Volume 47 1938 > Volume 47, No. 185 > Some problems of Polynesian grammar, by Herbert W. Williams, p 1-15
SOME PROBLEMS OF POLYNESIAN GRAMMAR
THE need for a satisfactory treatment of the grammar of the Polynesian languages is no new discovery. Horatio Hale as long ago as ninety years wrote a very able treatise on the subject, but the work is not widely known (it is said that only 500 copies were printed); and in any case the knowledge of the languages in question was at that time hardly adequate.
Since his day a number of handbooks have appeared dealing with the different languages, and a fuller treatment has often been given than was possible in the days when it was endeavoured to fit these tongues into a grammatical system based upon Greek and Latin. But no common standard has been adopted, and the varying methods of handling the material increases the difficulty of making satisfactory comparisons.
The first desideratum is a man with the ability, the will, and the opportunity for co-ordinating the knowledge which is available. But his task would be a prodigious one unless he could consult personally with experts in the several languages. What would be even more desirable is that he should have the opportunity of meeting a considerable number of them in conference if this could be arranged.
It is hardly possible now to retrieve any of these languages in its original native purity. All have come under the influence, in varying degrees, of foreign contact, usually European. This contact has left its mark mainly on the vocabulary, but has not been without considerable effect upon the grammar.
In the matter of vocabulary, with which we are not now directly concerned, many native words were given, intentionally or otherwise, extended signification which - 2 sometimes led to a permanent change of meaning; and in New Zealand one translator at least is known to have used deliberately terms such as ita, weta, nota, hauta for the points of the compass, as he said to enrich the language; and there may have been similar happenings elsewhere.
In the grammar it is unlikely that any deliberate improvement of this sort would be attempted. But the finer niceties of idiom were in many cases missed by the early settlers, missionary or trader. The reduction of the language to writing was generally taken in hand by the missionary, and what was produced in the way of literature was at first solely of a religious character. One of the first tasks attempted was almost always the translation of some portion of the Bible. These translations would be revised from time to time as their defects became apparent. But in carrying out revision, there would be reluctance to change words and phrases which had become familiar, and a rendering would be allowed to stand if its inferiority was, as might be mistakenly supposed, merely a question of taste. It is also a matter of experience that in a passage which offended the strict idiom, or even erred in accuracy of rendering, familiarity with the original would lead even scholarly European users to draw the true meaning from the faulty translation.
As examples of this may be mentioned the rendering of “the labourers are few” (Mt. 9, 37) by “e ruarua ana nga kaimahi” which strictly means “the workers are of doubtful mind”; the fact that the Maori for “he appeared unto me also as unto one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15, 8) is strictly “unto me also as one, etc.” which is misleading, and further the expression representing “one born out of due time” means “an abortive birth” which may be questioned as representing accurately the apostle's meaning; and lastly “the husbandman who laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits” (2 Tim. 2, 6) appeared in Maori in words which really taught that “the husbandman must first labour and then partake of the fruits”—a sound sentiment but not what was at that time being inculcated by St. Paul. Then again there are several ways of expressing ‘and’ in Maori: of these ā signifies an additional happening, and when much prolonged in pronunciation the lapse of a long period of time; another, - 3 me, is really a preposition, with, denoting concomitance, but may often without violence to the sense be translated and, nga tane me nga wāhine, the men with (or and) the women. In Psalm 95 the translator has rendered—For he is our God, and we are his people and the sheep of his pasture, Ko ia hoki to tatou Atua; a to tatou tana iwi e hepara ai, me nga hipi a tona ringa—which really means that subsequently to his being our God we became the people of his pasture together with the sheep of his hand.
