‘Sun’ = ‘Eye of the Day’: A Linguistic Pattern of Southeast Asia and Oceania


This article deals with the areal distribution of a particular lexicological phenomenon, namely terms for ‘sun’ that can be literally translated as ‘eye of the day’ or the like. It is shown on the basis of a worldwide sample that this denomination is very rare cross-linguistically, and is restricted to languages of the Austroasiatic, Tai-Kadai, and Austronesian language families of Southeast Asia and Oceania. Given its overall rarity, entirely independent innovations of this highly idiosyncratic lexical structure seem improbable, and different historical scenarios to account for its present distribution are presented with particular reference to the Austronesian languages.