Art. LXII.—Curious Polynesian Words.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 23rd July, 1890.]
Some years ago, when wishing to compare certain Maori words with those of other languages used on the Continents of Asia and Europe, one of the masters of modern philology assured me that the Maori tongue was not in a position for comparison. The Maori speech of New Zealand was but a dialect of the Polynesian language,* the conditions of which did not permit
[Footnote] *The Polynesians call themselves maori or maoli, as “natives;” but I shall, in this paper, confine the term Maori to its vernacular use —i.e., applying it to the New-Zealander only.
it to be explored by the European linguist without much preparation and investigation. The only documents available presented to the philologist a broken and imperfect collection of vocabularies from the different groups of islands, in which even the mode of expressing the same sound varied. The European scholar, accustomed to the elaborate system of inflection and of general grammatical expression into which the oriental and classical forms of speech have crystallized themselves, needed a long and special preparation before he could grasp the mode or comprehend the genius of apparently simple tongues wherein shifting particles, arranging themselves about comparatively changeless major forms, were found to be capable of rendering very subtle and powerful modes of expression. Years of study would not enable the European to acquire the same insight into the delicacies of the Polynesian language that would be revealed to one resident among the people, and having a consequent acquaintance with the spirit of the spoken tongue. Added to this was the difficulty superinduced by the great dialectic differences: people inhabiting groups of islands scattered about the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles apart in some cases, and holding little communication with each other, had in process of time developed speech quite unintelligible one to the other. Although the main words of each dialect are undoubtedly the same, and the system of grammatical construction very similar, still the loss of various letters and the substitution of others have created a confusion so great that the language of the Samoan or the Tongan is to the Maori the speech of a stranger and a barbarian. It remained for some Polynesian scholar to arrange and put into a form easy to manipulate, and to be comprehended at a glance, the various related words used in the different island-groups. The adventure may seem to be a bold one, and the power to achieve may have fallen short of the conception: still, I have, in my “Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary,” to offer as the result of years of untiring industry an original work to the Maori scholar and the European philologist. I trust that it may be merely the commencement of more full investigation into the comparison of the Oceanic languages, and I shall hail with delight more full research and new discovery in these almost unknown fields through which I have passed with the half-hesitation of an explorer.
Not a small part of my labour has been the correspondence required for the acquisition of necessary documents from friends (many of them personally unknown) at long distances from New Zealand; some of them dwelling in localities where communication with the outer world is both difficult and infrequent. I have received vocabularies, grammars, legends, songs, genealogies, &c., from all parts of the Pacific; and the
pleasure which the accumulation and assimilation of this mass of new and curious information has given me kept the current of fresh Interest daily flowing to refresh me through the long drudgery of the actual labour necessary for the production of a lexicon. I propose to lay before you some of the results of my work, and to share with others the pregnant suggestions which have unavoidably evolved themselves during consideration of the subject. Just as a comparative anatomist, taking the bodies of a dozen different creatures and laying them side by side, would find intense pleasure in comparing arm with wing, and muscle with muscle, and bone with bone, noticing the exquisite adaptations and dwelling on the curious differences, so I have found pleasure in laying side by side the disjecta membra of these Polynesian dialects, noting the coincidences, pondering over the discrepancies, and finding possibilities of historical research in the change of a letter or the metathesis of a form.
In the first part of my paper I will give an account of some of the interesting comparatives; in the second part I will attempt to show that it is possible that the Maori of New Zealand may not be properly understood at present in many of its words, and that the only way by which restoration can be attempted is the comparative method.
The races inhabiting the Pacific, broadly divided into the Polynesian, Melanesian, and Micronesian peoples, have among them a multiplicity of languages and dialects. The greater number of these are in the possession of the Melanesian people, the black-skinned and woolly-haired inhabitants of the Western Pacific. This people, occupying New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands, &c., have their eastern boundary in the Fiji Islands, which lie at the point of the wedge Melanesia drives into Polynesia proper, the home of the light-brown, straight-haired, level-eyed Polynesian. The Fijians, although the bulk of the people are of Papuan blood, have been crossed extensively by Polynesians from Tonga, especially on the coasts looking towards the Friendly Islands, and their language bears even more strong evidence of crossing than is betrayed by their physique. Nearly one-third of the Fijian language consists of Polynesian words, and of words in singularly pure and valuable preservation; but concerning the remainder of their vocabulary the Maori linguist feels himself in the presence of an utterly strange and foreign tongue. Had I to deal with a comparison of the Melanesian languages, it would indeed be a herculean task: I use the word “languages” advisedly, for they hardly appear to be mere dialects of a common language. In many cases Melanesians inhabiting different islands in the same group cannot under-
stand or communicate with each other; and in the New Hebrides to such extremes is this differentiation carried that half a dozen different isolated languages are spoken on one small island in different villages. Not so with the Polynesians. Although the Samoan or Tongan dialect is incomprehensible to a Maori when spoken (and still more when written), the close correspondence of almost all vital words and the agreement in grammatical form prove that they differ only as the Devonshire peasant differs from a Glasgow weaver in speech based on a common Low Dutch dialect of the Teutonic branch of the Indo-European family.