The verbal nouns in -nga, -tanga, etc., created, and still create, pitfalls for the translator. These nouns denote the time, place or circumstance of the action of the verb; not the action itself. Thus, His occupation was flying kites is Ko tana mahi he whakaangi manu (48); and The Doings of the Ancestors is Nga Mahi a Nga Tupuna, not Nga Mahinga, as Sir George Grey has it. So, too, Eternal life was generally rendered in the New Testament oranga tonutanga instead of ora tonu. A great number of these redundant inflexions were removed at the last revision of the Maori Bible; the process making the diction crisper and more graphic.
Yet another misunderstanding of an idiom occurs in 1Cor. 11, 25 where “as oft as yet shall drink it” is rendered i nga inumanga katoatanga, which really means on occasions of drinking the whole of it. And so it came about that native readers were familiarized with diction which failed, sometimes seriously, to conform strictly with the traditional idiom of the language. The effect of this familiarity would appear mainly when a native put pen to paper for himself. The consciousness that he was producing literature would induce a subconscious conformity with what he regarded as literary standards, and he would frequently disregard idioms which he would have rigidly observed when speaking. These remarks are based upon observations made in New Zealand, but there is no reason to suppose similar phenomena would not be present in other Polynesian islands.
The facts referred to create a real and serious difficulty for the student who attempts to make a comparison of the grammar of the different sections in the Polynesian field. If he has to depend, as he must in many cases, upon - 4 published matter, he will always have to allow for the personal equation of the author upon whom he is dependent. And when he endeavours to check the findings of a writer by examples in the native tongue he will have to fall back usually upon some translation made by a European. And even where, as in New Zealand, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Rarotonga, Tuamotu, and Niue, there are native legends and other writings available, he will have to bear in mind that these have been composed by natives who have—in diction—been strongly under European influence. The only sound criterion is the spoken word, and now alas the purity of this has been seriously contaminated. It is a matter for regret that in many of the all too few grammars that we have of our Island languages the examples given are often obviously of European origin—not infrequently being taken from the translation of the scriptures or from a Mission Hymn Book.
A further comment may be made upon the existing grammars. As they are mainly drawn up for the use of plain people in their ordinary dealings little or no attempt is made to deal with the peculiarities which arise in native poetry or proverbial sayings.
It is proposed in this paper to look into the structure of sentences without a verb in Maori, making comparisons with some of the other Polynesian languages, leading on to a consideration of the use of the particle ko, 'o.
Most of the examples have been taken from Nga Mahi a Nga Tupuna (1928), to the pages of which reference is made.
The form of the verbless sentence varies with the nature of the predicate. When a statement is of a descriptive nature, indicating the nature, quality, state or position of the subject, the predicate may be a common noun, an adjective, a verb in the infinitive, or a prepositional phrase.
A 1—When the predicate is a common noun or a verb in the infinitive it will take the indefinite article he, and will as a rule begin the sentence: He tangata mohio a Tamure (145), Tamure was a wise man. He kumara nga kai o roto o taua kete (90), The food in the basket was kumara. He tiaki tonu hoki tana i te kainga ia ra, ia ra (81), It was always his business to keep the home day by - 5 day. The construction is similar in Hawaii, Tahiti, Raro-tonga, and apparently in Mangareva and the Marquesas; but in Futuna, Uvea, Samoa, Tonga, and Niue the predicate will take ko and the definite article; but in Niue the grammar tells us that there is no distinction between the definite and indefinite articles.
A 2—When it is desired in such a sentence to stress the subject either by way of antithesis or emphasis the subject may stand first in the sentence, and in that case will generally take the particle ko: He koroheke te tangata nei, ko tana wahine he tutua (197), The man was an old man, and his wife was a woman of low birth. Ko tana patu he horo i a Hakawau, ko ta Hakawau patu he paraoa (137), His (the taniwha's) weapon was to swallow Hakawau, Hakawau's weapon was a patu paraoa. Ko te rama he mea miro ki te muka (166), The light was made from a twist of dressed flax. Ko tana mahi he whakaangi manu (48), His occupation was flying kites. Nga kai o tera maunga he kiwi, he weka, he kiore, he kuku, he tui (121), The products of that mountain are kiwi, weka, rats, pigeons, and tui: in this case the omission of ko appears to be due to the form of the question replied to; though other cases occur: Te take i whakarerea ai a Hinepoupou he umu korora (188), The reason Hinepoupou was deserted was a baking of penguins.
