Volume 5 1896 > Volume 5, No. 1, March 1896 > The common origin of Oceanic languages, by Sidney H. Ray, p 58-68
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IN noticing the inter-relationship of the various branches of the Oceanic Family of Languages it is convenient to distinguish four main divisions:—

  • 1. Indonesian: Comprising the languages of Malacca, Madagascar, Sumatra, Java, the south-eastern Sunda Isles, Borneo, Celebes, the Philippines, and Formosa.
  • 2. Micronesian: Comprising the languages of the Palau, Caroline, Marshall, and Gilbert Groups in the North Pacific.
  • 3. Melanesian: Comprising the languages of the Bismarck Archipelago, portions of south-east New Guinea, the Solomon, Fiji, and Banks' Islands, New Hebrides Groups, the Loyalty Islands, and New Caledonia.
  • 4. Polynesian: Comprising the languages of the Eastern Pacific, from Hawaii and Easter Islands to Samoa, Tonga, and New Zealand.

Though these names are mainly geographical, they will be found convenient for philological use, as each division has its own characteristics by which it may be differentiated from the others.

Certain exceptional areas are found in each region (except Micronesia) which seem to present evidence of another type of language having formerly been spoken in them, but which has now become considerably mixed with Oceanic words. These exceptional areas are (1) The Moluccas in the Indonesian region; (2) the northern Solomon Islands and Santa Cruz in the Melanesian region; (3) Paumotu in the Polynesian region.

Four propositions may be made as to the relationship of the proper Oceanic languages to one another:—

  • 1. That the vocabulary shows evidence of a common origin.
  • 2. That apparent differences in the grammar are modifications of the same method rather than actual differences of structure.
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  • 3. That the principal constructive particles are the same.
  • 4. That the languages are in various stages, of which the Polynesian is the latest.
1.—The Evidence of a Common Origin of Vocabulary.

A comparison of two or more lists of names for common objects, qualities, or actions, brought together from even widely different parts of Oceania rarely fails to show some evidence of agreement.1 In many instances the agreement is of such a nature as to entirely preclude the possibility of the words being the same through accident or commerce.

It is, for example, inconceivable that the Malagasy word havitra (a hook), which is kawit in Malay, kait in the Philippines, and kaj in Micronesia, has reached Mota and the New Hebrides in the forms gau and ngau, Loyalty Islands gĕ, by means of trade intercourse. That there is no mere accidental resemblance is seen by taking the Malagasy word ravina (a leaf), which is of similar form to havitra, and undergoes precisely the same kind of changes. This becomes in Malay dawun, Philippines dahon, Micronesian ra, Mota naui, New Hebrides and Polynesia rau, Loyalty Islands dö.

Another example is the word for ‘fathom,’ the natural measure of the outstretched arms: Malagasy refy, Malay and Javan depa, Sumatra dopa, Borneo depe, Philippines dopa, dipa, Celebes repa, depa, Dutch New Guinea rof, British New Guinea doha, Caroline Is. ngap, ngaf, Solomon Is. ha-ngava, Mota rova, New Hebrides ngafa, Loyalty Is. hnapan, epan, nāba, Polynesia ngafa.

It is to be noticed also that the words which are most widely spread are not always found to be those in most constant use, such as names of trade articles, fruits, and animals, or numerals, though the majority of these are of identical origin, but there are also a very large number of common words which are the names of the most insignificant things, so insignificant that they often fail to find a place even in the dictionary of a language.

The following words are good examples of these:—

  • 1. Moss, seaweed, and especially the green growth on anything damp: Malagasy lumutra, Malay and Javan lumut, Sumatra limut, Borneo lumut, Philippines lomot, Celebes lumu, Dutch New Guinea rumek, New Britain limut, Mota lumuta, Polynesian limu, rimu.
  • 2. The wax of the ear: Malay and Javan tuli, Philippines tutuli, atuli, Dutch New Guinea keruru, New Britain tula, Fiji tule, Mota tul, New Hebrides tula, Polynesia taturi.
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  • 3. Pith of a tree, marrow of a bone: Malay utak, Javan utek, Borneo untek, Philippines utak, utok, Celebes antog, uta, oto, Fiji uto, Mota utoi, Polynesian uso or uho.
2.—Apparent Differences in Grammar are Modifications of the Same Methods.

