Definition of Austronesian in English:

Austronesian

adjective

  • Relating to or denoting a family of languages spoken in an area extending from Madagascar in the west to the Pacific islands in the east.

    Also called Malayo-Polynesian
    • ‘It has similarities to English as well as to the Austronesian languages spoken by the plantation laborers.’
    • ‘Samoan belongs to a group of Austronesian languages spoken throughout Polynesia.’
    • ‘Seven Austronesian languages are spoken, all of which belong to the Malayic Malayo-Polynesian group.’
    • ‘Small Austronesian languages are another area of current research.’
    • ‘The other group speaks an Austronesian language.’
    • ‘Today, Austronesian languages are spoken from Madagascar in the west, to Easter Island in the east.’
    • ‘Archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago.’

Austronesian languages are spoken by about 140 million people, of whom all but 1 million speak a language of the Indonesian group, which includes Indonesian, Javanese, Tagalog, and Malagasy. The other groups are Micronesian, Melanesian, and Polynesian, scattered across the islands of the South Pacific

noun

mass noun
  • The Austronesian family of languages.

    • ‘Some people argue against it, but I think the evidence for Austronesian is very strong.’
    • ‘The indigenous languages belong to the Central Oceanic branch of Eastern Austronesian and are divided into eastern and western branches.’
    • ‘He is continuing experiments on the Indo-European issues, and has new work on Austronesian in progress.’

Austronesian languages are spoken by about 140 million people, of whom all but 1 million speak a language of the Indonesian group, which includes Indonesian, Javanese, Tagalog, and Malagasy. The other groups are Micronesian, Melanesian, and Polynesian, scattered across the islands of the South Pacific

Origin

From German austronesisch, based on Latin australis ‘southern’ (see austral) + Greek nēsos ‘island’.

Pronunciation

Austronesian

/ˌɒstrə(ʊ)ˈniːzɪən//ˌɒstrə(ʊ)ˈniːʒən/