Polynesian languages

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Polynesian languages:

see Malayo-Polynesian languagesMalayo-Polynesian languages
, sometimes also called Austronesian languages
, family of languages estimated at from 300 to 500 tongues and understood by approximately 300 million people in Madagascar; the Malay Peninsula; Indonesia and New Guinea; the Philippines;
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Polynesian Languages


a group of about 30 languages of the Malayo-Polynesian, or Austronesian, family spoken on a number of islands in the Pacific. Although most are spoken within the triangle formed by New Zealand, the Hawaiian Islands, and Easter Island, there are isolated Polynesian languages in Melanesia and Micronesia. Speakers number more than 700,000 persons (1970, estimate); half use a Polynesian language in daily life, whereas the other half use a Polynesian language only in traditional ceremonies and on festive occasions.

From a linguistic point of view the Polynesian languages are closely interrelated and form a sharply defined group. Their genetic affinity with other Malayo-Polynesian languages is not quite clear. The Polynesian languages have a limited phonemic inventory, with five vowels and usually about nine or ten consonants; vowels may be short or long. In most Polynesian languages there are no closed syllables. In grammatical structure they are analytic and stem-isolating. Within the Polynesian group A. Pawley (New Zealand) distinguishes the Tongan subgroup, which includes the Tongan language, and the Polynesian proper subgroup. The latter is divided in turn into the languages of the Samoan subgroup, which includes Samoan and the Polynesian languages of Melanesia, and the East Polynesian languages, which include Maori, Hawaiian, Tahitian, Raroton-gan, and Rapa Nui.


Blinov, A. I. “Iazyki polineziitsev.” In Narody Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1956.
Biggs, B. “The Languages of Polynesia.” In the collection Current Trends in Linguistics, vol. 8. The Hague-Paris, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The book is filled with maps representing concepts such as the geographic context (on the inside of the book jacket), similarities in terms used across different Polynesian languages, trade networks, the range of myths across the Pacific, possible sailing routes between islands, and more.
(9) Although I use the term "tapa," common across numerous Polynesian languages, it is worth noting that the directors refer to the material as "kapa" in their bonus features, reinforcing their fundamental, ongoing conflict between specificity and generality.
(48.) The database POLLEX (http://pollex.org.nz/) is a large-scale comparative dictionary of Polynesian languages.
Polynesian languages are heavily nominalising, so that the substantivization of mana would scarcely be surprising.' (1984: 145, see also 1985: 203)) I have argued that Polynesian elaboration from a proto-Oceanic root was introduced to Mota from Tikopia and further inflated by Bishop Selwyn and the MM, in eager search of concepts related to spiritual power and who readily embraced what to them was a familiar concept given his and Patteson's knowledge of Maori.
Another important work, Krupa (1967), investigates consonant-consonant and vowel-vowel co-occurrence across syllables in Samoan, with the ultimate goal of clarifying the structural similarities among Polynesian languages for use in linguistic classification (see also Krupa 1966, 1968, 1971).
Archaeological research on Polynesian outliers has been driven, not surprisingly, by the fact that these small islands in the geographical regions of Micronesia and Melanesia are today inhabited by people who speak Polynesian languages. Identifying the arrival of Polynesian speakers has been a major objective, which has, however, proved very difficult to achieve, as the following examples show.
The Polynesian mtDNA level (40-50%) is similar in these areas regardless of language, whereas the Y chromosome correlates strongly with the presence of Polynesian languages.
Nevertheless, most linguists maintain that the Polynesian languages are part of the Austronesian language family, which originates in Taiwan.
Issues of chronology include radiation and network breaking in Polynesian languages, inference of divergence times, the particular challenges of Australian languages, and applying phylogenic methods in interdisciplinary studies.
He identified two major language groups, the Melanesian tongues, which were marked by considerable differentiation but with "a general unity of language at bottom," and the Polynesian languages, which were "characterized by unchangeableness" or similarity.
Unfortunately, I have no information about the state with language family tree conception concerning the Algonquian or Polynesian languages.
* Aboriginal languages of Taiwan (Tsou, etc.) * Polynesian languages: Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tahitian, etc.