Category Archives: Polynesia

Tokelauan Diaspora Language Revival

The Far Outliers recently had the chance to attend a Polynesian music and dance performance by Te Lumanaki o Tokelau i Amelika ‘The Future of Tokelau in America’, and I’ve added a few photos of it to my Flickr account. They recently won the Po Fatele competition at the Tokelau Festival in New Zealand. One thing that appealed to me about the performance was the combination of vigorous dance and wonderful Polynesian choral harmonies at the same time. You don’t get that combination so much these days in Hawai‘i, although you can hardly beat the vocal harmonies at the Kamehameha Song Contest or the hula at the Merrie Monarch Festival each year. Two other nice features of the Tokelauan troupe were the youth of the performers, the youngest of whom were learning by doing, just as they would in a less formal village setting; and the atoll-authentic percussion instruments: a slit-gong (pate), a biscuit tin (apa), and a wooden box (pokihi).

The background story about how this group got started is chronicled by two linguists, Yuko Otsuka and Andrew Wong, in an article in Language Documentation & Conservation 1, no. 2 (December 2007), from which I’ll excerpt a few of the highlights:

Tokelauan is a Polynesian language closely related to Samoan. Together with English, it is an official language of Tokelau, an island territory of New Zealand, with approximately 1,400 speakers (Gordon 2005). The total number of speakers of Tokelauan is estimated to be approximately 4,000, including those living in American Sāmoa, New Zealand, and the United States. The first missionaries came to Tokelau from Sāmoa. Noting the resemblance of the language spoken on the islands to Samoan, they decided to use the Samoan Bible instead of translating it into Tokelauan. Thus, Tokelauans read the Samoan Bible till this day….

Like many other Polynesian peoples, more Tokelauans live outside their homeland than in it. The vast majority of Tokelauans reside in New Zealand. According to the 2001 census, 6,200 Tokelauan people live in New Zealand. That is four times larger than the population in the homeland. Sixty-six percent of them were born in New Zealand. In 2001, only 44 percent of those living in New Zealand were reported to be able to hold an everyday conversation in Tokelauan, down from 53 percent in 1996 (Statistics New Zealand 2005). These figures suggest that language maintenance outside Tokelau is crucial to ensuring the future of the Tokelauan language….

Tokelauans in Hawai‘i come from Olohega (also known as Swains Island), the southernmost atoll of the Tokelau island group, which lie three hundred miles north of Sāmoa. Geographically, the Tokelau group consists of four atolls: Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu, and Olohega. Politically, however, only the first three belong to Tokelau, an island territory of New Zealand. These islands became a British protectorate in 1889 and were transferred to New Zealand administration in 1925. Olohega followed a separate course of history. In 1856, an American, Eli Jennings, came to Olohega with his Samoan wife and turned it into his private copra plantation. In 1925, Olohega was annexed to the United States and was placed under the jurisdiction of American Sāmoa.

Jennings’s son imposed forced labor on all residents of Olohega. In 1953, the residents of Olohega went on strike in protest to the violations of civil and labor rights. They drew up a petition and submitted to the American Sāmoa attorney general. In response, the acting Governor ordered a state-sponsored eviction of over half the population of Olohega. Many families ended up as refugees in Pagopago, American Sāmoa. Living there was not easy for Tokelauans. Even though they were American nationals by virtue of the annexation, Samoan law precluded them from owning land or businesses. The hardship of life in Sāmoa turned their eyes to the United States (Ickes 1999, 2002). In the 1950s, a student from Olohega, who was on scholarship at the Lā‘ie Community College (today’s Brigham Young University Hawai‘i), saw the opportunities in the pineapple plantations in Central O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. He sent for his brothers and they brought their families to live in the plantation labor camps provided by Del Monte (Ickes 1999, 2002)….

Since 2004, the Tokelauan community in Wahiawā, Central O‘ahu, has been making active efforts to revitalize the Tokelauan language as well as culture within the community. Two organizations play a key role in initiating and promoting the community’s efforts for language maintenance: Te Lumanaki o Tokelau i Amelika (The Future of Tokelau in America) and Te Taki (The Guide) Tokelau Community Inc.

In July, 2004, a youth group from Tokelau visited Honolulu on their way to the Palau Pacific Arts Festival. They performed for the Tokelauans who hosted them in Wahiawā. This encounter sparked a keen interest among the Tokelauan youth (teenagers and young adults) of the community in their Tokelauan heritage. They were deeply impressed by the richness of their cultural heritage and at the same time were shocked to realize that they knew very little of it. The children asked their parents why they had never taught them their own language and culture. It was a rude awakening not only for the children, but also for the parents, who had not seen any value in teaching their children Tokelauan, thinking that they would be better off with English.

