|Native to||French Polynesia|
|Native speakers||(124,000 cited 1977 census)|
Tahitian (Reo Mā'ohi or Reo Tahiti in Tahitian) is an indigenous language spoken mainly in the Society Islands in French Polynesia. It is an Eastern Polynesian language closely related to the other indigenous languages spoken in French Polynesia: Marquesan, Tuamotuan, Mangarevan, and Austral Islands languages. It is also related to the Rarotongan, New Zealand Māori, and Hawaiian languages, and distantly to Malay, Tagalog and Malagasy.
Tahitian was first transcribed from the oral spoken language into writing by missionaries of the London Missionary Society in the early 19th century.
In French Polynesia, it is the most prominent of the indigenous Polynesian languages (reo mā’ohi) which also include;
- Pa'umotu (reo Pa'umotu), includes 7 dialects, spoken in the Tuamotu Islands
- Marquesan, spoken in the Marquesas Islands, with two sub-divisions, North Marquesan (le'eo Enata) and South Marquesan (le'eo Enata)
- Austral, spoken by about 8,000 people in the Austral Islands
- Mangareva, spoken by about 1,600 people in the Gambier Islands
Early writing 
When Europeans first arrived in Tahiti at the end of the 18th century, there was no writing system and Tahitian was only a spoken language. In 1797, Protestant missionaries arrived in Tahiti on a British ship called the Duff, captained by James Wilson. Among the missionaries was Henry Nott (1774–1844) who learned the Tahitian language and worked with Pomare II, a Tahitian king, to translate the English Bible into Tahitian. A system of 5 vowels and 9 consonants was adopted for the Tahitian Bible which would become the key text by which many Polynesians would learn to read and write.
|a||’ā||/a/, /ɑː/||a: butter, ā: father|
|e||’ē||/e/, /eː/||e: late, ē: same but longer|
|f||fā||/f/||friend||becomes bilabial [ɸ] after o and u|
|h||hē||/h/||house||becomes [ʃ] (as in English shoe) after i and before o or u|
|i||’ī||/i/, /iː/||as in machine||may become diphthong ai in some words like rahi|
|o||’ō||/ɔ/, /oː/||o: nought, ō: go|
|p||pī||/p/||sponge (not aspirated)|
|t||tī||/t/||stand (not aspirated)|
|u||’ū||/u/, /uː/||u: foot, ū: moo||strong lip rounding|
|v||vī||/v/||vine||becomes bilabial ([β]) after o and u|
|’||’eta||/ʔ/||uh-oh||glottal stop beginning each syllable|
The glottal stop or 'eta is a genuine consonant. (People unfamiliar with Tahitian might mistake it for a punctuation mark.) This is typical of Polynesian languages (compare to the Hawai'ian ʻokina and others). Glottal stops used to be seldom written in practice but that has changed today, and since they are now common place, they're often written as a straight apostrophe ' , instead of the curly apostrophe used in the Hawaiian language. Alphabetical word ordering in dictionaries used to ignore the existence of glottals. However, Academic and scholars now publish text content with due use of glottal stops.
Tahitian makes a phonemic distinction between long and short vowels; long vowels are marked with macron or tārava.
For example, pāto, meaning "to pick, to pluck" and pato, "to break out", are distinguished solely by their vowel length. However, macrons are seldom written among older people because Tahitian writing was never taught at school until one or two decades ago.
Finally there is a toro ’a’ï, a trema put on the i, but only used in ïa when used as a reflexive pronoun. It does not indicate a different pronunciation. Usage of this diacritic was promoted by academics but has now virtually disappeared, mostly due to the fact that there's not difference in the quality of the vowel when the trema is used and when the macron is used.