B 1—A similar form is adopted if the predicate is an adjective: He nanakia te iwi nei (38), This people is fierce.
B 2—The subject may, as in the case of a noun-predicate, stand first for the sake of emphasis: Ko nga raparapa o Hotunui he nunui (114), Now the soles of Hotunui's feet were large.
B 3—It is permissible to use with an adjectival predicate a verbal particle such as ka, kua, or kia: Ka tapu koe i te nohoanga o Tangotango (43), You will become tapu from Tangotango's seat. Kua tapu tenei koroheke (43), This old man has become tapu. In the translation of the Bible the particles e … ana were frequently used with an adjective where he would be the regular construction, as E pai ana te Atua, for God is good. E pai ana te Atua strictly means God is agreeable to something. It is true - 6 that we find Paoa reported as saying E pai ana tena (166), That is good; and Maui is made to say E tika ana ano ena kupu (9), Those words of yours are indeed just. But it seems probable that these are examples of irregular constructions due, as mentioned above, to European influence; for we find Hotunui conforming with strict idiom in saying He tika tou pouri ki taku korero (118), Your grief at my tale is just.
B 4—If the adjective is in the comparative or superlative degree it will generally be used without the article: Nui atu te hiahia o Takarangi ki a Raumahora i te hiahia ki te riri (155), Takarangi's desire for Raumahora is greater than his desire for war. Roa rawa tona nohoanga ki tenei koroheke (197), Her living with this old man was for a very long time.
B. 5—There is yet another form of sentence involving an adjective in which the statement explains the reason for certain action: He kikino no te tangata (195), It was because the men were ill-favoured. He puhaehae no ratou (112), It was because they were envious.
The usage in respect of an adjectival predicate varies in the other Polynesian islands. That in Hawaii seems to come nearest to the Maori idiom. Tahiti and Rarotonga appear averse to the use of an adjective as predicate and prefer to insert mea (thing) with the indefinite article to carry the adjective, or in some cases to treat the adjective as an abstract noun. (It must be noted here that the Bible translations in Tahiti and Rarotonga do not appear to be independent of one another.) In Tonga and Samoa a distinct preference is shown for the construction involving the use of a verbal particle with the adjective. In Niue we find the use with a verbal particle or with mena (= mea). As far as can be judged from the few examples given in the Mangareva grammar, the use with mea and the indefinite article appears to be the normal one: and this is at any rate sometimes used in the Marquesas where the use with a verbal particle also occurs.
C 1—When the predicate is a prepositional phrase the regular construction is to have the subject placed last: Kei Waikato tona kainga (145), His home is in Waikato. Na matou tena kainga (103), That house belongs to us. - 7 Moku tena waiata (91), That song is for me. Hei a au anake te taua (167), Let the attack be on me alone. No te po noa atu tenei mahinga (150), This work is from last night. No Ngapuhi a Te Nane (194), Te Nane was from Ngapuhi. Kei te patu i tona upoko (81), He was beating his head.
C 2—Occasionally the use of the particle ko for purposes of antithesis or emphasis may lead to a transposition of the order: I roto ano a Kiki i tona whare, ko Tamure i te whatitoka o te whare (146), Kiki was within his home, and Tamure was in the porch. Ko nga mea tokoroa anake mana (81), Only the lean ones were for him. There is an implied antithesis in Paoa's statement that he is a wanderer, but, “Toku kainga kei Waiapu” (167), My home is in Waiapu; though in this case the ko is omitted.
C 3—If the subject is a common noun with the indefinite article he, this will stand first: He tangata ano kei runga (43), There is someone above. He tangata kei te kainga, he kawenga ano tona (72), There is some one at the home, and she has a bundle.
