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  • Pocket Hawaiian grammar: A reference grammar in dictionary form
  • Ray Harlow
Albert J. Sch¨tz, Gary N. Kahāho'omalu Kanada, and Kenneth William Cook. 2005. Pocket Hawaiian grammar: A reference grammar in dictionary form. Waipahu, Hawai'i: Island Heritage. xx + 226 pp. ISBN: 1-59700-176-7. $8.99, paper.

Like Māori and a few other Polynesian languages, Hawaiian has been the subject of descriptive accounts for the best part of two centuries.1 Again like Māori, and to a rather lesser extent Tahitian, Hawaiian is a language intensively studied at schools and universities, with a high proportion of its modern speakers having acquired the language through such formal study. These learners have to contend with texts and reference books that make use of a number of different approaches, terminologies, and paradigms.

The Pocket Hawaiian Grammar (PHG) is best regarded as a key to these various descriptive treatments of Hawaiian, both grammatical and lexical, and to the terminology and grammatical models used in them. It is not, nor does it claim to be, a full descriptive grammar of Hawaiian, and the serious student cannot dispense with standard works such as Elbert (1979), Hawkins (1979), and Pukui and Elbert (1986), or the many other works, both older grammars and more detailed treatments of specific phenomena in Hawaiian grammar that exist and are listed in the references in PHG. However, the same student will find PHG an invaluable tool for navigating through this literature.

As the subtitle suggests, the contents are arranged as an alphabetically ordered set of items that are of a wide range of types, and the articles differ greatly in length depending upon the type:

  • closed lexical categories: all "particles," "minor words," and "function words" of Hawaiian are listed, with explanation, and usually with some exemplification; however, closed "base" categories such as numerals and those locative nouns that are not place names are also exhaustively listed;

  • Hawaiian terms for grammatical and phonological concepts. A Lexicon Committee, active since 1987, has been working to extend the Hawaiian vocabulary so as to cover a wide range of domains of modern life for which traditional terminology did not exist. The results of their work can be found in Mātmaka Kaiao (2003). Extensive linguistic terminology is included (though strikingly no word for "morpheme" is given) and is listed in PHG both as head words for numerous articles, as well as part of those articles that are listed under the equivalent English terms.

  • construction types in Hawaiian: possession, relativization, passive, and so on. The articles here provide brief introductions to these constructions, but in all cases refer to other resources for fuller discussion.

  • grammatical and phonological terminology in English. This is always accompanied by any Hawaiian equivalent that has been developed, as well as by discussion and [End Page 304] usually exemplification. Quite a few items of this sort are not directly relevant to Hawaiian, at least as viewed in recent times. However, items such as "case" and "gender" justify their place through having appeared in earlier, more latinate accounts. Nonetheless, there are some terms whose only justification is that they have a Hawaiian equivalent (e.g., "emphatic pronoun") or have figured in Polynesian linguistics more generally with no direct relevance to Hawaiian (e.g., "ergative").

The dictionary is preceded by a "guide to pronunciation" that appeals perforce to American English equivalents for the phonetics of the phonemes. At the same time, some use of IPA symbols is made, again with attempts to characterize the sounds intended informally. This section introduces and explains the system of parsing especially long words into "measures" proposed by Schūtz in the front matter of Pukui and Elbert (1986), and used there as well as in Māmaka Kaiao to indicate stress patterns.

The whole dictionary is thoroughly cross-referenced, though there are some hic-coughs in this system: kau 1 is referred to on page 95, but there is no such item; in the article on "noun" (138), the reader is directed to articles on i'oa ma'uli and i'oa paku (two types of "proper noun") "for a description of the syntactic differences between these two types"—however, these...


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