The Linguistic Atlas of French Polynesia



Maeva 'outou !

Welcome to the homepage of the Linguistic Atlas of French Polynesia. The result of ten years of collaboration between two linguists of French CNRS – Jean-Michel Charpentier(†) and Alexandre François – this volume of 2562 pages documents the diversity of languages and dialects of French Polynesia.

Charpentier, Jean-Michel & Alexandre François. 2015.
Atlas Linguistique de la Polynésie FrançaiseLinguistic Atlas of French Polynesia.
Berlin, Papeete: de Gruyter & Université de la Polynésie Française. 2562 pp. (ISBN : 978-3-11-026035-9)

Inaugurated officially on 26 February 2015, this atlas is published jointly by Université de la Polynésie française (UPF) and by academic publisher De Gruyter. Both the authors and the publishers have wished for this work to be distributed freely, in Open access, so as to be accessible to everyone. Feel free to download it and circulate it!

As we explain in the introductory chapters of the atlas, it is not so easy to provide a simple figure for the number of indigenous languages spoken in French Polynesia: this is due to the notorious difficulty of distinguishing between languages and dialects. That said, it appears reasonable to propose the figure of seven distinct languages in the country: Tahitian, Austral, Ra’ivavae, Rapa, Mangarevan, Pa’umotu, Marquesan.

Here is the reference map we propose for the languages of French Polynesia. (Click to enlarge.)

Among these seven languages, some – like Rapa, Mangarevan, Austral or even Pa’umotu – are particularly vulnerable: indeed, they feel the pressure of French but also of Tahitian, the dominant language in the country. The aim of our atlas is precisely to remind everyone of the linguistic wealth still alive across the territory, which cannot be just reduced to the language of Tahiti.