This incident led to a sudden awareness among young members of the community that the language was gradually disappearing within the community. Deeply moved by the children’s yearning to learn their heritage, two young parents started a Saturday school to teach the Tokelauan language as well as songs and dances. This is how Te Lumanaki o Tokelau i Amelika came into being. The elders of the community welcomed the opportunity to share their knowledge of the language and culture. As it turned out, they had long been concerned about language loss, but had never voiced their concerns until then. Te Lumanaki’s Saturday morning gatherings thus brought together an intergenerational group of Tokelauans who were eager to share the language, songs, and dances.

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Causative Makeovers in New Guinea Oceanic Languages, 2

In contrast to Austronesian languages almost everywhere else, the Oceanic languages on the north coast of the Papua New Guinea mainland show an unusual disinclination to make use of the morphological causative inherited from Proto-Oceanic and Proto-Austronesian. Innovative causatives derived from causative serial constructions appear to have supplanted to varying degrees the inherited prefix *pa(ka)-. Part 1 summarizes the dethroning of the inherited prefix. Part 2 (here) outlines the replacement pattern of serial causatives. Part 3 suggests reasons for preferring the serial causatives.

Serial causative reflexes in New Guinea

Over 40 years ago, Milke (1965:346–347) pointed out correspondences between certain classificatory prefixes in Gedaged and certain ones in Papuan Tip languages. Such prefixes broadly classify the manner in which a result is achieved: by beating, by grabbing, by kicking, by piercing, and so forth. He proposed that the classificatory prefixes were a morphological innovation providing evidence for a New Guinea Oceanic subgroup. He was apparently unaware of the presence of identical constructions in Manam. However, Milke was hard put to find classificatory prefixes in Huon Gulf languages. If he had been looking for main verbs rather than prefixes, he would have had better luck.

There are no classificatory prefixes in Huon Gulf languages, but there are main verbs that play roles similar to those of the prefixes. And there are result verbs or resultative particles in Huon Gulf languages whose semantics resemble those of the verbs occurring with classificatory prefixes in the verb-final languages elsewhere on the northeast coast of New Guinea. Some of the morphemes involved are cognate as well.

Proto-Oceanic (POC) *taRaq ‘to hew, chop, cut into’ is virtually ubiquitous as an initial verb in serial and compound causative constructions.

Reflexes of POC *punu ‘to strike, kill, extinguish’ are universal as resultatives in the Huon Gulf languages. However, in Kairiru the reflex of *punu appears as a manner transitive. In Gedaged, it appears as either a manner or a result verb. Reflexes of *punu turn up in result position in causative compounds in Papuan Tip languages.

Capell (1943:177) reconstructs a form *tomu ‘to cut or break off’ widely reflected in Papuan Tip languages. Its reflexes appear in result position in Misima (= Panayati), Nimowa, and Sudest; and in classificatory prefix position in Suau and Iduna. In Numbami, a Huon Gulf language, tomu is a resultative meaning ‘broken off’.

POC *kabit (PAN *kampit) ‘to hold, take, snatch, carry, gather’ is widely reflected in initial position in phrasal causative and incorporated object constructions in Huon Gulf languages. Its reflexes occur in the same position in compound causative, classificatory prefix, and incorporated-object constructions in Gedaged, in Madang Province, and in Papuan Tip languages.

Reflexes of POC *mate ‘to die’ show up in Kairiru, Manam, Gedaged, and Gitua as result verbs.

Perhaps one of the most productive manner-transitive verbs is reconstructible as *rapu meaning ‘to strike, hit, beat’. It shows up as a transitive verb in Huon Gulf serial causatives and incorporated-object constructions; as the only classificatory prefix without an independent verb counterpart in Manam; and as an almost meaningless, general causative prefix in almost every Papuan Tip language. Many of the Papuan Tip languages also show a less phonologically reduced, independent verb of a similar shape with the meaning ‘to hit’.

The innovative causative constructions—no matter whether the object noun occurs before or after the verb—thus resemble each other in the semantics of the components involved, in the order in which verbal and incorporated-object components occur (VO), and, in many cases, in the shapes of the individual morphemes as well. Moreover, the two groups of innovative causatives are in complementary distribution in Papua New Guinea and both differ from the causative pattern commonly found in Oceanic languages elsewhere. These circumstances seem to invite the reconstruction of a single ancestral pattern that will account for both the VO (verb before object) and OV (object before verb) constructions.

Distributional evidence within the Austronesian language family suggests that the VO, serializing languages around the Huon Gulf are more conservative of ancestral word order than the OV languages elsewhere around the New Guinea mainland. The syntactic pattern ancestral to both the serial and compound causative constructions should thus be compatible with VO basic word order. The Huon Gulf languages already provide evidence for an SVOV pattern in which the first verb indicates a causing action and the second a result. SVOV syntax is compatible with VO basic word order and such a reconstruction will also account for the compounding pattern if we assume that the compounding languages shifted their basic word order from VO to OV after serial causative constructions were well established. (Perhaps Central Papuan languages like Motu have no classificatory prefixes because they shifted before the serial causative was well established.)

