The Tahitian language


The Tahitian language is spoken mainly on Tahiti, but also in other parts of Polynesian, which could be partially due to it being the main island of French Polynesia. The language has around 70K speakers currently, and is possibly endangered because of encroachment from French. The language exhibits all the features typical of Polynesian languages, such as the tense/aspect/modality/locality system of syntax, this is used in nearly all sentences.

The Tahitian language also has a fairly complex in/definite article system, having articles for dual, and plural, and even has counter words (like “a pair of shoes”, or “a school of fish”) similar to Korean or Chinese languages. Tahitian even combines definite articles and counters together with close granularity, generally used for animals, or plants, it also has some special counter-definite articles for people. It has numerous articles with counters.

Tahitian also has dual reduplication, usually there is a base or stem form, and them the complete duplication, but this sort of duplication has to agree with the person, and can only refer to two, not more or less than. Tahitian influenced Rapa Nui greatly, and if one takes a look at Rapa Nui today, you can immediately notice many words derived from Tahitian like “nehenehe” – “pretty”, and “vahine” – “woman”, which Rapa Nui had “vi’e” in its natural evolution.

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