Although the great bulk of my work has reference to Polynesian proper, still occasional words may be met with both in Polynesian and Malay which bear a very probable affinity with Maori words; and, although it cannot yet be decided which of these peoples have borrowed one from another, yet, as isolated words having resemblance to each other may be found from Madagascar to Easter Island, sometimes the interpretation given to these words by their possessors throws a startling light on possible derivations or primitive meanings.
The vowels, which have the Italian value, and nearly the same sound in all the islands, preserve a general purity and distinctness. In the examples I am about to select, a variation above the average may be found. In Maori itself a variant rendering of vowels may be found: e.g., tutai and tutei, a spy (a and e); inu and unu, to drink (i and u); kanapa and kanapu, bright (a and u); kanohi and konohi, the eye (a and o).
The consonantal changes are as follows:—
|Samoan||S, F||'||M||N||G||P||L & N||T & L||V||F|
|Tahitian||H & F||—||M||N||—||P||R||T||V||F|
|Tongan||H||K||M||N||G||B||L & N||T||V||F|
Ike (Maori) and ikeike signify high, lofty; paikeike, to elevate; hoike, high, lofty; poike, to place aloft. There are no Maori comparatives to show why ike means lofty, nor is there any internal explanation in the formation of the word itself. Still less does there seem to be any connection with another meaning of ike-viz., to strike with a hammer or other heavy instrument. If we consult the Polynesian comparatives, we shall find that in the dialects wherein the k is
dropped (notably in Tahitian and Hawaiian) the corresponding words suggest a curious explanation and relationship. In Tahitian, ie is the mallet for beating out the native cloth from bark; it has also the same meaning in Hawaiian; but the Tahitian has also faa-ie to get a cloth-mallet, and faa-ieie, to act in a vain, foppish manner: This is probably the relative of high, lofty, and this view is borne out by the Hawaiian Hoo-ieie, to be ennobled; to be dignified; pompous; proud; vain-glorious. Evidently the meanings are here, but the connection has yet to be made out between beating with a hammer and proud, dignified. In New Zealand we have a trailing or climbing plant named kiekie (Freycinetia banksii), and this was formerly, though rarely, used as a material for making clothing by the natives. In Samoa 'ie'ie means a rag of cloth and also the Freycinetia. Ieie, in Tahiti, is the fibrous root of the plant farapepe, used for tying fences, making baskets, &c. In Hawaii ie means coarse cloth, canvas, &c.; a vine used in making baskets, also in decorating the person; flexible, limber, like cloth or a vine: ieie, the leaves of the ie, formerly used in decorating the gods of Hawaii, generally made into wreaths; to be decorated with leaves, to be dressed in wreaths: hoo-ieie, to be ennobled, dignified, proud. Thus it would seem that ieie represents both ikeike and kiekie, and this can only be reconciled by the presumption that the original word was kikekike, the reason for being proud and exalted being that the person spoken of was likened to one arrayed in the wreaths such as divine personages were decorated with.