C 4—The fact of possession may be expressed by a sentence with the preposition kei or i, or as in the last example with a possessive pronoun, which embodies a preposition: Kei a au a Raumati (88), I have Raumati. I a wai tera kainga? (121), Whose is that kainga? He matau ano taku (15), I have a hook too.
C 5—With a sentence stating or asking the number of articles the numeral or the interrogative hia, as the case may be, will take the particle e or toko and open the sentence: E rua aua toki, ko Tutauru, ko Hauhau-te-rangi (58), There were two of those adzes, Tutauru and Hauhau-te-rangi.
D 1—If the sentence is a statement of identity or name the predicate, standing first, will have the particle ko prefixed to it. The predicate will in this case be either a proper name, a personal pronoun, a local noun, or a common noun following any of the definitives except he; to these must be added either of the interrogatives wai or hea: Ko Hine-piripiri te wahine a Tawhaki (37), Tawhaki's wife was Hine-piripiri. Ko au tenei, ko Takarangi (154), It is I, Takarangi. Ko taku potiki te tangata nei (12), This person is my child. Ko te wai tenei mou (155), This is the water - 8 for you. Ko Mirimiri-rau te ingoa o te pa (159), The name of the pa was Mirimiri-rau. Ko hea tera maunga? (121), What is the name of that mountain? Ko wai tena tangata? (111), Who is that man?
D 2—The order of the sentence is sometimes inverted: Ta Tarawhai tama ko te Rangi-takaroro (89), Tarawhai's son was Te Rangi-takaroro. Te ingoa o tenei matenga ko Maikuku-tea (80), The name of this slaughter was Maikuku-tea.
D 3—When a proper name is the subject of the sentence it will take the particle ko as well as the predicate. Ko te ingoa o te whare o Turi ko Rangiatea (90), Rangiatea was the name of Turi's house.
E 1—Questions may be formed by the inclusion of one of the interrogative words wai who, whea what place, pewhea of what sort, or aha what. Mo wai tou wai? (111), For whom is your water? E hika, ko hea koe? (138), Maiden, whither goest thou? (Note—Ko in this sentence is a preposition, to, and distinct from the specific particle ko.) Pewhea te ahua o taua tangata? (52), What was that man like?
E 2—Questions may otherwise take the form of an assertion, the query being indicated either by the intonation or by the insertion of an interrogative particle such as ranei, koia, oti, nā: He rangatira ranei koe? (166) Are you a chief?
Negative sentences without verbs are formed in several ways according to the form of the corresponding positive statement.
F 1—If the predicate is a noun, adjective, an infinitive with he, a noun with ko, or a prepositional phrase with na or no, the negative sentence will be formed with ehara … i, but the he will become te, the ko will be omitted, and the i takes the place of na or no, the subject in each case usually following ehara.
He rangatira ia, he is a chief; Ehara ia i te rangatira, he is not a chief. He kino tenei mea, this thing is bad; ehara tenei mea i te kino, this thing is not bad. He hanga whare tana mahi, his work is building houses; Ehara tana mahi i te hanga whare, his work is not building houses. Ko ia te rangatira, he is the chief; Ehara ia i te rangatira, - 9 he is not the chief. Ehara i a Hine-poupou tangata, ko Hine-poupou atua (190), It is not Hine-poupou in the flesh, it is Hine-poupou as a spirit. Ehara enei wahine i konei, no tawhiti noa atu (123), These women are not from here, they are from some distance. Ehara i a koe tenei kaingà, noku ano (68), This place does not belong to you, it belongs to me. Ko Rangi tera, that is Rangi; Ehara tera i a Rangi, that is not Rangi.
F 2—If the prepositional phrase is one with mo, the negative form will be ehara i te mea …: Ehara i te mea moku tena waiata, that song is not for me.
