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
Society Islands and some islands in the north Tuamotus.
THT (Grimes 1996: Ethnologue);
TAH (Biggs 1971)
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).
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.
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
A, E, I, O, U, ', F, H, M, N, P, R, T, V.
Word order typology
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
1930. A new grammar of the Tahitian dialect of the Polynesian
1851. A Tahitian and English dictionary
FARE VANA'A (Académie Tahitienne).
1986. Grammaire de la langue Tahitienne
1984. Languages of Asia and the Pacific (contains info on Tahitian,
including useful short vocabularies). North Ryde, Australia. Angus & Robertson
1895. Te parau a Honoura (in: Journal of the Polynesian Society,
vol 4, p 256-294). Wellington. Polynesian Society
1928. Ancient Tahiti (in: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin, vol
48). Honolulu. Bernice P. Bishop Museum
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
1946. Tahitian speech: how its beauties have been preserved (in:
Pacific Islands Monthly, vol 17, p 60)
1970. Conversational Tahitian: An introduction to the Tahitian
language of French Polynesia. Berkely and Los Angeles. University of
WARD, JACK H.
1987. E parau Tahiti tatou - Let's speak Tahitian (unpublished
typescript, Department of Indo-Pacific Languages, University of Hawai'i,
1838-1913. The Bible
1829-1889. New Testament
1818-1861. Portions of the Bible