Abstract

A number of Austronesian languages reflect PAn *qaCay 'liver' either singly or in combination with a modifying word in the meaning 'lungs'. A smaller set of languages reflects PAn *baRaq 'lungs' in the meaning 'liver'. These terms are paired in the formal dyadic ritual language of Roti, and so raise the question whether the observed semantic crossover might be a historical residue of culturally determined semantic relationships in a similar ritual language that existed by at least Proto—Malayo-Polynesian times. However, because the interchange of meanings in reflexes of *qaCay and *baRaq is unparalleled by other examples of a similar type, this interpretation is rejected, and it is concluded that the crossover linking liver and lungs is a practical consequence of similarities based on shape as seen in the internal organs of butchered animals, particularly pigs.

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