The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 351 million speakers. These are widely dispersed throughout the island nations of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, with a smaller number in continental Asia. Malagasy is a geographic outlier, spoken in the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
A characteristic of the Malayo-Polynesian languages is a tendency to use reduplication (repetition of all or part of a word --e.g., wiki-wiki) to express the plural, and like other Austronesian languages they have simple phonologies; thus a text has few but frequent sounds. The majority also lack consonant clusters (e.g., [str] or [mpt] in English). Most also have only a small set of spoken vowels, five being a common number.
For several decades, Malayo-Polynesian was divided into Western ("Hesperonesian") and Central-Eastern branches. However, the Western branch was a geographic grouping never positively defined as a linguistic unit; it was only described negatively as those Malayo-Polynesian languages which were not in the well established Central-Eastern branch. In recent classifications it has been abandoned, with some of its languages split off in an "Outer" group as a primary branch of Malayo-Polynesian, and the rest retained in an "Inner" group within a Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian branch. These Inner and Outer groups may also be called the Borneo-Philippines languages and Sunda-Sulawesi languages, after their geographic spread. Borneo-Philippines, Outer Western Malayo-Polynesian, or Outer Hesperonesian languages