Although the use of 'eta and tārava is equal to the usage of such symbols in other Polynesian languages, it is promoted by l'Académie Tahitienne and adopted by the territorial government. There are at least a dozen other ways of applying accents. Some methods are historical and no longer used. This can make usage unclear. See list. At this moment l'Académie Tahitienne seems to have not made a final decision yet whether the 'eta should appear as a small normal curly comma (’) or a small inverted curly comma (‘). Compare 'okina. The straight apostrophe (Unicode U+0027) being the default apostrophe displayed when striking the apostrophe key on a usual French AZERTY keyboard, it has become natural for writers to use the straight apostrophe for glottal stops.
Further, Tahitian syllables are entirely open, as is usual in Polynesian languages. In its morphology, Tahitian relies on the use of "helper words" (such as prepositions, articles, and particles) to encode grammatical relationships, rather than on inflection, as would be typical of European languages. It is a very analytic language, except when it comes to the personal pronouns, which have separate forms for singular, plural and dual numbers.
Today, macronized vowels and 'eta are also available for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. People can download and install mobile applications to realize the macron on vowels as well as the 'eta.
Personal pronouns 
- Au – I, me; 'Ua 'amu au i te i'a. – I have eaten the fish.: E haere au i te farehapi'ira'a ānānahi – I will go to school tomorrow;
- 'oe : you; Ua 'amu 'oe i te i'a. – You have eaten the fish; Ua fa'a'ino 'oe i tō mātou pere'o'o. – You broke our car. ;
- 'ōna/'oia : he, she; Ua amu 'ōna i te i'a. – He/she ate the fish. ; E aha 'ōna i haere mai ai ? – Why is she here/why did she come here? ; Aita 'ōna i 'ō nei. – He/she is not here.
- Tāua (inclusive) – we/us two ; Ua 'amu tāua i te i'a : We (us two) have eaten the fish.; Haere tāua. : Let's go (literally 'go us two'). ; O tō tāua hoa tē tae mai ra. : Our friend has arrived.
- Māua (exclusive) – we two ; 'Ua 'amu māua i te i'a. : We have eaten the fish. ;E ho'i māua ma Titaua i te fare. : Titaua and I are returning/going home. ; Nō māua tera fare. : This is our house.
- 'ōrua : you two ; 'Ua 'amu 'ōrua i te i'a. : You two ate the fish. ; Haere 'ōrua : You (two) go. ; Nā 'ōrua teie puta. : This book belongs to both of us.
- Rāua : them two ; Ua 'amu rāua i te i'a. – They (they two) have eaten the fish. ; Nō hea mai rāua ? – Where are you two/both? ; O rāua 'o Pā tei noho i te fare – He/she and Pa stayed home.
- Tātou (inclusive) – we ; 'O vai tā tātou e tīa'i nei? – Who are we expecting ? ; E 'ore tā tātou mā'a e toe. – There won't be any of our food more left.
- Mātou (exclusive) – we, them and me ; O mātou ma Herenui i haere mai ai. – We came with Herenui; Ua 'ite mai 'oe ia mātou – You saw us/you have seen us.
- outou – you (plural) ; A haere atu 'outou, e pe'e atu vau. – You (all) go, I am coming. ; 'O 'outou 'o vai mā i haere ai i te tautai ? – Who went fishing with you (all)?
- Rātou – them; 'Ua pe'ape'a rātou 'o Teina. – They have quarelled with Teina. ; Nō rātou te pupu pūai. – They have the strongest team.
Word order 
- tē tāmā'a nei au – "[present continuous] eat [present continuous] I", "I am eating"
- 'ua tāpū vau 'i te vahie – "[perfective aspect] chop I [object marker] the wood", "I chopped the wood"
- 'ua hohoni hia 'oia e te 'ūrī – "[perfective aspect] bite [passive voice] he by the dog", "He was bitten by the dog"
- e mea marō te ha'ari – "Are thing dry the coconut", "The coconuts are dry"
- e ta'ata pūai 'oia – "Is man strong he", "He is a strong man"
Definite article 
- te fare – the house; te tāne – the man
The plural of the definite article te is te mau.
- te mau fare – the houses; te mau tāne – the men
Also, te may also be used to indicate a plural;
- te ta'ata – can mean the person or the people
Indefinite article 
The indefinite article is te hō'e, meaning a or an.
