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#40399 - 09/03/01 04:48 AM Polynesian languages
NicholasW Offline

Registered: 12/18/00
Posts: 393
Loc: London
The dispersal of the Polynesians is archaeologically fairly recent. One suggested starting point is Solomon Islands or northern New Guinea. Carbon dating shows the pattern of setlement of the islands - I have no details of dates or order to hand, but it was into the central Pacific first, and outlying lands like Aotearoa, Hawaii, and Tahiti later.

All Polynesian languages are very similar (note Fijian is linguistically Melanesian, not Polynesian). By applying the consonant shifts you can almost read them off as each other, it seems: certainly they have many many common words and grammatical constructions in common.

Some (like Maori, Hawaiian) have W and others (like Samoan, Tahitian) have V: wahine ~ vahine 'woman'. The Hawaiian W is actually more V-like before some vowels.

Some have H, others have S. The main island of Samoa is Savai'i, which is obviously the same name as Hawai'i and Hawaiki. Presumably S is the older form but I won't swear to it.

The original K of proto-Polynesian changed into the 'okina. Maori preserves the original three consonants K T P.

However this is complicated by the fact that in some languages T has changed to K. So Hawaiian now has K and ' but no T. This is true in normal Samoan speech too, though T is still used in writing. Samoa's head of state Malietoa Tanumafili is pronounced Maliekoa Kanumafili except in formal settings... according to my Teach Yourself Samoan. This indicates that the change happpened before Hawaiian was set down in writing, but after Samoan was.

The Polynesian family is part of a larger group called Austronesian (formerly called Malayo-Polynesian). This includes all the languages of Indonesia, the Philippines, Micronesia, and Melanesia (but not New Guinea) as well; and also Malagasy of Madagascar; and also the aboriginal (non-Chinese) languages of Taiwan.

Archaeological evidence is matched by linguistic evidence (common words for kinds of canoe, animal etc.) for the original homeland of Austronesian speakers as being in Taiwan. From there their spread down into the Philippines, into Indonesia, and across the Pacific (and in the case of Malagasy across the Indian Ocean) can be dated with somewhat more accuracy than old language movements usually can.

#40400 - 09/03/01 05:06 AM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409

#40401 - 09/03/01 12:17 PM Re: Languages without Diphthongs?
NicholasW Offline

Registered: 12/18/00
Posts: 393
Loc: London
I have remembered Hungarian also doesn't have diphthongs. The country names Ausztria and Francia, for example, have each of their vowels separate, as does the language name franciŠul 'French'.


I don't know ethnology. The island of Rotuma in the Fiji Islands has a Polynesian language.

#40402 - 09/03/01 12:26 PM Re: Hawaiian voyaging
of troy Offline
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Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
Wow, and Max, I second bingley, this is a wonderful thread.. it is just what i like about language.. (it expands my breathe of knowledge, with out requiring me to really learn either Maaori or Hawaiian!)

I am not intereted in learn sanskit either, but love learning words, (like word!) that seem to go back eons, unchanged in meaning!

it is interesting how language and learning about it, helps us construct history.

my other obsession

#40403 - 09/05/01 12:32 AM Re: Polynesian languages
Bingley Offline
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Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
Here's some more information about the Austronesian family with examples of some reconstructed word forms.


In the table near the bottom of the page, they give the forms in reconstructed Pan-austronesian, Rukai, Javanese, and Fijian. Max and wow, can we add Maaori and Hawaiian?

PS. Sorry about the superwide post. If someone PMs me how to fix it, I'll gladly do so.

Is that better? (Thanks wow)

#40404 - 09/05/01 02:51 AM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409

#40405 - 09/05/01 07:11 AM Re: Polynesian languages
maverick Offline
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Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757

ah - a hobson-jobson phrase!

#40406 - 09/05/01 09:10 AM Re: Polynesian languages
wow Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/25/00
Posts: 3439
Loc: New England, USA

Or -- it's the way sugar sounds to a Polynesian ear!
In Hawaii, many of the "new" words
brought to the Islands by Westerners
were simply adopted and adapted by the Hawaiians.

As, for example - nupepa (long u) is newspaper in Hawaiian.
and car = ka'a
Kalikimaka - Christmas
New Orleans - Nu 'Olina
(skipping to the M page -)
Micronesian - Maikonekia
Messiah - Mekia
Mexico - Mekiko with long i. --
(sounds much like I heard Mexicans
in Mexico pronounce Mexico!)

#40407 - 09/05/01 04:04 PM Re: Languages without Diphthongs?
francais31415 Offline

Registered: 01/15/01
Posts: 157
Anyone know Latin? When I have sung songs in Latin in choirs, I seem to remember being admonished by the director(s) to remember that Latin has pure vowels, not dipthongs like English.

#40408 - 09/05/01 10:14 PM Latin diphthongs
Bobyoungbalt Offline

Registered: 11/22/00
Posts: 1289
Latin does have diphthongs. Right off the top of my head:
ae as in caetera, Caesar
au as in haud
oe as in coelum
ua as in suaviter, ue as in Suetonious, but the 'u' is more like 'w', and partakes of the nature of a consonant
ua, ue, ui, uo as in any word after 'q', but this maybe a special case
ia, ie, io, iu but another special case, as the 'i' = 'j' and is more a consonant than a vowel.

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