Two major changes are thus sufficient to account for the causative compounds in OV languages along the north coast of the Papua New Guinea mainland. First, SVOV serial causative constructions developed. This stage is attested in the VO languages around the Huon Gulf. The languages to the northwest and southeast then underwent a further change: they shifted from VO to OV basic word order. The SVOV causative thus became an SOVV causative. In some of the Morobe languages, which apparently never made the full shift to OV basic word order, the SVOV serial causative produced an SVOR phrasal causative when the final verbs in the construction lost their verbal status and became resultative particles. In most of the OV languages, the SOVV serial causative produced SOVV compound causative and classificatory prefix constructions. The OV languages show progressive deverbalization of the nonfinal verb in the construction. These developments are outlined below.

Reflexes of serial causatives in New Guinea Oceanic languages

* S Vt O Vi (Switch Subject) ‘they hit pig die’
* S Vt O Vt (Same Subject) ‘they hit pig kill/cause-die’

The VO languages

S V O V (Switch Subject) GITUA
ti-rap nggaya mate
3P-hit pig 3S-die

S V O Result (< Same Subject) NUMBAMI
ti-lapa bola uni
3P-hit pig dead (< ‘killed’)

The OV languages

S O V V (Switch Subject) KAIRIRU
bur rro-un-i a-myat
pig 3P-hit-3S 3S-die

S O V-V (< Same Subject) GEDAGED
boz du-punu-fun-i
pig 3P-shoot-kill-3S

S O classifier-V (< Switch Subject) MANAM
boro di-rau-mate-i
pig 3P-hit-die-3S

S O classifier-V (< Same Subject) IDUNA
bawe hi-lu-ve-‘alika-na
pig 3P-*hit-cause-die-3S

References

Capell, Arthur. 1943. The linguistic position of South-Eastern Papua. Sydney, Australasian Medical Publishing.

Milke, Wilhelm. 1965. Comparative notes on the Austronesian languages of New Guinea. Lingua 14:330–348.

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Causative Makeovers in New Guinea Oceanic Languages, 1

In contrast to Austronesian languages almost everywhere else, the Oceanic languages on the north coast of the Papua New Guinea mainland show an unusual disinclination to make use of the morphological causative inherited from Proto-Oceanic and Proto-Austronesian. Innovative causatives derived from causative serial constructions appear to have supplanted to varying degrees the inherited prefix *pa(ka)-. Part 1 (here) summarizes the dethroning of the inherited prefix. Part 2 outlines the replacement pattern of serial causatives. Part 3 suggests reasons for preferring the serial causatives.

The morphological causative supplanted

Both in Oceanic languages and in Austronesian languages more generally, the causative prefix is ubiquitous. In virtually any grammatical description of a Philippine language one can find mention of a pa- causative affix. Pa- causatives also occur in all the aboriginal (Austronesian) languages of Formosa, and even in distant Malagasy. The causative prefix is also well attested in Oceanic languages. In fact, it is one of the prefixes most characteristic of Oceanic languages. In Pawley’s (1972) grammatical comparison of Eastern Oceanic languages, it is the first verbal prefix listed and also the best attested—all but one of the 31 languages compared show an appropriate reflex. The same is true of Codrington’s (1885:183–184) table of verbal prefixes in 32 Melanesian languages. (The two lists overlap by about 50 percent. Only Ambrym lacks the prefix in Codrington’s list; only Tasiko lacks it in Pawley’s.) A sample of Austronesian causative constructions follows.

AUSTRONESIAN CAUSATIVES

RUKAI, Formosa
‘a-‘acay kuani taraalu‘ sa babuy
cause-die that hunter ART boar
‘that hunter killed a boar’

ILOKANO, the Philippines
im-pa-kan na diay baboy
GOAL-cause-eat 3S that pig
‘he fed the pig’

MALAGASY, Madagascar
n-amp-anasa ny lamba aho
PAST-cause-wash the clothes 1S
‘I had the clothes washed’

ROVIANA, the Solomon Islands
va-mate-a sa si keke boko pa inevana
cause-die-3S 3S PRT a pig for feast
‘he killed a pig for the feast’

BAUAN, Fiji
eratou vaka-mate-a na vuaka
3P cause-die-3S ART pig
‘they killed the pig’

HAWAIIAN, the Hawaiian Islands
ho‘o-make lākou i ka pua‘a
cause-die 3P OBJ the pig
‘they killed the pig’

The widespread occurrence of the prefix in most Eastern Oceanic languages is matched by a widespread multiplicity of function. Pawley (1972:45) notes three common functions of the prefix in the languages supporting his reconstruction of *paka- for Eastern Oceanic: causative (‘causing/allowing …’); multiplicative (‘repeatedly/extensively …’); and similative (‘resembling/characteristic of …’; as in Fa‘asamoa). The prefix is so productive in Polynesian and Fijian languages that Churchward’s (1959) Tongan dictionary, for instance, has 112 pages of words beginning with faka-, the Tongan form of the prefix.

