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Sebop, Penan, and Kenyah internal linguistic classification.

1 Introduction

Sebop and Penan are closely related languages spoken in remote Brunei Darussalam and northern Sarawak, Malaysia, around the Baram river and its tributaries, and to a lesser degree along the Rejang river and various smaller tributaries. This paper revisits the issue of Kenyah internal subgrouping, with special reference to the linguistic position of Sebop and Penan with respect to other Kenyah languages. Although it is generally agreed that Kenyah, Penan, and Sebop decend from an immediate common ancestor (Soriente 2003, 2006, 2008, Blust 1974, 1998, 2000, 2007, 2010, and Smith 2015), the details of each proposal vary greatly. The updated linguistic subgrouping presented in this paper has implications beyond linguistics, and can be used to provide a second opinion on the culture history of the Penan, specifically, their history as nomadic hunter gathers and ultimate origins. Three claims are made in this paper, 1) The Penan and Sebop form a subgroup within the Western Lowland Kenyah group (as first proposed in Smith 2015), 2) that after considering Sebop and Penan evidence, a more conservative Proto-kenyah phonology must be reconstructed, and 3) that the linguistic evidence in this paper supports the idea that the Penan are decended from speakers of a particular Proto-Western Lowland Kenyah dialect, which was spoken in the area of the Usun Apau watershed by agriculturalists.

The evidence in this paper is entirely linguistic and consists of regular sound changes, lexical replacement innovations, semantic shifts, and a small number of irregular yet exclusively shared sound changes. Subgrouping conclusions are made by considering all of these data.

2 Internal Subgrouping of Penan, Sebop, and Kenyah Languages

In the following sections I put forth the evidence for a Penan-Sebop group. This is a bottom-up argument, which will first show that there is a discrete Penan subgroup, which in turn is one half of the Penan-Sebop group. The Penan-Sebop group is itself most closely related to Lebo' Vo' Kenyah, which is a Lowland Kenyah Language. From this, a revised Kenyah family tree is constructed at the end of this section with two primary branches, Highland and Lowland, with Penan-Sebop within the Lowland group. I use the comparative method to draw subgrouping conclusions, which relies on exclusively shared innovations to define the boundaries of a particular group. Briefly, if a group of langauges shares an innovation, be it lexical or phonological, and if those sharred innovations are not likely the result of borrowing, linguistic universais, parallel but independent change, or similarity due to chance, then it can be assumed that the innovation occurred only once, in a single language ancestral to all languages which show the innovation. Blust (2014) provides perhaps the clearest explaination yet of what the comparative method is, and how it might be employed.

2.1 The Penan subgroup.

Penan dialects form a single subgroup, defined by phonological innovations, lexical innovations, and at least one irregular sound change. There is only one phonological innovation exclusively shared by all Penan languages; word final high vowel breaking. All Penan languages reflect word final high vowels, *i and *u, with diphthongs, -ey? and -ew?. For example, *telu > telew? 'three' and *laki > lakey? 'man.' The glottal stops are secondary, and will be discussed more below. There are also several Penan only lexical innovations, which form additional evidence for a Penan subgroup. An irregular reflex of Proto-Kenyah (PKEN) *1 in a single lexical item is also restricted to Penan languages. In this change, *1 is reflected with *r in Proto-Penan (PPEN) *reduh 'woman' but with *1 in all other cases. In all, there are only a handful of lexical innovations which define the Penan subgroup, but this is consistent with the hypothesis that Penan very recently diverged from a larger group. The full list of evidence is given below. (1)

PKEN *ta[??]u 'right' > [??]

PPEN *na[??]aw 'right'

PKEN *endin 'wall' > [??]

PPEN *tapi[??] 'wall

PKEN *ait 'sand' > [??]

PPEN *napun 'sand'

PKEN *leduh 'woman'

PPEN *reduh 'woman' (irregular sound change)

PKEN *ujan 'rain' > [??]

PPEN *ta[??] 'rain'

PKEN *palay 'some' > [??]

PPEN *kelue[??] 'some'

PKEN *dau lanit 'thunder' > [??]

PPEN *leneduh 'thunder'

2.1.1 Eastern and Western Penan (2)

Needham (1954) was the first to coin the terms Eastern and Western Penan to describe two dialects spoken in Brunei and Sarawak, while Needham (1972) and Nothofer (1991) provide short wordlists of Eastern and Western Penan. These works, however, do not make a clear linguistic argument, and the existence of an eastern and western dialect of Penan has been assumed without much discussion as to the merits of such a split. The aim of this section is to provide a clear linguistic argument for Western and Eastern Penan, with supporting evidence. Geographically, Eastern and Western Penan are located on opposite sides of the Baram river. Eastern Penan occupies the north-eastern banks and continues north to the interior of Brunei Darussalam. Western Penan occupies the south-western banks, and extends south into the headwaters of the Rejang river. Eastern Penan is the more conservative dialect, while Western Penan has more distinguishing phonological innovations. Three sound changes in Western Penan define the group:

PKEN *-h- > [??]

PKEN *-[??]- > [??]

PKEN *-a[??], -ah > -e[??], -e

Eastern Penan dialects do not have any exclusive phonological innovations, which means that they may not represent a single subgroup. However, it is treated as a single entity here, because there is almost no dialectical variation in Eastern Penan. Lexically, Eastern and Western Penan do not have any significant differences, and I have not attempted to define either subgroup with lexical innovations. Altogether, the differences between Eastern and Western Penan are slight, and probably do not have a major effect on intelligibility. Raising of *-a to e before word final glottalics in Western Penan is the strongest piece of evidence for separating the groups, while *h > [??] and *[??] > [??] are more common in other languages and thus provide weaker evince. Two tables below give several examples of these sound changes.

2.2 Penan-Sebop

The Penan group (Eastern and Western Penan) fits in a larger Penan-Sebop group, with Sebop (3) and Proto-Penan forming two primary branches. The phonological evidence for this subgroup concerns the innovation of word final glottalics. In Penan and Sebop, an innovated glottal stop closed all word final high vowels, and h closed word final *a. Data showing these changes are organized in Table Three below.

No other Kenyah languages share this innovation with Penan-Sebop. Additionally, Penan-Sebop is supported by a large list of lexical innovatins, irregular sound changes, morphological innovations, and semantic shifts. That list is given below where PPS stands for Proto-Penan-Sebop. Many of these examples are found in basic vocabulary, and borrowing seems an unlikely explaination for such a large set. Note that although a majority of the lexical innovations given below are found in all groups, there are several innovations which are found in Sebop and Western Penan, but not Eastern Penan. The significance of this is discussed in section 4.

PKEN *mahih > [??]

PPS *magu[??] 'skinny'

PKEN *senim 'cold' > [??]

PPS *genin 'cold'

PKEN *puti 'banana' > [??]

PPS *balak 'banana'

PKEN *tawa 'laugh' > [??]

PPS *ale[??] 'laugh'

PKEN *kamit 'scratch' > [??]

PPS *kerip 'scratch'

PKEN *sui 'bird' > [??]

