Hawaiian and Maori


Although this language is really out of scope for the VMS it just is interested to look at.

The Hawaiian alphabet has 13 letters, five vowels (long and short) and eight consonants, one of them being a glottal stop (called ʻokina in Hawaiian).

before Captain Cook’s arrival in Hawaii in 1778, Hawaiian was strictly an oral language. Cook and his men recorded the Hawaiian language for the first time in 1778. They noticed that the language was similar to Tahitian and Maori.

When the first missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820, they converted the oral Hawaiian language to a written language so that they were able to convey the messages of the Bible to the Hawaiian people.

By 1826, the missionaries had created a Hawaiian alphabet. They also taught Hawaiians to read and write the language and translated the Bible into Hawaiian.






I analyzed “6 KA HAE HAWAII, MALAKI 12, 1856”

dna hawaii

Interesting to see that:

  • it is possible to construct an intelligent language with very few letters and very few diacritics.
  • due to foreign names (‘Chicago’) the number of letters used was expanded from 13 to 23 letters
  • it is possible to have letters without an Z-pos
  • again we see: it is NOT possible to have letters without an A-pos
  • it is possible to have only 5 letters with Z-pos
  • there are only 12 letters active



Sample piece of the text analyzed:

Ua ino maoli ka nui o na uala maoli i keia wa, ua makika, ua loliloli, ua
ino; aole mea makemake e kuai e like mamua. Eia nae uala ano maikai, ma Koloa, Kauai;
aia ma Lahaina kekahi. He uala ulaula, loloa, aole nui loa, he ono nae. Makemake loa
na moka ia aula; a popopo wawe ma ka moana. Haawi na kapena i $2 no ka pahu, me ka
hoohalahala ole; aole haawi i $1 no ka uala kahiko. O keia uala maikai, no Amerika
hema mai, mai “Tombus” mai mamua, a ua hoolahaia maanei



The Maori language is one of the three official languages of New Zealand.

dna maori

I counted 14 letters as active, but the official Māori alphabet has 20 letters, two of which are digraphs: A Ā E Ē H I Ī K M N O Ō P R T U Ū W NG and WH. So basicly 5 Vowels (i.e., 5 monophthongs): a e i o u + 10 consonants: p t k m n ng wh h r w. (http://www.maorilanguage.info/mao_phon_desc1.html)

The first printed book was in 1815 it seems.  Before that, the language was an oral language exclusively. Māori is closely related to Tahitian and Rarotongan, which is spoken in the southern Cook Islands.