Ehu (Maori), turbid, muddy. This word is allied to kauehu, muddy, and perhaps to hu, mud; to bubble up. The corresponding words in Polynesian are similar. Samoan, efu, dust: Tahitian, ehu, discoloured, as water by reddish earth; muddy or disturbed water: Tongan, efu, dust: Mangarevan, ehu, dust, ashes; trouble, commotion. So far the direct correspondence. Ehu, in Maori, has a second interpretation, that of mist. This is a much more interesting series of comparatives, especially in having a prefixed consonant, a variant of r, l, orn. In Maori we compare ehu, mist, with nehu, dust; nehutai, sea-spray; rehu, mist, to doze; rehutai, sea-spray; rehurehu, dimly visible; pungarehu, ashes; kaurerehu, dim, dusky: Samoan, nefu, to be turbid; lefu, ashes: Tahitian, rehu, ashes; rehufenua, haze over the land: Hawaiian, ehu, the spray of the surf, the steam of boiling water; ehu-ehu, darkness arising from dust, fog, or vapour; hehu, mist or vapour; kuehu, to shake the dust from a mat; lehu, ashes: Tongan, ehu, dust; efuefu, ashes; efuhia, dusty; afu, the spray or mist of the sea when breaking on the shore; nenefu, dusky, dim. We see here a complete interchange of ideas, not
only small particles of earth as dust and small particles of water as mist being expressed by variants of the same word, but the notion of dusk and darkness being conveyed at the same time. The most singular application of the word is the exactly opposite meaning to “darkness” conveyed by one series of forms: thus, as kehu, fair, bright. I have not yet found kehu in Maori standing alone, but it may be traced in its compounds—viz., makekehu, light-haired, and urukehu, light-haired. The Polynesian shows this to be a strong secondary meaning. Samoan, 'efu, reddish-brown: Tahitian, ehu, red or sandy-coloured, of the hair, roureuhu, reddish or sandy hair: Hawaiian, ehu,red or sandy hair, ruddy, florid; ehuahiahi, the red of the evening, or old age; ehukakahiaka, the red of the morning, or youth: Tongan, kefu, yellowish, applied to the hair: Marquesan, kehu, fair, blonde; hokehu, red hair; oioikehukehu, daybreak: Mangarevan, keukeukura, blonde, fair: Paumotan, kehu, blonde, fair-haired. A single Tongan word probably supplies the missing link between dusky, dusty, and fair-haired: we have efu, dust, but efui, to wash the hair during the process of dyeing it. In Polynesia, Malaysia, and Melanesia the custom of bleaching the hair with a preparation of lime or wood-ashes is in common use, and, if the idea of ashes is connected with that of fair-haired, it is easy to see how the tertiary meaning of bright, fair as dawn, &c., arose.
Engari, it is better thus, it is more advantageous. This word has a transposed form, erangi, less commonly used. It is evident by noting the comparatives that erangi is the most correct form, for, considering it as a compound of the word rangi, a chief, we find in Hawaiian that, while the equivalent lani means a chief, an expression equal to “your Highness,” and is applied to anything noble, anything exalted or lofty, either in actual height or in dignity of character, a much less known form—viz., nalinali, to be or act the chief; bright; strong; royal—furnishes exactly the same transposition as in Maori. Thus we may well feel assured that erangi meant originally—not it is better, but—it is noble, chief-like, to do so and so.
Kupu, a word. Two of the Polynesian dialects support the Maori reading. Samoan, 'upu, a word; speech; language ('uputu'u, a tradition: mau'upu, to have a command of language: 'upu'atagia, facetious). So also the Tongan kubu, a speech, a saying. On the other hand we have Tahitian upu, a prayer; a set of prayers addressed to the gods by priests, or to the demons by sorcerers: hauaupu, fragments of old Tahitian prayers: and uputara, a prayer or imprecation of a sorcerer to procure evil. Hawaiian, upu, to swear or vow, as when a man vows not to eat the food of his land till he catches a certain
fish. Marquesan, kupu, to insult, to affront. Moriori, kupu, to bewitch. It seems difficult to connect these meanings of oath, invocation, insult, with a word or simple speech, but a probable key is given in Mangarevan, where we find that kupu means an imprecation, a curse: kupukupu, to utter terms of hatred; to demand the entrails, &c., of another, as “I will have your bowels!” If this was the original idea, them probably kupu is a transposition of puku, the belly.
Kaipuke, a ship. Many ingenious and many wild guesses have been made as to the etymology of kaipuke, which is apparently a native word for a modern and foreign object. Good Maori scholars have not been ashamed to assert that the meaning was kai, to eat; puke, a hill; because the sails of the ships seemed to hide or devour the hills (ships were first seen, however, off the coast) as they passed. The word is more probably a survival of some Polynesian form, still partly preserved in Tongan, wherein buke means the deck of a canoe; the outworks of a fortress: faka-buke, covered with a deck; to cover over a paddling-canoe fore and aft. Thus kaipuke, as a ship, in distinction from an open canoe, is almost certainly “that which has a deck.”
Koi, sharp, as a blade or point: koikoi, a point of land; a spear; thorny. All Polynesian dialects, except Samoan, have the word with the same meaning. Tahitian, oi, sharp, as the edge of a tool; faa-oi, to grind or sharpen a tool. Hawaiian, oi, the sharp edge or point of a weapon; hoo-oi, to be sharp, as an axe, knife, or spade; oilua, two-edged. Raro-tongan, koi, sharp. Mangarevan, koi, pointed; to cut to a sharp point: takoi, the crest of a mountain. A curious, but doubtless natural, employment of the word is in the sense of our idiom “to look sharp,” to be quick, urgent. Tahitian, oioi, rapid, swift, quickly, briskly. Rarotongan, kokoi, quick, sharp, speedy. Mangarevan, kokoi, to hasten. Paumotan, koikoi, urgent, quick, precipitancy; koikoimau, sudden, unexpected. There is a singular but doubtful comparative in the Hawaiian koi, an axe. As the Hawaiians lose the Maori k and change t to k, this word koi, an axe, really represents the Maori toki, an axe, and is perhaps only a coincidence to the eye; but, as the same Hawaiian word koi also means a sharp voice, it may be one of the few words unaffected by letter-change common to these two dialects.