PPS *juhit 'bird'

PKEN *luan 'seed' > [??]

PPS *tulin 'seed'

PKEN *kelanan 'empty' > [??]

PPS *usan 'empty'

PKEN *ikem 'you plural' > [??]

PPS *ka[??]ah 'you plural'

PKEN *ami[??] dua 'we two exclusive' > [??]

PPS *amo 'we two exclusive'

PKEN *ik[??]m dua 'you two'. > [??]

PPS *kawa 'you two'


PPS *tawan 'lost'

PKEN *uhat 'vein'

PPS *kel-uhat (morphological innovation)

PKEN *mudun 'mountain' > [??]

PPS *tukun 'mountain'

PKEN *betu[??]en 'star' > [??]

PPS *kenuhay 'star'

PKEN *nanih 'cry' > [??]

PPS *m-ana? 'cry'

PKEN *bulan 'moon' > [??]

PPS *belilik 'moon'

PKEN *lembam/nembam 'tomorrow' > [??]

PPS *sagam 'tomorrow'

PKEN *taga 'awake' > [??]

PPS *tu[??]ut 'awake'

PKEN *dalam 'inside; deep' > [??]

PPS *dilem 'inside; deep'

PKEN *babuy 'wild boar' > babuy (E. Penan)

PPS *mabuy 'wild boar'

PKEN *madan 'fly' > maran (E. Penan)

PPS *manap 'fly'

PKEN *endun 'nose' > ron (E. Penan)

PPS *unit 'nose'

PKEN *pesi 'hook' > [??]

PPS *bitik 'hook'

PKEN *midan 'when'

PPS *s-iran 'when'

PKEN *muan/mengan 'dry' > [??]

PPS *ma[??]an 'dry'

PKEN *edhaw 'day' > daw (E. Penan)

PPS *lanit 'day' (from *lanit 'sky')

PKEN *bulu[??] 'bamboo' > bolo[??] (E. Penan)

PPS *lepek 'bamboo'


PPS *saput 'morning'

PKEN *nepejuk 'jump' > [??]

PPS *uduk 'jump'

The most important phonological innovations which are specific to Sebop are the deletion of inherited word final glottal stops, except after schwa, where glottal stops are retained. Some examples of this change are listed in Table 4 below.

2.2.1 Regular exceptions in Penan-Sebop.

Exceptions to rules can at times be frustrating when analyzing data. However, if an exception or an irregular change is found throughout a specific group, it can provide additional high quality subgrouping evidence. This is because it is more likely that an exception or irregular change occurred only once, and was inherited by daughter languages than to assume that the same exceptional change happened multiple times. Penan and Sebop both share several exceptions in in two areas, 1) reflexes of *-a[??] and 2) reflexes of *-b-.

PKEN *-a[??] has distinct reflexes in Sebop and Western Penan. In Sebop *-a[??] is reflected with--a and in Western Penan, with -e[??]. Generally, if *-a[??] is irregularly reflected with--a[??] in Sebop, then it is also irregularly reflected with -a[??] in Penan. Two examples have been located.

PKEN *-b- is reflected with v in Sebop and Penan, but again, where *-b- is irregularly reflected with b in one language, it implies that it will also be irregularly reflected with b in cognate words in the other languages. Some of these irregularities may ultimately be due to borrowing, particularly animal names, but it is difficult to imagine that basic words such as 'saliva', 'tongue', 'footprint', or 'left' were borrowed. Taken together, the best way to explain these irregularities is that PPS irregulary retained *-b- as b and *-a[??] as a[??] in only a handful or words, and that Sebop, Western Penan, and Eastern Penan inherited these exceptions.

2.2.2 Merger avoidance: two strategies one outcome.

Penan and Sebop are unique among Kenyah languages in that they have innovated word final glottalics, closing all inherited open syllables. This created the possible environment for a large number of mergers, eliminating fonn differences and creating homophony. Reflexes of *bulu 'body hair' and *bulu? 'bamboo' show how this might have happened:
PKEN                  *bulu       *bulu[??]
       *-u > -u[??]   *bulu[??]   *bulu[??]

Penan and Sebop both avoid this merger. Penan broke all high vowels before innovated glottal stops, and Sebop deleted inherited glottal stops. The result of both sound changes is merger avoidance, as shown below.
PKEN                                 *bulu        *bulu[??]
Penan   *-u > *-u[??] > ew[??]       *buelw[??]   *bulu[??]
PKEN                                 *bulu        *bulu[??]
Sebop   *-u > -u[??], *-u[??] > -u   *bulu[??]    *bulu

Several Kayan languages show an apparent parallel change, where original final glottal stop has been lost, and original final vowels have added a glottal stop. Blust (2002) notes that this likely occurred in a series of changes where all vowels were lengthened before glottal stop, glottal stop was later added after final vowels which produced a length contrast in all vowels before final glottal stop, short vowels were then lowered, and glottal stop deleted after long vowels. Evidence from several languages supports his hypothesis and it is tempting to propose a similar step-by-step history for Sebop and Penan. However, there is no direct evidence which suggests such a series of intermediate steps in these languages and despite striking similarities between Kayan and Sebop regarding final glottal stops, the historical steps will likely differ in the details.

2.3 The location of Penan-Sebop within the Kenyah subgroup.

Several works have attempted a classification of Penan and Sebop in relation to Kenyah, and three competing hypotheses are found in the literature. 1) Soriente (2003, 2006, 2008) has proposed in several works a Kayan-Kenyah subgroup, of which Penan and Sebop form a primary branch, equidistant from Kayan and Kenyah. 2) Blust (1974, 1998, 2000, 2007, 2010) has for some time argued that Penan subgroup specifically with Lowland Kenyah, but has not grouped Penan and Sebop together in an exclusive Penan-Sebop subgroup. 3) Most recently, Smith (2015) has proposed a subgrouping of Kenyah languages that places Penan and Sebop together, forming a primary branch of Kenyah, essentially splitting the difference between Soriente's and Blust's competing hypotheses. Three family trees can be constructed from these hypotheses:

Soriente (2003, 2006, 2008)





Blust (1974, 1998, 2000, 2007, 2010)




Lowland A

Lowland B

Lowland C (Penan)

Smith (2015)





Blust (2007:6) placed Penan and Sebop in the Lowland group because the PKEN voiced aspirates are reflected as voiced stops. However, this observation alone does not make a convincing subgrouping argument. It is based on the assumption that the innovative forms in Penan and Sebop went through an earlier stage where *bh, *dh, *jh, and *gh were reflected as implosives that were later merged with the plain voiced series. However, there is no direct evidence which suggests that these stops were ever imploded in Penan or Sebop. Smith (2015:344) pointed this out and because of that (and because of the conservative Penan and Sebop pronouns) he removed Penan-Sebop from Lowland Kenyah. At the same time, however, he also noted that there might be lexical evidence for placing Penan-Sebop in the Lowland group, but only if more data were gathered. Such evidence has been found, and is presented below in favor of placing Penan-Sebop not only in Lowland Kenyah, but specifically in a Western Lowland group (See Smith 2015 for a more detailed internal subgrouping of Kenyah, with supporting evidence).

