An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology
The early voyagers visited the islands, obtained food supplies and water, made observations on the inhabitants, and sailed away. Seamen, who deserted from ships or were shipwrecked or captured, were the first white settlers of Polynesia. They were followed by escaped convicts and fugitives from justice. Some were lazy and eked out an existence by living on the natives. As a class they were unproductive from a literary sense, but there was one notable exception in the person of William Mariner.
Mariner, who had sailed on the privateer Port au Prince from England in 1805, was taken prisoner when the ship was captured by the Tongans off page 27Lifuka Island in the Haapai group. His life was spared, and he lived in the islands for some years under the protection of the powerful chief Finau. He finally escaped from his hosts on the brig Favourite under the command of Captain Fisk. He was observant, and his stories of his experiences aroused the interest of John Martin, M.D., who contacted him and compiled and arranged his communications into a classical work, which was published in London in 1817. Mariner could not have written the book himself, and the credit of the recording and the publication is entirely due to the interest of an educated man who never saw Polynesia. Some readers express doubt as to whether some statements were those of Mariner or of Martin. However, such confusion is not unique, for in some modern works, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish whether certain information was communicated by the native informant or inferred by the author. It is probable that some of these early settlers did impart information orally to visiting authors, but the "beach-comber" class had more to conceal than to reveal.
The Spaniards carried priests with them on the voyages of Mendaña and Quiros, but they left with the ships. In 1774, Boenechea took two priests to Tahiti to establish a mission, but as they went in fear of their lives, they returned to Valparaiso in the following year. However, the priests kept a diary which recorded valuable information concerning the Tahitians of this early period.
Later the published accounts of the voyages of discovery in the Pacific aroused the interest of people in Europe and America. Religious bodies felt it incumbent upon them to send out missionaries to convert the heathen to their particular forms of Christianity. The Nonconformist Churches in England formed the London Missionary Society (L.M.S.) which sent out a body of 28 missionaries, who were landed by the ship Duff in Tahiti on March 4, 1797. Of these, 16 remained in Tahiti, 10 were taken to Tonga, and two went to the Marquesas. Subsequent reinforcements were sent out and new missions were established in the Cook Islands and Samoa. The Church of England formed the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.) which directed its efforts to New Zealand. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (A.B.C.F.M.) was established in New England and sent missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands. (It will be noticed that the use of long combinations of the alphabet to designate various institutions is not a new growth in America.)
The Catholic Church entered the field, and the Order of the Sacred Heart (Picpus) started missions in the Mangareva (Gambier) Islands, Easter Island, and the Tuamotus. The Société de Marie (Marists) directed their attention to western Polynesia and established missions at Uvea, Futuna, page 28Samoa and Tonga. In the course of time, the London Missionary Society relinquished its missions in French Oceania which, with French occupation, came under the full influence of the Catholic Church. The Wesleyan Church established a rival mission in Tonga. With more frequent transport services, the whole of Polynesia became open to the competition of all sects.
The first problem which faced the missionaries was that of learning the language of the island which they proposed to convert. The second was that of identifying the sounds in the native languages with the symbols employed in their own languages to establish alphabets for recording the spelling of native words. Fortunately, the missionaries who invaded Polynesia, though of different nationalities, used a similar script. There was confusion enough, but one shudders to think of what might have happened if missionaries from Turkey and China had entered the field with their own forms of writing. Having established more or less satisfactory alphabets and spelling, it was next necessary to teach the natives how to write and read their own language. A printing press was part of the mission equipment, and it was possible not only to translate and write out portions of the scriptures and hymns in the native language, but to print them for use as texts in teaching. Thus, the missionaries introduced writing for the first time within Polynesia, they were the first printers, and they established the first schools. To help their own teachers, they translated the native words into English and French and they were, therefore, the compilers of the first dictionaries. With infinite pains and labor, the old and new testaments were translated into the dialects of the various groups of Polynesian islands, and the Bible became as great a literary classic in the native language as it was in English. When various nations took possession and assumed the responsibility for native education, they adopted the missionary alphabets and spellings and made no attempt to correct inaccuracies or supply deficiencies due to an earlier stage in the knowledge of linguistics.
