10 (4): 819–844. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-11-11.
  • Ting, Pang-hsin (1978). "Reconstruction of Proto-Puyuma Phonology". Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology. 49. Academia Sinica: 321–391. OCLC 4938029239. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  • Teng, Fang-ching 鄧芳青 (2018). Bēinányǔ yǔfǎ gàilùn 卑南語語法概論 [Introduction to Puyuma Grammar] (in Chinese). Xinbei shi: Yuanzhu minzu weiyuanhui. ISBN 978-986-05-5694-0 – via alilin.apc.gov.tw.