2.3.1 Lowland Kenyah, Penan-Sebop, and the Revised Tree.

According to Blust (2007) and Smith (2015) voiced implosive reflexes of PKen *bh *dh, *jh, and *gh justify a Lowland Kenyah group of languages, as opposed to Highland Kenyah where the same PKen phonemes are reflected by voiceless stops. Smith (2015) further proposes a split in Lowland Kenyah between Western and Eastern Lowland. To justify this split, he relies on reflexes of PKen nasal-obstruent sequences. To summarize, In Western Lowland, all nasal-stop sequences have been simplified. In the case of *mb, this created a new phoneme, v. In other cases, innovation led to merger with existing phonemes. Eastern Lowland has retained the nasal-stop sequences mostly unchanged. Examples include Lebo' Vo' va[??] but Uma' Pawa mbe[??] 'primary forest'; Lebo' Vo' leji but Uma' Pawa lenje 'sunset'; and Lebo' Vo' siget but Uma' Pawa singet 'every.' (4) Also, in Eastern Lowland, *a in the final syllable was raised to e when in word-final position, while in Western Lowland, word-final *a was retained.

This phonological evidence seems to support a split in Lowland languages, but admittingly, the hypothesis would benefit from additional evidence. The Penan-Sebop group appears to provide such evidence. There are a large number of lexical replacement innovations, irregular sound changes, and semantic shifts that are found between Penan-Sebop and Western Lowland Kenyah, but not Eastern Lowland. These are summarized below (PWLKEN is Proto-Western Lowland Kenyah).

PKEN *telinen 'ear'

PWLKEN *kelinen 'ear' (irregular *t > k)

PKEN *itu 'that, near'

PWLKEN *itu 'this' (semantic change from 'that' to 'this')

PKEN *nai 'come' > [??]

PWLKEN *tuay 'come'

PKEN *salan 'black' > [??]

PWLKEN *peden 'black'

PKEN *madun? 'sit'

PWLKEN *me-nun 'sit'

PKEN *i[??]ut 'small' > [??]

PWLKEN *ji[??]ik 'small'

PKEN *tuju[??] 'seven' > tuju[??] (E. Penan)

PWLKEN *tujok 'seven'

PKEN *pulu[??] 'ten' > polo[??] (E. Penan)

PWLKEN *jap 'ten'

PKEN *ujan 'rain' > [??]

PWLKEN *ime[??] 'rain'

PKEN *dadu[??] 'long' > [??]

PWLKEN *buat 'long'

PKEN *bute[??] 'blind' > [??]

PWLKEN *ben 'blind'

PKEN *ta[??]i 'excrement' > [??]

PWLKEN *ani[??] 'excrement'

PKEN *senit 'urine' > [??]

PWLKEN *sibe[??] 'urine'

PKEN *su 'grandchild' > [??]

PWLKEN *ayam 'grandchild'

PKEN *sigut 'dirty' > [??]

PWLKEN *segit 'dirty' > [??]

PKEN *atuk 'fish' > [??]

PWLKEN *telu 'fish'

PKEN *kitan 'binturong' > [??]

PWLKEN *pasuy 'binturong'


Taken together, there is enough evidence in the form of exclusively sharred lexical replacement innovations to propose an updated internal classification of Kenyah. Penan and Sebop form a subgroup, Penan-Sebop. This group fits in the slightly larger Western Lowland group, whose only other member is Lebo' Vo'. This Western Lowland Group is one half of the still larger Lowland group, which also contains the Eastern Lowland dialects (the so-called "Uma" dialects, including Uma' Pawe and Uma' Kulit, sometimes referred to as Lebo' Kulit). Finally, the newly defined Lowland group combines with Highland Kenyah, redefining Kenyah with only two primary branches.


Blust (2007:5) states that Kenyah is "phonologically the most conservative group of North Sarawak languages." In the same paper certain statements about the shape of Proto-Kenyah reconstructions give the reader a general picture of the reconstructed language. In the following section I will discuss two specific statements regarding the shape of PKEN and offer evidence from Western Lowland suggesting that if anything, the conservative phonology of Proto-Kenyah has been slightly understated and some of the sound changes previously assigned to Proto-Kenyah are likely parallel innovations. Table 7 below shows updated sound correspondences between Proto-North Sarawak (PNS) and Proto Kenyah. Specifically, *-s and *-R were retained as *-h, and high vowels had not lowered to mid vowels before *-h. Supporting evidence for Table seven is provided in sections 3.1 and 3.2.

3.1 PKEN *h.

Blust (2007:7) notes that *R and *s had merged as 0 in word final position. Distinct reflexes of *-a, *-aR, and *-as in Lowland Kenyah suggest, however, that reflexes of *R and *s were actually retained in word final position (as *h). I will review the evidence from each Lowland Kenyah language below.

All Western Lowland languages have altered word final a*. Uma' Pawe fronted *-a to e, Lebo' Vo' raised *-a to i, and Sebop and Penan both closed *-a with h, giving -ah. Words that show unexpected word final -a which have established etymologies are shown below, and all reflect either *-aR or *-as which suggest that *R and *s blocked the changes affecting *-a. *dua and *lima are included for comparison, to show regular reflexes of words that had final *-a. Note that Uma' Pawe has numerous exceptions, which suggest that raising of word final a in that dialect is still underway.
PNS                   PKEN           Sebop   E Penan

*dua 'two'            *dua           duah    duah
*lima 'five'          *lema          lemah   lemah
*pinas 'cheek'        *pinah         pina    pina
*akaR 'root; vine'    *akah          laka    --
*beRas 'rice grain'   *bahah         --      --
--                    *nasah 'run'   naca    --
*las 'fish scale'     *lah           la      la
*salaR 'nest'         *salah         sala    sala
*panas 'hot'          *'panah        pana    pana
*memes 'squeeze'      * memes        --      --
*ibeR 'saliva'        *ibah          ibah    ibah
*usaR 'body'          *usah          usa     usah
*lipes 'cockroach'    *lipah         lipah   lipah

PNS                   W Penan        Vo'     Pawe

*dua 'two'            duah           lui     lue
*lima 'five'          lemah          lemi    leme
*pinas 'cheek'        pine           Pina    pina
*akaR 'root; vine'    lake           aka     aka
*beRas 'rice grain'   --             baa     baa
--                    nase           nasa    nasa
*las 'fish scale'     le             la      --
*salaR 'nest'         sale           sala    --
*panas 'hot'          pana           pana    --
*memes 'squeeze'      mamah          mamah   meme
*ibeR 'saliva'        ibah           ibah    ive
*usaR 'body'          use            usah    use
*lipes 'cockroach'    lipah          lipah   lipe

3.1.1 How many times was *-h deleted?

Highland Kenyah languages offer no evidence that *-h was deleted more than once. In Lowland Kenyah, however, it appears that *-h was deleted multiple times. For example, Proto-Penan-Sebop must have retained *h in final position because a single sound change, *-a > *-ah, is attributable to PPS, and if inherited *h had already been deleted, it would have fed the later change, closing all word final vowels. The expected ordering for this scenario is shown below.
PKEN                     *dua       *panah
Pre-PPS   *-h > 0 -                 *pana
PPS       *-a > *-ah     *duah      *panah
Sebop                    duah       **panah

The Sebop word for 'hot' is pana, not **panah, which is only possible if PPS had retained word final *h. Because PPS is "below" Western and Eastern Lowland on the Kenyah tree shown above, the presence of *-h here implies its presence in all nodes above it. Furthermore, it implies that loss of *-h in Western and Eastern Lowland must have occurred independently. (5) Thus *-h was deleted at least three times in Lowland (at least once during the breakup of PPS, once in Lebo' Vo', and once in Eastern Lowland), and at least once in Highland Kenyah.