F 3—If the preposition used is kei or i the negative will be made with kahore, and the preposition in either case will become i. Kei Tauranga a Tiki, kahore i konei, Tiki is at Tauranga, he is not here. I a wai toku waka?, Who had my canoe? Kahore i a au, I had not.
F 3—If hei is the preposition used, kauaka will be the negative: Hei a au te taua, kauaka hei a Paoa, let the attack be made on me, not on Paoa.
F 4—Kahore will also be used when the sentence is in the form he matau toku, I have a hook. Kahore kau oku hoa (115), I have no companions. Kahore he oranga mo ana tamariki (159), There is no food for her children.
It will be noticed in the foregoing survey that of the many forms which a sentence without a verb may assume only a few involve the use of the particle ko.
In view of the fact that it is sometimes stated that ko is in Maori the verb to be, and that in some of the Island dictionaries ko or 'o is so defined, it may be well to enquire into the use of ko in general.
In Maori ko is used, as mentioned above, before a proper name, a pronoun, or a common noun preceded by a definitive to indicate the predicate in a simple sentence without a verb; this may occasionally serve to emphasize the word to which it is attached. It has been pointed out that it will be prefixed to a proper name even when this is the subject of such a sentence. It will also be used when a name is added by way of explanation: Ko au tenei, ko - 10 Apakura (49), It is I, Apakura. E rua aua toki, ko Tutauru, ko Hauhau-te-rangi (58), There were two of those toki (adzes) that is to say Tutauru and Hauhau-te-rangi. It may be noted further that in a verbal sentence indicating a name ko will always be prefixed to the name: Ka huaina te ingoa o tera kainga ko Kawhia (95), The name of that place was called Kawhia. Koia i tapā ai toku ingoa e te iwi nei ko Tatau (38), So my name was called Tatau by this people. Ko will in addition be used with the subject of a verb (a) when there is an antithesis expressed or implied: Ko te teina i haere kia rongo a Hotunui i tana tamaiti; ko te tuakana i waho hei arahi atu i a Marutuahu (116), The younger sister went on so that Hotunui should have tidings of his son; while the elder remained to conduct Marutuahu; or (b) when it is desired to direct particular attention to the person: Ko Maru, e titiro iho ana i runga i te rakau (115), As for Maru, he was looking down from the tree. A frequent use of ko is to specify the individuals comprised in a dual or plural personal pronoun (mana, matou, korua, koutou, raua, ratou, and occasionally tatou). Ka haere tonu atu maua Ko taku ora (156), My slave and I will go on. Ka mate a Hou raua ko Whakaturia (57), Hou and Whakaturia died. Ora ake ko Tama ratou ko ana tama, ko ona tuakana, teina hoki (57), Tama survived and his sons, and his elder and younger brothers. Ka tae ki te whakatupuranga i a Maui-taha ratou ko ona teina, ko Maui-roto, ko Maui-pae, ko Maui-waho, ko Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga (5), Until the generation of Maui-taha and his brothers Maui-roto, etc. Me haere ano koutou ko ou teina (156), You and your brothers should go. Ka takoto a Tawhaki raua ko Karihi (41), Tawhaki and Karihi lay down. He whare ke to matou ko ou matua (83), Your parents and I have a separate house.
When in Maori it is desired to indicate the persons comprised under such a dual or plural pronoun this construction is used almost exclusively, whether the principal person included has been mentioned by name or not, and irrespective of the structure of the sentence.
