Shedding Light on Maritime Polynesian Pidgin

Feb 3, 2015

Credit Wikipedia Commons
Emanuel J. Drechsel
Credit Ms. Makalapua Atkins


Credit Cambridge University Press

A new book is shedding light on how sailors exploring Polynesia were able to communicate with the locals.

Language Contact in the Early Colonial Pacific is a new book by UH Professor Emanuel Drechsel from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Interdisciplinary Studies department.  His research reveals that languages from Tahiti, New Zealand and Hawaii were able to merge together into a regional language called Maritime Polynesian Pidgin.  He argues that Europeans traveling through Polynesia learned a simplified form of the language by focusing on key verbs and similar words.  Drechsel gives an example, recorded by a fur trader in 1789.

Drechsel believes the pidgin operated as the main language for explorers as they acquired resources to continue their travels.

The full (Un-Trimmed) interview: 

The books is available from Amazon or Google