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Title: The Language of Rapa Iti: Description of a Language in Change.
Authors: Walworth, Mary E.
Keywords: Austronesian Languages
Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian Languages
Rapa - Grammar
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: University of Hawai'i
Abstract: This dissertation presents the results of a language documentation project carried out in Rapa Iti, the southernmost island of French Polynesia. It first highlights the indigenous language of Rapa Iti (“Old Rapa”) as an endangered and under-documented Polynesian language and provides the first linguistic description of it. Second, this dissertation seeks to demonstrate that the language spoken today on Rapa Iti is a language undergoing rapid and visible change. Very little of Old Rapa is still spoken, the modern language (“Reo Rapa”) has become heavily Tahitianized, and a “new” Rapa (“New Rapa”) is emerging from revitalization efforts through which the Rapa Iti people are striving to define a unique Rapa identity. Through these two primary aims, this dissertation intends to contribute to typological studies of languages in general, language contact studies, knowledge of East Polynesian languages, and language change studies. This dissertation not only provides documentation of the Old Rapa language, thereby avoiding loss of the unique grammatical, phonological, syntactical, and lexical phenomena of Old Rapa, but also provides a linguistic description in a cultural context, demonstrating how unique linguistic features provide insight into the unique culture and knowledge of the Rapa people. Furthermore, this dissertation addresses the sociolinguistic implications of the language's heavy contact with Tahitian, discussing the language change that has occurred as a result, as well as the ways in which language and the creation of a new Rapa language represent Rapa identity.
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