- te hō'ē fare – a house
- 'O Tahiti – (It is) Tahiti
- 'O rātou – (It is) they
The article e introduces an indefinite common noun.
- e ta'ata – (it is) a person
- e vahine – (it is) a woman
- e mau vahine – (many) women
Aspect and modality markers 
- e: expresses an unfinished action or state.
- E hīmene Mere anapō: ""Will sing Mary tonight", "Mary will sing tonight"
- 'ua: expresses a finished action, a state different from a preceding state, or surprise.
- 'Ua riri au : "Unhappy I", "I am unhappy"
- tē ... nei: indicates progressive aspect.
- Tē tanu nei au i te taro: "planting I [dir. obj. marker] the taro", "I am planting the taro"
- e ... ana: expresses a habitual action or state.
- E tāere ana 'ōna: "Always is late he", "He is always late"
- i ... nei: indicates a finished action or a past state.
- 'Ua fānau hia 'oia i Tahiti nei: "Was born she in Tahiti", "She was born in Tahiti"
- i ... iho nei: indicates an action finished in the immediate past.
- I tae mai iho nei 'ōna: "He just came"
- 'ia: indicates a wish, desire, supposition, or condition.
- 'Ia vave mai!: "Hurry up!"
- 'a : indicates a command or obligation.
- 'A pi'o 'oe i raro!: "Bend down!"
- 'eiaha : indicates negative imperative.
- 'Eiaha e parau!: "Do not speak"
- 'Āhiri, 'ahani: indicates a condition or hypothetical supposition.
- 'Āhiri te pahī i ta'ahuri, 'ua pohe pau roa īa tātou: "If the boat had capsized, we would all be dead"
- 'aita: expresses negation.
- 'Aita vau e ho'i mai: "I will not return"
Common phrases and words 
|'Ia ora na||Hello, greetings|
|Haere mai, maeva, mānava||Welcome|
|māuruuru roa||thank you very much|
|E aha te huru?||How are you?|
|maita'i roa||very good|
Taboo names – pi’i 
In many parts of Polynesia the name of an important leader was (and sometimes still is) considered sacred (tapu) and was therefore accorded appropriate respect (mana). In order to avoid offense, all words resembling such a name were suppressed and replaced by another term of related meaning until the personage died. If, however, the leader should happen to live to a very great age this temporary substitution could become permanent.
In the rest of Polynesia tū means to stand, but in Tahitian it became ti’a, because the word was included in the name of king Tū-nui-’ē’a-i-te-atua. Likewise fetū (star) has become in Tahiti feti’a and aratū (pillar) became arati’a. Although nui (big) still occurs in some compounds, like Tahiti-nui, the usual word is rahi (which is a common word in Polynesian languages for 'large'). The term ’ē’a fell in disuse, replaced by purūmu or porōmu. Nowadays ’ē’a means 'path' while purūmu means 'road'.
Tū also had a nickname, Pō-mare (literally means 'night coughing'), under which his dynasty has become best known. By consequence pō (night) became ru'i (nowadays only used in the Bible, pō having become the word commonly in use once again), but mare (literally cough) has irreversibly been replaced by hota.
Other examples include;
- vai (water) became pape as in the names of Papeari, Papeno’o, Pape’ete
- moe (sleep) became ta’oto (the original meaning of which was 'to lie down').
Some of the old words are still used on the Leewards.
See also 
- Y. Lemaître, Lexique du tahitien contemporain, 1973. ISBN 2-7099-0228-1
- same; 2nd, reviewed edition, 1995. ISBN 2-7099-1247-3
- T. Henry, Ancient Tahiti – Tahiti aux temps anciens
- D.T. Tryon, Conversational Tahitian; ANU 1970
|Tahitian language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
- Tahitian–English dictionary
- Tahitian Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)
- Académie Tahitienne – Fare Vāna’a
- Puna Reo – Cultural Association, English section too