(1) Du Feu 1996:186.
(2) This velar nasal sound, /ŋ/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet, is also written as 'g' or 'ng': I have followed the latter, since there is no uniformity (Roussel/Churchill use 'g', Métraux and Barthel use 'ng', Fuentes, Englert and Du Feu use the IPA-
(3) This sound is alternatively written as /b/ and /v/. Since Churchill, Englert and Du Feu use /v/, /b/ will only occur in quotations from Fuentes.
(4) The glottal stop is a marked pause between two vowels. It has been and still is the cause of considerable confusion. It was not recorded by the early researchers such as Roussel, Geiseler, Thomson and Routledge. Métraux (1940:32) even went so far as to deny its existence while Englert and Fuentes do not register its presence in word-
(5) Cf. Pozdniakov 1996:297; Macri,1996:185.
(6) Guy (1990:3) has proposed the sign's phonetic use as ta for a defective writing of ta[ne] in the Mamari Calendar.
(7) E.g., Guy 1982:445; Pozdniakov 1996:297.
(8) E.g., Horley 2005:110.
(9) Pozdniakov 2007:13.
(10) Figs. 43-
(11) This phenomenon will be discussed in detail on a separate page.
(12) Given the fact that the London tablet shows an inexperienced hand at work, it is possible that this mixed method of reduplication was not considered correct. Another complication may have been that the words belong to different sentences and have different meanings.
Signs and syllables
The syllables of Rapanui, the East Polynesian language of Easter Island, are exclusively of the (C)V-
As in every writing system, not all of the phonetic characteristics of the language are represented by the script. For Rapanui, the most important of these are stress, vowel length and the consonants /h/ and glottal stop. This means, for example, that the same glyph is used to depict values o, ō, ho and 'o, and, consequently, that there is no distinction between the possessive particle (inalienable) o in the pronoun otaatou, "our" (fig. 4), the first syllable of the adverb hoki, "back" (fig. 5) and the glottalized o in 'oka, "to pierce", "to plant" (fig. 6).
The general CV-
A number of phonetic values can be written with more than one sign. The most important of these are (h)a, which appears both as "stick" and as "head (with ear(s))" (fig. 11), (h)e, which is either crescent-
An important feature of "shark"-
The majority of the basic (C)V-
Singular and fused signs
Singular glyphs account for roughly 30 percent of the signs in the inscriptions of the corpus as collected by Barthel (1958). The rest of the signs is "fused", i.e., composed of two or more basic glyphs. It is, however, not possible to make a one-
A number of signs and composites such as the ta-
Other glyphs appear to have been designed specifically to "hang on" to other signs. It can hardly be a coincidence that among these are the signs that also represent some important markers of the nominal and verbal frame such as (a)na, no, nei, ra, ro and nei, e.g., angahe ana huru, "when were (they) secluded?" (fig. 23), tau nei, "this beauty" (fig. 24), tehe ra, "will (it) flow?" (fig. 25).
Although the rules for the fusion process appear to be set by word formation and grammatical structure, this does not mean that all multi-
These examples show that there are two methods of fusing elementary glyphs which are the most common. The first is connecting two adjacent signs through the use of an "arm", "leg", "wing" or other part, the other is by "stacking" two components on top of each other. It has been suggested that the reading order of stacked glyphs is always from bottom to top as this is suggested by some parallel text fragments (7), However, as there are also examples that indicate the contrary (8), nothing has been proven for the inscriptions in general. If there had been a fixed reading order, it would have severely limited the scribe's combinatory options. Instead, his focus seems to have been on the composition of easily recognizable fused signs and sign groups around a basic set of anthropo-
As was already mentioned in regard to the "frigate bird"-
Another determining factor in the fusion of signs – and for the choice of allographs in general – appears to be the need to distinguish between near homonyms. For this reason, to'a, "rival", "enemy", "hostile" (fig. 36), is written with a variant of the sign used in toa, "sugarcane" (fig. 26), while ui, "to ask", and ui, "to look", are written with the "hand" of the (h)i-
In addition to these semantically motivated distinctions, signs may be minimized, tilted, turned upside down or mirrored for aesthetic or practical reasons. Paired anthropo-
The many reduplicated words in the Rapanui language were written in full as shown by the examples of eo-
In the first method one of the syllabic components can be left unwritten, which means that the phonetic value of the remaining component has to be reduplicated by the reader. For instance, tari , "to carry" (fig. 47), is reduplicated to tari-
Occasionally, the phonetic reduplication of a syllable extends to an adjacent word. This can be observed in the two parallel fragments of figs. 52-
In the second method of reduplication – which is used less frequently and only for a small group of glyphs – the double phonetic use of a sign is indicated by horizontal or diagonal hatching. A sign that is very frequently reduplicated in this way, is the "stick"-
All the above illustrations are from Barthel (1958), except for figs. 22; 43; 50; 51 (Horley 2010:53); 52; 53 (Horley 2007:28); 55; 56 (Fischer 1997: 440;486).
The scribe of the latter has used cross hatches to reduplicate the a-