However, the missionaries gave with one hand and took away with the other. To build up a knowledge and acceptance of their own culture, they were forced by the very nature of their assignment to condemn and destroy integral elements in the native culture. A frontal attack was made on native religion to clear the way for Christian teaching. Customs and observances which were not really understood were condemned as heathen practices which stood in the way of salvation. The progress of the missions was reported to the organizations at home and the so-called heathen customs were often painted as black as possible in order that the difficulty of the task might be understood and the changes appreciated. Many of the reports were published in the missionary journals at home, and they have provided source material for later students in a less biased age. Some of the missionaries were scholars in a literary sense and expanded the material of their reports into books which were published in their homelands. When the religious details are omitted, a goodly amount of source ma-page 29terial in ethnology remains. The most prominent missionary writers were William Ellis (Society Islands, Hawaii), John Williams (Society and Cook Islands), W. Wyatt Gill (Cook Islands), A. R. Montiton (Tuamotu), Honoré Laval (Mangareva), George Turner (Samoa), Shirley Baker (Tonga), Hiram Bingham and Sheldon Dibble (Hawaii), and Richard Taylor and William Colenso (New Zealand).
Traders obtained an early footing in Polynesia. Early voyagers carried goods, such as glass beads, looking glasses, cloth, nails, hoop iron, and hatchets, to exchange for food. The later trading vessels were practically floating shops which were stocked with the cheap goods of Europe and America, wherewith to buy sandalwood and bêche-de-mer and pay natives to dive for pearls and pearl shells. When the dried flesh of coconuts, termed copra, became a commercial source for coconut oil and so established a local industry, trading firms set up local branches and the white trader became a settler, for a time at least. The trader usually followed the missionary, so far as time of settlement was concerned, but he did not follow the way of life which the missionaries were trying to inculcate into the native mind as the pattern of white civilization. However, we are not concerned with the morals of the time, but rather with the possibility of the early traders supplying information concerning the manners and customs of the people to whom they sold their goods. There was one such trader, Lamont by name, who wrote a good book. He was wrecked on the atoll of Tongareva (Penrhyn) in 1853, and he lived on terms of friendship with the natives, two of whom he married. As he had no goods to sell, he had time to observe the things around him. When he finally got away to San Francisco, he wrote up his experiences, and his book is the best firsthand account of an atoll community. Others had the opportunity, but if they evinced any interest beyond their own narrow field of commercialism, they lacked the ability to record their experiences in writing. Perhaps it was just as well, though it would be interesting to have a view of native culture from another angle than that of religion.
After the missionaries had quieted the people and the traders had discovered commercial possibilities, various nations took possession of the islands and appointed government officials to maintain law and order. The change was disconcerting to white settlers but, on the whole, it gave protection to the native inhabitants. Officials in the early days, however, were not particularly well prepared for their duties. They were probably well educated in everything except native culture. It was held that a white man, entrenched in office, was quite capable of dealing with any native population. The superiority of the white races was so established that they could do no wrong. However, the page 30theory of the superiority of the white man is not an infallible law, but an assumption which, like religion, has given comfort to thousands who believe in it. It was the native who had to study the white man, not the white man the native. Not until recent times have governments recognized that their officials should receive some training to enable them to better understand the people they must govern. This change of attitude has been due to the growth of the science termed anthropology. It was the schools of anthropology which urged upon governments the necessity of giving officials in colonial service a course of education which would enable them to appreciate native culture and teach them how to smooth over the difficulties in making the inevitable changes. Courses in anthropology for cadets entering the Colonial Civil Service were inaugurated at Cambridge, Oxford, and London Universities in England. In Australia, a similar course was given at the University of Sydney.
Of the United States' colonial possessions in Polynesia, the Hawaiians assimilated American culture as a matter of course, much like the Maoris of New Zealand did in their relations with the British, and the Samoans of American Samoa came under the jurisdiction of the United States Navy. In recent times, a course on race relations was established at American universities and, as a result of the present war, courses were organized by the Navy to train men for positions in civil administration in the Pacific Islands captured by the United States. In these courses, given mainly by University professors, special attention was paid to paving the way to an understanding of the native inhabitants. The subject of applied anthropology has assumed a deserved importance because it is capable of being applied to all cultures.
