Polynesian languages - a group of languages (about 30 in total) of the Malay-Polynesian, or Austronesian, family. Distributed on the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
Distributed on the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Areas of most of them are in the so-called. The Polynesian Triangle, the tops of which are New Zealand, the Hawaiian Islands and Easter Island; in addition, separate Polynesian languages are available in Melanesia and Micronesia. The number of speakers of Polynesian languages - over 700 thousand people (1970, estimate), of which half use some Polynesian language in everyday life (the rest only in traditional rites and in solemn situations).
From a linguistic point of view, the Polynesian languages are close to each other and form a clearly defined group, the genetic links of which with other Malay-Polynesian languages are not quite clear. For Polynesian languages, there is a limited phonemic composition (5 vowels and usually about 9-10 consonants); vowels may be short and long. Most Polynesian languages have no closed syllables. On the grammatical system, they are analytical, basic insulating.
Inside the Polynesian group, A. Pauly (New Zealand) singles out the Tongan (with Tongan languages) and the actual Polynesian subgroup; the second is divided, in turn, into the languages of the Samoan subgroup (including the Samoan language and the Polynesian languages of Melanesia) and the East Polynesian languages (Maori, Hawaiian, Tahitian, rarotonga, Rapanui, etc.).
All Polynesian peoples, separated by vast expanses of the ocean, were almost at the same level of development and spoke the same language, the dialects of which were due to only local reprimand, so that travelers, having learned a few words on one island, could be explained on another, far-lying island.
Polynesian languages are related to Melanesian and Malay.
The characteristic phonetic features of the Polynesian languages are the poverty of the sound system (these languages have only 5 vowels - a, e, and, o, y - and from 7 to 10 consonants). The words are dominated by vowel sounds, which gives the speech of the Polynesians a special smoothness. Before the advent of Europeans, not a single Polynesian people had its own written language, with the exception of the inhabitants of Easter Island.
The languages of the Malaysian-Polynesian group are spoken by about 35 million people inhabiting the area from Madagascar to Easter Island. In this melodic language, only 13 sounds, all words end in vowels and there are no consonants b, c, k, l, c. It is enough to learn a few hundred short words and simple grammar to be explained quite tolerably. All sounds in it are pronounced as they are written, and emphasis is placed on the last syllable.
Some Polynesian languages have been greatly affected by European colonization. Both Maori and Hawaiian, for example, have lost much ground to English, and have only recently been able to make progress towards restoration.