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Grammar of the New Zealand Language

Chapter II. — Of the Article

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Chapter II.
Of the Article.

§ 1. The articles in Maori are as follows:—

(a.) The definite article te and its plural nga; e. g.

  • te tangata, the man.

  • nga tangata, the men.

(b.) The indefinite articles he, tetaki, and its plural ethcie e g.

  • Sing. he maripi, a knife.

  • Plur. he maripi ena? are those knives?
    • te taki, maripi, a knife.

    • e tahi maripi, knives.

(c) The arthritic particles a and ko; e. g.

  • a Hone, John.

  • ko koe, you.

§ 2.Te is not so uniformly definite as the English the; being sometimes used;

(a.) Where no article would be employed in English, i. e, in cases where the noun is taken in its widest sense; e. g.

  • I ma te kaipuke, went by ship.

  • He kino te tutu, disobedience is sinful.

  • Ko te rargi me te wenua e pahemo, Heaven and earth shall pass away.

(b.) Sometimes it is employed instead of the English a; e. g.

  • He mea kaha te hoiho, a horte is a strong thing.

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  • E kore te tangata tika e wehi i te mate, a virtuous man fears not death.

(c.) Sometimes it is used instead of the pronoun some; e. g.

  • Kei tahaetia e te tangata, lest it should be stolen by some person; na te tangata noa atu, by some person or other.

(d.) It is employed for many other purposes which the English the does not recognize. We shall only mention the following;

  • Te tini o te kaipuke, How many skips there are!

Note.—It has been asserted that te is sometimes used in the plural number, as in the preceding example, “te kaipuke,” and in the following; te tini o te tangata, many men; ka reka te pititi, peaches are sweet.

We are more inclined to think that we have, in these examples, the operation of a figure of frequent occurrence in Maori, viz, synecdoche, and that one of a class is made to represent a whole class.

Expressions of this kind are common in English, without involving the plural number of the article; e. g., the fruit of the tree, a great many, a few men, &c. Bishop Lowth's remarks on these instances are quite to the point.

“The reason of it, he says, is manifest from the effect which the article has in these phrases; it means a small or great number, collectively taken, and therefore gives the idea of a whole, that is, of unity. Thus likewise, a hundred, a thousand is one whole number, an aggregate of many collectively taken; and therefore still retains the article a, though joined as an adjective to a plural substantive; as, a hundred years.”

(e.) Lastly, te is sometimes employed before proper named; e.g.

  • Te Puriri, Te Uira

Note 1.—To define the rule by which the article is prefixed or omitted before proper names is a work of some difficulty, usage being very irregular.

Note 2.— Sometimes te is blended with o into one word; as in the following example: ki to Hone ware, to the house of John, instead of ki to whare o Hone.

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Note 3.—The student should be careful, in speaking, to distinguish between the article te, and the negative particle te. The latter should always be pronounced more distinctly and forcibly than the article.

§ 3. Nga may with strict propriety be called the plural of the definite article. There are a few exceptions, or rather slight variations, which we do not think it necessary to mention.

§ 4. He varies in some respects in its uses from the English a.

(a.) It is used sometimes where no article would be employed in English; e.g.

  • A, ho atu ana e ratou he moni ki a ia, and they gave him money.

(b.) It is occasionally used in the same sense as some in English, e.g.,

  • kawea he wai, fetch some water

(c.) It is used in the plural number, e.g.

  • He uwha kau aku poaka, my pigs are all females.

  • He tini oku kainga, my farms are many.

§ 5. A great many uses of the indefinite article are shared by he with te tahi. We shall mention here a few of them.

  • Ho mai te tahi maripi, give me a knife.

  • Tahuna mai te tahi rama, kindle a light.

N.B.—Te tahi exactly corresponds with the definition given by Bishop Lowth of the English article a. “It determines it (the thing spoken of) to be one single thing of the kind, leaving it still uncertain which.” A similar use of the numeral one we find in French, sometimes in Hebrew, and more than once in the New Testament; (vid. Mat, xxi. 19, and Mark xiv. 51)

We need not look abroad for parallel instances; our indefinite article an being, as every etymologist is aware, the Saxon article, which signifies one.

(b.) Etahi may be considered as corresponding to the partitive article des of the French. It determines the page 13 things spoken of to be any number of things of the kind, leaving it uncertain how many, or which, of the things they are. It closely resembles the adjective some of English, and we enumerate it here among the articles because it only differs from te tahi (which is clearly an article) in being its plural; e.g.

  • Maku e tahi ika, give me some fish.

§ 6. A* is a regular attendant on the personal pronouns; e.g.

  • a koe, you; ki a ia, to him.

(b.) It is also the article by which the names of individuals and tribes are always preceded; e.g.

  • a Hone, kei a Hone with John; i aNgapuhi.

Note 1.—When the particle ko is prefixed to either the proper name, or the pronoun, a is omitted;

  • e.g. ko Hone, ko is.

(2) It is also omitted after the prepositions e ma, mo, no, na, o, a. The prepositions with which it is retained are i, ki, kei, and their compounds i ranga i, &c.; e.g.

