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Grammar of the New Zealand Language

Chapter XV. — Syntax of the Noun

page 112

Chapter XV.
Syntax of the Noun.

§ 1.—Nouns in Apposition.—These were partly considered in the last chapter, and we now proceed to offer further remarks respecting them:—

When one or more nouns follow another in apposition, and are equally definite in meaning, the same article that is prefixed to the first will be prefixed to all the rest; e. g., He tangata kino koe, he tangata kohuru, you are a bad man, a murderer; ko au tenei, ko tou matua, this is I, your father; mau mai taku pu, tera i roto i te whare, bring here my gun, that in the house.

The following sentences are erroneous:—Tenei ahau, ko to koutou hoa, te mea nei, this is I your friend, who says, &c.; Tiakina to tatou kainga, ko Waikato take care of our settlement, Waikato; the ko should have been omitted in the former sentence; instead of the ko in the latter, we should have had a. Proper names, and pronouns, will only take their proper articles; e. g., Nohea tenei Kingi a Parao? whence was this King Pharoah?

N.B.—There are exceptions to these rules. Some of them will be mentioned under the next head.

§ 2.—The preposition, which is prefixed to the firs of two or more nouns in apposition, will be prefixed to all the rest; e.g., Naku tenei pukapuka, na tou hoa, na Tarapipipi, this letter is mine, (i. e., was written by me,) your friend's, Tarapipipi's: kei nga Pakeha ta matou whakaaro, ta nga tangata Maori, page 113 with the Europeans are the sentiments of us, of the New Zealanders.

The same usage holds in the vocative case, E hoa, E Hone, Friend John.

The following examples will shew that this rule, which seems as yet to have escaped the notice of foreigners, is worthy of attention; a ka kite i a Hone te tamaiti a Hemi, and he saw John, the son of James. The meaning of this, as it stands, is, the son of James saw John. Kei a koutou, nga tangata Maori, in the opinion of you the New Zealanders. This literally means, the New Zealanders are with you. In the first of these two sentences it should be, i te tamaiti, &c., in the second, kei nga tangata Maori. Again; kua kainga e kouton, to kura, it was eaten by you, the school. The literal meaning of this is, the school have been eaten by you. Kua kainga e koutou ko te kura, it has been eaten by you the school. As it stands, it means, it has been eaten by you and the school. Again, if we were to say, “Na Ihowa to tatou Atua, nana hoki tatou i whakaora,” we should imply that our God was made by Jehovah, and that it was he who saved us. It should be, Na to tatou Atua.

There are however occasional exceptions to this rule, which it will often be useful to remember; (a) when brevity of diction is desired both preposition and article will be sometimes omitted before the second substantive; e. g., i rokohanga atu e ahau ki Mangere, kainga o te Tawa, (he) was overtaken by me at Mangere, (the) settlement of Tawa; i rongo ahau ki a Koiunuunu, hungawai o Panaia, I heard it from Koiunuunu (the) father-in-law of Panaia; na te Riutoto, whaea o Paratene, it belongs to Riutoto (the) mother of Broughton. When a pause, also, is made between the two substantives, the preposition will be sometimes omitted before the second; e. g., kei te kainga o te Wherowhero, te raugatira o Waikato, at the Settlement of Wherowhoro, the Chief of Waikato. E pa, kua kite ahau i a koe—to mamingatanga hoki ki a au! Friend, I have found you out, your bamboozling of me forsooth.

N.B.—This distinction is very similar to that which obtains in English for the regulating of the sign of the possessive case. In such sentences, for example, as the following, “for David, my servant's sake,” we should always have the sign of the possessive annexed to the latter noun; because it follows the preceding one in close and unbroken succession. In the following however—“This is Paul's advice, the Christian Hero, and great Apostle of the Gentiles,” the sign of the possessive is omitted; because the connexion between Paul and hero, is not so immediate as in the preceding example. So, also, in Maori; when the latter noun page 114 follows in a complementary clause, as descriptive, or explanatory of the former, and has thus a pause, or comma, intervening, it may occasionally dispense with the preposition by which the former noun is preceded.

