Donohue et al.’s critique of our work on the origins and spread of the Austronesian language family is marred by misunderstandings of our approach. We respond to these by noting that our Bayesian phylogenetic approach: (1) distinguishes between retentions and innovations probabilistically, (2) focuses on basic vocabulary not ‘the lexicon’, (3) eliminates known loanwords, (4) produces results that are congruent with the results of the comparative method and conflict with the scenarios requiring unprecedented amounts of language shift postulated by Donohue et al.

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