In the Papua New Guinea languages with reflexes of the serial causative, on the other hand, the prefix has markedly diminished in function and in some cases disappeared altogether.

The Manam reflex of *paka- is aka-/a‘a-. It only serves to derive transitives from a limited number of statives and psychological verbs (Lichtenberk 1983:217).

The reflex of the morphological causative in Gedaged and its congeners is variously pa-, pe-, pi-, or pu-. Mager (1952:233) defines it as “a petrified prefix” and says:

It is not always clear when this prefix (and its variants) is a prefix and when it is a reduplication or a part of the root. Some times we can discern that it is a causative prefix, at times it expresses intensification, or it gives the word an opposite meaning.

In Gitua, the reflexes of causative *pa(ka)- and reciprocal *paRi have fallen together as pa-. (Lincoln 1977:24). Pa- can indicate reciprocal or multiple action, but its causative function has been almost entirely displaced by serial causative constructions. Thus, pa-mate (lit. ‘to cause to die’) only means ‘to extinguish (fire)’. The serial causative is required to render the literal sense of ‘to kill’.

The causative prefix appears completely lost elsewhere in Morobe Province. I have been able to find no evidence of it in the Huon Gulf languages.

The Papuan Tip languages show a proliferation of causative prefixes. Reflexes of causative *pa(ka)- are well attested but are not always easy to tell—either semantically or phonologically—from the reflexes of reciprocal *paRi- (Capell 1943:113, 237–242). Other causative prefixes have arisen due to the near-total semantic bleaching of some of the classificatory prefixes (see the compilation in Ezard 1992:238-248). The prefixes, which—as transitive action verbs—used to describe the manner in which the result was achieved, now indicate little more than that the result was achieved. Capell used the vague gloss ‘assumption of state’ for such prefixes. The new causative prefixes now perform functions often identical to the functions of the inherited causative prefix. The same is true of many manner-transitive verbs in the languages that retain Verb-Object word order. A comparison of some morphologically causative verbs in Hawaiian (Pukui and Elbert 1986) with analogous new causative constructions in Papua New Guinea Oceanic languages will illustrate the way in which transitive action verbs have taken on the functions of the morphological causative inherited from Proto-Oceanic. The usual Hawaiian reflex of *paka is ho‘o-.

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-hana (‘make-work’) ‘to employ, cause to work’
WEDAU rau-karäi (*‘hit-work’) ‘to set (s.o.) to work’

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-helele‘i (‘make-falling’) ‘to scatter, sow’
WEDAU ravi-awawari (‘*hit-falling’) ‘to sow broadcast’

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-hua (‘make-fruit’) ‘to bear fruit’
NUMBAMI -ambi ano (‘hold-fruit’) ‘to bear fruit’

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-huli (‘make-turn over’) ‘to turn, change, convert’
IWAL -amb nalili (‘hold-turned around’) ‘to turn (s.t.) around’

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-loli (‘make-turn/change’) ‘to change, amend’
NUMBAMI -ambi lele (‘hold-turned’) ‘to translate’

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-luli (‘make-shake’) ‘to rock (so); to sway’
WEDAU ravi-dagudagu (‘*hit-restless’) ‘to shake, disturb’

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-make (‘make-die’) ‘to kill, let die’
MANAM rau-mate (‘hit-die’) ‘to kill’

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-piha (‘make-full’) ‘to fill’
TUBETUBE ro-karapowani (‘*hit-full’) ‘to fill’

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-pi‘i (‘make-ascend’) ‘to cause to rise’
GEDAGED bi-sa (‘hold-ascend’) ‘to lift up, raise’

HAWAIIAN ho‘o-puka (‘make-perforation’) ‘to make a hole or opening’
NUMBAMI -so bozoka (‘stab-pierced through’) ‘to make a hole or opening’

References

Capell, Arthur. 1943. The linguistic position of South-Eastern Papua. Sydney, Australasian Medical Publishing.

Churchward, C. Maxwell. 1959. Tongan dictionary. London, Oxford University Press.

Codrington, Robert. 1885/1974. The Melanesian languages. Oxford, Clarendon Press. Reprint. Amsterdam, Philo Press.

Ezard, Bryan. 1992. Tawala derivational prefixes: A semantic perspective. In: M. D. Ross, ed., Papers in Austronesian linguistics no. 2. Canberra, Pacific Linguistics.

Lichtenberk, Frantisek. 1983. A grammar of Manam. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication No. 18. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press.

Lincoln, Peter C. 1977. Gitua–English vocabulary. Photocopy.

Mager, John F. 1952. Gedaged–English dictionary. Columbus, Ohio, The American Lutheran Church Board of Foreign Missions.