Kerokero, to blink the eye, to wink: kekero, to look out of the corner of the eye, has probably contracted its meaning somewhat. Mangarevan, kero, a large extent of land: aka-kero, that which disappears; to see in a confused way; not plainly visible on account of the great distance; to look with one eye, closing the other. This gives us a wider meaning, and suggests a reason for winking the eye.
Kao, dried kumara (sweet potatoes). Hawaiian, ao, dried taro, used as food. Tongan, kakao, to bore or thrust with the finger. Mangarevan, ako-kaokao, to take food out of a hole on one side without touching the other. These meanings seem unconnected; but the Maori kao was made by scraping with the fingers or a stick among the young kumara tubers and taking them away to be dried into kao, while the plant was earthed up again, and the other tubers left to come to maturity.
Mahara, to think of frequently; to meditate upon. These meanings are supported by Tahitian mahara, to recollect, and Rarotongan maara, to consider, but give us no clue to the composition of the word. In Hawaiian we find mauhala, to keep up a grudge against any one; to remember his offence; envy, revenge, malice: hoo-mauhala, to lay up or remember the offences of any one. In the Hawaiian, mau means to endure, to continue, to repeat often and frequently; with hala, a sin, a trespass, an offence: and Maori hara is a sin, an error, with mau, to lay hold, to be steadfast (strengthened by Maori mauahara, to cherish ill-feeling). Thus it is probable that mahara originally meant not simply to think of frequently, but to keep in remembrance another's fault, to bear a grudge.
Huruhuru, coarse hair, bristles, feathers. This word is of very wide distribution, and in its meanings of coarse hair, wool, feathers, &c., is known in almost every part of the Polynesian, Melanesian, and Malay Islands. Samoan, fulu; Tahitian, huru; Hawaiian, hulu; Tongan, fulufulu; Raro-tongan, uru; Marquesan, huu; Futuna, fulu; Fijian, vulu; Malay, bulu; Javan, wulu; &c. I do not propose to bring to your notice any particular form of this word, but to call your attention to a singular instance of letter-change in a word of which huru forms a part, and where likeness has been well concealed under outward unlikeness. This is the comparison of the Malagasy word vorondolo, an owl, with the Maori ruru, an owl. The people of Madagascar, inhabiting an island near the African coast, have in their language strong affinities, not with the Africans, but with the Malays. Many ingenious theories have been started to account for this community of language (or portions of language) between races separated by so vast an extent of ocean, but with these theories we have at present little to do. It is enough to say that there are such word-likenesses between the Malay and Malagasy people. The Malagasy vorondolo may be dissected thus; √ voro, a bird; vorona, the generic name for bird; voromahailala, a pigeon; vorombola, a peacock; &c. The v stands for Maori h, as voa, fruit, for Maori hua, fruit; vorivory, round, for huri, to turn round. It will be noticed in above examples that (as Malagasy has no u) o stands for
Maori u, as it also does in tona, a kind of eel, the Maori tuna, an eel. Thus volo is equivalent to huru, and the word is apparently applied to a bird as “the feathered” creature. The second part of the word, ndolo, should be compared with the Fijian, where d is always sounded nd. So we get dolo for dulu. is the Maori r (which was written as d. by early missionaries, who wrote Maori rua, two, as dua), and compares, as Malay dua, two, with Maori rua, two. Therefore dulu is equal to ruru. Then, putting the whole word together, we get huru-ruru, the “owl-bird” (as in the other comparatives, “peacock-bird” and “pigeon-bird”), instead of vorondolo; and the coincidence with Maori ruru, an owl, is very marked.