Though, as a class, early government officials did little to add to our knowledge of native culture, there were a few exceptions. Of British officials, Sir George Grey, when Governor of New Zealand, collected versions of Maori myths and traditions, which he published. Others were Lieutenant Colonel W. E. Gudgeon, Resident Commissioner of the Cook Islands; S. Percy Smith, Government Agent in Niue; and Basil Thompson, representative of the Fijian Government in Tonga. Of German officials, Augustin Krämer, while Government Medical Officer in Samoa, wrote his authoritative work on the Samoan Islands; and Chief Justice E. Schultz contributed interesting articles on Samoan law and on proverbial sayings. French officials produced little individually, but the Government at Tahiti printed the Bulletins of the Société des Études Oceaniennes; and M. de Bovis, Government Medical Officer, wrote a general work on Tahiti which provided the French with a reference book in their own language.
As settlement increased, more people of better education came into contact with the native populations. Native servants, nurses, wives, and workmen, all supplied information about themselves and their people. Trade and land trans-page 31actions with neighboring tribes and chiefs opened up wider fields of interest to the intelligent. Much native lore was acquired. Though it may have been passed on to others orally, there were few who had the material, time, patience, and ability to write manuscripts for publication as books. Many old residents were quite capable of writing articles on specific subjects, but the medium for printing them was lacking. However, books were written and published, some by transient visitors whose confidence in their own views was not inhibited by the doubts which assail those of longer residence. Comparatively late, such a journalistic medium was provided in New Zealand by the formation of the Polynesian Society. Its journal offered an outlet for short articles, and members of the society were able to induce people to contribute articles. In this way, much material which would never have otherwise come to light was placed on permanent record.
Some men, such as Percy Smith, Elsdon Best, and Edward Tregear, wrote not only from interest, but from a deep sense of duty to preserve a record of native culture. There were no fellowships to defray field expenses in their day, and they gave freely of their own time and money. The amateur anthropologists were amateurs in the sense that they were not paid professionals. What they might have gained from a university school of anthropology was more than made up for by an intense study of the available literature and by years of contact with the people they interpreted.
After all is said and written, the information came primarily from the natives. Much was missed and much was miswritten through an inadequate knowledge of the native language on the part of the recorder. The settler and the trader can make themselves understood by carrying on a conversation with a limited vocabulary interspersed with English words. It is probably the apparent success of such a restricted vocabulary which has brought forth statements that if one knows one Polynesian language, one can understand them all. However, when it comes to inquiry into the details of religion and social organization, no man can understand all the local words and idioms used in a dialect other than the one he knows. I know this from personal experience. There are sources of error. A native may misunderstand a question and thus give the wrong answer, or he may deliberately give the wrong answer, an individual form of humor. The stranger who is arrogant or patronizing is very apt to be told strange stories which form excellent material for magazine articles but have no foundation of truth.
It is a fundamental rule in ethnological inquiry to ask no leading questions, yet much of the recorded material has been obtained as the result of such questions. The Polynesian is naturally friendly, and when he realizes that a certain answer is desired he may supply it as a matter of courtesy, even when he knows page 32it is wrong. He may even chuckle inwardly, as at an obscure joke. When Captain Cook visited the Island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, he saw a native with a shark-tooth implement, which reminded him of a similar tool in New Zealand. He knew that the New Zealand implement was used to cut up human bodies in preparation for cooking. On inquiry as to the use of the Hawaiian instrument, the Kauai owner confirmed Cook's inference that it was so used In Hawaii. However, asked if they ate the human flesh so carved, the native denied it vigorously and expressed horror at such an idea. An older man, probably amused at his companion's expressions of horror and seeing the humor of the situation, gave Cook the required answer by stating that they did eat human flesh. Cook made other inquiries and concluded that, beyond doubt, the inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands were cannibals. Cook was a careful observer, but this is one instance in which he was supplied with erroneous information. It is true that the Hawaiian shark-tooth implements were used to cut up human flesh, but it was in connection with the funeral custom of stripping the flesh from the bones before they were deposited in burial caves. Cannibalism was never customary among the Hawaiians. There were, at most, only a few cannibals in the course of their history.
