Origin of the Austronesians: book on one of the greatest migrations in human history launched in Taiwan

The Council of Indigenous Peoples launched a book that explores the origin of the world’s most widely distributed language group, yesterday, August 17.

The Origins of the Austronesians consists of articles by experts and scholars from around the world, and was published under the auspices of Taiwan’s Council of Indigenous Peoples.

The book is the culmination of efforts that began at the International Austronesian Languages Revitalization Forum, jointly organized by Taiwan, Japan, and the United States, and held in Palau in September, 2019.

Yesterday’s press conference was presided over by Council of Indigenous Peoples Chairperson Icyang Parod, and distinguished guests at the launch included Palau Ambassador to Taiwan Dilmei L. Olkeriil, Director of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Tadataka Ikeda, and American Institute in Taiwan political officer Joy Lin.

Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawaii, Robert Blust, and Emeritus Professor of Archeology at the Australian National University, Peter Bellwood, both shared their thoughts via pre-recorded video.

“Linguists are in agreement that the oldest location for Austronesian languages that can be traced was Taiwan … if we look at the archeological evidence, that tells a similar story,” Bellwood, who was recently awarded the International Cosmos prize for a lifetime of research work into the origins of farming and the movement of people, said in his speech.

Professor Robert Blust, who wrote the forward to the book said that the Austronesian expansion out of Taiwan to more than half way around the world is one of the great chapters in human history. “It’s a history that should be in the history books,” Blust said.

The Austronesian language group is considered the world’s most extensively distributed language family, covering around three-quarters of the planet from Madagascar to Easter Island.

Cover picture: Council of the Indigenous People.

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