A complete proof of this proposition would be entirely beyond the scope of the present notice, but as examples I may select two important grammatical features which will clearly indicate both the agreement and distinction in the four divisions of the language. These are:—

  • (a) The method of indicating the relations of possessor and possessed.
  • (b) The predication of a quality or action.

(a) Relations of Possessor and Possessed:

In the Indonesian languages possession is usually indicated by suffixing a pronoun to the noun. These suffixes are, for the three persons of the singular number, always some form of the syllables ku, mu, na. They are used with all classes of nouns, for parts of the body, names of relationships, implements, and actions. In only a few languages a possessive word is sometimes used with things possessed. These appear with the suffixes thus:—

Dayak (Borneo) aju-ngku, aju-m, aju-e; ai-ngku, ai-m, ai. Macassar (Celebes) anu-ngku, anu-nu, anu-na. Holontalo (Celebes) ola-u, ole-mu, oli-o; wola-u, wole-mu, woli-o. Malagasy a-hu, a-nao, a-zy.

The grammars usually state these words to be equivalent to ‘mine,’ ‘thine,’ ‘his’; but they are plainly the same as the Melanesian possessive nouns. In Malagasy they take the article, ny ahy, the (thing of) mine; ny anao, the (thing of) thine; ny azy, the (thing of) his.

The following are examples of Indonesian nouns with suffixes:—

‘My blood.’ Malay darah-ku, Batak mudar-hu, Malagasy ra-ko, Dayak daha-ngku, Sangir raha-ku, Pangasinan (Philippines) dala-c.
‘Thy father.’ Malay bapa-mu, Batak ama-mu, Malagasy rai-nao, Dayak bapa-m, Sangir jama-ngu, Pangasinan a-mam.
‘His eye.’ Malay mata-ña, Batak mata-nai, Malagasy maso-ny, Dayak mata-e, Sangir mata-ne, Pangasinan mata-to.
‘My disciple.’ Malay murid-ku, Batak sisehang-ku, Malagasy hihinana-ko, Dayak murid-ku, Sangir murit-ku, Pangasinan binangatan-co.
‘Thy way.’ Malay jalan-mu, Batak dalan-mu, Malagasy lala-noa, Dayak djalan-ajum, Sangir horo-nu, Pangasinan dalan-mo.
‘His bed.’ Malay tilam-ña, Batak poboman-nai, Malagasy fandria-ny, Dayak kaleka-e, Sangir kama-ne, Pangasinan docolan-to.

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In Melanesia and Micronesia the use of a separate possessive noun, which is exceptional in Malayan languages, becomes the rule for all nouns which are not the names of things inseparable from their possessor. Only names of parts of the body, of relationships, and a few others take a suffixed pronoun as in the Malayan division. With other names various possessive nouns are used, which denote the degree in which the thing possessed is related to its possessor, or the nature of the thing possessed. There are always at least two of these nouns, one indicating simple possession, and the other a closer relationship; but the number and application of the words vary in different languages, and according to the native idea of the relationship. In Mota there are four of these possessives—no, ga, mo, ma. The greatest variety is found in the language of lai, the Melanesian portion of Uvea in the Loyalty Islands, where there is an extensive classification of nouns, each headed by its appropriate possessive, thus:—

  • 1. Parts of the body and relations, take the suffixed-pronoun bo-k, my head; kamö-k, my father.
  • 2. Food, ha; haok kumara, my sweet potato.
  • 3. Weapons, anyi; anyik hele, my knife.
  • 4. Things containing juice or liquid, beli; belik wanu, my drinking coco-nut.
  • 5. Animals, hale; halek buaka, my pig (as property).
  • 6. Things carried, ö, ök buaka, my pig.
  • 7. Lands, fields, i, ga; ik nyei, gak nyei, my field.
  • 8. Roads, de; dek gethen, my way.
  • 9. Bags, boxes, baskets, tang; tanguk tang, my bag.
  • 10. Seats, tab; tabuk tap, my seat.
  • 11. Dwellings and caves, um; umuk uma, my house; umuk op, my cave.
  • 12. Words, hwa; hwak hofuj, my saying.

