Maori Language Week

It’s Māori Language Week (July 24-30) in New Zealand. In his post on this, Kevin of the eclectic Languageandhumor.netcom links to a newspaper article that notes some of the controversy involved in putting up bilingual street signs. (One councilor, for example, called the idea of installing such signs “stupid.”)

As long as I’m on the subject of Maori, I’d like to note that even though, like Mandarin, the language has many fewer individual syllables than English, no one goes around claiming that Chinese characters are essential for its written form to be clear. Indeed, Maori has many fewer syllables than Mandarin and the other Sinitic languages; but a stripped-down version of the Roman alphabet (along with a macron) is enough to handle writing the language.


4 thoughts on “Maori Language Week

  1. Not quite right. even though Maori has fewer syllables than English, the words themselves are formed of many syllables and can become quite long, like Japanese. The reason why people are against romanisation is because they still think one syllable=one word=one character.

  2. Supposedly Mandarin, more so than any other Sinitic language, is increasingly polysyllabic. The word “qiaokeli” (chocolate), for example, is a single morpheme, albeit one represented by three Chinese characters. More to the point, the idea that a language having relatively few distinct syllables would require “logograms” to represent properly is a bit odd: if that were so, people would constantly be struggling in vain to decode each other’s homonym-rich speech.

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