When Polynesians are convinced that the inquirer is in sympathy with their traditions and customs, they are ready and even eager to tell what they know. There is, however, an inhibiting factor that may be present with some prospective informants. It is the idea that the white man is going to write a book for which he will obtain a vast sum of money in which the informant does not share. Why should he give up his time to be pestered with questions, if he receives nothing for it? This brings up the question of paying informants. While I understand it has been the practice in the United States to pay Indian informants at some established rate, it is a somewhat doubtful procedure in Polynesia: When it becomes a business arrangement, there is danger that the informant may be tempted to increase his output by localizing his knowledge of other islands, even drawing upon his imagination to correspondingly increase his income. Sometimes this situation cannot be avoided, and the collector must exercise his judgment in rejecting the extraneous, a difficult decision if the author wishes quantity in his description of a vanishing culture.
The plan I have tried to follow during field expeditions is to call, or sit in at, a meeting of the people and explain to them that the object of the inquiry is to put their history, traditions, crafts, and customs on record for the outside world to appreciate. The collecting of information becomes a community project, which the people strive to make as complete as possible. They will indicate the best informants, or the best informants will indicate themselves. The policy is to elevate the inquiry above the plane of western commercialism and conduct it on the Polynesian system of giving gifts of food or goods to those who deserve them. Materially the two systems may appear identical, but psychologically they are vastly different.page 33
The individuality of informants has to be considered. It must be remembered that religious rituals and ceremonies were abandoned some generations ago through the substitution of Christianity. Similarly, many social customs were abandoned through the change of religion and through the passing of authority from hereditary chiefs to the officials of foreign powers. What the present day informant has to divulge is that which has filtered down through several generations of people who never took part in the ceremonies they described orally. Each generation dropped something of its own culture and probably added something from outside sources. In choosing between informants, those to beware of are the persons who can give the most complete story of the forgotten past. They have usually traveled and have added the tales of other islands to their own. They have also acquired a wider knowledge of English, hence are more apt to gain the ear of inquirers than the conservative stay-at-homes whose local knowledge is not vitiated by outside sources of information. The dangerous informant is the one who can answer all questions and the good informant is the one who says he doesn't know when he doesn't know.
After the missionary schools had taught the natives to read and write their own language, many of the older people wrote down their history, legends, genealogies, and other items of their culture in ledgers and exercise books. These were handed down in families, and often copies were made. Many of the latter-day authorities have gained their reputation through the possession of family manuscripts. The older the manuscript, the more valuable it is. Later copies have added later material, the authenticity of which cannot be proved. Some of the old manuscripts are difficult to decipher, because the old-time writers had not acquired a knowledge of punctuation and the use of capital letters. Sometimes the words are run together, and I have seen a manuscript in which each line was continuous without a break between words. Hence, copies of old manuscripts, even when made by the natives themselves, are apt to contain additional errors through their interpretation of the original. Capitals may have been put in where they do not belong and dropped where they do belong. Sometimes in copying, words and even lines have been missed, resulting in confusion in the original text.
In spite of errors, a number of native manuscripts have been preserved and published. An important example is the history and traditions of Rarotonga compiled by Te Ariki Taraare, the descendant of a Rarotongan priestly line. The manuscript was acquired by S. Percy Smith and published in the journal of the Polynesian Society, over a period of some years. A dictated manuscript of the lectures of a Maori priest, Te Matorohanga, has appeared in the Polynesian Journal with the native text and translations, and it has also been published separately in the memoirs of the Polynesian Society. A native manu-page 34script was written by the people of Mangareva on their history and culture through the encouragement of the Catholic priest, Honoré Laval. It was translated into French by Laval in his work on Mangareva, and it proved of inestimable value to me in my work on the "Ethnology of Mangareva." In Hawaii, a number of native manuscripts have been translated and published in Fornander's "Hawaiian antiquities and folklore", "Kepelino's traditions of Hawaii", and David Malo's "Hawaiian antiquities." Kamakau's unpublished manuscript on Hawaiian traditional beliefs and customs is in the keeping of Bishop Museum. Teuira Henry's authoritative work on "Ancient Tahiti" was largely derived from native manuscripts. Many short articles by native writers have been translated and published in various journals and newspapers. On the whole, natives have contributed much valuable information in manuscripts of their own composition.