The following are Melanesian and Micronesian examples of possessive expressions:—

‘My blood.’ New Guinea—Motu rara-gu, Keapara lala-gu. Louisiades saria-u. New Britain nggapu-nggu. Solomon Is.—Florida gabu-nggu. Mota nara-k. Fiji nonggu dra. New Hebrides—Efate tra-ngu, Tasiko ta-u, Espiritu Santo dai-ku, Malekula rie-ngk, Tanna nete-k. Loyalty Is.—Iai drö-k. Micronesia—Caroline Is.—Ponape int-ai, Kusaie sa'-k. Mortlock Is. ra-ai. Marshall Is. dra-õ. Gilbert Is. rara-u.
‘Thy father.’ New Guinea—Motu tama-mu, Keapara ama-mu, Louisiades tama-m. New Britain tama-m. Solomon Is.—Florida tama-mu. Mota tama-ma. Fiji tama-mu. New Hebrides—Efate tema-ma, Tasiko arimo-ma, Espiritu Santo tama-m, Malekula teme-m, Tanna rema-m. Loyalty Is.—lai kāmo-m. Micronesia—Caroline Is.—Ponape jamo-m, Kusaie tumo-m. Mortlock Is. jamo-m. Marshall Is. jemo-m. Gilbert Is. tama-m.
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‘His eye.’ New Guinea—Motu mata-na, Keapara mā-na. Louisiades mata-na. New Britain mata-na. Solomon Is.—Florida mata-na. Mota mata-na. Fiji mata-na. New Hebrides—Efate meta-na, Tasiko komara-na, Espiritu Santo meta-na, Malekula mete-n, Tanna nanime-m. Loyalty Is.—Iai maka-n. Micronesia—Caroline Is.—Ponape majā, Kusaie muta-l. Mortlock Is. masa-n. Marshall Is. meje-n. Gilbert Is. mata-na.
‘My disciple.’ New Guinea—Motu lauegu hadibaia-mero, Keapara augegu vaharipa-melo. Louisiades aroa-u. New Britain kaunggu tenawarotoro. Solomon Is.—Florida nigua na vaovarongo. Mota tinggoro anak. Fiji nonggu tisaipeli. New Hebrides- Efate natamole anginau, Tasiko sau naisapianena, Espiritu Santo noku tasorasora, Malekula surenti ligeni tukunu. Loyalty Is.—Iai latö-k. Micronesia—Caroline Is.—Ponape ai uarok, Kusaie met tumuk lutlut. Mortlock Is. nao ranafalafal. Gilbert Is. au reirei.
‘Thy way.’ New Guinea—Motu oiemu dala, Keapara oigemu laopara. Louisiades wam kamasa. New Britain kaum ga. Solomon Is.—Florida halautu-mu. Mota matesala-ma. Fiji nomu sala. New Hebrides—Efate bua anago, Espiritu Santo sala-m, Malekula havila tahengko, Tanna swatuk mik. Loyalty Is.—Iai dem gethen. Micronesia—Caroline Is.—Ponape om al, Kusaie inek lom. Mortlock Is. al om. Marshall Is. am ial. Gilbert Is. kawai-m.
‘His bed.’ New Guinea—Motu iaena geda. Keapara iagena gepa. Louisiades wana abakenu. New Britain kana wawa. Solomon Is.—Florida sape-na. Mota tanoepa-na. Fiji nona imodhemodhe. New Hebrides—Efate ol anena, Tasiko sona togi, Espiritu Santo zara-na, Malekula mili-n, Tanna kamapani savani. Loyalty Is.—Iai ne-n. Micronesia—Caroline Is.—Ponape ki-e, Kusaie kulus kiel. Mortlock Is. an kiakai. Marshall Is. kinie-n. Gilbert Is. nena ni wene.

In Polynesia the use of the suffixed pronoun with parts of the body and names of relationships has wholly disappeared, though they are still affixed to the words which are called possessive pronouns. These are formed exactly on the model of the Melanesian possessive nouns. The words are a and o, which, with the article te, le, se, or he prefixed, and the suffixes, appear as—

  • aku, au, ana
  • taku, tau, tana
  • l'au, lau, lana
  • s'au, sau, sana
  • haku, hau, hana
  • oku, ou, ona
  • toku, tou, tona
  • l'ou, lou, lona
  • s'ou, sou, sona
  • hoku, hou, hona

The words no, na, mo, ma are used in some of the languages in a similar way, though they are called prepositions in the grammars.

