From GrassrootWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Previous Page Next Page


Text Only

History of the Hawaiian Language

Origin of the Language

What is technically, in English terminology, the prehistory of Hawaiian (that is, the period before the documentation of the language in writing) was touched on briefly in the first section. Linguists agree that Hawaiian is closely related to Eastern Polynesia, with a particularly strong link in the Southern Marquesas, and a secondary link in Tahiti, which may be explained by voyaging between the Hawaiian and Society Islands. The weakest linguistic link exists between Hawaiian and Western Polynesian languages, such as Samoan. Tongan and Niuean are considered the least closely related Polynesian relatives of the Hawaiian language.

Hawaiian tradition itself claims a local origin for man and thus his language, agreeing with linguists however, in ascribing some cultural influences to a period of voyaging. 17/ Anthropologists also support a theory of voyaging between Hawai'i and Central Eastern Polynesia, with some believing that voyaging started in Hawai'i and moved south (as does Thor Hyerdahl) and others that voyaging originated in Central/Eastern Polynesia (as does Dr. Kenneth Emory of the Bishop Museum and the majority of anthropologists now working in the Pacific). Some local religious denominations, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, ascribe to one theory or the other (in their case, Hawai'i is considered the original source); others, such as the Buddhists, have no teaching regarding the origin of voyaging between Hawai'i and the rest of Polynesia.

Phonology, Grammar, and Syntax

Despite disagreements on how Hawaiian is related to other Polynesian languages, it is clear that the language has continued to expand and develop its own uniqueness. Hawaiian is typically Polynesian in an emphasis of vowel over consonant. The most noticeable phonological difference between Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages involves consonant correspondence, including the merger of some consonants, somewhat in the way that English differs from Romance languages in certain consonant correspondences (for example, Latin "pater" and English "father," Latin "ped-" and English "foot," Latin "mater" and English "mother"). (See Table 62).

Consonants are de-emphasized in Hawaiian, accentuating instead vowel distinctions and combinations. This vocalic nature gives Hawaiian a melodic character. Hawaiian speakers frequently refer to English in slang as namu, "grumbling," because of its comparatively harsh sound, and also as hiohio, "windlike or flatulence-like whistling," again because of its heavy use of consonants compared to Hawaiian.

In the area of grammar, most Polynesian languages have one or two definite articles. Hawaiian, however, has five: ka (regular singular definite article), ke (irregular singular definite article), kahi (diminutive singular definite article), na (regular plural definite article), and nahi (diminutive plural definite article). Hawaiian conversely uses a single verbal negative, 'a'ole (with pronunciation variants 'a'ale and 'ale, like the single English verbal negative not with the pronunciation variant -n't), where Tahitian and New Zealand Maori utilize different negatives with different tenses.

In syntax, Hawaiian provides complex grammatical methods for emphasizing different points in a sentence, which in English are normally indicated by raising the voice level. Hawaiian has also


Previous Page Next Page