3.2 PKEN *-uh and *-ih.

Blust (2007:7) states that PNS *u and *i became o and e in final position in PKEN, where *h (from PNS *R and *s) had been lost. Until fieldwork for this paper was conducted, there seemed to be no exceptions to this rule. New data from Western Penan, however, forces us to reconsider whether PKEN had actually lowered these vowels, or if they were lowered in a series of parallel sound changes that failed to effect Western Penan. The conservative high vowels are listed below, with comparisons in Sebop, Lebo' Vo', and Lepo' Tau (a Highland dialect).
PNS                      PKEN               W. Penan   Sebop

*ikuR 'tail'             *ikuh              iku        iko
*dedhuR 'woman'          *ledhuh            redu       ledo
*besuR 'full, of food'   *besuh             besu       beco
*bibiR 'lips'            *bibih             bevi       bive
*betis 'calf'            *betih             beti       bate
?                        *kulih 'leopard'   kuli       --
*(ma)nipis 'thin'        *nipih             nepi       nipe

PNS                      Lebo' Vo'                 Lepo' Tau

*ikuR 'tail'             iko                       iko
*dedhuR 'woman'          ledo                      leto
*besuR 'full, of food'   beso                      beso
*bibiR 'lips'            bibe                      bibe
*betis 'calf'            bete                      bete
?                        kule                      kule
*(ma)nipis 'thin'        nipeh ([double dagger])   nipe

([double dagger]) Note that Lebo' Vo' sporadically retains *-h in a
number of words, and nipeh 'thin' lends support to the hypothesis
that PKEN had not lost final *h after any vowel.

The evidence in the above table implies that *i and *u were lowered in a series of parallel innovations that were not inherited from PKEN. Like the deletion of *h, high vowels in Western Penan imply their presence at every node above and also imply that Sebop, Eastern Penan, Lebo' Vo', Eastern Lowland, and Highland languages lowered high vowels independently.


The observations made in this paper suggest that any linguistic split between the Penan, Sebop, and Lebo' Vo' Kenyah communities must have been quite recent. Considering the quality of evidence, and the closeness of Sebop and Penan, it is unlikely that these groups have been separated for more than a few hundred years. Because Penan-Sebop subgroups most closely with Lebo' Vo', it is likely that these groups share a common ancestor that spoke a Proto-Western Lowland language in the Usun Apau highland area, where the Tinjar and Tikan rivers begin. (6) Eastern Lowland languages may also have originated from the Usun Apau area, and migrated to Kalimantan, where Uma' Pawe and Uma' Kulit languages are found in large numbers. Speakers of Highland languages, however, claim to be from the Apo Kayan highlands, just on the other side of the boarder in Indonesia. Although the evidence is slight, this early separation of Proto-Kenyah dialects, between the Usun Apau and Apo Kayan highlands, may have provided the separation necessary for them to develop into separate Highland and Lowland languages.

Some of the evidence also suggests that Western Lowland languages did not diverge in clear splits. Eastern Penan in particular poses some issues for the theory that the Penan split from a distinct Sebop language. Rather, it most likely split from a Sebop dialect of a Western Lowland dialect chain. Penan share distinct lexical and phonological innovations exclusively with each other, but among Western Lowland languages, Eastern Penan alone contains reflexes of PKEN *tuju[??] 'seven' and *pulu[??] 'ten.' Also, among Penan-Sebop languages, Eastern Penan alone contains reflexes of PKEN *luton 'fire', *bulu[??] 'bamboo', *iap 'chicken', *edhaw 'day', *endum 'nose', *madan 'fly', and *babuy 'wild boar.' It appears that the changes which define both Western Lowland and Penan-Sebop were underway, but not yet complete, when Penan split from Penan-Sebop. This suggests a gradual divergence of a dialect chain, with some innovations appearing in Western Penan but not Eastern Penan. A possible history that may explain retentions in Eastern Penan follows: A distinct Penan dialect split from Penan-Sebop before many of the Western-Lowland innovations had spread throughout the larger dialect chain. Eastern Penan groups left the dialect area early, and established contact with other, non-Kenyah groups, while Western Penan speakers remained in forests around the Sebop and were in contact enough to be effected by lexical changes that took place after the split.

4.1 Penan and the "devolution" question

Hoffman's controversial 1986 hypothesis suggested that the Penan had "devolved" from an agrarian past, and for trade reasons abandoned agriculture and began hunting and gathering. Although his work was met with some sharp criticism, linguistic evidence continues to link the former hunter-gatherers with traditionally agricultural Kenyah groups. To be clear, Hoffman's methods, his unfamiliarity with the recent history of Punan and Penan, his argument that trade drove people to nomadism, his linguistic shortcomings, and his assumption that nomads in Borneo speak essentially the same language as nearby longhouse communities are not being defended here. The Penan speak the Penan language, not the language of their settled neighbors. However, Penan do speak a language which is very closely related to Sebop and to Lebo' Vo' Kenyah. Particularly, the Lebo' Vo' seem to have always been settled farmers, and show regular reflexes of Austronesian words related to rice farming, including *pajay >paray 'field rice', *beRas > baa 'husked rice', and *lesun > son 'large mortar for pounding rice'. These data have several possible interpretations, 1) the Penan have always been hunter-gathers and the original Austronesian settlers of Borneo either were hunter-gathers or included hunter-gatherers, 2) the Penan have always been hunter gatherers and spoke a non-Austronesian language in the past, which was replaced with a Proto-Western Lowland language. 3) the Penan are previous settled rice fanners who separated from a Proto-Western Lowland Kenyah group. The first interpretation is quite difficult to reconcile with the linguistic and archaeological record. Reconstructable terms suggest that rice agriculture, millet agriculture, permanent dwellings, and villages were all present in PAN (see Blust and Trussle, ongoing, for evidence). Interpretations two and three are the most compelling, but both have issues, which I will discuss below.