The following examples correspond to the Malayan, Melanesian, and Micronesian already given:— - 63

‘My blood.’ Samoa lo'u toto, Niue haku a toto, Tonga hoku toto, Aniwa jaku toto, Maori toku toto, Rarotonga toku toto, Tahiti tau toto, Hawaii kou koko.
‘Thy father.’ Samoa lou tamā, Niue hau a matuatane, Tonga hoo tamai, Aniwa jou ta mana, Maori tou pāpā or matuatane, Rarotonga to metuatane, Tahiti to metuatane, Hawaii kou makuakane.
‘His eye.’ Samoa lona mata, Niue hana mata, Tonga hono mata, Aniwa jana foimata, Maori tona kanohi, Rarotonga tona mata, Tahiti tana mata, Hawaii kona maka.
‘My disciple.’ Samoa mo'u soo, Niue tutaki haku, Tonga eku akonga, Aniwa niaku tangata, Maori akonga noku, Rarotonga pipi naku, Tahiti pipi na'u, Hawaii kau haumana.
‘Thy way.’ Samoa lou ala, Niue hāu a hala, Tonga ho hala, Aniwa jau retu, Maori tou ara, Rarotonga toou ara, Tahiti to oe e'a, Hawaii alanui nou.
‘His bed.’ Samoa lona mohenga, Niue hana mohenga, Tonga hono mohenga, Aniwa jana potu, Maori tona moenga, Rarotonga tona roi, Tahiti tana roi, Hawaii kona wahimoe.

(b) The Predication of a Quality or Action:—

In all the Oceanic languages a word is distinctly pointed out as a verb by means of preceding particles. Of these there are three kinds—(1) Those which simply indicate that the word is a verb: (2) Those which express the tense and make no change for person and number; (3) Those which express number, person, and tense.

Probably the commonest particle of the first kind is the syllable ma. In the Indonesian languages ma is generally used to express the simplest verbal idea. It appears prefixed to the verb, modifying the initial consonant of the root. In Malay, ma, mang, mam, mañ Malagasy, m; Sumatra ma, mang, mar, man, mam; Borneo m, ma; Celebes m, mo, ma; Sangir, ma, mang, mam, man, me, men, meng; Philippines, na nag, um, ungm.

In Melanesia the same particle is not so commonly used. It is found chiefly in the New Hebrides: Espiritu Santo, mo, mu; Pentecost Is., ma, me; Ambrym, ma; Lepers' Is. and Aurora, mo; Epi, m, mi; Mota, me; Tanna, am, um; Loyalty Islands, me. The tense signification agrees with the Indonesian in being usually indefinite, sometimes preterite, very rarely present.

In Micronesia me is used as an affirmative particle almost equivalent to a substantive verb, and is also frequently used as a prefix to adjectives. In this latter use the syllable ma is very commonly used, not only in Indonesian and Melanesian, but also in Polynesian. The particle ma is not found with verbs in Polynesian.

The second class of particles, varying with the tense, are found throughout Oceania, and there are a great variety of forms often corresponding in distant regions.

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The third class are found only in certain languages of the New Hebrides, Solomon Islands, and New Guinea. They may in all cases be shown to have resulted from the combination of an abbreviated pronoun with the tense particle.

The following table indicates the verbal aspect in each division.

  • 1. Indonesian: Particles of all kinds are combined into one prefix.
  • 2. Melanesian: Particles are usually separated from the verb and express—
    • (a) Time only;
    • (b) Time, person, and number of agents.
  • 3. Micronesian: Prefixes rarely used. In one language (Marshall Is.) a tense particle is added to the pronoun.
  • 4. Polynesian: Particles are separated and express tense only.
3.—Common Constructive Particles.

These may be indicated thus:—

1. Personal or Personifying Article: Malay, Javan, Philippine, si; Celebes, Borneo, Madagascar, New Hebrides, Mota, i; Solomon Islands, New Zealand, a.

2. Demonstrative Article: Malagasy, ny; New Hebrides, Fiji, Mota, Solomon Is., na; Loyalty Islands, la, re.

3. Suffix to Verbal Noun: Malagasy, ana; Malay, Javan, Sumatra, an; Celebes, ang; New Britain, New Guinea, na; Solomon Islands, nga, na; New Hebrides, ana, ena, na; Polynesian, nga.

