Motu is the language of the Motu people, one of the many languages of Papua New Guinea . It occupies rather strong positions in comparison with other languages of the region, and is quite widespread, especially in the area of the capital, Port Moresby .
|Country||Papua New Guinea|
|Total number of speakers||14,000 (1981)|
Sometimes called "real motu" or "pure motu" to distinguish it from the pidgin hiri-motu - one of the official languages of Papua - New Guinea.
Motu belongs to the Oceanic languages and has some common features with both Polynesian and Micronesian languages.
In the southeastern part of New Guinea , a simplified version of motu has developed as a trading language. It was originally called the “police motu,” now better known as hiri motu. By the time independence was declared, hiri motu was the third largest number of speakers (after talk-writing and English ) among more than 800 languages of Papua New Guinea, but its use has been declining recently due to the growing popularity of talk-writing.
Genealogical and areal information
Motu is the language of the motu tribe living along the southern coast of Papua New Guinea , about 80 kilometers along the coast on both sides of the capital, Port Moresby . It is believed that motu settled here at least two millennia ago. Motu language belongs to the Austronesian family , the Malay-Polynesian branch.
Motu language is quite noticeable among the languages of Papua New Guinea , including due to its pidgin version, hiri-motu , which for some time was the main language of interethnic communication on the island, but is now supplanted by English and other pidgin - talk-writing .
Motu people occupy many geographically separated settlements, between which live people who speak the Papuan coite language. The largest settlement in which the Motu language is spoken, Hanuabad (the “big village”), is actually an association of five smaller villages, one of which speaks the language of koit. Thus, there is a long interaction between the Motu and Coit peoples, including trade and mixed marriages. Due to such geographical remoteness of the speakers from each other, there are noticeable territorial differences in the language. The reference language is the language of the inhabitants of Hanuabad.
By the time colonization began, representatives of the Motu people were actively trading with other tribes, including those living quite far from them and speaking non-Astronesian languages. In the process of trade, linguistic interaction also took place. Representatives of the motu people spent up to three months in neighboring settlements, trying to learn the language of another tribe. Such trading expeditions in the motu language were called “hiri.” As a result, four different dialects of the motu language were formed:
- the so-called “real” or “pure” motu - the original language of the motu tribe
- dialect resulting from interaction with the languages of the cinnamon group
In this case, representatives of the people Motu managed to learn most of the vocabulary of cinnamon, but they used only a simplified version of the grammar.
- dialect resulting from interaction with the languages of the elem group
Probably due to significant lexical differences between the languages of this group, representatives of the Motu people could not learn a sufficient amount of vocabulary and therefore the resulting language contains both lexical and grammatical components of both contact languages.
- hiri-motu (police motu)
To communicate with representatives of other peoples who came to them, representatives of the Motu people used a special simplified version of their language. She was also used in communication with Europeans. As a result, this version of the language has become the language of political and economic governance throughout British Papua New Guinea, hence the name Police Motu. The name hiri-motu comes from the name of trading expeditions, due to the misconception that they underlie the basis of this language.
Type of expression of grammatical meanings and nature of the boundary between morphemes
Motu language is a synthetic agglutinative language . The boundaries of morphemes are almost always unambiguous and morphemes carry one grammatical meaning.
OBJ.PRS.3SG-scold-give-SBJ.1SG-bad ~ ADV-PAST: CONT
"He dirty (lit." bad ") scolded me"
Type of marking in a noun phrase and in a predication
In the noun group
- mero sina-na,
- boroma kwara-dia,
- The number of indicators of the miscarriage depends on the number possessed, not possessed. For example, the following construction is ambiguous:
child (or children) women
- Such a mock construction is used only for inalienable property or to indicate localization:
the inside of the house
- In other cases, possessive pronouns are used.
una tau ena ruma
that man his house
that man’s house
Vertex marking :
I can see you
Role Encoding Type
In the language of motu, a three-term type of role coding is presented. There are three excellent indicators of the verb's nuclear actants: for the transitive verb agent, for the transitive verb patient, and for the single intransitive verb nuclear actant.
- Morea ese boroma e-ala-ia
Morea ERG pig SBJ.PRS.3SG-kill-OBJ.3SG
Morea killed the pig.
- Morea e-mahuta
Morea is sleeping.
- tau na vada e-la, the man has gone;
man DEF.SG PRF SUBJ.PRS.3SG
The man is gone.
Basic Word Order
The basic word order is SOV. This word order was originally characteristic of the Papuan languages from which it spread to most of the Papua New Guinea region.
