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A phonemic approach to the naming process : onomatopoeic names
is one of the most stable Polynesian words
= bird ; biped
*Phonemization is the adaptation of a sound or a word to the phonological system of a language, as in fale (Sāmoa) > fare (Tahiti) > hale (Hawai'i) > 'are (Rūrutu)
MISI Aplonis tabuensis - Polynesian Starling
NĒNĒ Branta Sandvicensis - Hawaiian Goose
MOHO Porzana Tabuensis - Spotless Crake
KŪKUPA Ptilinopus Rarotongensis - Cook Islands Fruit-Dove
ONOMATOPOEIA: No, this is not a Polynesian word!
An onomatopoeia is the creation and use of words which include sounds that are similar to the noises that the words refer to.
Human voices, animal sounds, shocks, etc. very often make up entire verbs or whole nouns to identify animals, motions and actions in one given language phonological system.
Onomatopoeias are extremely frequent in Polynesian languages as animal species' names very often mimick the sounds the animals make.
Herewith is a selection of onomatopoeic bird species' names found throughout Polynesia with their audio illustration.
The SPOTLESS CRAKE example
Regional name variants exist for one same bird:
The Spotless Crake is called Kotokoto on Rapa, Mo'omo'o on Mangaia, Moho in Tonga or Meho on Tahiti.
The call of the animal is perceptible in all of these regional name variants.
The KŪKUPA example
Likewise, one same bird name can designate other regional birds:
The Kūkupa is the Ptilinopus Rarotongensis on Rarotonga, the Hemiphaga Novaeseelandiae on Aotearoa or the Ptilinopus Dupetithouarsii Viridior on 'Ua Pou.
Their calls are very similar, hence the same onomatopoeia.
The Tahitian phonemization* of the sounds that these different kūkupa birds produce is 'Ū'UPA, which is again another bird.
TĪTĪ Pterodroma Nigripennis - Black-winged Petrel
RIRORIRO Gerygone Igata - Gray Gerygone
RURU Ninox Novaeseelandiae - Morepork
KŌKĪ Prosopeia tabuensis - Maroon Shining Parrot
KULUKULU Ptilinopus porphyraceus - Crimson-crowned Fruit-Dove
KIU Tringa Incana - Wandering Tattler