Malayo-Polynesian languages

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Southeast Asia and the Pacific



The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages used by some 351 million speakers. These are widely dispersed throughout the island nations of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, with a smaller number in continental Asia. Malagasy is a geographic outlier, spoken in the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

A characteristic of the Malayo-Polynesian languages is a tendency to use reduplication (repetition of all or part of a word) to express the plural, and like other Austronesian languages have simple phonologies; thus a text has few but frequent sounds. The majority also lack consonant clusters (e.g., [str] or [mpt] in English). Most also have only a small set of spoken vowels, five being a common number.



Traditional classifications would divide Malayo-Polynesian into Western and Central-Eastern branches. However, Western MP has been subdivided into inner and outer groups. For a more modern classification, see Austronesian languages.

Outer Hesperonesian languages

Borneo-Philippines languages have about 130 million speakers and include Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Kapampangan, Waray-Waray, and Malagasy.

Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian

Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian languages fall in two subgroups: Sunda-Sulawesi and Central-Eastern.

Sunda-Sulawesi languages have about 230 million speakers and include Indonesian Malay, Malaysian Malay, Sundanese, Javanese, Acehnese, Chamorro, and Palau (Belau). Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages include Gilbertese, Nauruan, Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, and Tuvaluan. Classification

Ethnologue has classified these languages into 23 groups. The country or countries listed beside individual group(s) is where the group is primarily spoken.

Bali-Sasak, Gayo, Javanese, Kayan-Murik, Lampungic, Madurese, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Sundanese- Indonesia

Meso-Philippine, Northern Philippine, Sama-Bajaw, South-Mindanao, South-Philippine- Philippines

Land Dayak, Malayic, Northwest- Indonesia and Malaysia

Barito- Indonesia and Madagascar

Central-Eastern- Indonesia, Pacific Islands including New Guinea

Punan-Nibong- Malaysia

Chamorro- Guam and Northern Marianas Islands

Palauan- Palau

Unclassified- Gorap and Hukumina of the Moluccas, Indonesia; Rejang of Sumatra, Indonesia; and Katabaga of the Philippines

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