Pawley, Andrew K. 1972. On the internal relationships of Eastern Oceanic languages. In: R. C. Green and M. Kelly, eds., Studies in Oceanic culture history, vol. 3, pp. 1–142. Honolulu, Department of Anthropology, Bernice P. Bishop Museum.

Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Samuel H. Elbert. 1986. Hawaiian dictionary: Hawaiian–English, English–Hawaiian, rev. and enl. ed. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press.

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Insider vs. Outlier Stereotypes in Pohnpei

From Michael D. Lieber’s chapter “Lamarckian Definitions of Identity on Kapingamarangi and Pohnpei” in Cultural Identity and Ethnicity in the Pacific, edited by Jocelyn Linnekin and Lin Poyer (U. Hawai‘i Press, 1990), pp. 88-90:

Pohnpeians [main-islanders] describing other ethnic groups focus on observable patterns of activity or predilections for particular arenas of activity. They describe Kapinga [Polynesian outliers], for example, as good fishermen and craftsmen and as strong, hard workers. But they also think of Kapinga as lacking in ambition and foresight, as unable to plan ahead. From a Pohnpeian perspective, this is a reasonably accurate description. Other than a few men who are active in feasting, even titled Kapinga avoid participation in feasts on Pohnpei, a participation that presupposes careful planning and allocation of one’s time and resources over a period of years. Pohnpeians also point out that very few Kapinga have prepared themselves for administrative or teaching jobs.

Pohnpeians see Pingelapese [Micronesian outliers] as messy, clannish, devout and active in church affairs, and both shrewd and very aggressive. Examples of their clannishness are their preference for en bloc voting whenever a Pingelapese runs for public office against a non-Pingelapese and their purported tendency to route administrative jobs to other Pingelapese whenever they are in a position to do so. What Pohnpeians appear to mean by aggressiveness is the often-mentioned Pingelapese preference for achieving middle-echelon administrative jobs, the vigor with which they pursue those positions, and their consequent prominence in those positions on Pohnpei.

Mokilese [Micronesian outliers] are described by most Pohnpeian informants as ambitious, skilled, and crafty. What is so intriguing about this description is the use of aggressive for Pingelapese and ambitious for Mokilese. When I asked for examples, informants pointed to the prominence of Mokilese in upper echelons of colonial administration—particularly in the former Congress of Micronesia and the present Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia—and in highly skilled technical jobs over which they have a virtual monopoly, such as machinists and mechanics. They are considered very subtle and charming while being very manipulative, particularly in political contexts.

If one takes all of these stereotypes together, they do in fact describe something about the larger Pohnpei social order. Kapinga, to the extent that they are visible at all, are people of the marketplace. They are the suppliers of fish and the purveyors of handicrafts and are otherwise not very visible. Pingelapese have been prominent in church affairs on Pohnpei and in middle-level administration in various agencies, including the hospital and the education department. Mokilese are in fact prominent in upper-echelon administration, especially in Congress. For example, during elections for the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979, Mokilese men were candidates for 60 percent of the seats allotted to Pohnpei State. Pohnpeians are prominent at all these levels. From their point of view, that is to be expected, for Pohnpeians consider Pohnpei to be very much their island. Their ethnic descriptions identify whom they believe to be their competitors for control over affairs on the island, and they allude to the contexts of competition. In each case, descriptions focus on the issue of control in the colonial arena. Pingelapese and Mokilese people have been and still are active in the feasting and title system, some having very high titles. Yet no Pohnpeian ever mentioned this in discussions about them. When asked why Kapinga, Pingelapese, and Mokilese are the way they are, Pohnpeian informants responded with answers such as, “They do what their parents did,” or “They grow up with the tiahk ‘customs’ of their island.”

Kapinga descriptions of other island groups put no emphasis on political position and greater emphasis on skills and interpersonal proclivities than do Pohnpeian descriptions. Pingelapese are considered dirty and “careless” in their personal habits, easily angered, clannish, vengeful, very enterprising, and very religious. They are considered powerful curers and sorcerers, good organizers of businesses, and hard workers for their families and friends. Kapinga never pointed to Pingelapese administrative positions in their descriptions.

Mokilese, according to Kapinga, are good at fishing, working, learning mechanical skills (such as boat building), and organizing. Several Kapinga referred to Mokilese as being very personable, but said that one never knows if a Mokilese is really one’s friend. In discussing Mokilese organizing abilities, Kapinga informants pointed to their work in reorganizing the Kolonia Protestant church in 1980. While Kapinga recognize the prominence of Mokilese in Congress, they appear not to think of that fact as particularly definitive of Mokilese.

