Family tree - Polynesian languages
By Niklas Jonsson 1997 for POLLI



A GENETIC CLASSIFICATION OF THE POLYNESIAN LANGUAGES

MOTHER NODES:
Austronesian languages
... Malayo-Polynesian languages
...... Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages
......... Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages
............ Oceanic languages
............... Central-Eastern Oceanic
.................. Remote Oceanic languages
..................... Central-Pacific languages
........................ Eastern Fiji-Polynesian languages
........................... Polynesian languages


DAUGHTER NODES:
Polynesian languages
......Tongic languages
............ Tongan (Tonga)
............ Niue (Niue)
......Nuclear Polynesian languages
............Samoic-Outlier languages
..................Samoic languages
........................ Samoan (Samoa)
..................Pukapuka languages
........................ Pukapukan (Cook Islands)
..................Wallisian languages
........................ East Uvean (Wallis)
........................ Niuafo'ou (Tonga)
........................ Niuatoputapu (Tonga) - extinct
..................Futunic languages
........................ East Futunan (Futuna)
........................ Rennellese (Solomon Islands)
........................ Pileni (Solomon Islands)
........................ Tikopia (Solomon Islands)
........................ Anutan (Solomon Islands)
........................ Emae (Vanuatu)
........................ Mele-Fila (Vanuatu)
........................ West Futunan (Vanuatu)
........................ West Uvean (New Caledonia)
..................Ellicean languages
........................ Tuvaluan (Tuvalu)
........................ Tokelauan (Tokelau)
........................ Nukuoro (Federated States of Micronesia)
........................ Kapingamarangi (Federated States of Micronesia)
........................ Nukuria (Papua New Guinea)
........................ Takuu (Papua New Guinea)
........................ Nukumanu (Papua New Guinea)
........................ Luangiua (Solomon Islands)
........................ Sikaiana (Solomon Islands)
............East Polyneasian languages
..................Rapanuic languages
........................ Rapanui (Easter Island)
..................Central Polynesian languages
........................Marquesic languages
.............................. North Marquesan (Marquesas Islands)
.............................. South Marquesan (Marquesas Islands)
.............................. Magarevan (Gambier Islands)
.............................. Hawaiian (Hawai'i)
.............................. Old Rapa (Austral Islands) - extinct
........................Tahitic languages
.............................. Tahitian (Society Islands)
.............................. Tuamotuan (Tuamotu Islands)
.............................. Napukan (Tuamotu Islands)
.............................. Reao (Tuamotu Islands)
.............................. Tubuai-Rurutu (Austral Islands)
.............................. Rapa (Austral Islands)
.............................. Rarotongan (Cook Islands)
.............................. Manihiki-Rakahanga (Cook Islands)
.............................. Tongarevan (Cook Islands)
.............................. Maori (New Zealand)
.............................. Moriori (Chatham Islands) - extinct



Comments:

The above classification of the Polynesian languages follows the one made in Ethnologue: Languages of the world (Grimes 1996; 13th edition), except for the details mentioned below.

Niuatoputapu is here classified as a Wallisian language, and not as an unclassified language within the Samoic-Outlier group, based on the classification made by Grimes 1992 where Niuatoputapu is considered to be genetically closer to the Wallisian language Niuafo'ou than to any other language. However, since so little is known about Niuatoputapu an exact classification is of course impossible.

Tokelauan is here classified as a language in the Ellicean subgroup, and not as the sole language in a Tokelauan subgroup, which is based on information in Biggs 1971 and in Ethnologue: Languages of the world (Grimes 1996; 13th edition) stating that Tokelauan is very closely related to Tuvaluan and that the two languages are mutually intelligible.

Napuka is here classified as a language, and not as a dialect of Tuamotuan, based on the statement by P.H. Audrian 1919 (Notes sur le dialecte Paumotu) that Napuka is clearly distinct from Tuamotuan, and also on my own field experiences of Napukan in 1993.

Reao is here classified as a language, and not as a dialect of Tuamotuan, based on the statement by P.H. Audrian 1919 (Notes sur le dialecte Paumotu) that Reao is incomprehensible to speakers of the Tuamotuan language, and also on my own field experiences of Reao in 1993.

Rapa is here classified as a Tahitic language, and not as an unclassified language within the Central Polynesian subgroup, based on Biggs' 1971 statement that the language spoken on the island of Rapa today is a variant of the Tahitian language. J.F.G. Stokes 1955, however, claims that another language, clearly distinct from the other Tahitic languages, was earlier spoken on Rapa; and Niko Besnier 1992 classifies Rapa as a Marquesic language. It may be then that there was a now extinct Marquesic language - Old Rapa - spoken on Rapa before, which is why I have (hypothetically) also included Old Rapa among the Marquesic languages.

Moriori is here classified as a language, and not as a dialect of Maori, based on the opinion held by many authors, for instance Biggs 1971, that Moriori was clearly distinct from Maori.

A bibliography of works refered to on this page may be found in the Polynesian Literature List.


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