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Some 800 Austronesian languages are spoken in the area extending from Madagascar to eastern Indonesia and to the north to Taiwan and the Philippines. They vary greatly in almost every possible respect, including the size and social make-up of the speech communities and their typological profiles. This book is designed to serve as a reference work and in-depth introduction to these languages, providing a source of basic information for linguists and other professionals concerned with this area. It highlights the cultural and linguistic diversity of this group of languages while at the same time keeping track of their common heritage. Five introductory articles on linguistic history, language politics, language endangerment, ritual speech and special registers, and major typological features have the entire area in their scope and provide a balanced and up-to-date discussion of the major issues. The core of the volume consists of grammatical sketches of twenty languages plus three chapters dealing with different aspects of Malay (Old Malay, Malayic varieties and Colloquial Indonesian), representing a good cross-section of the linguistic diversity found in the area.