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Open Access Reo Rapa: A Polynesian Contact Language

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Reo Rapa: A Polynesian Contact Language

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Old Rapa, the indigenous Eastern Polynesian language of the island of Rapa Iti, is no longer spoken regularly in any cultural domains and has been replaced in most institutional domains by Tahitian. The remaining speakers are elders who maintain it only through linguistic memory, where elements of the language are remembered and can be elicited but they are not actively used in regular conversation. Reo Rapa, a contact language that fuses Tahitian and Old Rapa, which has developed from the prolonged and dominant influence of the Tahitian language in Rapa Iti since the mid nineteenth century, has replaced the indigenous Old Rapa language at home and between most people in regular social interaction. This article analyzes Reo Rapa through an examination of its genesis and its structure. This article furthermore defines Reo Rapa as a unique contact variety, a shift-break language: a language that resulted from stalled shift due to a collective anti-convergence sentiment in the speech community. This article further discusses a variety of Reo Rapa speech, New Rapa, which presents important questions for the natural-ness of language change and the visibility of actuation.

Affiliations: 1: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Université de la Polynésie française, walworth@shh.mpg.de

Old Rapa, the indigenous Eastern Polynesian language of the island of Rapa Iti, is no longer spoken regularly in any cultural domains and has been replaced in most institutional domains by Tahitian. The remaining speakers are elders who maintain it only through linguistic memory, where elements of the language are remembered and can be elicited but they are not actively used in regular conversation. Reo Rapa, a contact language that fuses Tahitian and Old Rapa, which has developed from the prolonged and dominant influence of the Tahitian language in Rapa Iti since the mid nineteenth century, has replaced the indigenous Old Rapa language at home and between most people in regular social interaction. This article analyzes Reo Rapa through an examination of its genesis and its structure. This article furthermore defines Reo Rapa as a unique contact variety, a shift-break language: a language that resulted from stalled shift due to a collective anti-convergence sentiment in the speech community. This article further discusses a variety of Reo Rapa speech, New Rapa, which presents important questions for the natural-ness of language change and the visibility of actuation.

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2017-12-29
2018-10-17

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