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Grammar of the New Zealand Language

Of Gender, Number, and Case

Of Gender, Number, and Case.

Maori, we may premise, admits of no such thing as declension by inflection, i. e., by a variation of the ground form. All the relations, it is capable of expressing, are denoted by words, or particles, prefixed or post-fixed to the noun.

Gender of Nouns.—Distinctions of gender are but seldom recognized in Maori, Only two are ever noticed, viz., the masculine and feminine. These are always expressed by different words, e.g.

Male. Female.
Matua or Papa, father. Whea, mother.
Tamaiti or Tamaroa, son. Tamahine or Koiro, daughter.
Tungane, brother of a female. Tuahine, sister of a man.page 20
Autane, brother-in-law of a female Auwahine, sister-in-law of the mon.
Tangats, man. Wahine, woman.
Koroheke, old man. Ruruhi, old woman.
Tourahi and Toa, male of brute animals. Uwhine, femeale.
Tane, a male, mostly of the human Wahine, female. species.

In salutation, the sex of the person is almost always denoted by the address, e.g.

To the man. To the female.
E hoa, friend! E kui, E tai to the married woman.
E pa, friend E kui, E tai to the married woman.
E mara, friend E kui, E tai to the married woman.
E koro, friend
E kara, friend E ko, E Hine to the girl.
E Ta, friend E ko, E Hine to the girl.
E Hika friend E ko, E Hine to the girl.

Note 1.—It should, however, be noted that these modes of address will vary in different Districts. Thus in Waikato E Tai ami E ko are often addressed to the male, and E kui to the girl— again also, tane and wahine will be of en found applied to the brute creation, and rourahi, in Waikato, is most frequently applied to the gelding.

Note 2.—The speaker should notice that the relationship of individuals of the same sex is designated by the same terms as the corresponding ones of the opposite sex; e.g.

John's Mary's
elder brother, is Tuakana, elder sister is Tuakana.
younger brother, teina. younger sister, teina.
brother-in-law. taokete. sister-in-law, taokete.

The distinction of sex in the other branches, is generally designated by tane and wahine post-fixed to the relation; e.g.,

  • hunaonga wahine, daughter-in-law.

  • hungawai tane, father-in-law.

page 21

Number —Substantives in Maori have two numbers, singular and plural.

The singular is known by the singular articles te, and tetahi, or by one of the singular pronouns connected with the noun; e.g.

  • Te whare o Hone, the house of John.

  • Toku paraikete, my blanket.

The plural is known by (1) nga, e tahi, or (2) one of the plural or dual pronouns preceding the noun; e.g.

  • nga wahine, the women,

  • aku tupuna, my forefathers.

(3.) Sometimes the plural is designated by o, without te preceding the noun; e.g.

  • kei o Hone matua pea, with John's uncles, perhaps.

(4.) In a few cases we meet with an alteration in the ground form; e.g.

  • Tamaiti, son; Tamariki, sons, or children.

(5.) In some trissvllables, the first syllable of the plural is pronounced long; as in matua, tupuna, wahine, tangata.

Note.—Examples of these two latter heads are not of frequent eccurrence.

(6.) We frequently meet with ma joined to the proper name, in a sense corresponding to hoi amphi, and hoi peri in Greek, to denote the person and his company: e.g.,

  • Kei a Kukutai ma, with Kukutai and his party.

(7.) Sometimes also ma is in the same sense postfixed to appellatives; e.g.,

  • E mara ma! E hoa ma! E ko ma!

(8.) Sometimes an act oft repeated, or many things of the same kind are denoted by a reduplication of one or more syllables e.g.

  • Kakata, a frequent laughing.

  • Mamahi, over-work.

  • Kimokimo, a winking of the eyes.

page 22

Case.—The distinction of case in Maori is exceedingly simple. As it is not the character of the language to decline either nouns or adjectives by a variation of the termination, it is evident that, in this respect, Maori is altogether different from Greek and Latin. Are we then to adopt the cases that those languages so clearly need? We are aware that some contend for them. But we are also assured that their adeption would be, not only useless but often exceedingly perplexing.

It is true that prepositions may be found in Maori, a well as in English, that correspond with the eases that are to be found in those languages. But that, we submit, is not the question. Our business, we conceive should be, to inquire how the dependence of words on each other is denoted in Maori, and then look out for a system that will meet, not a few selected cases, but all the various possible conditions.

Now, in Maori, the different connexions and relations of one thing to another are denoted by prepositions; there are upwards of twenty prepositions; and these are capable of being much increased in number by combination with each other; an having distinct meanings, different relations, and therefore distinct cases. Are all these then to be reduced to the six cases of Latin? Those who please may make the experiment with the following; kei runga i te pouaka, kei te kainga, ho atu ki a ia, me titiro atu ki a ia, patua ia ki te rakau, hei tua i te whare, &c.

The simple and comprehensive cases of Murray's English Grammar seem therefore the best adapted for Maori, though we will confess that our own judgment is against allowing any possesive case to Maori.

In English, it is true, that case may be recognised; because the ground form undergoes a change to denote it. Even in Hebrew, something analogous also might be admitted. But in Maori the possessive case is expressed, like all the other oblique cases, by a preposition. It may indeed be said, that in the pronouns we find a possessive formed by inflection. But this might justly be questioned: for it is very probable that noku, and naku, are compounds of no oku and na aku, and, when a native speaks slowly, it may be observed that he pronounces those words as if so spelt.

1. What is called the accusative case in Latin is most frequently denoted by i. This particle is different from the preposition i, and is only employed to denote the passing on of the action of the verb to the noun; e g., Ko wai hei keri i te mara? who is to dig the field? (vid. prepositions i.)

2. The vocative case is always denoted by e; e, g., E Hone! O John!