The Coming of the Maori
The letter changes in the different dialects are constant and thus form a kind of Grimm's Law. The consonants of nine leading dialects are shown in the table below. The first column gives all the possible consonants in the language. In the other columns, the letters established in the dialects are shown in capitals, and the letters used to represent letters not in the alphabet are shown in lower case. The hamza is shown in its proper place as a consonant, but when it is used to represent letters not present, it is placed in brackets. The French missionaries included the letter h in the Mangarevan alphabet, but in the table I have represented it more correctly by the hamza for comparative purposes. The five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) are not included because they are the same in all dialects. Though the Hawaiian K has taken the place of t, it is pronounced as k. It must also be considered that there may be subdialectal changes in districts or islands within the same group.page 78
The table can be used to convert the words of one dialect into any other dialect.
|All consonants||New Zealand||Cook Is.||Society Is.||Marquesas||Mangareva||Easter Is.||Hawaii||Samoa||Tonga|
|H||H||'||H||H||'||H||H||(s or f)||H|
The dialectal changes in the consonants are illustrated by the following list of selected words:
The total number of consonants for all dialects is 14 but in the interchangeable two pairs, l, r, and v, w, each dialect has been restricted by the alphabet compilers to one of each pair, though some dialects originally page 79may have had some words that inclined towards l and v and other words that inclined towards r and w. The Maori wh and the f of other dialects, though distinct, also form a pair of which any one dialect could have but one. The true S sound in Samoan is evidently a late transition in that dialect from h and thus the full number of consonants for any one dialect is ten. Some linguists, however, maintain that s was originally present in Indonesia and that a change from s to h took place in Polynesia. Maori and Tongan lead with the complement of ten written consonants because they have no glottal closures.
The written g in Mangareva, Samoa, and Tonga is pronounced as the ng sound. Tonga though having affinity with Samoa does not have the glottal for k.