What strikes Kapinga as being distinctive about Pohnpeians is their haughtiness (putting themselves before others), their capacity for being extremely generous, and their unpredictable displays of almost gratuitous hostility. The charge of haughtiness has to do with the condescension with which Pohnpeians often treat Kapinga and with the ways that Kapinga see higher and lower ranking people interact. Kapinga cite numerous examples of Pohnpeian generosity, both on the part of chiefs and of ordinary people, particularly during World War II, when Kapinga had to leave Porakied and seek shelter in U and Kiti. At the same time, Kapinga fear Pohnpeians as sorcerers. They cite several deaths over the past few years that they attribute to sorcery by Pohnpeians who were supposedly friends of the deceased.

I asked about one other group, the Nukuoro [Polynesian outliers], with whom the Kapinga have long had close relations of reciprocity and intermarriage. While Kapinga gave detailed descriptions, Pohnpeians ventured no opinions whatever, saying only that they did not know anything about them. One can predict that Nukuoro do not form a politically or socially visible group on Pohnpei, and this is in fact the case.

We see that three Pohnpeian ethnic stereotypes (and one category empty of content) concentrate attention on the place that each ethnic group holds in the larger colonial arena of commercial and administrative control over persons, resources, and policies. Each stereotype is referable to the particular sorts of contexts in which members of each out-island enclave exercise political and economic control in the colonial administrative domain. Kapinga concentrate their attention on those observable patterns of interaction that are relevant to face-to-face dyadic interaction, such as visiting, friendship, hospitality, and reciprocity. Generosity, fairness, and trustworthiness are attended to, while political position in the larger order is not.

A similar divergence of reference points seems to show up in urban elitist vs. small-town egalitarian patterns of stereotyping each Other in the U.S. and other larger societies.

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Early Days of the Polynesian Society

I recently discovered that the right venerable Polynesian Society in New Zealand has been slowly digitizing the back issues of its long-lived Journal of the Polynesian Society and mounting them on its website, working together with the University of Auckland Library. At this point, one can browse volumes 1 (1892) through 40 (1931). A perusal of the front matter in the earliest volumes transports one into another era.

Volumes 1 (1892) through 3 (1894) list the Patron of the Society as “Her Majesty Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii.” Her reign began in 1891, after the death of her brother, King Kalākaua. The Queen was deposed in January 1893, the rebels declared the Kingdom a Republic in July 1894, and then arrested the Queen in January 1895 after suppressing a royalist counterrebellion.

Volumes 4 (1895) through 8 (1899) accordingly list the Patron of the Society as “Liliuokalani, ex-Queen of Hawaii.” No Patron is listed in the volumes from 1900 through 1903, but the ex-Queen still heads the list of Honorary Members, with her address given as “Honolulu, Sandwich Islands.” Next on the list is the “Rev. R. H. Codrington, D.D., Wadhurst Rectory, Sussex, England.” Codrington was the author of The Melanesian Languages (Oxford, 1885).

From 1904 through 1910, the ex-Queen’s address is given as “1588, 21st Street, Washington, U.S.A.” and the Rev. Codrington’s as “Chichester, England.” In 1911, the ex-Queen is back in the “Hawaiian Isles.” Back numbers of the journal in those years cost 2s. 6d.

In 1905, the Society acquired a new Patron, “His Excellency, Lord Plunket, Governor of New Zealand.” From 1911, the Patron is listed as the “Right Hon. Baron Plunket, K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., ex-Governor of New Zealand, Old Connaught, Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland.”

The annual report report of the governing council for the year ending in December 1911, which appears in volume 21 (1912) begins with a retrospective and ends with its customary financial report.

The Council feels in presenting its nineteenth report that there is some justification for congratulating the Society on having attained its twentieth year of existence….

Our financial position is good, though there are a few members in arrear with their subscriptions. We end the year with a balance to our credit of £28 18s. 7d.

At that point the society had 201 members. Good show, chaps.

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Hawaiian Words in Bonin (Ogasawara) Speech

From English on the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands, by Daniel Long (Duke U. Press, 2007; Publication of the American Dialect Society, no. 91; Supplement to American Speech, vol. 81), pp. 65, 67:

Many words in use in the Bonins even in the late twentieth century are thought to be derived from the contact with Pacific Island languages that occurred from the 1830s until the end of the nineteenth century. Today these lexemes are used not only in the English of the Bonins, but in Ogasawara Japanese and the Ogasawara Mixed Language as well. Hawaiian words form the majority of the Oceanic-language words we find in the Bonins. Since Polynesian migration to the islands occurred only in the early history of the settlement, it seems clear that most of these words came to the island during the first half of the nineteenth century.

I’ll list some of the most straightforward examples, where the meanings and the sounds correspond most closely. The following list presents the Hawaiian word first, then its various derivatives in the Bonins, where the pronunciation has been influenced not just by Japanese and English phonology (and the lack of orthographic standards), but by varieties of Hawaiian that are now nonstandard (for instance, those that retained t in place of King Kamehameha’s k).