With regard to the second interpretation, if the Penan switched to Proto-Western Lowland, one must ask why are there no formerly nomadic groups that we know of who speak Highland dialects, or Kelabit, or Kayan? When Proto-Western Lowland was spoken, it follows that Highland Kenyah and Eastern Lowland Kenyah had already evolved into discrete linguistic communities. It is also apparent that there were numerous other North Sarawak languages spoken along the Baram river, which could have influenced the Penan in much the same way as the Kenyah. Moreover, because the Penan currently occupy a rather large territory but speak a language whose immediate ancestor can be placed in the upper Baram and Tinjar watersheds, the Penan themselves likely once formed a discrete and compact group which later expanded into its current territories. This contradicts the idea that there were bands of hunter gatherers in the upper Baram in the distant past, since the Penan must be relatively recent migrants into areas outside of the PWLKEN homeland. Of course, it can be argued that other hunter gatherers in the area were absorbed into settled communities, leaving no trace, while the Penan resisted this trend and remained nomadic until the very recent past. This is a plausible scenario, but one for which direct evidence is difficult to find.

With regard to the third interpretation, Brosius (1988) and Sellato (1988) make three objections which apply to this paper (other objections are directed specifically at Hoffman's work, and have no implications for the present study) 1) worldwide it is rare for any settled group to abandon agriculture, 2) in recent recorded history there has actually been a trend of nomads settling down in Borneo, not the other way around, and his implies that this trend has been happening for some time, and 3) the fact that hunter-gatherers speak Austronesian languages does not in itself prove that the groups are descended from Austronesian-speaking peoples. Language shift could also explain the current linguistic situation. In response to the first objection, there are in fact known cases where settled groups have adopted nomadism. The Tasaday of the Philippines (7) provide the most striking example. Molony and Tuan (1976) showed that the Tasaday speak a language closely related to the agricultural Blit Manobo and because all other known Philippine nomads are "Negrito," the Tasaday almost certainly represent a breakaway group of former rice farmers. It is thus not unheard of for settled groups to abandon agriculture. Objections two and three are difficult to disprove. It is true that the formerly nomadic Penan have settled in longhouse communities and adapted rice farming in the very recent past. It is also true that language shift is a plausible explanation for why Penan speak a Kenyah language. The question remains, however, that if indigenous nomads throughout the Baram watershed (which is home to perhaps 15 linguistic communities) became farmers because of contact with Austronesian peoples, why do they all speak a Western Lowland Kenyah language and not any other language?

Linguistic work on the internal subgrouping of Kenyah languages continues to show an immediate genetic relationship between Penan, Sebop, and Lebo' Vo'. Sellato (1988:119) points out that the French are ethnically Celtic and German, but speak a Romance language. He further makes the point that "A given group may be of ethnic origin A, speak B, and have been assimilated by culture C." His point remains valid, and his example is extensively documented in writing by Latin historians. In Borneo, however, this point cannot be demonstrated easily, since there are no living traces of the languages people who must have inhabited Borneo before the arrival of Austronesian-speaking peoples. (8) However, without a solid answer as to why settled groups would abandon farming in favor of nomadism, the linguistic evidence and the anthropological inferences regarding the Penan are unlikely to be reconciled. Blust (this volume) provides such a scenario. In that article, he argues that the social realities of living in a longhouse may motivate small groups to abandon the larger community and adopt a nomadic lifestyle. In this scenario, linguistic and anthropological evidence seem to agree.


To summarize, this paper supports a hypothesis that Proto-Kenyah dialects were spoken in the highlands of the upper Baram, between the Usun Apau and Apo Kayan areas. These dialects diverged into separate languages while they were still located in the highland areas. Speakers of Lowland languages split into three groups, 1) a group that went into present day Kalimantan, 2) a group that followed the tributaries of the Tinjar river, and 3) a group that followed the Silat river into the upper Baram. Group 2 spoke Proto-Penan Sebop. The linguistic evidence suggests that Proto-Penan-Sebop must have descended from a larger group that included settled rice cultivators. Although direct evidence is difficult to come by, this is consistent with the theory that the Penan are in fact descended from an agricultural group. Speakers of Highland languages later spread from the Apo Kayan area into much of present day Kalimantan, the Rejang river area, and to the Baram river. The paper also slightly revises the shape of Proto-Kenyah, by hypothesizing a very conservative proto-language. Evidence from Lowland Kenyah languages suggest that PKEN had not deleted *h in final position, nor had it lowered high vowels before word final *h.


Supporting Data for reconstructed forms found in this paper.
English      awake           bamboo           banana

PMP          *banun          *buluq           *punti
PNS                          *bulu[??]        *putti
PKEN         *taga           *bulu[??]        *peti
Sebop        tu[??]ut        lepek            balak
E. Penan     to[??]ot        bolo[??]         balak
W. Penan     toot            lepek            balak
Lebo' Vo'    beren           bulo[??]         peti
Uma' Pawe    tage            bulu[??]         peti
Lepo' Tau    bete[??]        bulo[??]         peti
Lepo' Gah    taga            bulo[??]         peti

English      barking deer    binturong        bird

PMP          --              --               *manuk
PNS          *tela[??]us     *kitan           *manuk
PKEN         *tela[??]uh     *kitan           *sui/*manuk
Sebop        tela[??]o       --               juit
E. Penan     tela[??]o       pasuy            juhit
W. Penan     telau           pasuy            juit
Lebo' Vo'    tela[??]o       pasoy            sui
Uma' Pawe    tela[??]o       kitan            manuk
Lepo' Tau    tela[??]o       kitan            sui
Lepo' Gah    --              kitan            sui

English      black           blind            blood

PMP          *maqitem        *buta            *daRaq
PNS          *mitem          *buta            *daRa[??]
PKEN         *salen          *bute[??]        *daha[??]
Sebop        paden           ben              pulut
E. Penan     paden           pesew[??]        daha[??]
W. Penan     paden           pesew[??]        dee[??]
Lebo' Vo'    paden           ben              laa[??]
Uma' Pawe    salen           bute[??]         laa[??]
Lepo' Tau    salen           buta[??]         daa[??]
Lepo' Gah    salen           buta[??]         daa[??]

English      boar            body             breast

PMP          *babuy          --               *susu
PNS          *babuy          *usaR            *titi[??]
PKEN         *babuy          *usah            *iti[??]
Sebop        mabuy           usa              iti
E. Penan     babuy           usah             ete[??]
W. Penan     mabuy           use              eti[??]
Lebo' Vo'    baboy           usah             ite[??]
Uma' Pawe    bavuy           use              iti[??]
Lepo' Tau    babuy           usa              ite[??]
Lepo' Gah    babuy           usa              ite[??]

