We’ve discussed the interesting and much-disputed subject of the origins of the Austronesian languages before: in 2009 in connection with “Language Phylogenies Reveal Expansion Pulses and Pauses in Pacific Settlement,” by Gray, Drummond, and Greenhill, which came down on the side of Taiwanese origin, and in 2014 in connection with Roger Blench’s paper “Suppose we are wrong about the Austronesian settlement of Taiwan?,” which came to the contrary conclusion that the Formosan languages “represent a continuing flow of pre-Austronesian languages from the mainland.” Now, according to a Phys.org news story, a team of archaeogenetic researchers led by Martin Richards “proposes a solution based on what has been the most comprehensive analysis so far of DNA from the region”:
The various branches of the Austronesian language can be traced back to a Taiwanese original, and DNA analysis does show that there was some expansion from Taiwan, about 4,000 years ago. But this accounted for a minority of the whole region’s population – no more than 20 per cent. An explanation for the spread of the language was that these Taiwanese migrants came to constitute an elite group, or became associated with a new religion or philosophy, according to Professor Richards.
I’ll be interested to see what those who know more than I do about the topic have to say. (Thanks for the link, Trevor!)