  • Haw. kamani, tamani ‘hardwood tree, Calophyllum inophylum’ > Bonin tamana, tamena, tremana
  • Haw. lahaina ‘type of sugarcane’ > Bonin rahaina ‘sugarcane’
  • Haw. lau hala ‘pandanus leaf’ > Bonin rawara, rawarawa, rauhara, rowara, rohara, roharo, rūwara, rohawo, lohala ‘pandanus tree’
  • Haw. moe ‘sleep’ > Bonin moe-moe, moi-moi ‘sex, copulation’
  • Haw. puhi ‘moray eel’ > Bonin puhi
  • Haw. uhu ‘parrotfish’ > Bonin ūfū, uhu
  • Haw. wiliwili ‘leguminous tree, Erythrina sandwicensis’ > Bonin biide-biide, bari-bari, uri-uri, ude-udeErythrina boninensis

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Polynesian Languages: Useful for American Football QBs

I don’t have much interest in American football. I grew up paying more attention to baseball and sumo. But an intriguing off-topic comment by football fan BitterOldPunk in a thread on Language Hat pointed me to a story in today’s New York Times about a remarkable quarterback on the University of Hawai‘i football team.

HONOLULU — After every home game, Colt Brennan waves to his probation officer as he leaves Aloha Stadium….

Brennan, Hawaii’s star quarterback, is on the cusp of what could be a transcendent season in his senior year. He is projected to make a run at the Heisman Trophy, and his coach insists that he will be the first quarterback selected in the N.F.L. draft. His strong right arm, combined with a soft schedule, have people around college football’s most remote program believing that Hawaii’s chances of making a Boise State-like run to a Bowl Championship Series game are, well, not remote.

Those possibilities, for the player and for the team, are even more noteworthy considering the improbable, circuitous road that Brennan, 24, took to Hawaii.

Brennan backed up Matt Leinart in high school in Southern California, went 3,000 miles to a prep school in Massachusetts and was the fourth-string quarterback at Colorado as a walk-on before being arrested and thrown off the team. He then spent spring break in a Colorado jail during a year in junior college and landed at Hawaii only because a reporter showed an assistant coach there a film of one of Brennan’s junior college receivers.

The final twists in Brennan’s rise toward stardom and redemption may be the most compelling of all, however. If not for the anonymity of being a backup, the uncertainty of chasing a scholarship and the humiliation of wearing an orange jumpsuit, he probably would not have the thrill of a Heisman chase, the allure of being a possible first-round pick or the recipient of the affection of an entire state.

“The consensus between myself and Colt’s high school coaches is that Colt is the person he is today and the quarterback he is today because of the path he took,” said Dan Morrison, Hawaii’s quarterbacks coach. “I firmly believe he is who he is today because of the road he traveled.”

It’s a fine story of personal redemption and of those who had faith in him, but the bit that got notice on Language Hat was the following.

Soon after Brennan arrived, in the summer of 2005, Morrison, the quarterbacks coach, advised him that the culture of the island valued humility and character. Having spent spring break in jail that year, Brennan hardly needed a humility check.

“I had gone through a real embarrassing time in my life,” Brennan said. “I was humiliated and I needed to go find myself somewhere else. Hawaii had that appeal to it. It was my getaway, my escape.”

So he kept his mouth shut and did his best to blend in. He took three semesters of Samoan as a way to bond with his offensive linemen, all of whom are of Polynesian descent. (Morrison beamed when telling of Brennan calling an audible in Samoan last year.)

I suspect that Brennan has also learned a bit of New Zealand Māori, because Hawai‘i is one of a growing number of American football teams that psyche themselves up (and psyche their opponents out) before games by performing Māori-style haka, first introduced into international sports by New Zealand’s famed All-Blacks.

The blog A Nice Gesture has quite a compilation of commentary and video of haka being performed by, among others, New Zealand’s Tall Blacks before a basketball game against Argentina, and a whole range of American football teams from Hawai‘i to Utah to Texas.

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Wordcatcher Tales: Dawasi, Kousapw, Sakau

Three words from the Micronesian language Pohnpeian (aka Ponapean) that surfaced in my background reading about the church shootings in Neosho, Missouri, tell stories of distant connections across time and space.

Dawasi – When I first heard about the Neosho church shooting, I assumed the Micronesians involved were from the Marshall Islands, because I know that many Marshallese work for Tyson Foods in nearby Springdale, Arkansas. But one key term (which I’ve italicized) in the following passage cited in a posting on the Marshallese YokweOnline network hinted that the Micronesians involved were from the state of Pohnpei, not the Marshalls. (They were actually from the outer islands of Pingelap, not the main island of Pohnpei.)

Kernel [Rehobson] owns a retail store that is a gathering place for Micronesians from dozens of miles around since he stocks his store with the type of down-home items that are so difficult to find in the US: the large plastic combs that women wear in their hair, zoris, dawasi and brushes for showers, and island-style skirts with embroidered hems.