Translations and Interpretations
The translations of native texts have yielded considerable valuable information, but matters of doubt should be checked with the original native text, where possible. Local idioms are sometimes difficult to translate, particularly when the native author is not available to explain the passage. The translator feels that he has to complete his task, and as he cannot translate a word, phrase, or idiom, he interprets it as best he can. If he is wrong, the error is perpetuated by subsequent writers who make use of the published translation. Even in one area, such as New Zealand, the various tribes have local words, terms, or idioms which members of another tribe cannot translate correctly unless they know the local meanings. It is this fact that makes some proverbs and cryptic sayings difficult to translate. Place names and personal names may also have originated from some local historical event, and unless the local history is known, an attempt at a literal translation of the various syllables of the name often results in disaster. When capitals are omitted from proper names, as often happens, the result is sometimes ridiculous. A classical example of such an error is the following interpretation of a proverb or saying by the Maori scholar, the Reverend William Colenso.
Rukuruku huna horahia papaka-nui
Dive hidden spread crab great
Colenso interpreted it thus, "By diving deeply (you will get) a great spread of crabs." An analysis of the English words made it difficult to accept this interpretation. Firstly, the New Zealand crabs are obtained in shallow pools and under rocks, so the process of obtaining them does not necessitate diving of any kind, let alone deep diving. Secondly, "spread" is an English colloquialism which has no meaning in Maori. Later, the saying was found to belong to the Hauraki district where both huna and papaka-nui were place names. Huna was a locality where a variety of flax (Phormium tenax) containing a page 35fine fiber was obtained for making dress cloaks, and Papaka-nui was a swamp where the leaves of the kiekie (Freycinetia banksii) were gathered for weaving rough rain capes. By a figure of speech, the place names were used to denote the garments made from the material obtained in those localities. The term ruku or rukuruku means to fold up, as well as to dive, and horahia is its antithesis in the sense of unfolding or spreading out preparatory to wearing. Hence the meaning of the saying, as explained by the people who originated it, was as follows:
Rukuruku Huna, horahia Papaka-nui.
Fold up your dress cloak, unfold your rain cape.
The saying was addressed to people about to depart on a journey in fine weather, which the weather prophets felt would not last. The correct meaning is about as remote from "a great spread of crabs" as one can possibly imagine.
Tribal chants and laments composed before European contact contain archaic words which have gone out of current use, and frequent references are made to mythology, religious ritual, and traditional events which have not been transmitted in the oral prose accounts. Elsdon Best, who recognized the difficulty of accurate translation, recorded in many of his published papers the chants but made no attempt to translate them. The same procedure was adopted by Sir Apirana Ngata in his two published memoirs on Maori songs. He found out the tribes to which the laments belonged, gave genealogies of the composers and the chief characters commemorated by the dirges, and annotated the texts as fully as possible. The primary object was to prevent the wealth of material from being lost, and the time spent in endeavoring to translate obscure passages would have delayed publication unduly. Furthermore, hasty translations might have resulted in errors which the compiler was not willing to risk. A waiting period has elapsed, and Sir Apirana is now contributing a series of translations to the journal of the Polynesian Society.
In most native texts, frequent use is made of terms which apply to definite details in technical processes. Such technical terms may be used figuratively. They cannot be translated or interpreted correctly unless the translator has some knowledge of the craft from which the terms are derived. Some translators have evaded parts which they did not understand or used general terms which lose the precise meaning contained in the text. Others have skipped passages, paragraphs, and even pages which refer to subjects considered by the translator to be indelicate. A glaring example of such omissions was perpetrated by the translator of the Maori text in Grey's classic work on Polynesian mythology. The construction of the first latrine on the edge of a cliff was described in detail in 166 words in the native text, and this pattern was followed in all the Maori fortified villages on hill-top sites. It marked a distinct advance in sanitation, and Captain Cook remarked that the sanitation of the Maori villages was better than that of most of the cities in Europe. Grey's page 36translator dismissed the 166 words of detailed description in the following eight words: "He then added a building to Rehua's dwelling." The Maori text, however, was later to be of value. After European settlement, the Maoris abandoned their hill forts and moved down to the flatlands. Here the hillside type of latrine was impractical and the people abandoned it without attempting any adjustment or sanitary substitute. Later, when the department of health urged sanitary measures, the people objected to the latrine as a European innovation. When the details of the Maori text were quoted, they had to admit that the so-called innovation was merely a modification of an ancient Maori institution. If the Maori text had not been published, information which turned out to be of great practical importance would have been lost through the prudery of an incompetent translator.
