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

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.

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

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)ˈniːʒən//ˌɒstrə(ʊ)ˈniːzɪən/