English      calf            cheek            chicken

PMP          *betis          *pini            *manuk-manuk
PNS          *betis                           *manuk
PKEN         *belih          *pinah           *iap
Sebop        bate            pina             dik
E. Penan     bete            pina             yap
W. Penan     beti            pine             dik
Lebo' Vo'    bete            pina             yap
Uma' Pa we   bete            pina             yap
Lepo' Tau    bete            pina             yap
Lepo' Gah    bete            pina             yap

English      cockroach       cold             come

PMP          *qali-ipes                       *ai/aRi
PNS          *lipes                           *aRi
PKEN         *lipah          *senim           *nai
Sebop        lipah           genin            tuay
E. Penan     lipah           genin            tuay
W. Penan     lipah           genin            tuay
Lebo' Vo'    lipah           menin            tuay
Uma' Pa we   lipe            senim            nai
Lepo' Tau    lipa            senim            nai
Lepo' Gah    lipa            senim            nai

English      cry             day              dirty

PMP          *nanis          *qaeodaw
PNS          *nanis          *ledhaw
PKEN         *nanih          *edhaw           *sigut
Sebop        ana             lanit            segit
E. Penan     ana[??]         daw              segit
W. Penan     ane[??]         lanit            segit
Lebo' Vo'    nane            daw              segit
Uma' Pawe    nane            daw              sigut
Lepo' Tau    nane            taw              mano
Lepo' Gah    nane            taw              sigut

English      dry             dog              ear

PMP          *keRin/keRan    *asu             *talina
PNS                          *asu             *talina
PKEN         *muan/mengan    *asu             *talina
Sebop        ma[??]an        asu[??]          ienn
E. Penan     to[??]o         asew[??]         kelinen
W. Penan     maan            asew[??]         (kel)inen
Lebo' Vo'    muan            asu              kelini
Uma' Pawe    mengan          asew             teline
Lepo' Tau    muan            asu              telina
Lepo' Gah    muan            asu              telina

English      earthworm       empty            excrement

PMP          *wati                            *taqi
PNS          *lati                            *ta[??]i
PKEN         *lati           *kelanan         *ta[??]i
Sebop        kalati[??]      ucan             ani
E. Penan     latey[??]       usan             ani[??]
W. Penan     latey[??]       usan             ani[??]
Lebo' Vo'    lati            kelanan          ani[??]
Uma' Pawe    lan atey        kelanan          --
Lepo' Tau    lati wan        kelanan          ta[??]i
Lepo' Gah    lati            kelanan          ta[??]i

English      face            far              fish

PMP          *away           *zauq            *ikan
PNS                          *jau[??]
PKEN         *silun          *ejhu[??]        *atuk
Sebop        silun           ju               cerem
E. Penan     da[??]in        ju[??]           seluan
W. Penan     dain            JU[??]           betelu
Lebo' Vo'    silon           fo[??]           telo
Uma' Pawe    silun           su[??]           atok
Lepo' Tau    silon           co[??]           atok
Lepo' Gah    silon           co[??]           atok

English      five            fly              flying lemur

PMP          *lima           *Rebek           --
PNS          *lima                            --
PKEN         *lema           *madan           *kubun
Sebop        lemah           manap            kabun
E. Penan     lemah           maran            kubun
W. Penan     lemah           manap            kubun
Lebo' Vo'    lemi            maran            kubon
Uma' Pawe    leme            maran            kuvun
Lepo' Tau    lema            madan            kubon
Lepo' Gah    lema            madan            kubon

English      full, of food   grandchild       heart

PMP          *besuR          *ampu/empu       *pusuq
PNS          *besuR          *su              *pusu[??]
PKEN         *besuh          *su              *pusu[??]
Sebop        beco            --               pucu
E. Penan     beso            ayam             poso[??]
W. Penan     besu            ayam             posun
Lebo' Vo'    beso            ayam             puso[??]
Uma' Pawe    beso            sew              pusu[??]
Lepo' Tau    beso            su               puso[??]
Lepo' Gah    beso            su               puso[??]

English      hook            hot              inside

PMP          *kawit          *panas           *dalem
PNS          *pesi           *panas           *dalem
PKEN         *pesi           *panah           *dalem
Sebop        bitik           pana             dilem
E. Penan     bitik           pana             dilem
W. Penan     bitik           pana             dilem
Lebo' Vo'    pesi            pana             lalem
Uma' Pawe    pesey           lasu[??]         dalem
Lepo' Tau    pesi            pana             dalem
Lepo' Gah    pesi            pana             dalem

English      jump            laugh            left

PMP                          *tawa            *ka-wiRi
PNS                          *tawa            *ka-wiRi
PKEN         *nepejuk        *tawa            *kabin
Sebop        uduk            ala[??]          kabien
E. Penan     --              ala[??]          kabin
W. Penan     odok            ala[??]          kabin
Lebo' Vo'    nekefok         tawi             kabin
Uma' Pawe    nepejok         tawe             kavin
Lepo' Tau    nepejok         tawa             kaben
Lepo' Gah    nepejok         tawa             kabin

English      leopard         lips             long

PMP                          *bibiR           *adaduq
PNS          *kuliR          *bibiR           *dadu[??]
PKEN         *kulih          *bibih           *dadu[??]
Sebop        dura[??]        bive             buat
E. Penan     semuran         --               kebit
W. Penan     kuli            bevi             aru[??]
Lebo' Vo'    kule            bibe             buat
Urna' Pawe   kule            bive             laru[??]
Lepo' Tau    kule            bibe             dado[??]
Lepo' Gah    kule            bibe             dado[??]

English      lost            man              moon

PMP                          *laki            *bulan
PNS                          *laki            *bulan
PKEN         *daru           *laki            *bulan
Sebop        tawa[??]        laki[??]         belilik
E. Penan     tawa[??]        lakey[??]        lase[??]
W. Penan     tawa[??]        lakey[??]        belelek
Lebo' Vo'    paru            laki             bulan
Urna' Pawe   linew           lakey            bulan
Lepo' Tau    daru            laki             bulan
Lepo' Gah    daru            laki             bulan

English      morning         mountain         nest

PMP                          *buled           *salaR
PNS                          *buled           *salaR
PKEN                         *mudun           *salah
Sebop        caput           tukun            sala
E. Penan     nivun           tokon            sala
W. Penan     saput           tokon            sale
Lebo' Vo'    neteba          mudon            sala
Urna' Pawe   semuap          murun            abat
Lepo' Tau    mempam          mudon            laba
Lepo' Gah    kenembam        mudon            sala

English      nine            nose             one

PMP          *siwa           *nijun           *esa/*isa
PNS          *siwa           *ijun            *ejha
PKEN         *pi[??]en       *endun           *ejha
Sebop        pi[??]eh        unit             jah
E. Penan     pi[??]en        ron              jah
W. Penan     pien            unit             jah
Lebo' Vo'    pi[??]en        ron              fo
Urna' Pawe   pi[??]en        ndon             se
Lepo' Tau    pi[??]en        nton             ca
Lepo' Gah    pi[??]en        ndon             ca

English      pinky           primary forest   foot print

PMP          *kinkin         *tuqn/*halas
PNS          *kikkin         *tu[??]an
PKEN         *ikin           *embe[??]        *uban
Sebop        iniw            va[??]           uban
E. Penan     enew            --               --
W. Penan     eniw            va[??]           uban
Lebo' Vo'    ikin            va[??]           uban
Uma' Pawe    ikin            mbe[??]          uban
Lepo' Tau    ikin            mpa[??]          uban
Lepo' Gah    ikin            mba[??]          uban