§ 3. And we may here state, that clauses in epanorthosis will frequently reject those rules of government which they, under other circumstances, would have recognised; and that they will often rather partake of the nature of an exclamation, (vid. chapter 14, § 10, note.) Thus in the example just adduced, to mamingatanga is not in the objective case, as is koe in the clause preceding. It would appear that after the speaker had said, Kua kite ahau i a koe, he recollected himself, and exclaimed, in explanation,—to mamingatanga hoki. In a leisurely constructed sentence he would most probably have said, “Kua kite ahau i a koe, i to,” &c. Again, in the first example of epanorthosis (page 104), Ka tae te hohoro o ta tatou kai, te pau! a native would not say, o te pau, as strict grammar requires; but rather puts te pau in the form of an exclamation.

§ 4. The answer to a question will always, in its construction, correspond to the question; e.g., Na wai i tango? Na Hone, Who took it? John. I a wai taku pu? I a Hone, With whom was my gun? with John.

§ 5. There is no form in Maori corresponding to that contained in the following expressions, “Land of Egypt,” “River Euphrates.” To translate these by “Whenua o Ihipa,” &c., would be to represent Egypt, and Euphrates, as individuals possessing that land, and that river. To render them by apposition would we fear not much improve our Maori diction; (though it would certainly be more in accordance with Maori analogy.) Here, therefore, necessity must make a law for herself, and recognize the former mode of construction as legitimate. At the same time, it is desirable that it should be adopted as seldom page 115 as possible. Thus, in the following: “Mount Horeb,” “Mount Sinai,” &c., we should approve of “Mount” being rendered as a proper name, to which it closely approximates in English, and for which we think we may claim the permission of the original. We therefore approve of those phrases being rendered, “Maunga Horepa,” “Maunga Oriwa,” &c. Lastly; such forms as “the book of Genesis,” &c., should never we think, be rendered by te pukapuka o Kenehi, &c.; for a native will, thereby, be led to believe that Genesis wrote the book. The difficulty, however, may be here easily obviated: for book may be altogether omitted, and “ko Kenehi” simply employed— a form, by the way, which is adopted by the Septuagint.

§ 6. The possessive case.—This case is much used in Maori. It is employed often to denote intensity; e. g., Ko to Ngatimaniapoto tangata nui ha ia! Oh, he is Ngatimaniapoto's great man; i. e., he is a very great man in that tribe.

It will, also, in some instances supersede the nominative or objective of the person; e.g., the following sentence is erroneous: kihai ahau i pai kia whakakahoretia ia, I was not willing to refuse him; this as it stands, means to despise or make a cipher of. It should have been, kia whakakahoretia tana; negative his. (request sub.)

§ 7. It is sometimes useful for denoting the time from which an action has commenced; e.g., kahore i kai, o to matou uranga mai ano, we have not eaten since we landed; Moe rawa atu ki Waitoke. Te haerenga atu o hea? We slept at Waitoke. From what place did you start? Te taenga mai o Hone, kihai i rongo. Te tononga iho o te ata, when John came here we would not listen to him; (though) he continued to ask from the break of day.

The possessive form is often used in predication; vid. syntax of verbs.

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§ 8. Often the possessive preposition is used where, in English, a different one would be employed; e. g., no Otahuhu tenei ara, this path (leads) to Otahuhu; kahore he wai o roto, there is no water in it. Ka kainga e te matua tane te roi o te tuatanga* ki te kainga tapu. Apopo ake ka kainga e te Ariki te roi o tana tamaiti, the fern root Of the Tuatanga is eaten by the father. Next day the fern Of His Child is eaten by the Ariki. (head chief.)