4. Suffixed Pronouns: These are sufficiently illustrated in the preceding section of this paper.

5. Personal Pronouns: In these the distinction between the inclusive and exclusive forms in the plural is hardly observed in some of the Malayan languages, though the inclusive word kita and the exclusive kami are both in use. In other Malayan languages the distinction is clear. In Micronesia the use is indefinite, but is most clearly distinct in Melanesia and Polynesia. The following illustrates the distribution of personal pronouns:—

‘I.’ Malay aku. Malagasy aho. Sumatra—Batak au. Borneo—Dayak aku. Celebes—Macassar a, ku, Holontalo uau. Sangir ia. Philippines—Tagala aku. New Guinea—Motu lau. New Britain iau. Caroline Is.—Ponape i, ngai. Marshall Is. i. Gilbert Is. i, ngai. Solomon Is.—Florida inau. Mota inau, na. New Hebrides—Efate kinau, Tanna iau. Loyalty Is.—Iai inya, in, Lifu ini. Samoan a'u. Maori ahau.
‘Thou.’ Malay angkau. Malagasy hianao. Sumatra—Batak ho. Borneo—Dayak ikau. Celebes—Macassar ki, ko, Holontalo io. - 65 Sangir ikau. Philippines—Tagala ikan. New Guinea—Motu oi. New Britain u. Caroline Is.—Ponape ko, kom. Marshall Is. kwo. Gilbert Is. ngkoe, ko. Solomon Is.—Florida igoe. Mota iniko. New Hebrides—Efate nago, Tanna ik. Loyalty Is.—Iai u, Lifu eö. Samoan 'oe. Maori koe.
‘He.’ Malay iya. Malagasy izy. Sumatra—Batak ibana. Borneo—Dayak iä. Celebes—Macassar a, i, iya, Holontalo tio. Sangir isie. Philippines—Tagala sia. New Guinea—Motu ia. New Britain i, ia. Caroline Is.—Ponape i, a. Marshall Is. e. Gilbert Is. e. Solomon Is.—Florida anggaia. Mota ineia. New Hebrides—Efate nai, Tanna in. Loyalty Is.—Iai e, Lifu nyëne. Samoan ia. Maori ia.
‘We.’ Malay kita, kami. Malagasy izika, izahay. Sumatra—Batak hita, hami. Borneo—Dayak ita, ikäi. Celebes—Macassar ki, kang; ta, many; Holontalo ito, ami. Sangir ikite, ikami. Philippines—Tagala kita, kami. New Guinea—Motu ita, ai. New Britain datal, mital. Caroline Is.—Ponape kit, kitail. Marshall Is. kij, kim. Solomon Is.—Florida igita, igami. Mota inina, ikamam. New Hebrides—Efate ningita, kinami, Tanna kita', iti 'ma. Loyalty Is.—Iai otin, omun, Lifu she, hun. Samoan tātou, matou. Maori tatou, matou.
‘You.’ Malay kamu. Malagasy hianareo. Sumatra—Batak hamu. Borneo—Dayak keton. Celebes—Macassar ki, ko, Holontalo timongolo. Sangir ikamene. Philippines—Tagala kayu. New Guinea—Motu umui. New Britain mutal. Caroline Is.—Ponape komail. Marshall Is. kom. Gilbert Is. ngkami, kam. Solomon Is.—Florida igamu. Mota ikamiu. New Hebrides—Efate kumu, Tanna itu ‘ma’. Loyalty Is.—Iai obun, Lifu nyipë. Samoan 'outou. Maori koutou.
‘They.’ Malay dia. Malagasy izy. Sumatra—Batak nasida. Borneo—Dayak äwen. Celebes—Macassar ki, na, iya, Holontalo timongolio. Sangir isire. Philippines—Tagala sila. New Guinea—Motu idia. New Britain dital. Caroline Is.—Ponape ir, irail. Marshall Is. ir. Gilbert Is. nakai. Solomon Is.—Florida ra. Mota ineira. New Hebrides—Efate nara, Tanna ila'. Loyalty Is.—Iai odrin, Lifu nyuden. Samoan latou. Maori ratou.

6. Interrogative Pronouns: The interrogative ‘who’ is nearly always some form of sei, and ‘what’ sava. In some cases the latter word with the personal article is used for ‘who.’

