Tahitian language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken in

French Polynesia
speaker 150,000
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


The Tahitian , also Tahitian (proper names Reo Ma'ohi and Reo Tahiti ) is a Polynesian language . The majority of the 150,000 or so speakers live on the Society Islands , especially Tahiti , in French Polynesia . This number includes non- Tahitians as well . Minorities also live in New Caledonia and some other countries in the Pacific region. Lexical similarities exist mainly to Hawaiian and Rarotonga .

The spread of Tahitian in the electronic and print media is very limited. However, language plays an important role as a commercial language .

One of the first thorough European explorers of Tahitian was the Englishman John Davies, whose description of Tahitian first appeared in 1823 and then again in 1851. The short grammar contained therein may be considered one of the first grammars of a Polynesian language. The Magdeburg- born philologist Johann Karl Eduard Buschmann published in 1839 at the Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin the treatise by Wilhelm von Humboldt on the then so-called "South Seas languages". It also includes a detailed section on Tahitian. Another early description of Tahitian that is still considered indispensable today is the grammar of Tepano Jaussen.

The Tahitian phonetic system

The Tahitian sound system, like that of all Polynesian languages, is characterized by a pronounced vowelism. The ten vowel phonemes [a] [e] [i] [o] [u] [ā] [ē] [ī] [ō] [ū], which form numerous diphthongs and vowel combinations, are compared to only nine consonant phonemes: [f ] [h] [m] [n] [p] [r] [t] [v] [']. Consonants only appear individually, and every syllable - including every word - ends with a vowel ("law of the open syllable"). The macron above a vowel indicates its length. The symbol for the suddenly opening glottal stop has the designation eta and is not taken into account in the alphabetical order of most dictionaries, although the corresponding sound is considered a full consonant. The long vowels are also not classified separately in terms of alphabetical order, but usually a comes before ā , e before ē , etc.

The Tahitian orthography

Several orthographic systems exist side by side, but the Fare Vāna'a ( Académie tahitienne ) tries to standardize them. The success of these efforts has so far been limited, but at least there has been a tendency towards increasing acceptance of the orthography of the Fare Vāna'a in recent years . This may also be related to the fact that the orthography of the Fare Vāna'a shows a clear coherence with the orthographies of many other Polynesian languages ​​used today. The following table shows a brief comparative overview of three of the most common systems:

Traditional orthography
Newer orthography
Orthography of the Fare Vāna'a
among others ùa 'among others A does not denote the glottal closure, B denotes it with a gravis , C with eta .
orero ôrero 'ōrero Glottal closure followed by a long vowel is not indicated for A , for B by circumflex , for C by eta with a macron above the vowel mark.
haapao haapaò ha'apa'o Only C denotes the glottal stop consistently, B refers to him before the second vowel of a sequence of vowels only with Gravis if both vowels are not identical.
haapiiraa haapiiraa ha'api'ira'a see previous line
tatau tātau tātau A generally does not denote the length of the vowel. B and C use the macron .
paoa pāôâ pā'ō'ā If the long vowel follows a glottal closure, B uses the circumflex .

Relationship between spelling and pronunciation

The following remarks refer to the writing of the Académie Tahitienne (Fare Vāna'a) .

From a German perspective, Tahitian is largely spoken as it is written. Therefore, the Tahitian pronunciation is not difficult for learners of German as their mother tongue. However, the following should be noted:

1. The r is a "tip of the tongue-r" with only one up and down on the tip of the tongue, which shows how close it is to the l (in Hawaiian r is largely replaced by l , e.g. haw. Aloha instead of tah. Aroha ) .

2. The suddenly opening glottal lock ("Knacklaut") is very similar to the corresponding German sound in words like 'Ab'art , ver'eisen , The'ater . In the initial sound of some frequently used words, the "crackling sound" has not been preserved. This is especially true for 'ua and ' ia . The Académie Tahitienne nevertheless recommends the etymologically justified spelling with eta (cf. Māori kua , kia ).

3. The stress is on the penultimate syllable: a ro ha . If the last syllable is long, however, it attracts the stress: inā . A syllable is also long due to diphthong: pa rough . If the third from last syllable is long but the following are short, the third from last syllable is stressed: horo . Short, frequently used expressions are treated as a single word in terms of stress: Ia ora na! . It is especially in the case referred to a natural "doubling" of n to hear, and a in the initial sound is often completely "sanded": [io'ranna].

The Lord's Prayer on Tahitian (left) in the Church of the Pater Noster to Jerusalem

Common terms, idioms and expressions

Tahitian German
ʻĒ Yes
'oia! exactly!
nā reira! I Agree!
e 'ere No
e 'ere roa atu! not at all!
'Ia ora na! like: Hello, howdy! literally: you should live (well) there!
Maeva! Welcome!
'A tomo may! Come in!
Nō hea mai 'oe? Where are you from?
Nō te fenua purutia vau. I'm from Germany.
Nō te fenua 'ōtitiria vau. I am from Austria.
Nō te fenua herevetia vau. I'm from Switzerland.


  • Arapari, Hereiti / Baumgarten, Wilfried: Fa'aitoito! - Textbook of the language of Tahiti , Polynesien-Verlag, Grafenau, 2016; ISBN 978-3-9817936-0-4 (200 pages, 15 lessons, mini-CD with mp3 audio files)
  • Lazard, Gilbert / Peltzer, Louise: Structure de la langue tahitienne , Editions Peeters, Paris / Louvain / Sterling, Virginia, 2000
  • Paia, Mirose / Vernaudon, Jacques: Tahitien - ia ora na , Institut national des langues et civilizations orientales / Bibliothèque publique d'information - Center Pompidou, Paris, 2007 (extensive material with 4 audio CDs)
  • Wahlroos, Sven (Taote Tīvini): English-Tahitian / Tahitian-English Dictionary , o. O., o. J.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Davies, Herbert John, A Tahitian and English Dictionary , The London Missionary Society's Press, Tahiti, 1851
  2. Humboldt, Wilhelm von, About the Kawi language on the island of Java, along with an introduction to the diversity of the human language structure and its influence on the spiritual development of the human race. - Third volume. Third section: About the language of the South Sea Islands, §22ff. and fourth section: Comparative grammar of the South Seas languages, §33ff. - in: Treatises of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin from 1832, Fourth Part , printing house of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Berlin, 1839
  3. Jaussen, Tepano, Grammaire et dictionnaire de la langue maorie - dialecte tahitien , Maisonneuve et C. Leclerc, Paris, 1887
  4. Arapari, H./ Baumgarten, W., Fa'aitoito! - Textbook of the language of Tahiti , Polynesien-Verlag, Grafenau, 2016
  5. Arapari, H./ Baumgarten, W., Fa'aitoito! - Textbook of the language of Tahiti , Polynesien-Verlag, Grafenau, 2016
  6. Académie Tahitienne, Dictionnaire tahitien-français / Fa'atoro Parau tahiti-farāni , Fare Vāna'a, 1999