From an ethnological point of view, translations should be literal, even if the English appears crude. In trying to polish up the English, meanings are often introduced which are not in the text. Another fault is the inclusion of extra information or explanations in what purports to be a translation. The result is not a translation but an interpolation, which is a totally different thing. Very often the interpolation is wrong and readers are led astray through acceptance of the material as a translation of an authoritative native text. In Grey's "Polynesian Mythology", the story is told of the voyage of the Aotea canoe to New Zealand. An incident occurs in which Turi, the captain of the vessel, called to his brother-in-law Tuau. The English translation is as follows, "Tuau, you come and sit for a little at the house amidship on the floor of the double canoe." This quotation has been used as evidence that the Aotea was a double canoe with a deck on the cross beams between the two hulls and with a house built amidship on that deck. With others, I accepted the statement as coming from an old native historian. However, on examining the native text, I found that the Maori words were as follows,
Nau mai hoki koe ki waenganui nei.
You also come here to the middle [amidship].
There is absolutely no mention of a double canoe, a deck, or a house. They were all added by the interpreter, who had probably heard of some of the Polynesian canoes being so built and who inferred that the Aotea was of similar construction. He may have been right, but his inference should have been confined to an explanatory note and not offered as a translation of the native text. Thus, the translator's sins of commission and omission render the English version of Grey's work an unsafe medium of source material.
Many writers and readers hold that literal translations of Maori texts, particularly songs, do not do justice to the literary genius of the Polynesian people. It all depends upon whether we want facts or literature. The trouble is that in free translations we seek for nice sounding words and idioms. Free interpretations, once they are published, enter the list of source material and page 37may be accepted literally by students of native culture. The problem almost merits the printing of two translations, a literal one and a free one, or interpretation. The first would be of more value to students and the second more pleasing to general readers.
Published Native Texts
In printed native texts, apart from misprints which are liable to occur in any language, there are two items which require attention. One is the alphabetical symbol for the ng sound and the other is the glottal closure.
In the printing equipment with which the early missionaries were provided, the fonts contained all the letters of their own alphabets. As the Polynesian alphabets consisted of fourteen letters at the most, a number of the English letters were not needed. Among these was the letter g. In choosing the form of representation for the ng sound, some missionaries thought that it would render the work of printing easier if a single letter were used instead of the combination of n and g. As the letter n was included in the native alphabet, it was decided that the spare letter g should be used to represent ng. This was adopted in western Polynesia (Samoa, Tonga, etc.) and in French Oceania. In New Zealand, the compilers of the alphabet preferred to include the two letters ng in the alphabet as a double consonant. The New Zealand double letter was adopted in the Cook Islands. There is no trouble with the letter g if the reader knows that it represents the Polynesian ng sound, but if he does not know, he makes the mistake of giving it the g sound of his own alphabet. Thus the unknowing pronounce the important Naval Station of Pago in American Samoa literally as Pagopago or Paygopaygo instead of Pangopango.
The glottal closure, as the name implies, is a closing of the space between the vocal cords which, with a restrained emission of breath, replaces certain consonant sounds in speech. It is present in Polynesian speech and creates one of the dialectical differences in the language. In the islands in which it occurs, the glottal closure always replaces particular consonants, as follows:
|Cook Islands, Mangareva, New Zealand (west coast, North Island)
|Society and Austral Islands
|Society and Austral Islands, Hawaii, Samoa
A curious usage occurs in Uvea and Futuna where the long vowel a is pronounced as two short vowels with the glottal closure between them.