Hoa, to aim a blow at by throwing. Cf. ngahoahoa, headache; pahoahoa, headache. We shall find by the comparatives that the word generally means a fracture of the head. Samoan, foa, to chip, as a hole in an egg-shell; to break, as a rock; to break the head; a fracture of the head. Tahitian, hoa, the headache; to grasp as an antagonist; a wrestler: mahoahoa, a violent headache. Tongan, foa, to fracture; to crack; to make an opening: fofoa, to crack into small pieces; a good spearsman: tafoa, to break, to crack: foaaga, a litter, a brood (from chipping the egg-shell). Marquesan, hahoa, to beat bark for native cloth. Mangaian, oa, to strike. Ext. Poly.: Malagasy, voa, to be struck, to be wounded. The Hawaiian form suggests a curious etymology. Thus: Hoa, to strike on the head with a stick; to beat; to make native cloth by beating bark on a stone with a stick; to drive as cattle. The last meaning is the vital one. The Maori prefixed causative whaka, to cause to do, to make to do anything, is represented in Hawaiian by hoo (i.e., hoko, with a lost k), and this is sometimes abbreviated to ho, as in ho-auau, to wash the body (for whaka-kaukau). If a is the verbal root of ho-a, we have the Hawaiian ho-a, to drive as cattle, equalling the Maori a, to drive—a connection before unthought of.
Hono, to splice; to join; to unite. This meaning is fully borne out in the other dialects, even when carried out into more abstract relations as to making agreements, &c. Samoan, fono, to hold a council, to patch, to inlay; fa'afono, to gather to a meeting; laufono, a plank of a canoe; tafono, to join the planks of a canoe. Tahitian, hono, to splice a rope, to join pieces of wood; honoa, an agreement; pahono, to splice or join; tahono, to join together. Hawaiian, hono, to join, to unite together; makua-honoai, a parent by marriage; pahono, to sew up as a rent. Mangarevan, hono, to adjust or place sticks; to lengthen by splicing on another piece. Ext. Poly.: Fiji, vono, the joints or pieces of which the body of a canoe is formed. We get a possible hint at the meaning.
of this word by considering the Marquesan hono, a turtle. The Tongan fono means a piece of wood, ivory, &c., inlaid; fonofono, to inlay; Samoan, fono, to inlay, to patch. This suggests that the splicing-together, inlaying, &c., may have been inlaying with tortoiseshell, or, more probably, the piecing-together as the plates are set in a turtle's armour. This leads us to the consideration of the next word.
Honu, deep; honuhonu, deep water; hohonu, deep. The Marquesan form, hono, a turtle, stands alone. Tahitian, honu, the sea-turtle; honuofai, the land-tortoise: Hawaiian, honu, the turtle: Tongan, fonu, the turtle: Mangarevan, honu, the turtle. These dialects also have the subrepeated form as full or deep—viz.: Tahitian, hohonu, deep, profound; the depths. Hawaiian, hohonu, to be deep, as water; the deep sea. Tongan, fonu, full, fulness; fofonu, full, applied to vessels. Marquesan, hohonu, deep, profound. Mangarevan, hohonu, the deep sea, the high seas; huruhohonu, high tide; vahihohonu, a deep place in the sea. Aniwan, fonu, to be full. Ext. Poly.: Motu, honu, to be full. It seems irresistible to connect this notion of the deep sea having given a name to the sea-turtle, or else that the turtle has given a form of its name to the deep sea: the words are regular and persistent, with little or no variation.
Whenua, land. The word honu, the deep sea, would at first sight seem to bear little relation to the general Polynesian word for land. Whenua varies more in its vowel values than perhaps any other word in our comparative vocabulary. It is the Samoan fanua, Tahitian fenua, Tongan fonua, Rarotongan enua, Marquesan fenua, Mangarevan enua, Futuna fenua, Aniwan fanua, Paumotan henua. Outside Polynesia proper, among Malays and Melanesians, the word varies as vanua, benua, banuwa, banua, vanuwa, vanue, &c. The Hawaiian honua means the earth; a country; flat land; a foundation; the bottom of any deep place, as of a pit, of the sea, &c.; thus apparently making honua a derivative from honu, deep. The evidence by agreement of the majority of the dialects as to their vowel sounds is against the Hawaiian honua and the Tongan fonua, but nevertheless these may have kept the original form lost by the other dialects, their form having an apparent reason for its construction, whilst that of the other variations has yet to be found.
Taurekareka, a slave; a rascal, a scoundrel. There is no such meaning to be found in the other island dialects. In Samoan taule'ale'a is a young man: in Tahiti taurearea means the young, healthy, and vigorous of the people. In Tongan toulekaleka is a beauty, a handsome man; goodly; well-proportioned. Ext. Poly.: In Sikayana taurekareka is handsome. There is evidently a remarkable reversal of meaning
in the New Zealand word, exactly akin to the European degradation of the word slav, glorious (a member of the Slavonic race), into our English slave. If the process by which taurekareka was thus degraded could be traced, it would doubtless have historical value.
