Apr 21, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

Commercial reo projects hold our people to ransom

3 min read

(by Karaitiana Taiuru) Whereas Papakupu, is a Maori Language Dictionary that consists of headwords from published Maori dictionaries, databases, glossaries and Iwi dictionaries. It is estimated there will be over 150,000 unique headwords with each headword consisting of up to 20 different English definitions sourced from over 270 different published and unpublished publications.

The Papakupu consists of 5 times more headwords than the largest Maori dictionary available to date and more than 8 times more than other mainstream Maori dictionaries.

This is the platform Maori dictionary that will supersede all other electronic and paper Maori dictionaries.

Initially the Papakupu will be searchable and online with a Maori to English and English to Maori version for browsing. It is envisaged that it will be made available as a paper based publication in the future and be available as Maori to English and English to Maori.

As opposed to concentrating on one specific genre, the Papakupu has all Maori words including Loan Words, Contemporary, Traditional, specialist vocabulary and three separate glossaries including: Maori words in the English Language, Anglicised Maori words and Maori TXT abbreviations. There are currently several Iwi dictionaries that will also be separated from the main corpus.

Each definition and headword is associated with a genre or multiple genre as appropriate to allow for easier word association and quick compilation of specialist dictionaries for those who require it. Some of the genre include ICT, place names, science, Marine, Insects, Food , implements and War.

Experts for each genre will be sought to provide more detailed information and to act as Kaitiaki for the genre. An example is the Plants genre will have a Botanist ensuring the information is up to date and relevant. War terms will utilise the services of a returned serviceman or a current soldier as well as an expert in traditional M?ori warfare.

Each headword/definition and example sentences are attributed to the referenced source. If a word appears in several publications then all sources are referenced.

Extra options are available to view the phonetics of each word, video and images of the headword. In the future an audio feature will also be made available based on the phonetics.

Using Social Media and the Internet, anyone will have the opportunity to submit their own images, audio and video that can be associated with the Papakupu headwords.

More importantly this project is open, therefore any suggestions and feedback is also encouraged and available through multiple avenues including Social Media, email, snail mail and phone.

Many organsitions also have to create their own specialist glossaries for their own use. A facility will also be available for these organisaitons to submit their glossaries with further avenues currently being explored with how to approach these organisations for co operation to share their work.

Background thinking

Personally, I have never understood why we need to have multiple paper dictionaries, sometimes coupled with electronic dictionaries (some of which are pay per search) to adequately study te reo Maori. A student can spend hundreds of dollars and have a small library of Maori dictionaries to learn to speak Maori. A student of English and many other spoken languages only requires one Dictionary.

Nor have I understood why all the new terminology (kupu hou) that is created by authoritative entities seem to end up exclusively in the hands of commercial publishers and in copyright or protected by gate keepers so that the general public have no idea of the existence of the kupu hou until a new and expensive specialised M?ori dictionary is published or an expensive subscription to a database is required.

Using my experience and ideas from compiling and developing Te Reo Tupu (1997-1999) and the initial management of the Pataka Kupu (2000-2001) i am now creating what i believe to be the most comprehensive and needed te reo Maori resource possible.

2 thoughts on “Commercial reo projects hold our people to ransom

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