Tahitian
Language facts sheet by Niklas Jonsson
©1997-1999 POLLI & Niklas Jonsson

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


Country/territory where spoken
French Polynesia

Geographical region
Society Islands and some islands in the north Tuamotus.

Language codes
TAH (POLLI); THT (Grimes 1996: Ethnologue); TAH (Biggs 1971)

Genetic affiliation
Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Central-Eastern Oceanic, Remote Oceanic, Central Pacific, Eastern Fiji-Polynesian, Polynesian, Nuclear Polynesian, East Polynesian, Central Polynesian, Tahitic

Tahitian speaking population
117,000 in French Polynesia (1977), including several thousand non-Tahitians; 7,000 in New Caledonia (Summer Institute of Linguistics 1982); 262 in New Zealand (1976); some in Vanuatu; 125,000 total, 150,000 including second language speakers (1991).

Subsistence type
Agriculturalists: taro, yam, sweet potato, corn, eggplant, tomato, melon, lettuce, coconut, breadfruit, Tahitian chestnut, mango, banana, coffee; fishermen; livestock: pigs, cattle.

Status of language
Work in progress. Official language (together with French) in French Polynesia.

Media
There is limited use of Tahitian in newspapers. Tahitian is sometimes used in radio broadcasts, and TV news is broadcasted in Tahitian for a few minutes every day.

Alphabet
A, E, I, O, U, ', F, H, M, N, P, R, T, V.

Word order typology
VSO

Remarks
85% lexical similarity with Rarotongan, 76% with Hawaiian. Trade language for all of French Polynesia.

Data last updated
19 December 1998



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY - TAHITIAN

ANDREWS, E./ANDREWS, IRENE G.D.
1944. A comparative dictionary of the Tahitian languages. Chicago. Chicago Academy of Science

BURBRIDGE, G.
1930. A new grammar of the Tahitian dialect of the Polynesian language

DAVIES, JOHN.
1851. A Tahitian and English dictionary

FARE VANA'A (Académie Tahitienne).
1986. Grammaire de la langue Tahitienne

HAMBLIN, CHARLES.
1984. Languages of Asia and the Pacific (contains info on Tahitian, including useful short vocabularies). North Ryde, Australia. Angus & Robertson Publications

HENRY, TEUIRA.
1895. Te parau a Honoura (in: Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 4, p 256-294). Wellington. Polynesian Society

HENRY, TEUIRA.
1928. Ancient Tahiti (in: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin, vol 48). Honolulu. Bernice P. Bishop Museum

LEMAITRE, YVES.
1973. Lexique du Tahitien contemporain. Paris. ORSTOM

MISSIONARY TRAINING CENTER.
1979. Tahitian for missionaries. Salt Lake City. The church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints

ROWLAND, A.C.
1946. Tahitian speech: how its beauties have been preserved (in: Pacific Islands Monthly, vol 17, p 60)

TRYON, DARRELL.
1970. Conversational Tahitian: An introduction to the Tahitian language of French Polynesia. Berkely and Los Angeles. University of California Press

WARD, JACK H.
1987. E parau Tahiti tatou - Let's speak Tahitian (unpublished typescript, Department of Indo-Pacific Languages, University of Hawai'i, Honolulu)

[TRAD.].
1838-1913. The Bible

[TRAD.].
1829-1889. New Testament

[TRAD.].
1818-1861. Portions of the Bible



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