A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 768 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16.

The taboo also prevails in Atooi in its full extent, and seemingly with much more rigour than even at Tongataboo.  For the people here always asked, with great eagerness and signs of fear to offend, whether any particular thing, which they desired to see, or we were unwilling to shew, was taboo, or, as they pronounced the word, tafoo?  The maia, ruae, or forbidden articles at the Society Islands, though doubtless the same thing, did not seem to be so strictly observed by them, except with respect to the dead, about whom we thought them more superstitious than any of the others were.  But these are circumstances with which we are not as yet sufficiently acquainted to be decisive about; and I shall only just observe, to shew the similitude in other matters connected with religion, that the priests, or tahounas, here, are as numerous as at the other islands; if we may judge, from our being able, during our short stay, to distinguish several saying their poore or prayer.

But whatever resemblance we might discover, in the general manners of the people of Atooi to those of Otaheite, these, of course, were less striking than the coincidence of language, indeed, the languages of both places may be said to be almost, word for word, the same.  It is true, that we sometimes remarked particular words to be pronounced exactly as we had found at New Zealand and the Friendly Islands; but, though all the four dialects are indisputably the same, these people, in general, have neither the strong guttural pronunciation of the former, nor a less degree of it, which also distinguishes the latter; and they have not only adopted the soft mode of the Otaheitans, in avoiding harsh sounds, but the whole idiom of their language; using not only the same affixes and suffixes to their words, but the same measure and cadence in their songs; though, in a manner, somewhat less agreeable.  There seems, indeed, at first hearing, some disagreement to the ear of a stranger; but it ought to be considered, that the people of Otaheite, from their frequent connections with the English, had learnt it, in some measure, to adapt themselves to our scanty knowledge of their language, by using not only the most common, but even corrupted expressions, in conversation with us; whereas, when they conversed among themselves, and used the several parts necessary to propriety of speech, they were scarcely at all understood by those amongst us, who had made the greatest proficiency in their vocabulary.  A catalogue of words was collected at Atooi by Mr Anderson, who lost no opportunity of making our voyage useful to those who amuse themselves in tracing the migrations of the various tribes or families that have peopled the globe, by the most convincing of all arguments, that drawn from affinity of language.

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