‘Who?’ Malay siapa, Malagasy iza, Batak ise, siaha, Dayak äwe, Macassar nai, inai, Holontalo tita, Sangir isai, Philippines (Pangasinan) opa, Motu dai-ka, New Britain ooi, to ia, Ponape ij, Marshall Is. won, Gilbert Is. antai, Florida ahei, Mota isei, Efate sei, fei, Tanna ba, sin, Iai iā, iē, Lifu dei, Samoa ai, Maori wai.
‘What?’ Malay apa, Malagasy inona, Batak aha, Dayak narai, Macassar apa, Holontalo ta, Sangir apa, Philippines (Pangasinan) anto, - 66 Motu daha-ka, New Britain ia, aua, Ponape et, ta, Marshall Is. ta, Gilbert Is. ra, Florida hava, Mota sava, sa, Efate sefa, sa, Tanna nak, nufe, Iai ieū, Lifu nemen, Samoa a, Maori aha.

7. Cansative Prefix to Verbs: va, ka, vaka.

In some of the Indonesian languages this prefix is obscured by being compounded with the verbal particles, and is then frequently termed an infix. It thus appears in Malagasy m-aha, m-amp; Dayak mamp, mampa. Simply prefixed the particle is widespread in the whole Oceanic region.
Indonesian: Batak paha; Dayak pa, paha, hangka; Macassar paka, pi, pa; Holontalo po.
Micronesian: Caroline Is. ak, ka; Gilbert Is. ka.
Melanesian: New Guinea ha, vaka, vaha; New Britain wa, va; Solomon Is. haa, faga, va; Louisiade Is. pa; Fiji vaka; Banks' Is. vaga, va; New Hebrides baka, vaka, vaga, va; Loyalty Is. a, o.
Polynesian: Maori whaka; Samoan, &c., faka.

8. Reciprocal Prefix: There are two forms of this, which are found widely scattered.

‘Vei.’ Malagasy if; Dayak h, ha; New Guinea he, ve; New Britain we; Solomon Is. hai, fai, he, vei; Fiji vei; New Hebrides vei, vui; Loyalty Is. i, e; Samoan and Tongan fe.
‘Bar.’ Malay bar; Dayak bara; Macassar pâra; New Britain wara; Mota var.
A peculiar use of the reciprocal as a kind of plural denoting a number of things mutually related is found in Dayak, Fiji, and Loyalty Islands. In Samoan a similar plural of verbs is also expressed by the same particle.
Verbal Suffixes: In Indonesian, Micronesian, and Melanesian the action of a verb is rendered definite by means of a suffix. If neuter it becomes transitive, if already transitive it has its action determined upon some definite object. Examples of such suffixes are found in the Malay kān, i; Javan i, ni, ake; Macassar i; Ponape i. In Melanesia there is a great variety of terminations, but a very general agreement in their use. In Polynesia these suffixes are not found as transitives, except in Tongan, which has i, aki, hia. These terminations will be further noticed in the next section.

4.—Stages of Development in the Oceanic Languages.

On examining the vocabularies and grammars of the principal languages of each division, it soon becomes evident that though there is a great deal of agreement in the fundamental material of the languages, this material is employed more fully in some languages than in others. In the Indonesian, words are as a rule longer than in the other divisions, and many ideas are compounded into one expression. - 67 In the southern part of Melanesia (Tanna and Eromanga) there is also a tendency (or survival) of the same kind, but in Melanesia generally the language is less complex and the expression of ideas simpler. Words also appear without the terminations which are affixed to them in the Indonesian languages, e.g., langit becomes langi; limak, lima; witung, vitu; mangang, manga; niug, niu; ron, rau, &c. If the termination is retained it conveys some special meaning, as in the Mota panei, vitui, mangai, naui. In Polynesia the simplification proceeds still further, till in some cases words are hardly recognisable as connected with Indonesian until we have the intermediate forms. In Micronesia the languages are transitional, those in the south of the Caroline Islands being more like the Indonesian and Melanesian than those in the Gilbert Islands. The latter in many respects approach the Polynesian. In grammar we find the same progression. Complexity is the rule in Indonesian, the exception in Melanesian, whilst the grammar of Polynesian is remarkable for its simplicity.

