"Language" Top 5 Page for this destination Easter Island Local Custom Tip by pure1942

Easter Island Local Customs: 30 reviews and 28 photos

While Spanish is the official language of Rapa Nui, the island does have its own indigenous language known as Rapa Nui. The language has roots in other Polynesian languages and is most closely related to Tahitian and Cook Islands Maori. Having visited New Zealand, Tonga and the Cook Islands before my trip to Rapa Nui, I was delighted to hear the similarities of some words to other Polynesian languages. These similarities are amazing when you consider the vast distances between these Polynesian islands! For example the New Zealand Maori word for canoe or boat is ?waka? whereas the Rapa Nui word is ?vaka?. Likewise the word for ?hello? in NZ Maori is ?Kia Ora?, in the Cook Islands it is ?Kia Orana, in Tahiti it is ?La Ora Na?, and in Rapa Nui it is ?Iorana?. You can actually hear the subtle changes occurring as the words spread from west to east!
However, today?s Rapa Nui language bears little resemblance to the language spoken during ancient times having being linguistically mutated through contact with outsiders an d being brutally suppressed and outlawed by Chilean authorities in the past.
Today the language is experiencing a revival with locals becoming more aware and proud of their traditional language and an appreciation by the Chilean government of the rights of the Rapa Nui people to speak the language. While the language is still in danger of becoming extinct, more efforts are now being made to preserve the fragile language. There are only around 4000 speakers of this unusual language and a large number of these Rapa Nui speakers live abroad, but if you listen you will hear the language being used around the island or at least hear a juxtaposition of Rapa Nui and Spanish. You will endear yourself to locals if you make any effort to use the language during your stay, even just the words for ?hello? and/or ?thank you?.
Below are some common words you could try out during your visit:

Hello/Goodbye - Iorana
Thank you -Maururu
Please - Ana hanga koe
Beautiful - veri/nehe
Name ? Ingoa
Good ? Riva
Bad ? Kino
Yes ? Ee
No ? Ina
Big ? Nui
Small - Iti

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  • Written Nov 2, 2011
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