Englisches Seminar

WS 2000/2001

Proseminar Variations in English

Lecturer: Dr. Marianne Hundt

Jan Flittner




The Influence of Maori Vocubulary on the Lexis of New Zealand English


    - in New Zealand English (NZE) word borrowings from te reo Maori (the maori language) are the most uniquely New Zealand (NZ) part of the lexis

    - Characteristics of te reo Maori: Syllable structure is very different (only one consonant in a syllable, all syllables end in vowels); ‘aesthetically pleasing language’; ‘Italian of the south’)

    - Two main periods of activity in borrowing from Maori into English:

    - First period: Colonial intake in three specific fields: - Maori society

                  - native flora and fauna

                  - proper names (esp. place names)

    - As in other colonies the native languages quickly comes under English domination

    - Most of the ‘essential’ loanwords come from this earliest phase

    - Examples: -    Maori life: haka, hangi, mana, marae...

      - Trees and plants: kauri, pohutukawa...

      - Birds: kakapo, kiwi, moa...

      - Place names: see map

    - After the first period of borrowing (until 1840) there was a time where Maori was completely overshadowed by English and the survival of te reo Maori was threatened.

    - BUT: in the last 20-25 years Maori had a revival. Not only the language, especially the Maori culture. This is part of the world-wide post-colonial movement of indigenous people seeking for more influence in their own destinies.

    - The flow of loanwords has resumed, with some of the old words being revived and many other appearing in English for the first time.

    - Major focus on words for the Maori society (Aotearoa, iwi, tangata, kaumatua...)

    - New words can be found in the media, public statements, literature by Maori writers (sometimes even code-switching)...

    - 1987: the Maori Language Act was passed, giving official status to Maori co-equally with English and establishing a Maori Language Commission  government, schools, universities... adopted both Maori and English names; job advertisements and public notices appear in both languages; Maori radio and TV-programmes

    - Important: there is a difference between the first phase of borrowing and the second: the first one was ‘receiver-oriented’ and Pakeha-driven (Pakeha take over Maori words), the second current phase is ‘donor-oriented’ and Maori-driven!

    - Most Maori words have undergone only minimum changes in pronunciation and spelling but some suffered rougher treatment (Otago for the Maori Otakou...)


The Wellington Corpus Of Written and Spoken New Zealand English:

The written corpus has the same structure as LOB, FLOB, Brown...The spoken corpus is very different. It consists of 1 Million words (as the written corpus) and is structured in 8 main parts. The dialogue part with recorded conversation is by far the biggest (500,000 words). The number of words spoken by Maori people is 18%. Every extract is described very detailed (see online manual).



    - Bell, Allen and Koenrad Kuiper (Edit.): New Zealand English, Varieties of English Around the World Vol. 25, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1999

    - Burridge, Kate and Jean Mulder: English in Australia and New Zealand, An Introduction to its History, Structure and Use, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998

    - Gordon, Elizabeth and Tony Deverson: New Zealand English and English in New Zealand  New House Publications, Auckland,



Manuals of the Wellington Corpus of Written New Zealand English (  and the Wellington Corpus of Spoken New Zealand English ( )



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