The language of the indigenous people of New Zealand is Maori, a word which means, in the language itself, “indigenous, straightforward, good”; it says p. ex. wai maori “fresh water”; in the Easter Island language, closely connected with it, Maori means “capable”. Maori belongs to the family of Maleo-Polynesian languages (v. Maleo – Polynesian, languages), as shown by means of forms such as ra ñ i “sky”, waru “eight”, inu “drink”,, inum, and that at the other end of the Maleo-Polynesian world, among the Hova of Madagascar, have the form lanitra, walu, inuna. Within the family of Maleo-Polynesian languages, Maori forms a closer unity with the Easter Island language, Tahitian, Samoan and Hawaiian, for which the name of “Polynesian group” is used. This closer kinship is manifested, Fr. eg, in words like: Maori and Samoan ta ñ ata, Tahitian taata, Hawaiian kanaka “man”.
The characteristic of the Maori is the great simplicity, or even poverty, of the sounds and forms. The sounds are only fourteen: a, e, i, o, u ; ñ (the velar nasal), n, m ; r, w, h ; k, p, t. Therefore the spirants and l are missing. In cases, Fr. e.g., in which other languages maleo-pol. have b, in Maori we have p: Fijian tabu “inviolable, intangible”, Maori tapu. The l of maleo-pol. primitive is presented as r: la ñ it “sky”, Maori ra ñ i ; the s becomes h or disappears: Maori he “one” next to if of other languages, p. ex. del bughi, iwa “nine” from an earlier siwa. From an ancient p we have in Maori wh: p. ex. even “race (fish)”, Maori whai. For New Zealand 2000, please check neovideogames.com.
The two main phonetic laws of the Malayo-polinesiaca family, the law of p is p is t (it indicates the voice indifferent, Javanese called p is p is t) and the law RGH thus act in the Maori:
- Law of p is p is t. – A p is p is t of maleo-pol. primitive occurs in Maori as o: è n è m becomes ono. The toba also has the vowel o as the Maori, while p. ex. in bali, p is p is t (toba onom, bali h is n is m).
- RGH law. – The r (uvular) of the primitive maleo-Polynesian, which in some languages becomes g, in other h, disappears in the Maori: equal “race” gives in the tagal pagi, in the daiak pahi, in the Maori whai.
Another notable phonetic reduction is due to the fall of all final consonants: so that all Maori words end in a vowel. For example, the word takut “fear”, widespread in many Malay-Polynesian languages, occurs as taku (in the verbal derivative mataku, see below); the word inum “to drink” as inu, etc.
Word formation is also very simple. There is only one derivative syllable for the noun; after all, nouns are invariable.
This syllable is – a ñ a or – ñ a, which has the meaning of ital. – tion, e.g. rui “dissipate”, rui ñ a “dissipate”. The declension is made by means of articles and prepositions as in Italian: te “il, la”; he “a, a”; to “of”; ki “a”; and “from”. Thus: te kuri “the dog”, a te kuri “from the dog”, ki te kuri “to the dog”, and te kuri “from the dog”.: kuri “dog”, ñ a kuri “dogs” (Tagalic forms the plural by means of ma ñ a, which is not if not an extended form, but + ñ a: maori ñ a hara, tagal. ma ñ a sala “mistakes”).
The structure of the verb is also very simple. While mostly Maleopol languages. they use formative syllables for the active, the causative and the passive, Maori has lost those of the active except for a few remains: one is the mataku that we have seen above and which is only the verbal prefix but – (different from ma – of ma ñ a) found in many Malopolynesian languages and the base taku. Live suffixes occur in Maori only for the causative and the passive. The prefix of the causative is whaka -, corresponding to the paka – of many Maleopol languages., P. ex. from Macassarese: Maori inu “to drink”, whakainu “to make to drink” “to drink”; maori nui “big”, whakanui “to enlarge” (macass. lump “big”, pakalompo “to enlarge”). The passive has the suffix – a, which is found, in the original form – an in many Maleopol languages. and, expanded to – ana, in the Hova language. We have like this: maori utu “to pay”, utua “to be paid” (hova uru “to burn”, uruana “to be burned”). The verb is conjugated by means of personal pronouns and temporal adverbs: p. ex. ahau “I”, kua utu ahau “(I) have paid”.
The doubling of words and syllables, which in all Maleopolynesian languages is widely used to indicate strengthening, is also found in Maori, p. ex. iti “little”, iti – iti “little little, very little”, inu “drink”, iinu “drink often”.
From the Pacific languages discussed in this article, the Western languages have adopted two words kanaka and tabu (v.).