Art. LIX.—On the Analogy between the Maori and Indo-European Languages.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, October 10, 1870.]
The present paper will consist chiefly of a comparison of words. Before proceeding, I would, however, point out certain resemblances of grammatical structure which the Maori bears to the Indo-European languages.
1st. The resemblance of the Maori definite and indefinite articles respectively to the English, as he = a, te = the. Also, of particles forming cases, as o and a = of, identical with o and a, the Old English form of of; also, the particle ko (interchangeable with to) sometimes used in Maori for the dative to.
2nd. The formation of substantives from verbs in Maori by the addition of nga, hanga, tanga, ranga, etc., resembling the English ing and German ung, by which the same process is effected in the same manner.
3rd. The formation of the present participle by the addition of ana to the verb, resembling the Sanskrit ana of the middle voice, the Latin ans, and the English ing, etc., applied similarly to form the present participle.
4th. The superlative is formed in Maori by prefixing tino, “very, exceeding,” to the adjective; in Latin by affixing timu, in Zend tema, and in Sanskrit tama.
5th. In most Maori verbs the perfect tense coincides with the imperative and passive, which last two are always identical; but when the perfect does not so coincide, it is formed by a reduplication of the first syllable, as— imperative, taari-a, “wait;” perfect, kua tatári ia, “he has waited;” resembling a similar reduplication in the Greek and Sanskrit perfects.
In the preceding example, the particle kua helps to form the perfect. German has a similar particle, ge, prefixed to form the perfect.
6th. In Maori, the past participle is formed by adding tia, ria, kia, etc., to the verb, resembling the similar terminations in English, German, Latin, etc., in d, t, atus, etus, etc.
7th. In Maori, ordinal numerals are formed by prefixing to the cardinals tua, which originally, no doubt, meant number (from the same root as tátau, to count), as proved by its equivalent in Samoan, toa, meaning also in that dialect, number.
In Sanskrit, ordinals are formed by affixing the superlative form tama, or modifications of it, to the cardinals. The same principle is observed in the other Indo-European languages, as—Greek to, Latin tu, Gothic and Anglo- Saxon ta, and English th. Now, as the superlative degree really carries the essential idea of number, it is very probable that the Sanskrit tama and the other forms adduced were originally derived from a root signifying number; very likely the identical one from which the Maori tua and Samoan toa are derived.
These are the principal points. Many more minor ones might be brought forward, but the doing so would take too much space.
The Maori, I believe, will be found upon examination also to contain many old Egyptian and Arabic words, and I think it is a mistake to class it as belonging to the Turanian group of languages. It is rather a mixture of the Indo-European and Semitic.
The very name Maori points most significantly to the stock from which the race has been derived. This idea first struck me about seven years ago, and a friend of mine lately, without knowing the fact, stated that some time back the same thought had also occurred to him. Lately, after reading books of ancient travels, voyages, etc., I am almost confirmed in the opinion that the names Maori of New Zealand, Mori-ori of the Chatham Islands, Malay (more properly Malai), etc., etc., are but modifications of the same word as Moor in English, and the Mauri of the Romans;—those Mauri who carried into Spain the words like Maori, quoted in Thompson's Story of New Zealand.
I am not quite sure, but I believe that the name Malay is supposed to be connected with Malacea. But I think Malacca, or Malaka, simply means east. Marangai means east in Maori, named so, no doubt, from its being the quarter of the sun's rising—áranga means rising, and maránga means to arise; this would be pronounced maráka in some parts of New Zealand, almost identical with the name of the Malayan Peninsula. The Maori is the same fierce cross between the Arab and Ethiopian that the Moor was, with a further modification in the shape of the ancient Persian element.
Philologists have been puzzled to account for the name Moors being applied to the languages of the southern coasts of Asia, but I believe the true explanation is the foregoing one, and that there has been nothing arbitrary in the matter. It is simply the voice of tradition that has been followed.
[This paper was supplemented by lists of words showing the relation between the Maori and the Sanskrit, English, German, Greek, Latin, and Moorish languages, and the author makes the following concluding remarks]:—
Having furnished the foregoing comparison, I would only observe further that I believe a comprehensive study of the Polynesian dialects, and especially of the Maori (which, from natural causes, I think has been the most conservative of them all), will throw a light even on many of what are considered pure English etymologies. The first step in such a study should be a careful and cautious inter-comparison of the different dialects, so as to recover forms which some had lost and others retained, and also, where the forms varied to decide by weight of votes upon a standard of antiquity.
It is a fortunate circumstance for the comparative philologist that the people speaking the Polynesian language have been so long scattered and efficiently isolated. It partly makes up for the want of the written records which enable the study of the European languages to be made with such certainty.