Raumati, summer. The meaning of mati is dry; shrivelled; a dry branch: and, as rau means leaf, it would be perfectly natural without any great flight of imagination to give, as the derivation of raumati, summer, “the time of shrivelled leaves.”*
The comparatives, however, suggest caution. We have the Samoan naumati, dry, destitute of water: mati, stable, as water that has been kept for some time, or cocoanuts picked some days before. Tahitian, raumati, to cease from rain, to hold fair, applied to the weather. Mangarevan, noumati, dryness, sultry, hot. Marquesan, oumati, the sun. The meaning destitute of water, &c., brings us to the Hawaiian laumake, the abating or subsiding of water, i.e., a drought: lau, the expanse; the sea, and hence water (obsolete). So we find that rau is an old Polynesian word meaning water, and that rau-mati means—not the shrivelling of leaves, but—the drying-up of water: a lesson to us on hasty etymologies not based on comparative studies.
Whaka-iro, to carve; to adorn with carving; tattooed. I have remarked in former papers that there is a high probability that the Maori or Polynesian people have formerly known a much higher state of civilization than at present, and that evidence to that effect was to be found in the manner in which some of their words are used. Expressions relating to tattooing (forms of ta and tau) also mean to print, to paint or mark on the skin; to male letters, to count, to designate; “to print upon native cloth as in former × “to put down for remembrance, to reckon descent, genealogy, to give publicity, to rehearse in the hearing of another that he may learn, to appoint boundaries, &c.; the obvious inference being that the tattooing or printing was not for mere ornament, but was at some time an actual writing. Whaka-iro, to carve, is generally applied to wood-carving, but is, in an obsolete sense, used for tattooing. I will give as an example the line in Sir George Grey's “Polynesian Mythology” referring to the strife between Manaia and Ngatoro-i-rangi, when Ngatoro destroyed the host of his enemies in a storm raised by his incantations. Among the corpses of the drowned the body of Manaia was
[Footnote] * One author has done this, spelling the word incorrectly (rau-mate), in his usual fashion. The form he gives—viz., rau, a leaf; mate, dead —would be more suggestive to a European than to one living in New Zealand, where the native trees do not shed their leaves in summer or autumn (with one exception).
recognized by the tattooing (whaka-iro) on his arm (page 94, Maori part). In Polynesia, whaka-iro is not used in any way to denote carving; it has a far higher value. Samoan, fa'a-ilo, to show, to make known. Hawaiian, hoo-iloilo, to predict, to guess. Tongan, ilo, knowledge, understanding: iloga, a sign, a mark: faka-iloilo, to distinguish, to call to mind: ilohele, cunning, as a bird that knows the snare: tairo,* to mark, to point out, to select: tairoiro, a soothsayer; to foretell. Mangaian, tairo, to mark, to take notice. Mangarevan, aka-iroga, a sign, a mark; to mark, to make a sign. Aniwan, iro, to know. Paumotan, tairo, to mark, to stamp. It is evident that these references to knowledge, marking, distinguishing, foretelling, &c., do not refer to ornamentation by carving, but have a far more subtle bearing on the real meaning of whaka-iro. It may be that our word whairo (whairo), imperfectly understood, dimly seen, may have been coined (or shortened) from whakairo, at a time when the true signification of the word was becoming obscured and dying down, until the writing assumed the appearance of mere unmeaning ornament and fanciful design.
Romi, to squeeze; to plunder; infanticide. We have— Samoan, lomi, to squeeze; to knead gently: Tahitian, romi, to press and rub the limbs when weary or in pain: Hawaiian, lomi, to rub; to squeeze with the hand any one that is in pain or fatigued: Mangarevan, romiromi, to rub: Mangaian, romiromi, to press. In all these forms the leading idea is to shampoo, to rub with the hand, to relieve weariness or pain by massage. This meaning of pressure or squeezing is extended in two directions: one in that of gentleness, as in the Nguna roromi, to love; the other in that of cruelty, as in Tongan lomi, to push and keep under; lomilomi, to punish captives taken after war, to quell, to keep down; in the Paumotan roromi, to oppress; and in the Maori romi, infanticide.
Mua, the front. This word is well preserved in all the dialects, and preserves nearly the same meaning everywhere. There is, however, a possible connection between mua, the front, the forepart, and mata, the face. In Hawaiian, maka is the face; in Malay, muka is the face; and in Madura (near Java), mua is the face. It is possible that mua has worn down from mata, as maka, muka, mua.