- tau ese mero na buka e-hen-ia
man ERG boy DEF.SG book SUBJ.PRES.3SG-give-OBJ.3SG
the man gave the boy a book
Most motu words have as many consonants as vowels , in some consonants predominate. Since there are only five vowels, the language is relatively easy to pronounce .
There are 16 consonants: b, d, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w and a voiced velar spirant , denoted by the letter ḡ . The letter “w” is used only in combination with “g” or “k” ( “gw” and “kw” ).
Emphasis is usually not predicted by the phonetic composition of the word and in some cases serves to distinguish between the plural and singular nouns, for example: kekéni 'girl' kékeni 'girls'.
In the motu language, only open syllables are permissible. In spoken language, if a word ending in -a is followed by a word starting with e- or a-, then the first a is omitted. This rule does not apply to the final -a in the verb indicators of a person and number. In this case, the two vowels are connected by the sound -v-.
The verb stem does not change. Most verb categories (gender, number, mood , deixis , negativity) are expressed through the form of a subject indicator. Moreover, subjective indicators in the present and past tense do not differ. In addition, the suffix -va indicates continued action in the past, and -mu indicates continued action in the present. The prefix he- translates the verb into a passive voice . The vada particle stands for perfection. The subject indicator is before the verb, the object is after, the indicator of continued action is after the adverb of the mode of action, if any. The passive measure is closer to the verb than the subjective measure.
He is walking fast.
I will not do it.
- e-he-duru he-heni
they helped each other
- vada e-he-kara
that was done
Noun and Adjective
The noun has very few grammatical categories of its own. In some nouns, a number is indicated by doubling the first syllable, transferring stress or suppletivism, but in most cases the number is indicated on the verb or through a definite article.
- mero boy
- haneulato, teenage girl
ulato, teenage girls
For adjectives, on the contrary, a number is required. The plural of indefinite adjectives is formed by doubling the first syllable. For certain adjectives, the index of the number is the definite article.
- au dika-dia
the bad trees
- tau namo-na
the good man
- au di ~ dika,
tree PL ~ bad
Doubling the entire basis of a noun carries either a diminutive or generalizing meaning. Doubling the base of an adjective means either enhancing or decreasing the presence of the attribute.
- kekeni girl
kekeni-kekeni, little girl
- hua, one banana
huahua, generally fruit
- goeva clean
goevagoeva, very clean
- metau heavy
metau-metau, not very heavy
|9||taura-hani-ta||twice four and one|
|101||sinahu-ta dikoana ta or sinahu-ta mai ta|
When counting people, special forms of numbers from two to eight are used. When recounting fish, pigs and wallaby kangaroos, special forms of numbers from ten to twenty-nine are used. When recalculating coconuts, the varo quantifier (rope) is used.
- varo-ta niu
When recounting long objects, such as trees, houses, spears, canoes, the au quantifier (tree) is used.
- auhitu vagani
Words in motu easily enough pass from one part of speech to another. So, some verbs without any form change go into nouns, and adjectives into adverbs and abstract nouns.
Such a transition can also occur through various affixes or reduplication of the framework.
The written language of motu is based on the Latin alphabet. For writing in the Motu language, an alphabet of 19 letters is used: a, e, i, o, u, b, d, g, g, h, k, 1, m, n, p, r. s, t, v. In addition, two digraphs are used : kw and gw. In general, this is a phonetic alphabet, but the letter g denotes both the sound g and the sound ɣ.
- Dutton, Tom (1985). Police Motu: Iena Sivarai (its story) . Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: University of Papua New Guinea Press.
- Lister-Turner, R and Clark, JB (1931), A Dictionary of the Motu Language of Papua , 2nd Edition (P. Chatterton, ed). Sydney, New South Wales: Government Printer.
- Lister-Turner, R and Clark, JB (1931), A Grammar of the Motu Language of Papua , 2nd Edition (P. Chatterton, ed). Sydney, New South Wales: Government Printer.
- Brett, Richard; Brown, Raymond; Brown, Ruth and Foreman, Velma. (1962), A Survey of Motu and Police Motu . Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
- William A. Foley (1986), "The Papuan Languages of New Guinea" Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- John Lynch (1998), Pacific Languages: An Introduction. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
- John Lynch, Malcolm Ross and Terry Crowley (2002), “The Oceanic Languages,” Richmond, Surrey: Curzon.
- Brij V. Lal, Kate Fortune (editors), The Pacific Islands: an encyclopedia, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press (2000).