Bunun - Orientation

Identification. The Bunun of Taiwan use the term "Bunun" to refer to all Bunun; it means "person." Their language is also called Bunun. The Bunun are known to have been divided into six named subgroups (Isbukun, Takebaka, Takebanuan, Takepulan, Taketodo, and Takevatan), each characterized by differences in dialect and culture. There are no longer any Bunun who identify themselves as belonging to the Takepulan subethnic group, and scholars have suggested that the Takepulan have been assimilated into other subgroups. The largest of the remaining subethnic groups is the Isbukun.

Location. The Bunun are scattered in the mountainous area of central Taiwan between 23° and 24° N and at about 120°30′ E, an area that includes Yu-shan Mountain, the highest mountain in Taiwan. The climate is subtropical. Annual rainfall is about 200 centimeters. Most rain falls in the summer months from July to September, when typhoons are frequent.

Demography. In 1978, the estimated population was 32,000, or 0.3 percent of the total population of Taiwan. There were 18,113 Bunun reported in a 1932 census, so their numbers have been slowly increasing. There are now some temporary migrants in the cities, but most Bunun still live in the "reservation area."

Linguistic Affiliation. Historical linguists classify the Bunun language as belonging to a Branch of Proto-Northern Indonesian, which is a Branch of Proto-Hesperonesian. The latter is thought to belong to the Proto-Western Austronesian Language Family, which is in turn a branch of Proto-Austronesian.

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