Hokulea's voyage to Madagascar reveals language ties
Click here to watch Paula Akana's report.
Madagascar is home to amazing ecosystems, animals, and people who are distant cousins of Native Hawaiians. They are part of the migration of the Austronesian people.
“It’s starting to change all of our thinking about oceanic people that began in southeast China, Taiwan area – 7,000 years ago – probably a crude craft that traveled south down to Micronesia and Melanesia and then branched to the one we know very well, went more into Polynesia, so we’ve been sailing this domain for 40 years,” said Nainoa Thompson, Hokulea’s master navigator.
However, another branch later headed into Indonesia and Madagascar. The proof is in the DNA as well as in Madagascar’s languages, which is called Malagasy.
The Malagasy languages show some influence from Bantu languages in South Africa, but it’s very clearly an Austronesian language. If you count to ten, you can see it right away: Eis, Rua, Telu, Ethetra, Dime. For the first five, very similar to a language like Hawaiian – Ekahi, Elua, Ekolu, Eha, Elima,” said Professor Robert Blust, UH-Manoa Department of Linguistics.
Originally, Hokulea was supposed to be towed in order to arrive in the safest port in Madagascar – Fort Dauphin – on October 10th for a Day of the Seafarer event.
“It’s really quite remarkable. You have this language family spread more than 206 degrees around the planet. That’s more than half the planet, and it’s because of their seafaring technology,” said Blust. “That’s the reason, so the Hokulea is showing that again. It’s something that we’ve known about for a long time, but it’s been demonstrated physically by the Hokulea voyage.”
However, due to unfavorable weather conditions, the Hokulea will not be able to dock at Madagascar but still plans to set sail for southeast Africa.