Skip to main content

Pacific Linguistics: Research Strategies

A guide to basic Pacific-related linguistics research.

Common Pacific language codes

  • bis = Bislama
  • cha = Chamorro
  • chk = Chuukese
  • fij = Fijian
  • gil = Gilbertese (Kiribati)
  • haw = Hawaiian
  • hmo = Hiri Motu
  • kos = Kosraean
  • mah = Marshallese
  • mri = Maori
  • nau = Nauruan
  • niu = Niuean
  • pau = Palauan
  • pon = Pohnpeian
  • rap = Rapanui
  • rar = Rarotongan
  • smo = Samoan
  • tah = Tahitian
  • tkl = Tokelauan
  • ton = Tongan
  • tpi = Tok Pisin
  • tvl = Tuvaluan
  • yap = Yapese

Subject Headings

Main Subject Heading

When doing a keyword or subject browse search, the main subject headings will be useful in retrieving relevant results.  Books about a language have subject headings that are constucted as follows:

  • Chuukese language
  • Drehu Language
  • Fijian language
  • Fiji Hindi language
  • Samoan language
Subject headings for Pidgin languages are contructed in various different ways.  Some are constructed similar to those mentioned above.
  • Tok Pisin language
  • Bislama language
Others use different subject headings, sometimes with geographical location used as a sub-heading:
  • Pidgin English
  • Pidgin English -- Hawaii
  • Pidgin English -- Papua New Guinea
  • Creole dialects, English -- Hawaii
  • English language -- Dialects -- Hawaii
  • Pidgin languages -- Fiji
  • Pidgin languages -- Melanesia
  • Pidgin languages -- Oceania

Subject Sub-headings

Sub-headings can be added to a search as keywords for a more specific search, or following the main subject heading in a subject browse search.  Start with your main subject heading, and then any of the following:

  • Accents and accentuation
  • Alphabet
  • Compostition and exercises
  • Conversation and phrase books
  • Dialects
  • Dictionaries
  • Foreign words and phrases
  • Glossaries, vocabularies, etc.
  • Grammar
  • History
  • Orthography and spelling
  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Possessives
  • Readers
  • Roots
  • Terms and phrases
  • Texts
  • Verb
  • Vowels
  • Vocabulary

1. Search UHM Pacific Collection by language code

Finding Pacific language material held at the UHM collection is a two-step process:

1. Find the unique 3-letter code in one of three ways:

  • The most common codes are listed in the box to the left
  • Search Ethnologue (Requires UH login)
  • Download this spreadsheet: 

2. Input the 3-letter code into the search box below:



A new page will open listing all the publications that are written in or include examples of that language.

If you want to search a different language, enter the new 3-letter code into this same search box above. (The search box at the top of the pop-up database will not have the same search functions). 

This search function was made possible by a 3-year NEH grant "Making Pacific language Materials Discoverable"

2. Search UH Resources by subject or keyword

Use OneSearch to search for books, articles, and electronic resources about Pacific languages.

We recommend using the terms (subject headings) suggested in the box to the left. If there is no establish subject heading for your language, do multiple keyword searches for each variation of the language name.

3. Search the Googles by keyword

Google Scholar

  • Use the link above to log in through the library's electronic resources portal, which will automatically recognize articles that the library has paid for through its database subscriptions.
  • If you find an article in Google Scholar that the library doesn't subscribe to electronically, be sure to search in the Voyager catalog to see if we subscribe to the print version.

Google Books

  • Google Books provides a full-text search of the material that has been digitized by Google. This is a small section of what is held at the UHM Pacific Collection, but a useful search nonetheless. In the case of Pacific languages, you may find material by searching the language name that you would not find in the Voyager catalog, even though the library holds the book. (This because the language name might not appear in the Voyager record itself, even if it appears within the full text of the book.) If a book is out of copyright or if Google has made arrangements with a copyrighted book's publisher, you will often be able to look at full-text on screen. In other cases, you will be able to see a small "snippet" of the text.
  • When full text is not available online (or even if it is, but you prefer to read the printed version), keep in mind that virtually all of the books you find on Google Books will be available in print in the UH library. So you can also use Google Books as a supplement to our Voyager catalog: Search the contents of the books using Google, then search Voyager for the title.

4. Search visually/geographically

Language Map

This resource is created by the Arc Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, and is a visual representation of the data held in Open Language Archives Community (OLAC). UHM language data is held in OLAC, so this map is also a different way to find UHM language material.

Screenshot of OLAC's Language Map

Zoom in on the country/territory you are interested in. The closer you zoom in, the more distinct languages appear.

Well documented languages are marked in yellow, moderately documented languages in grey, and languages with very little documentation in black. These distinctions may help you decide which language to research.

Clicking on the marker and then the "more information"  will result in a list of resources written in or about that language.