At the early stage in the study of speech, the missionaries did not consider the glottal closure worthy of a symbol, and consequently the consonants represented by the closure were omitted from the local alphabets. More recent linguists decided that the glottal closure should be represented by a symbol and selected the inverted comma, termed the hamza, which should be placed page 38superior to the position which the original consonant would have occupied in the written word. In actual speech, there is no difficulty in recognizing the glottal closure; but in the written word, a good deal of confusion is caused by the absence of a symbol representing it. Thus, totally different words may be written in the same way. A good example is furnished by the Cook Island word ua, which represents four different words identical with the Maori words, ua (rain), hua (fruit), uha (female), and huha (thigh). If the hamza is used to represent the glottal h, the words are readily distinguished as ua, 'ua, u'a, and 'u'a.
The necessity for the hamza was not recognized until comparatively recent times, hence it does not occur in early texts. Even the Hawaiian dictionary compiled by Andrews and revised by Parker does not use the hamza, though it was published as late as 1922. On the other hand, the hamza was correctly used in Pratt's Samoan dictionary published in 1911. In many of the Bishop Museum publications, insufficient attention was paid to the inclusion of the hamza in native texts. It was included in some words and omitted in others, and even the same words had the hamza in some lines and lacked it in others. Thus, the presence of the hamza in the native text does not mean that it has been inserted correctly throughout. The native texts have consequently suffered in their value as source material for students in Polynesian linguistics. The blame lies partly with the authors, for no editor could be expected to be an authority on the Polynesian language though some inconsistencies are obvious. As a result of experience, the Museum refuses to accept any native text from an area where glottals occur unless the hamza has been correctly included in the manuscripts submitted for publication. The errors of omission in the past were perhaps unavoidable at the time, but we now have no excuse for continuing them into the future.
Another process which should be understood is the shift which has taken place from one consonant to another in different dialects. The most widely spread are those between v and w and between r and l. The w occurs in New Zealand and Hawaii and the v in the rest of the Polynesian area. However, there is a possibility that the missionary committee responsible for the Hawaiian alphabet may have made a mistake in choosing w; in preference to v. The Hawaiians of today are using v in their speech instead of w; but its use, after a lapse of about a century, cannot be taken as proof that they are restoring the original consonant. The limited distribution of w may be taken as evidence that v more nearly represents the original sound in the language. In the r and l shift, r occurs in central, east, and south Polynesia and l in north and west Polynesia. However, the missionary committee in Hawaii had a close vote in deciding upon l instead of r and, again, they may have made a mistake. If so, r, from distributional evidence, might be regarded as being nearer to the original sound. It is, perhaps, possible that the shifts in the above two pairs were made page 39originally from intermediate sounds. Where foreigners found no difficulty in deciding upon an alphabetical symbol, we may assume that the shift had been complete, but where doubt existed to the extent of voting between two symbols, as in Hawaii, the shift was probably not completed. Thus, some of the committee heard v and r and others heard w and l in the same set of words. The acceptance of the alphabet by the Hawaiians also led, in time, to their acceptance of the sounds given to the symbols by their missionary teachers. In other words, the teachers completed the shifts.
Several more localized shifts have taken place. The most interesting is that from t to k which occurred in Hawaii. The shift was taking place in some of the islands when the missionary committee was considering the alphabet, but it had not affected Kauai. It is evident that some Hawaiians were using t (Tamehameha) and others were using k (Kamehameha). The committee put it to the vote and speeded up evolution by completing the shift to k. The Hawaiians had already replaced the original k with the glottal closure, and the committee helped them restore it to their speech, but in place of t. Thus, the Hawaiian dialect retains a glottal closure replacement for k and a k consonant as well ('umeke for kumete, bowl).
It is interesting to note that a similar shift from t to k has been taking place in Samoa in recent years, though it has not yet been universally accepted. Here again, k had been replaced by the glottal closure. There was no evidence of the shift when Pratt's Samoan dictionary was published in 1911. In 1927, the use of k instead of t was universal in American Samoa, both in speech and in writing. The London Missionary Society College for Samoan pastors in Upolu opposed the shift in their teaching, but in Tutuila the retention of t was regarded as pedantic, even by the orators.
In Ontong Java, the glottal replacement of k and the shift from t to k have taken place, whereas the Polynesian dialects in the nearest islands retain both the original k and t. Thus the shift from t to k has appeared in widely separated areas as independent developments. A number of other localized shifts occur which would form an interesting study for an expert in linguistics.