Turning to the cognate languages we find examples of this use of ko with a pronoun in Tahiti, Rarotonga, Hawaii, Mangareva, and Tuamotu, but even in these islands the idiom does not apparently extend beyond the dual forms - 11 of the first and third pronouns; and even in these cases the regular Maori idiom does not hold the field exclusively. In Tahiti we frequently find e 'o, hoki e or ia e taking the place of raua 'o; similarly in Hawaii the usage varies between laua 'o, laua me, ia me, a me and me, and Rarotonga displays an almost equal variety of usage. In none of the grammars available is the idiom explained or even referred to, but in the Mangareva grammar it is stated that the sentence “Peter and Paul have said” may be rendered in one of the following ways: Ko Petero ko Paoro ku takao raua; Ko Petero ko Paoro ua (hua) ku takao raua; Ko Petero me Paoro ku takao raua; Ko Petero, ko Paoro raua ku takao; Ko Petero ko Paoro ua raua ku takao; Ku takao raua ko Petero me Paoro ua; Ku takao ko Petero raua ko Paoro, without any definite indication that any one of these locutions should be preferred.
The marked contrast between Maori usage and that of the sister languages raises the interesting question as to whether the rigidity of the former or the flexibility of the latter may not be an example of the effect of literary European influence to which reference was made earlier in this paper. No doubt scholars in either field will tend to the opinion that the practice to which they are accustomed is the more primitive.
While Maori shows a greater readiness to use ko in such pronominal constructions it would seem to lag behind in some of the other constructions. It would not be convenient in this paper to make a detailed comparison of all the uses of ko, but it may be worth while to indicate shortly the treatment given to the particle in the leading grammars and dictionaries.
HAWAII—Andrews states that 'o is prefixed to nouns both common and proper as well as to pronouns to render them emphatic or definite. It is used in particularizing one or more persons or things from others. The 'o emphatic stands only before the nominative case. He gives in the Grammar some rules which he somewhat confuses by his observations. Parker adds to the above that there is no equivalent for it in English, and says that it is used for euphony as well as emphasis. Alexander gives some further explanation. It is the regular prefix to a proper name in - 12 the nominative. (This remark somewhat discounts the suggestion of emphasis. It should be noticed that in this case the Maori would use what has been termed the nominal particle a.) It occurs, continues Alexander, with common nouns only when the are defined or particularized by the definite article, by an adjective, pronoun, or noun in the possessive case. (It is not clear whether this answers to Maori use in a sentence without a verb.) It may be added, he says, that it occurs with such nouns only when in English they would be the subject of the verb to be in a clause affirming the identity of two terms or when they stand in the nominative case.
TAHITI—Davies calls 'o an article prefixed to proper names when in the nominative, also to pronouns and also sometimes to adjectives when used substantively. He gives an example in which it introduces a name in apposition, o te Arii ra, o Pomare, the Queen, Pomare, and another following ratou as in Maori, Ja Joune ratou o Petero o Paoro ma, to John, Peter, Paul and the rest. Jaussen says that 'o is the verb to be, and we gather that it is used with proper names, with mea and wai and with the names of stars, rivers, towns, districts, the points of the compass and ni'a, raro, tai and uta. (Again we have no illustration of sentences without verbs, though Jaussen's equation with the verb to be would seem to suggest such.)
MANGAREVA—Ko, article of proper names in the nominative, it is: it is used before substantives and adjectives used substantively, and sometimes before verbs and adverbs, but always in reply to a question expressed or implied.
MARQUESAS—'O, form of the verb to be, used with proper names and pronouns.
FUTUNA—Ko, one of the most frequently used particles in the language; hardly a sentence will be formed without it. It is always placed before a noun or a pronoun which begins a phrase—Ko au e ano, It is I who have gone—and sometimes in poetry, especially before a name or a pronoun which ends a phrase: Na ano ko Paulo, Paul has gone. One may say as a general rule that this particle replaces the words e and ia, signs of the subject and object, particularly when this subject and object are placed at the beginning - 13 of a phrase. C'est is the French word which seems best to translate the Futuna ko. Ko Paulo kua ano, It is Paul who has gone. (The bearing of the remark about subject and object is not very clear: and again though the verb to be is stated to be an equivalent there are no examples given of sentences formed with ko alone.)
