Polynesian languages

language family

The Polynesian languages are a group of languages spoken in Oceania. They all belong in the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian languages. They are mostly spoken in Polynesia, but some are spoken in nearby Melanesia and Micronesia.

Polynesian languages
Ethnicity:Polynesian people
Polynesia, with outliers in Melanesia and Micronesia
Linguistic classification:Austronesian

There are around 30-40 Polynesian languages, with Samoan having the most speakers.[1] Other well-known Polynesian languages include Māori, Tongan, Hawaiian and Tahitian.


The Polynesian languages formed when Austronesians in New Caledonia (the Lapita culture) started moving to other parts of Oceania.[2] Navigation of Oceania continued until 1300AD, with the discovery of New Zealand (Aotearoa) by the Māori people.[3]

Today, there are over 2 million Polynesians, although speakers of Polynesian languages number far less due to historical reasons such as disease and colonialism.[4]

Sound changesEdit

Throughout the Polynesian languages, many sound changes occur. They mainly exist in consonants. For example, Samoan "f" corresponds to Hawaiian "h".

Hawaiian hale - Samoan fale (house)

Hawaiian aloha - Samoan talofa (hello)

Related pagesEdit


  1. "Polynesian languages". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  2. "Lapita culture". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  3. "A Brief History of New Zealand | New Zealand Now". www.newzealandnow.govt.nz. Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  4. "Polynesian culture | History, Religion, Traditions, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-08-31.