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Consequences of ContactLanguage Ideologies and Sociocultural Transformations in Pacific Societies$
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Miki Makihara and Bambi B. Schieffelin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195324983

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195324983.001.0001

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Changing Scholarly Representations of the Tongan Honorific Lexicon

Changing Scholarly Representations of the Tongan Honorific Lexicon

(p.189) 9 Changing Scholarly Representations of the Tongan Honorific Lexicon
Consequences of Contact

Susan U. Philips

Oxford University Press

Language ideology about Tongan lexical honorifics, or lea faka 'eiki, “chiefly language”, has changed over the past 200 years. The number of levels of honorification described, and some of the specific lexical items associated with each level, have remained stable. However, under the impact of British colonization through Methodist missionization, the conceptualization of who is indexed by the use of honorifics has changed significantly. Most notably, the Tui'i Tonga, who was both a sacred and a secular leader, has been replaced by the King as the target of the higher level of honorification. The honorific system was caught up ideologically in a shift from a Tongan traditional hierarchy to a Tongan secular modern nation state hierarchy. Ideologically, this shift was heavily influenced by the European Protestant concern, to create a separation of church and state, which happened elsewhere as well—e.g., Korea and Japan.

Keywords:   lexical honorifics, Tonga, colonialism, nation state formation, language ideology, hierarchy, missionization

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