§ 9. A word in the possessive case occurring with another twice repeated, will generally follow after the first of such words; e.g., ki te tahi taha ona, ki te tahi taha, at either side of him; lit. at one side of him, at one side. Sometimes other words will be found to intervene between the possessive case and the word that governs it: e.g., ko nga tangata katoa tenei o Waimate,—here are all the men of Waimate.

§ 10. The word by which a possessive case is governed, is often not expressed in Maori; e. g., ka tokowha o matou ka mate, four of us have died; e wha nga rau o te kupenga a Hone, there were four hundred (fishes sub.) of the net of John; kei hea to Hone?—where is John's? (garment sub.)

§ 11. In the northern part of this island when a noun is placed in immediate connexion with such pronouns as noku moku, &c., it will sometimes omit the article before it; e.g., no ratou Atua a Ihowa, whose God is the Lord; ka meinga mona wahi, appoint him a portion.

Note.—This form is rare in Waikato.

§ 12. When two substantives meet together, one of which denotes the material of which the other consists, or some quality belonging to it, the word denoting the material, quality, &c., will simply follow page 117 the other as part of a compound word; e.g., he whare papa, a board house; ika moana, a sea fish; he repo harakeke, a flax swamp; he oranga potunga, the survivors from a slaughter; he tangata kupu rau, a man of a hundred words; i. e., a deceitful person.

§ 13. Not unfrequently, when some circumstance or quality, is attributed to a person, it will be simply affirmed to be him; e.g., He uaua kiore koe, you are a rat's strength; he taringa whiti rua (or tua,) koe, you are an erring ear; i.e., one who does not hear correctly; he kaone tenei; this (heap of potatoes) is a gown; i.e., to purchase a gown; he aha koe? what are yo? (i. e., what are you come for?) Ko au a ko ia, I am he; i.e., he and I are of the same mind, &c.; ko taku iwituaroa tena, that is my backbone; (a form for making a thing sacred.)

Note.—This mode of predication seems to have been much in use amongst the Hebrews; vid. Gen. 41, 26. The seven good kine (are) seven years, and chap. 46, 34, “Every shepherd is an abomination;” “That rock was Christ;” “This is my body;” “Ye were once darkness,” &c.

§ 14. Another particular, also, in which Maori will be found to resemble Hebrew is, the frequent substitution of the substantive for the adjective. Thus, we frequently hear, he kakakore koe, you are weakness; he kino te rangi nei, the sky is badness, &c., neither must the student imagine as have some in the interpretation of the Scriptures, that this mode of construction is always emphatic.

§ 15. The objective case almost always follows the verb; e.g., ka ngau i a au, he will bite me; except sometimes in sentences in which na, ma, &c. are used; e.g., nana ahau i tiki ake, he fetched me; noku ka mate.

Note.—This form will be considered hereafter, (vid. Verbs).

Sometimes a noun, which is plural in meaning, will take the form of the singular; e.g., ko nga tamariki page 118 a Kaihau hei tamaiti ki a te Katipa, the children of Kaihau are a child to Katipa; i.e., stand in the relation of children.

§ 16. Compound Words.—A word in connection with a compound word will often be governed by one of the simples of which the latter consists; e. g. Kai atawhai i a koe; one to take care of you; koe here is governed by atawhai; ki te whenua kai mau, to the land of food for you; mau, here is influenced by kai.

§ 17. A verb can always be changed into a personal agent by prefixing kai; e. g., tiaki is, to guard; kai tiaki is, a guard.

§ 18. On the prefixing and omitting of the article te to proper names;

To lay down any exact rules respecting this subject is, we fear, impossible: neither, indeed, is it very necessary; as genuine Maori names are being fast exchanged for those of foreigners. There are, however, a few particulars which deserve notice. (a) A simple substantive, adopted as a proper name, may, or may not have te prefixed; chiefly as caprice regulates; (b) If, however, the noun be in the plural number te is never prefixed; e.g. Ngakainga; (c) A verb and words compounded of verbs, will generally omit it. e.g. Tangi: (d) Numerals, as far as ten, will generally take it: (e) The proper names which omit te will be found perhaps to be nearly double in number those which take it.

