Katoa: A descriptive, comparative and historical analysis


Katoa, approximately translated as ‘all, every’, functions as the universal quantifier in te reo Māori (the Māori language), inherited from Proto Polynesian *katoa. Less well known is its occurrence as a postnominal modifier in singular noun phrases, contributing the meaning of ‘whole’, and as a nominal head meaning ‘all (of them), the whole (of it)’. As a postverbal modifier, katoa can quantify a subject noun phrase with the same meanings of ‘all, every’ and ‘whole’, and it can modify situations expressed by the verb, meaning ‘wholly, completely’. In this paper, we examine the behaviour of katoa in te reo Māori, comparing some properties of katoa with the behaviour of quantifiers in related Polynesian languages. This, in turn, informs our understanding of the prehistory of quantification in Polynesian, where we observe evidence of both retention and replacement of quantifier forms

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