Kia Ora!

In my post The Most Basic of Basics I briefly talked about using kia ora to say hello to someone.

However, kia ora is a very useful word, beyond saying hello. It kind of also functions as a general word for politeness and acknowledgement.

You may find that these uses fill a gap that you weren’t sure how to express in te reo Māori, as these types of colloquial uses aren’t usually covered in textbooks or classes.

Hello – to start with, we can frame hello as part of the acknowledgement theme as saying kia ora to someone as a greeting is in effect an acknowledgement.

Thank you/thanks – you can say kia ora to thank someone and to acknowledge their action. For example, if someone hands you something, or does something for you. Similarly, if someone has just given an answer or volunteered in class, it might be acknowledged with kia ora.

Good work/I respect or admire that – if someone has done something worthy, you can say kia ora to acknowledge that. For example, someone says they’ve started studying, or they’re volunteering at a charity, or done something you think is impressive or cool, you can interject with kia ora in a tone of admiration.

Good point/I agree – similar to the above, but in this case used when you are listening to someone speaking or actually giving a speech and feel they made a good point, or you support or agree with what they are saying.

Bye/see ya – if someone is leaving and you have to throw out a quick good-bye-nice-to-see-you-I’m-not-ignoring-you, you can use kia ora. You can also just use kia ora as a general good-bye.

Thanks for reading and see you later – Kia ora!

 

Word Wednesday – hinga vs. taka

Today we are talking about these two different words, hinga and taka which can both be used to mean “to fall” (although they each have a variety of other meanings, too). It is important to understand the difference between the meaningd in order to use them correctly, but luckily, it’s not a complicted distinction.

In the simplest form:

  • hinga – fall over/topple
  • taka – drop/fall off/fall down

So hinga can only be used to mean when things fall over, i.e. like when something goes from upright to horizontal. For example, a tree which falls over, or a person who trips.

Whereas taka is when something drops or falls down, or falls off something. For example, a cup falls off a table, or a stone falls down a well, or you simply drop something out of your hand.

If you have trouble remember which is which, try thinking of hinga as “topple”, but taka as “drop” and see if that helps, rather than remembering them both as “fall” and getting confused between the two.

takakapa

Image: Kua taka te kapa –  The penny has dropped (this is a phrase taken from the English to mean the same thing, but the grammar is correct for a literally falling penny too)

 

hingajenga

Image: Kua hinga te jenga – The jenga has toppled/fallen over (remember that the jenga tower has to actually be falling over like in the picture, not simply dropping the pieces)

 

 

 

Useful Word Wednesday – Pukumahi

Today’s useful word is pukumahi, which means busy.

pukumahi – busy

Ok, so that’s kind of useful to know. Now you can say, “I’ve had a busy week” – right?

Ah, no, there’s the trick. You can’t use pukumahi to say you’ve had a busy week, or a busy day, you can only say that you’ve been busy this week. In other words, pukumahi can only apply to a person – you’re saying that the person is busy. This is a bit more obvious when you look at some of the other meanings for pukumahi – industrious, hard-working, diligent. You can’t say that your week was hard-working! So, perhaps our useful word should be remembered as follows:

pukumahi – industrious, hard-working

So, for example, a conversation could go like this:

  • Kei te pēhea koe? – How are you?
  • E pukumahi ana au! – I am/have been busy!

So, if you want to say you’ve been busy lately, which is something we in our society often want to say, then you can use pukumahi and people will know what you mean.

For myself though, I actually don’t like to use it because it seems like a bit of a brag to say that I’ve been so hardworking! (Plus that’s usually not even true…) Below are some examples from two of the online Māori dictionaries using pukumahi to describe another person as hard-working.

From Māori Dictionary online:

  • He tino pukumahi hoki ō mātau mātua. –  And our parents were really hard-working.
  • He wahine pukumahi a Te Paea… – Te Paea was a hard-working woman…

From Ngata Dictionary online:

  • He tauira pukumahi a ia. – She is a hard-working student.
  • He tangata pukumahi taku matua. – My father was an industrious man.

I think the word pukumahi also provides an interesting opportunity to reflect on what we mean when we use the word “busy” – sometimes we make ourselves busy regardless of the amount of work present, sometimes we take pride in being busy, other times we really mean that we were over-whelmed, some times “chaotic” is a nice word to describe our week.

If anyone knows the “correct” way to say you’ve had a busy week in Māori, please leave a comment! I normally make up a sentence about there having been a lot of work, but I don’t know what the natural, idiomatic Māori might be.