English      rain            raw              rice grain

PMP          *quzan          *ma-qataq        *beRas
PNS          *ujan           *mata[??]        *beRas
PKEN         *ujan           *mata[??]        *bahah
Sebop        ima[??]         mata             bilet
E. Penan     ta[??]          mata[??]         --
W. Penan     te[??]          mate[??]         --
Lebo' Vo'    ima[??]         mata[??]         baa
Uma' Pawe    usan            mata[??]         baa
Lepo' Tau    ujan            mata[??]         baa
Lepo' Gah    ujan            mata[??]         baa

English      right           rope             saliva

PMP          *taqu           *tali            *ibeR
PNS          *ta[??]u        *tali            *ibeR
PKEN         *ta[??]u        *tali            *ibah
Sebop        tau[??]         tali[??]         ibah
E. Penan     na[??]aw        taley[??]        iba
W. Penan     menaw           taley[??]        ibah
Lebo' Vo'    ta[??]u         tali             ibah
Uma' Pawe    ta[??]u         taley            ive
Lepo' Tau    ta[??]u         tali             iba
Lepo' Gah    ta[??]u         tali             iba

English      sand            scale            scaly ant eater

PMP          *qenay          *quhanap         *qaRem
PNS          *nay            *anap            *aRem
PKEN         *ait            *lah/*kin        *aham
Sebop        ait             la               --
E. Penan     napun           la               aham
W. Penan     napun           lo               aam
Lebo' Vo'    aet             la               aam
Uma' Pawe    ait             kin              aam
Lepo' Tau    ait             la               aam
Lepo' Gah    ait             kin              aam

English      scratch         seed             seven

PMP          *kamit                           *pitu
PNS          *kamit                           *tuju[??]
PKEN         * kamit         *luap            *tuju[??]
Sebop        kerip           tulin            tujek
E. Penan     kerip           tulin            tuju[??]
W. Penan     meneli[??]      tulin            tujek
Lebo' Vo'    kamit           sah              tufek
Uma' Pawe    kamit           luan             tusu[??]
Lepo' Tau    nemayaw         luan             tujo[??]
Lepo' Gah    kamit           luan             tujo[??]

English      sit             skinny           sleep

PMP                          *maRis           *tiduR
PNS                          *maRis           *tiduR
PKEN                         *mahih           *lundu[??]
Sebop        menun           magu             pegen
E. Penan     nun             magu[??]         pegen
W. Penan     menun           magu[??]         pegen
Lebo' Vo'    menon           muyu             luro[??]
Uma' Pawe    uko[??]         mipon            lundu[??]
Lepo' Tau    madon           mae              lunto[??]
Lepo' Gah    madon           mae              lundo[??]

English      small           some             spit

PMP                                           *zulaq
PNS                                           *jula[??]
PKEN         *i[??]ut        *palay           *jula[??]
Sebop        ji[??]ek        ivay             jula[??]
E. Penan     si[??]ik        jelua[??]        jula[??]
W. Penan     siik            jah kelua[??]    jula[??]
Lebo' Vo'    ji[??]ik        palay            nemula[??]
Uma' Pawe    i[??]ot         palay            nula[??]
Lepo' Tau    i[??]ot         palay            lemula[??]
Lepo' Gah    i[??]ot         palay            nemula[??]

English      squeeze         star             take

PMP          *mesmes         *bituqen         *alaq
PNS          *memes          *bitu[??]en      *alaq
PKEN         *mmah           *betu[??]en      *ala[??]
Sebop        mejen           kenoay           ala
E. Penan     romek           kenuhay          ala[??]
W. Penan     mamah           kenuay           ale[??]
Lebo' Vo'    mamah           betu[??]en       ala[??]
Uma' Pawe    meme            betu[??]en       ala[??]
Lepo' Tau    mema            betu[??]en       ala[??]
Lepo' Gah    mema            betu[??]en       ala[??]

English      tail            ten              that, far

PMP          *ikuR           *puluq
PNS          *ikuR           *pulu[??]        *itu
PKEN         *ikuh           *pulu[??]        *itu
Sebop        iko             jap              --
E. Penan     iko             polo[??]         --
W. Penan     iku             jap              etey[??]
Lebo' Vo'    iko             fap              ite
Uma' Pawe    iko             pulu[??]         iti
Lepo' Tau    iko             pulo[??]         --
Lepo' Gah    iko             pulo[??]         --

English      thigh           thin             this

PMP          *paqa           *nipis           *ini
PNS          *pa[??]a        *nipis           *ini
PKEN         *pa[??]a        *nipih           *ini
Sebop        pa[??]an        nipe             itu[??]
E. Penan     pa[??]an        nepe             itew[??]
W. Penan     paan            nepi             etew[??]
Lebo' Vo'    pa[??]i         nipeh            itu
Uma' Pawe    suun            nipe             ini
Lepo' Tau    pa[??]a         nipe             ini
Lepo' Gah    pa[??]a         nipe             ini

English      three           thunder          tomorrow

PMP          *telu
PNS          *telu
PKEN         *telu           *dau lanit       *nembam
Sebop        telu[??]        dau lanit        cagam
E. Penan     telew[??]       lenedo           sagam
W. Penan     telew[??]       lenedu           sagam
Lebo' Vo'    telu            lau lanit        vam
Uma' Pawe    telew           betati[??]       mesut
Lepo' Tau    telu            tau lanit        nempam
Lepo' Gah    telu            tau lanit        nembam

English      tongue          tree             two

PMP          *zelaq          *kahiw           *duha
PNS          *jela[??]       *kayu            *dua
PKEN         *jela[??]       *kayu            *dua
Sebop        jela[??]        kayu[??]         duah
E. Penan     jela[??]        kayew[??]        duah
W. Penan     jela[??]        kayew[??]        duah
Lebo' Vo'    jela[??]        kayu             lui
Uma' Pawe    jela[??]        kayew            lue
Lepo' Tau    jela[??]        kayu             dua
Lepo' Gah    jela[??]        kayu             dua

English      urine           valley           vein

PMP          *ihik/ihek      *lebek           *uRat
PNS                          *lebek           *uRat
PKEN         *senit          *lebek           *uhat
Sebop        iva[??]         lebek            keloat
E. Penan     iva[??]         sawa[??]         keluhat
W. Penan     siva[??]        sawa[??]         keluat
Lebo' Vo'    siba            kelebek          wat
Urna' Pawe   senit           abek             uat
Lepo' Tau    senit           kelebek          uat
Lepo' Gah    senit           kelebek          uat

English      vomit           wall             we dual ex

PMP          *utaq           *dindin          --
PNS          *uta[??]        *dindin          --
PKEN         *n-uta[??]      *endin           *ami[??] dua
Sebop        luta            de               --
E. Penan     luta[??]        tape[??]         amo
W. Penan     me-lute[??]     tapi[??]         amo
Lebo' Vo'    nuta[??]        ren              ame[??] lui
Urna' Pawe   nuta[??]        gelan            me[??] we
Lepo' Tau    nuta[??]        nten             ame[??] dua
Lepo' Gah    nuta[??]        nden             ame[??] dua

English      when            white            woman

PMP          *ijan           *putiq           *bahi
PNS          *idan           *puti[??]        *dedhuR
PKEN         *midan          *puti[??]        *ledhuh
Sebop        siran           puti             ledo
E. Penan     hun mah         maben            redo
W. Penan     siran           poti[??]         redu
Lebo' Vo'    miran           pute[??]         ledo
Urna' Pawe   miran           puti[??]         ledo
Lepo' Tau    midan           pute[??]         leto
Lepo' Gah    midan           pute[??]         leto

English      you pl          you two

PMP          *i-kamu         --
PNS          *i-kamu         --
PKEN         *ikem           *ikem dua
Sebop        ka[??]ah        lawah
E. Penan     ka[??]ah        kawah
W. Penan     kah             kawah
Lebo' Vo'    ikem            kui
Urna' Pawe   kem             kem we
Lepo' Tau    ikem            ikem dua
Lepo' Gah    kem             kem dua


Adelaar, K. Alexander 1995 Borneo as a cross-roads for comparative Austronesian studies. In: Peter Bellwood, James J. Fox, and Darrell Tryon, eds., The Austronesians: historical and comparative perspectives. Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University.

