[An-lang] respect vocabulary

Ken Cook kencook at hawaii.edu
Mon Nov 8 01:04:51 UTC 2004

In some languages (e.g., Dyirbal, Guguyimidjir, Javanese, and Samoan), particular words are chosen to show respect for the addressee or referent. In Samoan (Polynesian), for example, about 450 respect words replace everyday terms when one addresses or refers to chiefs and orators (Milner 1961). For instance, the ordinary word fale 'house' is replaced by maota when referring to the house of a chief, while it is substituted with laoa when one speaks of the house of an orator. 

Can anyone tell me how extensive this phenomenon is? I'm really only familiar with the Samoan version of it, i.e. 'upu fa'aaloalo 'respectful words'. In which other Polynesian languages does it occur? I know it doesn't in contemporary Hawaiian, and I don't see any mention of it in Churchward's Tongan-English dictionary.

To what extent does it exist beyond Polynesia?

Thank you in advance for your help,

Ken Cook

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