The Polynesian Languages

PolynesiansThe Polynesians speak about 21 closely related languages with local variations and consonantal changes. They’re mutually unintelligible to those who haven’t learned them, although they have many words in common. For instance, the word for land varies between whenua, fenua, fanua, fonua, honua, vanua, and henua. In the Polynesian languages the words are softened by the removal of certain consonants. Thus the Tagalog (Philippines) word for coconut, niog, became niu, ni, or nu. They’re musical languages whose accent lies mostly on the vowels. Polynesian is rhetorical and poetical but not scientific, and to adapt to modern life many words have been borrowed from European languages. These too are infused with vowels to make them more melodious to the Polynesian ear. Thus in Tahitian governor becomes tavana and frying pan faraipani. Special vocabularies used to refer to or address royalty or the aristocracy also exist.