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Hawaiian Grammar

By: Samuel H. Elbert

The "Notes on Hawaiian Grammar" included in the first three editions of the Hawaiian-English Dictionary have in this volume been revised and expanded. The original notes were written during the early 1950s, and since that time the number of students of Polynesian languages has increased considerably, with resulting increase in knowledge of these languages. This new Grammar, therefore, presents an approach rather different from the previous one; however, it is not couched in the most recent linguistic terminology, partly because the authors belong to a different generation, and partly because it is hoped that this volume will be of value to all students and teachers of the Hawaiian language, whether or not they are trained in contemporary linguistics. The approach is data-oriented and structural, and most attention is devoted to the sound system and to the structure of words and phrases, with less concentration on complex sentences. Nevertheless, an attempt is made to cover the major features of the language; the result is probably the most comprehensive treatment ever made of Hawaiian grammar. The analysis is based on the Hawa...

The English translations of illustrative sentences may in some instances seem awkward, but close translations are helpful to students. Not every possible translation of an illustrative sentence is given. For example, ia, meaning both 'he' and 'she', is usually translated 'he' to avoid the awkward 'he/she' and 'him/her'. Since Hawaiian is mainly tenseless and English is decidedly not, translations perforce included tense, but the alternative tenses are not given for every Hawaiian perfective aspect. Reading of the Grammar will be aided if the Hawaiian Dictionary is at hand, but intelligibility does not depend on access to that volume. However, the Grammar is by no means a substitute for the Dictionary. Meanings in the examples in the Grammar are in some instances ad hoc glosses; usually many more meanings and examples are given in the Dictionary. Early Hawaiian grammars by Adelbert von Chamisso and W. D. Alexander, student papers, and the writings of Bruce Biggs, Patrick Hohepa, and Andrew Pawley concerning other Polynesian languages have been helpful in the years of preparation of this volume. Emily A. Hawkins' doctoral d...

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