It has been already shown how variety in the classification of nouns and the use of the possessive suffixes has been lost in the Polynesian. Another illustration of the later stage of the same division may be shown in the transformation of the transitive suffixes of Melanesia into signs of a passive voice. The likeness of the Melanesian transitive suffixes to the Polynesian passive terminations has been pointed out by Dr. Codrington (“Melanesian Languages,” p. 152), but their identity may be more particularly illustrated. In Mota the suffixes consist of the consonants g, ng, n, r, s, t, v, either alone or combined with the syllable ag, but in other parts of Melanesia the vowel i commonly forms part of the suffix. In Fiji alone the vowel is a. In Mota the i sometimes appears with the suffix.

If we use as examples words in Melanesian and Polynesian which are derived from the same roots, the likeness between the transitive and passive is very plain. The root and the suffix are the same. For example:—

Root tangi, cry. Mota tangis; Efate tangisi; Florida tangihi, cry for something; Samoan tangisia; Maori tangihia, be cried.
Root wono, punu, close. Mota wonot; Efate bonoti, bunuti, to shut something; Samoan punitia, be shut.
Root anu, spit. Mota anus, to spit something out; Samoan anusia, be spit out.
Root mafa, heavy. Mota mavat, to be heavy upon something; Samoan mafatia, to be weighed down.
Root tanu, bury. Efate tanumi, to bury something; Samoan and Maori tanumia, to be buried.

In all these cases the Polynesian word is followed by the letter a, and it is very remarkable that all the Melanesian examples may also be followed by a, or, in the case of Mota, by ia. But in Melanesian this a is the pronoun of the third person singular, and tangisia, - 68 punitia, anusia, &c., would be read by a Melanesian as ‘weep for him,’ ‘close it,’ ‘spit it out,’ &c.

A further step in the explanation of the Polynesian passive is afforded by considering an impersonal use of the active verb in some Melanesian languages. ‘He is beaten’ would be expressed in Florida by tara ramusia, literally ‘they beat him,’ the verbal particle tara being used impersonally. Similarly tara kisua tua na vale, ‘the house is built.’ Comparing the latter with the Samoan ua na faia le fale, in which faia is the passive of fai, to make, kua the tense sign, and na the pronoun of third person singular, we may read (though such a reading is not recognized in the grammar) ‘he makes it the house,’ as in Florida ‘they build it the house,’ both equivalent to ‘the house, is built or made.’

The fact that the final in Polynesian is always a, and never a plural pronoun presents little difficulty, as in some Melanesian languages the singular objective pronoun is used when the object is plural.

The identity of passive and transitive is strengthened by the fact that the Polynesian passive is used when the action is emphatic rather than the agent, and hence is more frequently used in the case of transitive verbs than the active form.

It should be noted also that, in Samoan, verbs may be formed from nouns or adjectives by means of suffixes i, ti, fi, si, ni, &c. For example—Pulu, glue; puluti, to stick. Mamala, name of a tree; malasi, to have a bad taste through that tree. Lua, a hole; luai,2 to spit out. Pala, rotten, over-ripe; palasi, to drop because over-ripe. Pola, plaited coco-nut leaf; polani, to carry in such a leaf. In some cases we find an active transitive verb formed from another verb by means of similar terminations, e.g., po, to slap; po'i, to kill flies by slapping. Lolo, to be in abundance, overflow; lolofi, to flock towards.

Samoan verb terminations in ma'i, ta'i, may also be compared with the similar endings in Melanesian. Pulupulu, to cover; pulupuluta'i, to cover up. Sulu, to thrust; suluma'i, to thrust into.

1  Compare, for example, the vocabularies in the following works: (1) Wallace: Malay Archipelago. 1872. (2) Codrington: Melanesian Languages. 1885. (3) Gabelentz and Meyer: Melanesian Sprachen. 1883. (4) Tregear: Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. 1891. (5) Ray: Languages of the New Hebrides. Proc. Roy. Soc., N.S. Wales. 1893. (6) Ray: Languages of British New Guinea. S.P.C.K. 1895.
2  We differ from Mr. Ray here, unless indeed Mr. Ray includes ki in the Samoan i. Luai is the equivalent of the Maori word ruaki, to spit out, or be sick, and has, we think, a different root from rua.Editors.