Koe, Kōrua, Koutou

So, last week I mentioned how you could say hello to people using tēnā koe/kōrua/koutou, which are all different words for “you” when speaking to different numbers of people.

So here’s a couple of little mnemonic things to help you remember – not the words themselves – but just to remember kind of which words refer to which number of people.

If we write the words out like this:

  1. Koe
  2. Kōrua
  3. Koutou

Then you can see that the words get longer the more people they refer to! So, just like in the numbering of the list, koe refers to 1 person, kōrua to 2 people and koutou to 3 or more, and the words themselves get longer as they refer to more people.

They also all have one more vowel than the word before – so koe has 2 vowels, kōrua has 3 vowels, and koutou has 4. Of course, all the words begin with “k” as well, so that’s one less thing to remember because that is consistent.

For some people this will just be really confusing, and they will be able to remember the words quite easily just as they are, but personally I find it easier to remember a rule like this than to memorise the spelling (initially of course – later I know the word well enough to know it automatically). A lot of people don’t notice these rules and connections, so I just want to point them out in case they turn out to be useful to someone.

Note: these mnemonics only work with this method of spelling/writing Māori words! If you use the double-vowel method rather than macrons, they will be written koe, koorua, koutou and they no longer create the useful pattern!

Mōrena!

This is a quick bonus post in my current series about greetings!

“Mōrena!” is a quick and easy greeting meaning “Morning!” You can click this link to hear a rather uninspriring rendition of this greeting. I encourage you to say it with more enthusiasm!

Mōrena is a transliteration of the English word “morning”, and its pretty easy to pronounce as the first sound is the same in both words. Be careful though – you can only use this word to mean “(good) morning” – you can’t use it to mean “morning” in any other contexts (for example, you couldn’t use it in the phrase “see you in the morning”).

Tēnā koe, Tēnā kōrua, Tēnā koutou

In my last post, I mentioned that when I was in primary school I found it very confusing to learn different ways to say “hello” to different numbers of people. However, I think that as adults we can probably handle it ok, and it does provide a useful introduction to the different words used.

I think it is important, before starting, to mention that the 3 forms for “you” used in these greetings are not unique to these phrases; these words are useful in all sorts of sentences, this is just an easy way to introduce them and learn one thing at a time.

So, without further ado:

(Each of the Māori greetings above has a link to Māori Dictionary where you can hear them spoken, but there are many more places where you can find sound files and videos too.)

These ways of saying “hello” are a bit more formal than simply saying kia ora (kia ora is more like “hi”). Literally these phrases mean “there you are”. The koe/kōrua/koutou is the “you” part of the phrase, and koe/kōrua/koutou are used in any sentence when in English you would use the word “you” – but in te reo Māori you have to think about how many people you’re referring to. In English we did used to use thou for singular “you” and you for plural “you”, but eventually thou was dropped. So using different words for “you” is a bit of a change for a modern English speaker!

Here are some examples to start you thinking about using these greetings:

  • So if you are saying “hello” to just one person,  maybe your boss, you say Tēnā koe
  • If you are saying “hello” to two people, maybe two guests waiting at reception, you would say Tēnā kōrua
  • And if you were saying “hello” to a group of 3 or more people, for example  at a meeting with your colleagues or to a room of people at a conference, you would say Tēnā koutou

For some people, it can seem like a lot to be learning so many ways to say “hello” rather than just learning one and then moving on to something else, but (besides the fact that you need to learn these at some point anyway) it is useful to start thinking about using these 3 different versions of the pronoun “you” as this is a big concept to get used to in te reo Māori.

 

The Most Basic of Basics

I remember that when I was at primary school, we learnt some Māori. I was not impressed. We learnt multiple ways to say hello and goodbye, and I couldn’t understand why you had to use different words for different numbers of people, or for if they were staying or going. I couldn’t remember them, and it made no sense to me.

So that’s why I’d make this my introductory lesson in te reo  Māori:

Kia ora! A nice simple way to say hello. It literally means “be well” which makes it a really positive thing to say. Say it to as many people as you like, to whomever you like. Its more informal than the other options, but for the most part this’ll be fine. Just like you probably say “hello” rather than “good morning”, informal is the Kiwi way. You’ll hear Kia ora said in a variety of different ways, but use the link above to hear one way.

Ka kite! A simple say to say bye, see you. Literally this means “(I) will see (you)”. This is also very informal, but when you’re a beginner, “ka kite” is easy to remember and easy to pronounce . It also provides a foundation to learning longer variations later, and leads into some of the initial grammar. I couldn’t find an audio file for just ka kite but you can click here to hear kite and a longer phrase beginning with  ka kite.