Structure of Hawaiian

Course time: 
Tuesday/Friday 1:30-3:20 PM

Some of the more notable features of Hawaiian (Polynesian) include VSO word order, rich valence-changing morphology, widespread (and multi-purposed) reduplication, and little (or none, depending on how one defines it) inflectional morphology. We will examine these and other grammatical properties of Hawaiian, a language with a rich history and relatively plenty textual resources. The structure of Hawaiian will also be compared to other, related Polynesian languages, for example with respect to the divide in Polynesian between nom/acc languages (like Hawaiian) and erg/abs languages (such as Niuean). Topics that I am particularly interested in include verb-initiality and the VSO/VOS word order alternation, TAM marking, derivational and voice-related morphology, reduplication, and the phonology of stress. Students are welcome to introduce topics in class and, of course, in their work. 

Another goal of the class is the use of corpora for the analysis (qualitative or quantitative) of Hawaiian. My hope is that this aspect of the course will be useful for students for their own research programs in the future.

We will also discuss the socio-linguisitic status of Hawaiian, including its position as an endangered language of the United States while at the same time not being a language of the Americas. The role of Hawaiian in Hawai’i and the various movements in Polynesia to revitalize indigenous languages is of particular interest.