Note.—The prefixes rangi and ngati belong chiefly, the former to the names of females, the latter to the names of tribes.

On the distinction between o and a;

§ 19. This very useful feature of Maori does not seem to be clearly recognized in some parts of New Zealand. It obtains, however, in the other islands of these seas, and may be satisfactorily shewn, even now to exist in those parts of this island in which it would be least expected: for example; all will admit that page 119 naku i patu, mine was the having struck; i. e., I struck (him), is different from noku i patu; because I struck him; and that ma te aha? will signify, by what means? and mo te aha? for what reason?

The words in which distinction obtains are mo and ma, no and na, o and a, and their compounds, mona and mana, nona and nana, toku and taku: the first and leading distinction between these two forms is (a) that o implies a passive meaning, a an active. Thus, he patu moku is, a striking for me, i.e., for me to suffer; he patu maku is an instrument for me to strike with, (b) o also implies the inherency, and propriety of a quality or thing, as well as the time and moral cause of an action.

Hence it will, almost always, be prefixed to the members of the body, to land enjoyed by inheritance, to sickness, the productions of nature, such as fruits, &c., &c. Thus, we seldom hear, āku ringaringa; nāku tena oneone; he mate nāku; o is almost always employed. Again, we always hear, noku i haere mai noi, since I came here; mou i tutu, because you were disobedient; nona te he, his was the error.

(c.) O is always employed in talking of garments and houses, which are in wear, use, &c. Thus, naku tena whare means, I built that house, Noku, &c., I dwell in it.

§ 20. A is prefixed to the agent, and implies that the noun, which is connected with that agent, is either an act of it, or an instrument with which, or sometimes a thing upon which the action is performed, such as tools, cultivations, food, words, &c., (as kupu, korero; because they are fashioned by the tongue); e.g., taku toki; naku tena mara, maku te kupu kimua; kai mau.

§ 21. When the action is intransitive, o is generally employed; e.g. te toronga atu o te ringa o Hone; toku haerenga. To this rule, however, there are many exceptions.

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Note.—Visitors, slaves, or servants, children; (i. e. own children; or children of whom the individual has the management), husband, (tane), wife, (wahine), will take the a; when, however, hoa, ariki, rangatira, matua, whanaunga, are used, o will be prefixed. Reo also will take o; (the voice, being a part of the man). Oranga, also though it applies to food, will take o after it; e. g. kai hei oranga mo matou, food to support us. In the following passage “nona te whiunga i mau ai to tatou rongo,” the chastisement of our peace was upon him, the o in the nona has, we think, supplied a more concise and clear rendering than could have been attained without it.—If it had been, “Nana te whiunga, &c.,” we should have understood that it was he who inflicted, instead of suffered the chastisement. It should be remembered that there are two pronunciations of taku, and tana; viz., tăku, and tāku, tăna, and tāna; the short a corresponds to the o; the long a to the a of ma and na. Of tou, yours, there are also two pronunciations; viz., tou, and to, the former corresponds to the o of mona; the latter sometimes to the a of mana.

Note.—The to is very frequently used instead of the tou—chiefly in those parts of the sentence in which euphony requires that the sound should not be prolonged.

The importance of attending to these distinctions between the o and the a may be shewn by a few examples; he hangi mau, is an oven with which you may cook food; he hangi mou, is an oven in which you are to be cooked, and would be a most offensive curse; he taua maku is a party with which I may attack another; he taua moku, is a party come to attack me; te ngutu o Hone, is John's lip; te ngutu a Hone is his word, or report, &c.

* The tua is the religioug ceremony performed by the father, or the Ariki of the trib, when the child was born, to remove the tapu from the mother and the settlement.