Mangere, lazy. No similar form appears in any other dialect, but in Hawaiian the corresponding word manele means a species of palanquin; to carry on the shoulders of four men, as a palanquin or sedan-chair. Formerly the palanquin was used as a means of conveyance by great chiefs, until one very corpulent and irritable personage was thrown down a
[Footnote] * A combination of iro with ta, to tattoo.
precipice by his bearers. Palanquins (fata) were also used in Samoa; but in Tahiti the king or any exalted person rode on the shoulders of a man. If the Maori word mangere, lazy, was a general word for lazy, it should show itself in some of the other dialects, but does not.
Tareparepa, to flap in the wind, to flutter. Several Polynesian words are akin to this both in sound and meaning. Tahitian, tarepa, to shake or flap, as a loose sail in the wind; tareparepa, to shake repeatedly. Hawaiian, kalepalepa, to flap, as the sails of a ship; to flap in the wind, as a flag or ensign. Paumotan, tareparepa, to shake, to shiver, to tremble. But the Hawaiian kalepa, pedding, hawking, to sell merchandise from place to place, introduces us to a new phase of meaning. It arises from the custom of flying flags on canoes as a signal that those on board have something to sell, and is a compound of lepa, a border, a hem or fringe of a garment, an ensign or flag; lepalepa, a torn fragment of native cloth, used as a flag. The Samoan lepa, to lie to, as a vessel, and the Tongan leba, to heave to, to put the head of the canoe into the wind, may be connected with either meaning—either to lie to, having something to sell as merchandise, or from the flapping of the sail when the bow of a vessel is brought up into the wind. There is a possible connection of tareparepa with rewa, to float, the Tahitian revareva meaning flying, as many flags.
Kokiri, to dart or thrust any long body end-foremost; to charge, as a body of men. None of the Polynesian comparatives seem equivalent to the Maori, although the Mangarevan etu-kokiri (for whetu-kokiri), a shooting-star, shows some correspondence of meaning. There is nothing in the composition of the word itself to give an explanation of its etymology. Looking to the constant interchange in Maori-Polynesian dialects of k and t, it is almost certain that tokiri, to shove, to thrust lengthwise, is a variant of kokiri. The Tahitian toiri, to drag a log, bark and all, explains the etymology at once; the Maori to, to drag, and kiri, the bark or skin; although few would have suspected this to have been the primitive meaning of kokiri.
Ua, rain. This word is well and faithfully represented in all the dialects, ua meaning rain in Samoan, Tahitian, Hawaiian, Rarotongan, Marquesan, Mangarevan, &c., and uha rain in Tongan. The origin of this word and its radical does not appear directly in any of these, but the Hawaiian u means the breast of a female; to ooze, to drip, to drizzle, as rain. In Maori and in almost all Polynesian dialects the word u means the breast, and its compounds milk, even when u itself does not mean milk. The Maori form is waiu (wai-u); the Tahitian, u, milk; Hawaiian, ui, to milk; Rarotongan, u, milk; Tongan,
hua, milk; gahu, damp, moist; Malay, susu, milk. If we acknowledge that u means in a general sense to ooze, to be wet, to drip, we have then to find the a of ua. We shall be accused of a poetical flight perhaps if we assert that it is probably a worn-down form of rangi, the sky (Marquesan, ani), and that ua may have formerly been urangi, “heaven-milk” (or “skydrip” ?). The comparatives in the Malay Archipelago certainly point in that direction. The Malay form of rangi, the heavens, is lani, and we find in Cajeli, ulani, rain; Camarian, ulani, rain; Teor, hurani, rain; Baju, huran, rain; Wahai, ulan, rain; Bisaya, ulan, rain; Gah, uan, rain; Api, ua, rain. Here we can trace geographically at the present time each form of the word still in existence—u-lani, u-lan, u-an, u-a, ua—a very extraordinary thing; and this abrasion of important words leads me to the consideration of the second and briefer part of my paper.
Part II. A Possible Reconstruction of Maori.