SAMOA—Pratt explains 'O as the sign of the nominative absolute. It is also, he says, often used with a nominative after the form ona … ai lea. Otherwise it is very seldom used with a nominative after a verb except when required for the sake of euphony (Dict., p. 49). Violette merely says that it is the sign of the nominative when this precedes the verb, that it is equivalent to c'est, is; and that it is used after the particle po, or. Churchward, who deals with the grammar in a more thorough and systematic manner, amplifies Pratt's directions. He points out that the nominative absolute may be a noun or pronoun, and may have several shades of meaning; he adds to Pratt's ona, auā, and sometimes talu, because of, e lē, not, na and tau, only, and mentions the use with a noun or pronoun followed by a present participle; he amplifies the use with po; and includes the predicative use mentioned by Violette; he points out that it may be used with le ā (pl. ā) what, but not with sē ā or ni ā the indefinite use; and supports Pratt's suggestion that in certain cases it is inserted for euphony. One use mentioned by him is that with a noun in apposition where we may or may not have an of in English the River Jordan, the city of Samaria. In all such cases the Samoa Bible has o, which Churchward tells us should be read 'o. It is interesting to notice that in Maori we sometimes have the strict idiom ki te pa, ki Hiruharama, to the city (of) Jerusalem, and sometimes the preposition o; ki te pa o Hamaria, to the city of Samaria, and more awkwardly ki te awa o Horano, in the river (of) Jordan.
This may be the place to comment on Pratt's and Churchward's suggestion of euphonic use. In a very large number of cases ko and sometimes another particle (for example a in Maori with a proper name or a pronoun) may not be represented in the English rendering, but it is surely an admission of grammatical bankruptcy to say that the use in any such cases is due to euphony. When we come - 14 down to ultimate reasons the persistence of any idiom is surely due to the fact that the departure therefrom would not sound right—would in fact offend against euphony. But that is a very different thing from making the idiom a matter of euphony.
TONGA—Rabone is not very enlightening; he dismisses the question with the observation that ko is “A prefix, used before the proper names of persons and places, and in answer to the interrogative, who.”
The Marist Dictionary is slightly more informative when it tells us that ko is employed before the pronouns and proper names as an article, and that it can also be used for the verb to be.
TIKOPIA—Ko is a substantive particle used as a prefix to certain pronouns, and to introduce the complement or the object in a sentence. Two examples being given, Ne sau ko te kope, He took the knife; and Tokofia ko tangata?, 1 How many are the men?
NIUE—The Dictionary merely gives ko as the sign of the nominative.
Reviewing the material we have been considering, it appears that in Maori and in all the Polynesian languages sentences may be formed in a variety of ways any one of which would require the use of the verb to be in its English equivalent—that in the majority of the languages, if not all, some of the native expressions would involve the use of the particle ko or 'o. But in varying degrees in all the localities there are many cases in which the use of ko in - 15 such a sentence would be impossible. It is clear too that in all the languages in question the particle ko serves many other purposes. The inherent force of the particle in all its uses in all the languages is to call attention to the word to which it is attached, such attention being usually for the purpose of emphasis, identification, or particularization. The particle admits of no qualification in its use—it is always placed before the word to which it applies, and is itself never attended by any of the verbal particles. It is misleading, then, to speak of it as a verb, and it would be wiser to style it a particle of specification.
This finding may appear to be a veritable mouse after the labouring of such a mountain of evidence.
1 The author's quotation was correct in having tagata for tangata; but, consistently with the practice of this Journal, I have altered the g to ng. Every reader knows the sound that ng represents; but not all readers know that that sound is variously represented in various Polynesian dialects—ng, g, ṅ, n—the last three being expedients to represent a single consonant-sound by a single typographical sign; but the attempt must fail unless the sign is explained, and it is much simpler to use an already-familiar combination, ng, and more logical than using two new signs and an old one, which is widely used for a quite different sound. My letter with this proposed alteration in his text reached the author just at the time of his departure hence, and this essay has the added interest of being the last revised by him.—ED.