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Formosan (Taiwanese Aborigine) Languages

The Formosan languages are the languages of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. Taiwanese aborigines (those recognized by the government) currently comprise about 2% of the island's population.However, far fewer can still speak their ancestral language, after centuries of language shift. Of the approximately 26 languages of the Taiwanese aborigines, at least ten are extinct, another four (perhaps five) are moribund, and several others are to some degree endangered.

The aboriginal languages of Taiwan have significance in historical linguistics, since in all likelihood Taiwan was the place of origin of the entire Austronesian language family. According to linguist Robert Blust, the Formosan languages form nine of the ten principal branches of the Austronesian language family, while the one remaining principal branch contains nearly 1,200 Malayo-Polynesian languages found outside of Taiwan. Although linguists disagree with some details of Blust's analysis, a broad consensus has coalesced around the conclusion that the Austronesian languages originated in Taiwan. This theory has been strengthened by recent studies in human population genetics, supporting also the matrilineal nature of the migration.