French Polynesia Languages

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Description[edit | edit source]

French is the only official language of French Polynesia. An organic law of 12 April 1996 states that "French is the official language, Tahitian and other Polynesian languages can be used."

At the 2017 census, among the population whose age was 15 and older:

  • 73.9% French
  • 20.2% Tahitian
  • 2.6% Marquesan
  • 1.2% Austral languages
  • 1.0% Tuamotuan
  • 0.6% Chinese dialect (41% of which was Hakka)
  • 0.4% Other language (more than half of which was English)
  • 0.2% reported Mangareva language

Also on the 2017 census:

  • 95.2% of people whose age was 15 or older reported that they could speak, read and write French
  • 1.3% reported that they had no knowledge of French
  • 86.5% of people whose age was 15 or older reported that they had some form of knowledge of at least one Polynesian language
  • 13.5% reported that they had no knowledge of any of the Polynesian languages [1]

Word List(s)[edit | edit source]



Tahitian English
’Ia ora na hello, greetings
haere mai, maeva, mānava welcome
pārahi goodbye
nana bye
’ē yes
’aita no
māuruuru roa thank you very much
māuruuru thanks
e aha te huru? how are you?
maita'i well, good
maita’i roa very good
tāne man
vahine woman
fenua land
ra'i sky
vai water
auahi fire
’amu eat
inu drink
mahana day/sun
moana ocean, sea
e ua it's raining
ua to’eto’e it's cold
nehenehe beautiful
’ori dance
po’ia hungry
hoa friend
atau right
aui left
ni’a up
raro down
roto in
rāpae out
muri back
ua here au ia ’oe I love you
tumu rā’au tree
a’a root
tumu trunk
’āma'a branch
rau’ere leaf
pa’a rind
mā’a hotu fruit
’ōrapa square
menemene circle
’ōrapa maha roa rectangle
porotoru triangle

Alphabet and Pronunciation[edit | edit source]


The French alphabet is based on the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, uppercase and lowercase, with five diacritics and two orthographic ligatures.

Letter Name Phonetic Alphabet Diacritics and ligatures
A a /a/ Àà, Ââ, Ææ
B /be/
C /se/ Çç
D /de/
E e /ə/ Éé, Èè, Êê, Ëë
F effe /ɛf/
G /ʒe/
H ache /aʃ/
I i /i/ Îî, Ïï
J ji /ʒi/
K ka /ka/
L elle /ɛl/
M emme /ɛm/
N enne /ɛn/
O o /o/ Ôô, Œœ
P /pe/
Q qu /ky/
R erre /ɛʁ/
S esse /ɛs/
T /te/
U u /y/ Ùù, Ûû, Üü
V /ve/
W double vé /dubləve/
X ixe /iks/
Y i grec /iɡʁɛk/ Ÿÿ
Z zède /zɛd/

The letters w and k are rarely used except in loanwords and regional words. The phoneme /w/ sound is usually written ou; the /k/ sound is usually written c anywhere but before e, i, y, qu before e, i, y, and sometimes que at the ends of words. However, k is common in the metric prefix kilo- (originally from Greek χίλια khilia "a thousand"): kilogramme, kilomètre, kilowatt, kilohertz, etc.


Language Aids and Dictionaries[edit | edit source]



Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "French Polynesia Languages," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 15 June 2021.