Ethnological Societies in Polynesia
The formation of a society for a specific interest depends upon the initiative of one or a few enthusiastic individuals who can induce others to join in sufficient number to provide adequate funds through membership fees to publish annual reports or, better still, to produce a journal. The first two ethnological societies formed in Polynesia were the Polynesian Society in New Zealand and the Hawaiian Historical Society in Honolulu, both in 1892. Later, in 1917, the French residents of Tahiti formed the Société des Études Ocean-iennes. These three societies have published much interesting and valuable material. They not only provide a means of placing short articles on perma-page 40nent and available record, but they raise the standard of accuracy by refusing to accept material bordering on fiction or the result of unrestrained imagination on the part of the contributor. Rarely, an article may be accepted in good faith which, after publication, is found to be spurious. A good example of the spurious is the article on the interpretation of the so-called Easter Island script which was perpetrated by Dr. A. Carroll and published in the first volume of the Polynesian Journal in 1892. Such mistakes are happily rare, and the standard of a society's publication owes much to a wise editor who is not too proud to consult others in moments of doubt.
The white inhabitants of Apia in Upolu, Western Samoa, formed the Samoan Society in 1923, but the population was not large enough to provide a sufficient membership to finance publication. Papers read before the society have been published in the journal of the Polynesian Society.
The Polynesian Society
The Polynesian Society was founded in New Zealand in 1892 by a small group of enthusiasts led by S. Percy Smith. The object of the society was "to promote the study of the Anthropology, Ethnology, Philology, History, and Antiquities of the Polynesian race by the publication of an official journal to be called 'The Journal of the Polynesian Society,' and by the collection of books, manuscripts, photographs, relics, and other illustrations of the history of the Polynesian race." In order to extend its scope of interest to include neighboring cultures which might throw light on the study of the Polynesian race, the society adopted the following curious definition: "The term 'Polynesia' is intended to include Australasia, New Zealand, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Malaysia, as well as Polynesia proper." The annual subscription was placed at one guinea and life membership at ten pounds. These have recently been raised to 25 shillings and 15 pounds respectively.
When the proposition was put forward to form the Society, many people held that it was too late to save anything of importance in Polynesian culture. In spite of this pessimistic forecast, the society has continued to publish its quarterly journal throughout the years, and the year 1945 sees the unbroken chain of 54 annual volumes. Objections have been made at times that the journal has contained too much Maori material and not enough general Polynesian matter. This has been due to the difficulty of procuring correspondents in the various parts of Polynesia with the knowledge and the will to write on local ethnology. In spite of difficulties, the journal has recorded a vast amount of information concerning Polynesia, and no library which professes to be up-to-date on Pacific material is complete without a full set of journals of the Polynesian Society.
In addition to the journal, the society has published 21 volumes of memoirs and four reprints. Most of the memoirs are composed of long papers page 41which previously ran through several copies of the journal, and their publication as single volumes has been of great convenience to members of the society as well as to purchasing non-members.
The Hawaiian Historical Society
The Hawaiian Historical Society was organized on January 11, 1892, and its first annual meeting was held on December 5 of that same year. The objects of the society are the collection, study, and utilization of material illustrating the, ethnology, archaeology, and history of the Hawaiian Islands. There were 21 original members, and 216 were added during the year as well as 20 corresponding members. The initiation fee was five dollars and the original annual subscription of one dollar was later raised to two.
The Society holds meetings, at which papers are read and discussed. In addition to the annual report, the more important papers have been printed, as well as five reprints from early voyages which touched at Hawaii and three genealogies of local American families.
The Société Des Études Oceaniennes
The Société des Études Oceaniennes was founded in Papeete, Tahiti, in 1917 for the purpose of studying the anthropology, ethnology, philology, archaeology, and the history of the institutions, manners, customs, and traditions of the native inhabitants of eastern Polynesia. The journal of the Society, the "Bulletin de la Société Études Oceaniennes" with the subtitle "Polynésie orientale" was printed by the government. It appeared twice a year in the first three years, was dropped for three years, and then came out as a quarterly until the second World War disorganized printing. However, number 71 was published in June 1944. The bulletin has recorded much valuable information made by French observers in French Oceania.