Dawasiscrub brush’ (made of coir bristle) is the official Pohnpeian spelling for a word borrowed from Japanese before the Pacific War. The same word was borrowed by Palauans, who spell it tauas(i). In current Japanese, tawashi (束子) can refer to scouring pads made of acrylic yarn, but the bristle brush variety is such a Japanese cultural icon that tiny replicas dangle from cellphones and backpacks.

The passage above cited on YokweOnline comes from the article on Micronesians Abroad by Francis X. Hezel, S.J., and Eugenia Samuel, that I blogged about earlier. The two words italicized in the next passage from the same article tell of very different connections.

Our team intended to visit Kansas City, home of a growing Micronesian community, largely Pohnpeian, that sprang from students who attended Park College during the 1970s and 1980s. Small colleges, once well attended by Micronesian students, have frequently served as the seedbeds for migrant communities in the US, accounting in part for the seemingly odd locations of Micronesian strongholds. Kansas City is said to have been constituted a kousap by a Pohnpeian chief not long ago when he paid a visit to his compatriots who had settled in that city. He was feted with sakau—the type made from powder rather than pounded—and left a week or two later with several thousand dollars, which had been collected as tribute from Pohnpeians who are now living 8,000 miles from their own island.

Kousapw – The kousapw (sapw means ‘land’) is a Pohnpeian land unit—translated ‘section’ below—intermediate between a farmstead and a district (or “municipality”). According to Douglas Oliver’s (1988) Oceania: The Native Cultures of Australia and the Pacific Islands, p. 983:

Most sections extended from coast to island center, and consisted of from fifteen to thirty-eight farmsteads. Each section had a meeting house of its own, and was headed by an official known as a kaun or soumas, who was usually the senior male member of the section’s senior sub-clan. The section functioned mainly as an administrative subdivision of the district.

This raises several questions. (1) There seem to be many old cultural connections between chiefly high-island Polynesians (possibly from Samoa) and Pohnpei. Is it just coincidence that the kousapw in Pohnpei usually runs from seashore to mountaintop, like the ahupua‘a of Hawai‘i (and presumably other large islands in Polynesia)? (2) Which of the major districts on the island of Pohnpei was the Kansas City kousapw assigned to? (3) Does this mean we now have a third Kansas City to contend with: one in Missouri, one in Kansas, and one in Pohnpei?

Sakau – One strong indication of old Polynesian influence on Pohnpei is the cultivation and use of Piper methysticum, known in Pohnpei as sakau, in Hawaiian as ‘awa, and in Samoan as ‘ava. In fact, the Pohnpeian word sakau derives by regular sound correspondences from the earlier Polynesian article+noun combination *te kawa.

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Two Hawaiian Canoes Reach Micronesia

Today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that two Polynesian voyaging canoes have made landfall in Micronesia.

MAJURO, Marshall Islands » To the sounds of ukuleles and a conch shell, the Hawaiian double-hulled canoes Hokule’a and Alingano Maisu arrived at a dock here today, completing their 2,200-mile journey from Hawaii to Micronesia.

The vessels are on a pilgrimage to Satawal atoll to deliver the Alingano Maisu to renowned navigator Mau Piailug, who taught Pacific way-finding to native Hawaiians and sparked a renaissance in the building of voyaging canoes in the Pacific….

The welcome in Majuro was a celebration of two Pacific cultures that have kept sailing traditions alive, and of their ancient mariners who developed ocean-voyaging methods centuries before Westerners had nautical navigation equipment to cross vast oceans.

Majuro islander Alson Kelon, who escorted the vessels into port, said he felt proud to be a Micronesian and honored to support the voyaging tradition of his ancestors.

Kelon said he helped to found a canoe sailing group in Majuro after witnessing the Hokule’a make its first voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976.

He said the teaching traditional voyaging integrates all kinds of learning, including mathematics, science, oceanography, astronomy, English and leadership….

The late Big Island canoe builder Clay Bertelmann promised to deliver a double-hulled canoe to Mau about five years ago, and his family has continued to fulfill the promise….

Mau’s son Sesario said his father’s health is waning.

“The main thing is to get it there while he’s still around,” he said.

Sesario said his family has to discuss what to do with the Alingano Maisu, but he hopes that it will be used to carry on his father’s work teaching way-finding navigation.

Sesario, a police officer in Yap, said he would like to use the canoe as a way to reach youths at risk of becoming criminals.

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Mongolia and Polynesia Have Japan Surrounded

The Champions List has now been posted for the most recently concluded Grand Sumo Tournament, the first for 2007. The winner of the highest division (Makuuchi) is, for the 20th time, the Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu (14-1). Ho-hum. The winner of the lowest (Jonokuchi) division is Hisanoumi (6-1), who hails from Tonga. About time another Polynesian worked his way up the ranks! And the winners of all the divisions in between—Juryo, Makushita, Sandanme, and Jonidan—are Japanese. That, too, is good for the future of Japan’s unique sport.

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