The Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures at the University of Hawaii--Manoa is the only educational institution in the english-speaking world to offer a comprehensive course in any of the languages of French Polynesia.
The word "Tahiti" is the name for the largest island in French Polynesia and perhaps the most legendary island in the south Pacific, if not the world. In the minds of most westerners the lure of that word is seldom rivaled. Tahiti is also the most populous island of French Polynesia, the seat of the French territorial administration and the location through which outsiders must pass to reach the rest of the territory and through which people throughout the territory move to reach the rest of the world. It is small wonder, then, that "Tahiti" has come to function as a synonym for French Polynesia itself. To the uninitiated "Tahitian" describes anyone or any thing from French Polynesia. To use these words in this fashion is to fail to appreciate some basic facts about the context of cultural and linguistic difference in which these terms take on their true meaning.
The language program covering the French Pacific at the University of Hawaii at Manoa concentrates on Tahitian, but aims to impart an appreciation for the variety of Polynesian tongues in the territory with courses of limited scope on Marquesan and Tuamotuan. Students of Tahitian may take over four years of the language on the Manoa campus. With regard to academic programs Tahitian will satisfy the two-year language requirement for the B.A. degree and 15 credits of study above the second year will get them a certificate in the language. Candidates for the M.A. in Pacific Islands Studies may also use Tahitian for their graduate language requirement and must pass a separate written examination for that purpose.
In order to implement the teaching of practical and precise language skills that function within the culture, the programís staffing reflects this dichotomy. There are two instructors who share the teaching tasks, one is the linguist-in-charge who focuses on matters of grammatical structure and lexical growth, and the other is a native speaker who has grown up in the culture.
There are numerous texts about Tahiti and devoted to the study of the Tahitian Language. Included here are lists of non-language studies texts and of those devoted to language studies which are useful to both students and persons interested in Tahiti. The bibliography of French-language Tahitian resources is new in 2001. NOTE: these books are not for sale at this website. Many of them can be found at the Pacific Collection of the Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaii--Manoa. These bibliographies continue to be under development and will grow over time. We also hope to implement a mini-lesson in Tahitian in the future.
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Last modified 13 November 2001
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