While searching for comparatives of Maori words in the other dialects, I took each dialect separately, and, in going through it, thoroughly indoctrinated myself into the systematic letter change common to that particular dialect and to Maori. Thus, in reading Marquesan, wherein the letter r is almost wanting, it is necessary to mentally prefix an r to any word beginning with a vowel, or to insert an r between two vowels standing together, on the chance that r may here be a missing letter. Thus, hae, a house, with r inserted between a and e, becomes hare, evidently the equivalent of the Maori whare, a house; imu, sea-moss, is the Maori rimu, moss; &c. In Hawaiian the k is lost, and, seeing pue, a hill, I know it for the Maori puke, a hill: ai, the neck, is the Maori kaki (kaki), the neck. (This in addition to the change of k for t which makes the Hawaiian kakaa, to roll=Maori tataka, &c.) The Tahitian has a double loss; both k and ng are gone, and one has to read in either or both: thus the Tahitian ao, fat, is the Maori ngako. fat; the Tahitian aau, the bowels, is Maori ngakau, the bowels; aa, to insult, is the Maori kanga, to curse. So accustomed does one grow to the reading-in of missing consonants that the eye is apt to play one false, and it is difficult to write the dialectic word without making a mistake. But reading these consonants into the Polynesian words, and having before me constantly the idea that the original state of language was that “of open syllables of one consonant followed by a single vowel, or of a single vowel,” I have unavoidably come to the conclusion that, although the Maori of New Zealand is by far the best preserved of all Polynesian dialects in its conservation of consonants, yet it is almost impossible for one trained in comparative
study of words not to read in a lost consonant in Maori between a pair of vowels, or as the initial letter of a word commencing with a vowel. This lost consonant may be any consonant, but the most probable letter to try with is k.
First, we will notice those words where k is sometimes used, sometimes not:—
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|Maoa, cooked||Maori—Maoka, cooked.|
|Apiti, a cleft||" Kapiti, a crevice.|
|Ahua, appearance||" Kahua, appearance.|
|Ita, fast, secure||" Kita, fast, tight.|
|Paiaka, a root||" Pakiaka, a root.|
|Ua, firmness||" Uka, to be fixed.|
|Ake, upwards||" Kake, to mount, to rise.|
|Ahore, no; not||" Kahore, no; not.|
|Purei, isolated tufts of grass||" Purekireki, tufts of grass.|
|Atae, how great!||" Katae, how great!|
Also, having probable relation,—
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|Tui, to pierce||Maori—Tuki, to thrust.|
|Apo, to grasp||" Kapo, to snatch.|
|Ori, to cause to wave to-and-fro||" Korikori, to move, to wriggle.|
|Oko, a bowl||" Koko, a spoon.|
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|Probable Lost Letter.||Maori.||Probable Comparative.|
|K||Ui, to ask||Tongan, uki, to inquire.|
|K||Wao, a nail||Fijian, vako, a nail.|
|H or S||Wae, to divide||Fijian, wase, to divide.|
|T or H||Kanae, the mullet||Fijian, kanace (kanathe), the mullet.|
|K||Tae, to arrive||Cf. Tahitian, taatae (tangatake, “strange man”), a stranger.|
|N or NG||Teitei, high up||Tahitian, tenitian, exalted; Mangarevan, tekiteki, exalted.|
|TH or S||Ama, an outrigger||Fijian, cama (thama), an outrigger; Rotuma, sama, an outrigger.|
|T||Rau, a hundred||Solomon Islands, latu, a hundred.|
|W||Tou, the anus||Fijian, tovu, the rump.|
|R||Aitu, a deity||Tahitian, raitu, the name of a deity (for rangi-tu).|
|K||Uru, the head in Maori and Samoan; the head and breadfruit in Tahitian; breadfruit in Hawaiian; head in Paumotan||Sikayana, kuru, breadfruit.|
|R||Tutai, a scout||Tahitian, tutari, to lead, to conduct.|
|H||Vao, forest; mohoao, “man of the woods” (for mohovao)||Mangarevan, taravaho, savage (cf. Maori, waho, outside).|
|Probable Lost Letter.||Maori.||Probable Comparative.|
|TH||Iwa, nine||Fijian, ciwa (thiwa), nine.|
|H or TH||Moe, to sleep||Fijian, moce (mothe), to sleep; Tongan, mohe, to sleep.|
|R||Maua, we two (rua, two)||Marquesan, ua, two.|
|R||Matou, we (many), (toru, three)||Marquesan, tou, three.|
|H||Ihi, to hiss||Maori, hihi, to hiss.|
|K||Iwi, a bone||Samoan, 'ivi, a bone.|
|R||Mai, hither||Malay, mari, to come (Aniwan, my, to come; Sula, mai, to come; Gani, mai, to come; New Britain, mai, to come, &c.).|
These are a few examples selected to show that there is a high probability of lost consonants being capable of being replaceable in Maori. Of course, there is a possibility that consonants may be excrescent (i.e., for instance, that ai may be the true form of the word for neck, and the ks of kaki an aftergrowth); but this is very unlikely, because it is hard to suppose that many dialects in introducing consonants would have chanced upon the same consonant in almost every instance; the loss is far more probable than the gain. But enough has been shown to prove it unlikely that the Maori is quite the primitive, simple, virgin language which some have supposed it to be.