September is the Māori Language Month in New Zealand.
One of the things that I am really fascinated about the Māori language is its similarities with my first language, Japanese.
Even though I am well aware that the Māori language took a very different journey from Japanese, I sometimes wonder if the two languages somehow interacted with each other a long, long time ago.
The vowels (a, e, i, o, u) are practically identical though some of the Māori diphthongs (combinations of two vowels) can be tricky for Japanese speakers to pronounce.
The Māori consonants are very similar to Japanese, too, except for a few sounds such as the nasal ‘ng’ and ‘wh’ that is pronounced like the English ‘f’.
Some of the vocabulary are very similar as well as you can see in the table below:
|Ana (cave)||Ana (あな): hole; “hora-ana”is a cave|
|Kōura (crayfish)||Koura (こうら): shell of a crayfish, crab, etc.|
|Tuki (to ram, bump, crash into)||Tsuki (つき; 突き): to ram, poke, etc. |
*The standard form is ‘tsuku’ (つく; 突く)
|Puku (stomach)||Puku: stomach in expressions such as man-puku (まんぷく; 満腹: full stomach)|
|Kura (tank, container)||Kura (くら; 蔵): storehouse|
|Awa (river)||Kawa (かわ; 川): river|
|Tokotoko (cane, to walk with a stick)||Tokotoko (とことこ): onomatopoeia for the sound of walking fast in short steps|
|Pakipaki (to clap)||Pachipachi (パチパチ): onomatopoeia for the clapping sound|
|Ika (fish)||Ika (いか; squid)|
Finally, I stumbled upon this article by the Asia Media Centre yesterday. I wanted to share it with you as it was a great read.
According to the Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples from a Te Ao Māori Perspective survey, “Japan was seen as the country that shared the most culturally similar views and values to Māori”.
No wonder I feel at home in Aotearoa!