Linguistically, the Polynesians of the Gambier Islands show the most homogeneity of speech. All other Polynesian tongues of the territory show differing amounts of variation [dialects] within their respective island groups. For example.
Tahitian Austral Tuamotuan Gambier Marquesas mountain mou`a pu`u * [absent] mo`u mauna mau`a mauna ~ mauka sky ra`i tuara`i * rangi rangi `ani rangi + `aki wind mata`i matani ~ matangi matangi matani mataki star feti`a hetu ~ fetu `etu fetu kavenga+ hetł hetu mouth vaha va`a * vaha `a`a fafa haha go haere `ano * haere `ere he`e one ho`e ta`i * tahi ta`i tahi ten `ahuru rongo`uru+ ngahuru rongo`uru `onohu`u `a`uru * guts `a`au ngakau roeroe - koekoe koe = intestinal rumble * Rurutu | ~ old Tupua`i | + RapanThe vast majority of persons in French Polynesia speak one or more of the above speech varieties. Tahitian is the mother tongue of most Polynesians in the territory and is usually the second language of the non-Tahitian Polynesians. Consequently, native Tahitian speakers tend to be monolingual with respect to the other Polynesian languages. The mother tongue of those born in Europe is French. They comprise around 10% of the population but exercise a strong linguistic and cultural influence on the Polynesians. The ethnic and linguistic Frenchmen rarely learn anything but the most rudimentary Tahitian, if any at all. French dominates commerce, the school system, the job market, and to some extent politics. Tahitian is strong in Polynesian contexts and church, but some genetically Tahitian households have been shifting more and more toward French. There is also a significant number of Hakka Chinese most of whom speak French and many speak Tahitian as their second and third language respectively.
Note: The phonetic spelling of some of these words may differ slightly.
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Last modified 13 November 2001
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