  • i runga i a Hone, above John.

Note 2.—Europeans who have not made the language a study, often very incorrectly substitute e for a before a proper name; e.g., they will say, kei hea e te Warn, where is te Waru, and again kua

* Some perhaps may object to our regarding a as an article, and may remind us of the definition that an article is “a word prefixed to substantives to point them out. and show how far their signification extends,” This however is to make rules precede investigation, and our reply is, that if Bishop Lowth, from whom this definition is derived, had been writing on the Greek article, he would, moat probably, have never given such a definition. Every scholar is aware of the disputes that have been agitated among the learned respecting the uses of this article, and that some have even maintained “that its use is guided by no rule at all.” The fact is, every language has its peculiarities, and it would be absurd to maintain that because any given part of speech has certain powers in one language, it must have the same in another.

We denominate this article arthiltic, because it is, as the Greeks would say, an arthron a limb of the word to which it is prefixed, though it in no way defines the extent of its signification; unless perhaps we consider that, by its denoting the word to be either a pronoun, a proper name, &c., it thus, in a certain measure, restricts its application, and thus accords with the definition which some writers would give of the article; vix., “an Index to the noun.”

page 14 tae mai e Nonaia, Nanaia has arrived. E, as we shall show here-after, is the sign of the vocative case. A is omitted before such words as the following, kei nga Pakeha, kei nga Maori, &c.

Note 3.—A is sometimes in Waikato prefixed to appellatives; e.g. ki a tuahangata, a papa, a kara.

(c.) A is also prefixed to the names of places, and to prepositions, and adverbs which have assumed the form of substantives, when in the nominative case; e.g.

  • Kua horo a Pukerangiora, Pukerangiora (the fort) has been stormed. Kua tukua atu e ahau a Whangarei mo Hone, I have given Whangarei to John. Kua kainga a runga o nga puka nei, the tops of the cabbage have been eaten off.

  • A hea? what place? A Rangitoto.

Note.—Sometimes a is prefixed to the name of the place when the people of the place, and not the place itself, are intended; e g. ka mate i a Waikato, will be killed by Waikato.

Some speakers are often guilty of solecisms from not remembering that a is not prefixed to any of the oblique cases of the names of places. Thus we heard some old residents in the land say, Haere ki a Pokuru, Go to Pokuru. Haere ki a Waitemata, Go to Waitemata. According to this form Pokuru, and Waite [gap — reason: unclear] are not places, but persons.

(d.) A is always prefixed to any inanimate thing to which a name has been given; i.e. to trees, canoes, ships, boats, meres,* guns, &c.; e.g.

  • Kei te tua i a Ruhaia, he is cutting down (the tree) Ruhaia. E waihape ana a Karapaina, Columbine is tacking. Mo to tahaetanga i a Pahikoura for your having stolen (the mere*) Pahikoura.

  • I toa ai a Hongi i whakawirinaki ia ki tana pu ki a Tanumia, Hongi was brave because he trusted in his gun Tanumia.

Note.—Stars also come under the operation of this rule, e g. Ko wai tena whetu i runga i a Tawera, what star is that above Tawera?

* The mere is a native weapon for war made of the axe stone. It is an article of great value, and descends from father as an [unclear: iho], an heirloom in the tribe.

Tawera is the morning star.

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  • Kua ara a Matariki,* Matariki has made his appearance.

  • Houses, Caves, and such like, are regulated by rule (c), e. g.

  • Heoi ano nga tangata kei a Puru o Waikato, all the people hare mustered off to Puruowaikato—Wherowhero's house on the Waikato river.

If the above rules be correct—and we are persuaded that the candid inquirer will assent to them, the following remarks may, perhaps, be worthy the consideration of our Missionary brethren.

1st. We think that we are distinctly warranted by the analogy of the language to treat the books of the Old and New Testaments as proper names, and prefix a to them; as in the following examples, kei a Kenehi, kei a Roma, Such portions however, as the Psalms, the Law, the Acts, the Revelations, &c., might, we think, be most safely considered as appellatives. Such an usage has obtained in English, and will not, we believe, be thought a I ovelty in Maori, by any one who attends to such sentences as the following:

  • Kowai hei whakahua i ta tatou whangai hau?

  • I a wai? i a Tu.

  • Ko hea ae haua mai na? ko Puhimatarenga, &c.

2. The following sentences are incorrect:

  • E haere mai ana te Mihaia.

  • Kua mate te Karaiti.

N.B.—The speaker should distinguish between the article, and the preposition a; as in the following sentence:

  • Ekore ahau e kai i a nga taurekareka, I will not eat (the food) of the slaves.

The preposition a in these elliptical sentenees should always be pronounced peculiarly strong.

He should also note the following;

  • kĭa mea (with short a) is, “to do.”

Ki ā mea (with long a) is, to such an one, to our friend, or in common parlance, (give it) to what do ye call him.

* This star makes his appearance about the month of June, in the first month of the New Zealander, and create an important epoch in his agricul-tural operations.