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Maori: A Linguistic Introduction (Linguistic Introductions) Hardcover – 12 Apr 2007

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Review of the hardback: ' … readable and stimulating … a good and handy introduction to the linguistic research on Maori.' The Linguist List

Book Description

A comprehensive 2007 overview of all aspects of Mäori, the indigenous language of New Zealand. Though addressed primarily to those with some knowledge of linguistics, it explores Mäori's history, its dialects, its sounds and grammar, its current status and the efforts being made by the Mäori community to ensure its survival.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic presentation of Maori for neophytes, accessible but enormously detailed 11 Oct 2013
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format: Paperback
Ray Harlow's MAORI: A Linguistic Introduction is a presentation of the grammar and sociolinguistics of New Zealand's indigenous language for readers who already have considerable training in linguistics. I'm a linguist working with Indo-European, Finno-Ugrian and Turkic languages, but I wanted to read something about an exotic Polynesian language, and Harlow's book proved just the ticket.

Harlow's presentation of the grammar is divided into a brief diachronic presentation and a much longer synchronic one. One chapter covers Maori's background in the Polynesian family, providing a very basic idea of the phonetic correspondences between Maori, Proto-Austronesian and the intermediate protolanguages. This is followed by a chapter on regional variation that also takes a historical approach at times.

The bulk of the book consists of individual chapters on Maori phonology, morphology and syntax. These are quite detailed. The chapter on phonology, for instance, contains formant frequency charts, surveys competing theoretical descriptions and has a complete history of orthographic conventions. The chapter on morphology begins by explaining how to categorize parts of speech in the language, a daunting task for the first generations of scholars.

The last chapter is on Maori's sociolinguistic situation. Harlow describes both the the history of Maori (and Moriori) from the 18th century on and its present state. I was under the impression that Maori had been successfully revived due to the various efforts taken since the 1980s, but Harlow notes that the language is still endangered and in fact the celebrated language nests saw declining participation between the late 1980s and the early millennium.

Since I work in a different field, I have no interest in going further with Maori, and so Harlow's book is a great presentation of all the basics and it seems a lot more ample than other volume in this Cambridge University Press series. There is an enormous bibliography for those wanting more, and I may follow up on some of the comparative Polynesian references.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Maori: A Linguistic Introduction 9 April 2011
By Dr Benjamin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very useful book because it points out the key linguistic points of Maori as a language but also has a good focus on the differences between the language spoken within tribal nations and tribal variants. Again this is important because the more standardised Maori often taught today is bringing changes in usage and convention as well as pronunciation. While a purist approach would be that those wishing to learn or perfect their Maori should ideally do so with a teacher from their own tribal nation and even more ideally within their own tribal areas, this is not always possible. Another important aspect of this book is use of excellent examples and sample sentences to illustrate the points being made.
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