Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 453–510 | Cite as

The prehistory of the Austronesian-speaking peoples: A view from language

  • Robert Blust


Prior to the European colonial expansions of the past several centuries the Austronesian (AN) language family had the greatest geographical extent of any on earth, including in its territory areas that had never previously been settled. Although predominantly distributed in a tropical or subtropical environment, AN-speaking peoples exhibit a wide range of physical types, material cultures, and types of social and political organization. This paper addresses ways in which linguistic comparison can contribute toward answering such questions as the following: Where was the AN homeland? What was the nature of early AN material culture, social and political organization? What can we infer about early AN pathology? How did early AN speakers view the spirit world? It concludes with a discussion of culture loss, many examples of which can be inferred both from the Pacific and from insular Southeast Asia.

Key words

Austronesian Pacific Southeast Asia linguistics culture-history 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Blust
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of HawaiiHonolulu

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