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Grammar of the New Zealand Language

Chapter XVI. — Syntax of the Adjectives

page 121

Chapter XVI.
Syntax of the Adjectives.

§ 1. Adjectives generally follow substantives; e.g., he taugata kohuru, a murderer. Sometimes, however, they will take the form of an adverb, and precede; e.g., homai katoa mai nga mea, give (me) all the things. Sometimes, also, they will take the form of a verb and precede; e.g., nui rawa taku riri, very great is my anger—or of a substantive; e.g., he nui taku riri, idem.

§ 2. The pronominal adjectives, tenei, &c., and taua will always precede; e.g., tena mea.

§ 3. Adjectives will generally take the form of the noun with which they are connected; i.e., if the noun be of the verbal form, so also will be the adjective; e.g., oranga tonutanga, eternal life; rerenga pukutanga, sailing hungry.

Note.—To this rule there are many exceptions. Thus, we have kainga kotahi, one eating; i.e., one meal; matenga nui, patunga tapu, whakamutunga pai, tikinga hangarau, korerotanga tuatahi. In many cases observation can alone determine when such forms are admissible. As a general rule, it would perhaps be correct to say that when the verbal noun is of very familiar use, so as almost to have its verbal character forgotten, or when some thing or single act, is spoken of, it will sometimes admit after it an adjective of the simple form. It will, we think, also be found that such common adjectives as nui, pai, katoa, and also the numerals most frequently follow in the simple form.

§ 4. Under other circumstances, the adjective wil follow in the verbal form, especially when diversity page 122 or a number of acts of the same kind, is intended. Thus, oku nohoanga katoa will mean all my settlements; aku nohoanga katoatanga, all the times in which I sit down. The following expressions are objectionable: korerotanga whakamutu, tirohanga atawhai, whakinga puku.

§ 5. It should be noticed, perhaps, here, that we sometimes find the verbal noun used as an adjective or participle, and with a passive meaning: e.g., he toki tua, is an axe to fell with; he toki tuakanga, an axe which has been used in felling; he mea whakakahuranga mai no tawahi, (clothes) worn abroad and sent here. Whakakahu would in this construction be seldom used. On the other hand we meet with pu whakamoe; gun taken to bed with you; poaka whangai, fed pig.

§ 6. Many adjectives to one snbstantive.—It is contrary to the genius of Maori to allow many adjectives to follow one substantive. When, therefore, it is desired to affirm many qualities of the same word, the word itself will be repeated before each adjective; e.g., a great and good man, would be thus rendered: he tangata nui, he tangata pai; or the adjectives will be converted into substantives, by taking the article he before them. Thus, the above sentence might be rendered: he nui, he pai tena tangata, he was a great, &c.; a large red blanket might be thus rendered: he paraikete nui, he mea whero. Sometimes the adjective will be resolved into the verb; “a great and terrible God,” would be thus rendered; he Atua nui, e wehingia ana.

§. 7. The following are instances in which an adjective is made to qualify two substantives: ko te poaka raua ko te paraoa, he reka kau, pork and flour (they are both) sweet, or (a sweetness); he mea reka te poaka, he me reka te paraoa, idem. Tena koa etahi hate, etahi tarau hoki, kei nga mea pai: Shew some page 123 shirts and some trousers; let them be good ones: i.e., shew some good shirts, &c.

§ 8. Sometimes the adjective will unexpectedly assume the form of a verb or substantive, e.g., kei ona kainga, e (or he,) maha, he is at his many settlements. The following form is heard at Taranaki: kia toru he ra, it will take three days. Sometimes adverbs are used as adjectives; e.g., he tohunga rawa, a great artist, &c., te tino tangata, the very individual. The following form in which the verb supplies the place of the adjective, is, we believe, in general use: a pouri ana o matou ngakau mo tenei patunga o matou ka rua; our hearts are dark at this second murder of our friends, lit., this murder of our friends, it is two.

Comparison of adjectives.—The comparative degree is denoted in various ways in Maori. (a) The first, and most common, is similar to that adopted in Hebrew; viz. by putting the preposition i (from) after the adjective; e.g., e kaha ana a Hone i a Pita, John is stronger than Peter. (b) Sometimes there is joined to the adjective some adverb of intensity; e.g., e kaha rawa ana a Hone i a Pita, John is much stronger, &c. (c) Sometimes it is denoted by the adjectives ngari, and rangi, the verb following in epanorthosis; e.g., e ngari a Hone i a Pita, e kaha ana.

(d.) Sometimes the comparative is denoted by some approbatory, and the positive by some disapprobatory term; e.g., e pai ana tenei paraikete, e kino ana tera, this blanket is good, that is bad. (e.) Sometimes the positive is put into the negative form, and the comparative into the affirmative; e.g., e ngari ano te patu i a au; aua e tangohia oratia taku kainga, it is better to kill me, do not take away my settlement while I live; i.e., I should rather die than have my possessions taken from me. E nui ana taku hara, e kore e taea te muru, my sin is greater than that it can be pardoned; lit, my sin is great, it cannot be pardoned. He hira page 124 te hunga i a koe nei; e kore e ho atu e ahau nga Miriani ki a ratou, the people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their power.

(f.) Sometimes the positive is made antecedent, and the comparative consequent; e.g., me patu ano au ka riro ai toku kainga, you must kill me, and then take my possessions.

(g.) Following, are two modes of comparison which are sometimes met with: poka ke atu te pai o te ra tahi i ou whare i nga ra ko tahi mano, one day in thy courts is better than a thousand. Ma tenei e whakakoakoa ai a Ihowa tera atu i te koakoatanga ki te okiha, this shall please the Lord better than an ox.

Note.—These two forms are not much used in Waikato. The following is sometimes heard, but it is a weak mode of comparison: rere ke ana te pai o tenei i tera, the goodness of this is different from that.

(h.) A very common process for denoting an inferiority of degree, is to associate two contrary qualities: e.g., pai kino, indifferently good; roa poto, (long short,) of moderate length; mangu ma nei, (black white,) blackish.

(i.) The adverd tua prefixed to the adjective denotes a similar kind of comparison: e.g., tua riri, somewhat angry; tua pouri, rather dark. (k.) Sometimes comparison is implied by reduplication of one or more syllables: e.g., pouriuri darkish (as in twilight). All adjectives which, in English, are preceded by some qualifying adverb: as somewhat, not very, moderately, as it were, &c., can be rendered into Maori by one, or other, of these three last methods.

The Superlative degree. Maori has no direct form to mark the superlative, but expresses it by various circumlocutions: (a.) by the definite article prefixed, with, or without some word of intensity: e.g., Ko au te kaumatua, I am the eldest son; ko te tino nohinohi page 125 rawa tona, that is the least; ko te nui tenei o nga rakau katoa, this is the largest (lit. the largo one) of all the trees. (b.) The form for the comparative sometimes necessarily implies the sense of the superlative: e.g., he tino mohio ia i nga tangata katoa, he is the most wise of all men.

(c.) Following are two other forms for denoting the superlative: e.g., e ngari a Hone e mohio ana; a, waiho ano i a Wiremu te tino mohio, John is better, he understands; but leave the great knowledge with William; or, whakarerea rawatia i a Wiremu, &c.

Sometimes a great degree of intensity is denoted by a repetition of the adjective, with a peculiarly prolonged sound of the first syllable; e.g., nūi, nui whakaharahara.