K. ALEXANDER ADELAAR
Where does Malay come from?
Twenty years of discussions about homeland,migrations and classifications
The Malay language consists of many dialects. Furthermore, various otherlanguages are closely related to Malay, including Minangkabau, Kerinci, Ibanand Kendayan. Together, these dialects and languages form the 'Malayic'linguistic subgroup within the (West) Malayo-Polynesian branch of theAustronesian language family (Adelaar 1992:1).This article* discusses several issues involving the homeland
and clas-sifications of the Malayic language subgroup and of Malay in particular.Following an overview of proposed theories about the Malay(ic) homeland(section 1), I discuss the Borneo hypothesis and the applicability of Sapir's(1968) model for the location of linguistic homelands (section 2). I treat thedifficulties in assessing language divergence and genetic depth in the Malayicsubgroup (section
and evaluate the claim of a Malay back-migration fromSumatra to Borneo (section 4). I also compare the locations that have beenproposed for a Malayic homeland within Borneo (section 5) and give anoverview of classifications of Malayic languages with other Austronesian
I am grateful to Adrian Clynes (Universiti Brunei Darussalam), Anthony Jukes (Universityof Melbourne), and two anonymous readers for their careful reading and comments on an earlierdraft of this article. They are in no way responsible for any errors in this version.
That is the region where speakers of the hypothetical proto-language ancestral to a linguis-tic subgroup must have lived before they dispersed to other regions. In the case of speakers ofMalayic isolects, this is the region where speakers of Proto Malayic originally lived.K. Alexander Adelaar is Associate Professor and Reader at the Melbourne Insitute of AsianLanguages and Societies (MIALS) and holds a PhD from Leiden University. His main field ofacademic interest is Austronesian historical and descriptive linguistics, especially regarding thelanguages of Madagascar, Taiwan and Borneo. He is the author of Proto-Malayic, Canberra:Pacific Linguistics, 1992, and 'Retrieving Siraya phonology: a new spelling for a dead language',
in: E. Zeitoun and P. Jen-kuei Li (eds),
Selected papers from the Eighth International Conference
pp. 313-54, Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, 1999.Professor Adelaar may be reached at MIALS, University of Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia.<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Bijdragen tot de
en Volkenkunde (BKI) 160-1 (2004):l-30
Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde