Austronesian languages of Taiwan

« previous post | next post »

Handbook of Formosan Languages (Online): The Indigenous Languages of Taiwan


Paul Jen-kuei Li, Academia Sinica
Elizabeth Zeitoun, Academia Sinica
Rik De Busser, National Taiwan Cheng-Chi University

Leiden:  Brill, 2023

Outright Purchase: € 2249 / US dollars 2495
Subscription: € 350 / US dollars 390

A print version is forthcoming (September 2023 ; 3 vols, ~ 2200 pp.)


  • The first comprehensive reference work on Formosan languages, relevant for decades to come.
  • Sketch grammars of almost all known Formosan languages, living or extinct.
  • Written by renowned scholars in the field from around the world.

Publication Schedule

Handbook of Formosan Languages Online was launched in May 2023 with 50% of the total content. The other 50% will be published in July 2023.


The Handbook of Formosan Languages provides a systematic and comprehensive coverage of the aboriginal languages of Taiwan and of the many ways in which they have been studied. It contains reference articles as well as grammar sketches of a number of Formosan languages, including a few extinct languages, written by leading scholars in the field.

The handbook includes up-to-date bibliographical references and indices and is illustrated with tables, maps, and other useful figures. An invaluable reference to Formosanists, Austronesianists, and typologists, it will be of interest to linguists more broadly as well.

The contents are divided into the following main sections:

    Introductory Topics

    Cross-linguistic Studies

    Topics on Historical Linguistics

    Miscellaneous Topics

    Grammatical Sketches

By way of example, here are the headings under "Cross-linguistic Studies":

With such rich amplitude, the Handbook of Formosan Languages is sure to stimulate a quantum leap forward in studies on the indigenous languages of Taiwan.


Selected readings


[h.t. Valerie Hansen]


  1. S Frankel said,

    June 2, 2023 @ 3:37 pm

    Well, it's nice that it's so affordable. I assume that most of the purchase price will go to paying the authors since they did most of the work (eye-roll emoji).

  2. AntC said,

    June 3, 2023 @ 6:43 am

    Congratulations and thank you to the editors and contributors. The sort of scholarship I'm very pleased exists even though I can't justify that sort of outlay for myself.

    (Sent from Taiwan, where I've just summitted Wuliao Peak near New Taipei in boiling heat alternating with torrential rain.)

  3. David Morris said,

    June 3, 2023 @ 8:32 am

    How widely is the word Formosa(n) used these days? We wouldn't refer to the island, country or people in that way.

  4. AntC said,

    June 3, 2023 @ 9:22 am

    @DavidM some anecdata: 'Formosa' brand petrol (gas) stations are ubiquitous here, so I'd say used daily.

  5. AntC said,

    June 3, 2023 @ 9:35 am

    … the advantage for using 'Formosan' — given that any choice of term would be imperialistically tainted — is that it pre-dates Sinitic settlement.

    It was Chinese indentured labour, brought to the island by Europeans, that dramatically changed the culture and lifestyle of the indigenous Formosans, forcing them from the verdant plains Into the hostile mountains.

RSS feed for comments on this post