Thao language

Thao language

speakers=5 or 6 (2000)

Thao is the language of the Thao, a tribe of Taiwanese aborigines in the region of Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan. In 2000 there were approximately 5 or 6 speakers, all but one of whom were over the age of sixty. It is a Formosan language of the Austronesian family.


p as in punuq (head), apuy (fire)
b as in bidhu (beard), tubu (urine)
m as in matha (eye), rumfadh (bird), urum (cloud)
f as in funush (knife), afu (food), qaruf (knee)
t as in taparudh (rabbit), katawnan (village), shpat (four)
d as in dadú (chief), shmadiya' (owl)
n as in nipin (tooth), tanathu (nine), mudhin (nose)
ɬ as in lhanadh (name), tilhadh (sun), qawlh (bamboo)
l as in luysh (short, not long), lalay (cicada), bunal (sand)
r as in ribush (tree), katuru (six), kamar (millet)
θ as in thaythuy (they), ruthun (monkey), lhamith (root)
ð as in dhama (tongue), padhay (corn husk), fidhfidh (banana)
s as in sadhum (water), rusaw (fish), balis (iron)
ʃ as in shmin'an (to drink), tusha (two), shaqish (face)
k as in ku'aw (eagle), kakulhum (ant)
ŋ as in kakani na pangka (table), lhungqawshin (to sneeze)
q as in qnuwan (deer, pig), maqusum (black), flhuq (to wash)
ʔ as in a'a (baby)
h as in hudun (mountain), ihu (you)
j as in yaku (I), today (thuyni), bukay (flower)
w as in wakrath (river), kawash (year), mashimdhaw (cold as in weather)

The letter i is pronounced e before and after q and r.
The letter u is pronounced o before and after q and r.


Thao has two or arguably three patterns of reduplication: Ca-reduplication, full reduplication, and rightward reduplication (which is sometimes considered to be a form of full reduplication).

Further reading

*Blust, R. A. (2003). "Thao dictionary". Taipei: Institute of Linguistics (Preparatory Office), Academic Sinica.

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