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(1) Supporting data for all of the lexical innovations and reconstructed forms used in this paper are listed in the appendix. Wherever possible Proto-Malayo-Polynesian and Proto-North Sarawak forms are also provided. Proto-North Sarawak is the immediate common ancestor of Kenyah and several other languages of the Baram river including Kelabit, Bintulu, and Berawan. Proto-Malayo-Polynesian is the ancestor of all Austronesian languages spoken outside of Taiwan.

(2) In this paper, Eastern Penan data is from Long Mubui and Western Penan is from Long Beku. Not listed in this paper are supporting data from Long Labid Penan (Eastern) and Long Jekitan Penan (Western) which offer no significant dialectical variation.

(3) Sebop data are from Sabang (2015)

(4) Blust (2015) has pointed out that certain dialects of Lebo' Vo', like that were spoken in Long Selatan in 1971, actually retained the nasal-obstruents *nj and *ng, and had reduced only *mb and *nd. Fieldwork in 2014, however, recorded fully simplified reflexes of all nasal-stop sequences.

(5) An anonomous reviewer pointed out that *h > [??] might better be analysed as the result of areal changes and hence not entirely independent. This point is well taken, but *h > [??] is such a common sound change in itself, that I hesitate to use it to define a linguistic area. If independent but convergent sound changes are to be proposed for any historical change, surely *h > [??] is among the least objectionable. Also, independent in this context, means not inherited from an immediate common ancestor.

(6) Both rivers are themselves tributaries of the Baram river. The Lebo' Vo' also refer to themselves as coming from "Long Tikan" which is the estuary of the Tikan river, a tributary of the Silat river, itself a tributary of the upper Baram. Usun Apau is a large highland plateau whose watersheds feed these rivers. It is visible in satellite images of the upper Baram, and is close to the Indonesian Border.

(7) The Tasaday were first reported in 1971, and are a group of forest nomads discovered on the Philippine island of Mindanao. They are distinct from other nomads of the Philippines in that their physical appearance is Southeast Asian rather than Negrito.

(8) Adelaar (1995) does propose a link between Austronesian languages of Borneo and Austroasiatic languages of the Malay Penensula, however, the evidence is restricted to only two words, 'to die', and 'to bathe' (although Penan has no such evidence, and reflects Proto-Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) *matay 'to die' and PKEN *endu? 'bathe').

Alexander D. Smith

University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Table 1
raising of *a before final glottalics in W Penan

PKEN                E. Penan   W. Penan

*pinah 'cheek'      pina       pine
*lah 'scale'        la         le
*salah 'nest'       sala       sale
*daha[??] 'blood'   daha[??]   dee[??]
*luta[??] 'vomit'   luta[??]   lute[??]
*mata[??] 'raw'     mata[??]   mate[??]

Table 2
deletion of medial glottalics in W Penan

PKEN                         E. Penan    W. Penan

*pi[??]en 'nine'             pi[??]en    pien
*pa[??]a-n 'thigh'           pa[??]an    paan
*tela[??]uh 'barking deer'   tela[??]o   telau
*daha[??] 'blood'            daha[??]    dee[??]
*uhat 'vein'                 keluhat     keluat
*aham 'scaly anteater'       aham        aam

Table 3
Innovated word final glottalics

PKEN                  Sebop      E. Penan    W. Penan

*ejha 'one'         jah          jah         jah
*dua 'two'          duah         duah        duah
*lema 'five'        lemah        lemah       lemah
*telu 'three'       telu[??]     telew[??]   telew[??]
*asu 'dog'          acu[??]      asew[??]    asew[??]
*kayu 'tree'        kayu[??]     kayew[??]   kayew[??]
*tali 'rope'        tali[??]     taley[??]   taley[??]
*laki 'man'         laki[??]     lakey[??]   lakey[??]
*lati 'earthworm'   kelati[??]   latey[??]   latey[??]

Table 4
Deletion of inherited word final glottal stops in Sebop

PKEN                         Sebop        E. Penan     W. Penan

*ajhu[??] 'far'              ju           ju[??]       ju[??]
*pusu[??] 'heart'            pucu         poso[??]     posun
*iti[??] 'breast'            iti          ete[??]      eti[??]
*puti[??] 'white'            puti         --           poti[??]
*ala[??] 'take; receive'     ala          ala[??]      ale[??]
*mata[??] 'raw'              mata         mata[??]     mate[??]
*kelawe[??] 'spider'         kelawa[??]   kelawa[??]   kelawa[??]
*embe[??] 'primary forest'   va[??]       va[??]       va[??]

Table 5
Irregular reflexes of *-a[??]

PKEN                 Sebop      W. Penan   E. Penan

*jela[??] 'tongue'   jela[??]   jela[??]   jela[??]
*jula[??] 'spit'     jula[??]   jula[??]   jula[??]

Table 6
Irregular reflexes of *-b-

PKEN                         Sebop   E. Penan   W. Penan

*ibah 'saliva'               ibah    ibah       ibah
*babuy 'wild boar'           mabuy   babuy      mabuy
*kubun 'flying lemur'        kabun   kubun      kubun
*kelabek 'valley'            lebek   --         lebek
*kabin 'left'                kabin   kabin      kabin
*uban 'hand or foot print'   uban    --         uban

Table 7
PNS-PKEN Sound Correspondences

PNS    *p      *t     *k    *[??]   *b      *d      *j
PKEN   *p      *t     *k    *[??]   *b/-p   *d/-t   *j

PNS    *g      *bh    *dh   *jh     *gh     *s      *R
PKEN   *g/-k   *bh    *dh   *jh     *gh     *s/-h   *h

PNS    *l      *m     *n    *n      *5      *y      *W
PKEN   *l/-n   *m     *n    *n      *P      *y      *w

PNS    *-aw    *-ay   *iw   *uy     *a      *i      *u   *e
PKEN   *-aw    *-ay   *iw   *uy     *a      *i      *u   *e
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Title Annotation:RESEARCH NOTES
Author:Smith, Alexander D.
Publication:Borneo Research Bulletin
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9BRUN
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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