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Sir Keksalot

The Etymology of Matoran Names

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There's probably hundreds of works of fiction that lift names, ideas, and even specific folkloric/religious characters straight from other cultures, and yet those cultures don't bat an eye. There is nothing wrong with this. When you write fiction, you base it on what you know or what exists unless you're actively trying to make something hard to relate to. Tolkien ripped off Norse mythology openly and deliberately.

There's nothing wrong with basing a work on something already there, the problems start when you take things exactly as they are, as Lego did with the Maori words. Yes, Tolkien based things on real world mythology, but he didn't actually call his characters 'Odin' or 'Loki', did he?

 

Stan Lee did. Are there a lot of Scandinavians upset over this?

 

t's easy to understand why there's so little opposition to this kind of thing when you ask one question: what is the consequence of cultural appropriation? What actually happens as a result, provided it's not done in a way that promotes bigotry or ethnocentrism? Lego and Templar either couldn't come up with really good names or they wanted to have names with meaning, so they turned to existing languages as a result. This is something writers do all the time.

I'm not saying it was wrong for Lego to refer to the Maori language at all, obviously you have to start somewhere when coming up with fictional names. I just think that, if they wanted to use the words exactly as they were, they should've (at least) spoken to the Maori about it first to see how they felt about it.

 

I somehow doubt most writers do, anyway; and it's not something worth getting upset over, so I wouldn't expect Lego to even consider that the Maori would get mad, especially given the aforementioned bit about most groups not really caring.

 

How did this really affect the Maori? The result was just that kids were exposed to foreign languages, and now us fans can, as adults, look into and appreciate the etymology of these names and terms. How horrible.

The problem is kids don't know the words are from a real language, they just think of 'Toa', 'Tohunga', 'Kanohi', 'Whenua' etc. as entirely Bionicle words and nothing else. This is what I think the Maori were angry about: their words being rebooted as the words of a fictional people/world for a company's commercial interests without any consideration for how they felt about it.

 

The fans would have to find out eventually, as a lot of us did. Plus, the usage of Maori words wasn't toted as a marketing point; Lego needed names for characters, ideas, and places, so they did what writers who also sell their work do all the time and turned to existing languages. The use of fancy terminology in the advertising is never really important; it serves to hold the world and narrative together.

 

My point is that then they'd be a possible racist caricature, which is bad because it encourages ethnocentrism. It's the kind of portrayal of other cultures you see a lot in the early days of American animation, especially when trying to paint other countries as the bad guy.

But it can't be racist if the group of people portrayed are fictional (and not even human in this case).

 

It can if it's a deliberate sleight against them that's obviously meant to draw parallels. That's thankfully not common these days, but it's been done; old antisemitic political cartoons tend to depict Jews as "vermin" without explicitly naming them as such, for example. I don't wanna get into racial politics, though; much less on a forum for Lego, of all things.

 

Except Xenomorphs were created on purpose as art by a person for entertainment. They aren't a centuries- or even millennia-old cultural construct used for everyday matters that was not only created by people long dead, but which has changed so much over time that it's not even the original thing anymore.

The difference doesn't really matter, I was just using this to show the difference between 'taking inspiration from' and 'taking and using it exactly as it is' (as Lego did with the Maori words).

 

But it does matter. It means the act of "using as is" has dramatically different implications in these 2 contexts. Ripping off the Xenomorphs is profiting off of another artist, of something someone else deliberately created for a specific purpose in recent history, without crediting or compensating that artist. Languages don't exist in the same context.

 

Xenomorphs are owned. The words "puku" and "kopaka" are not.

Not legally, but they are owned by the Maori in the cultural sense.

Language cannot be owned because culture cannot be owned. If a Chinese toy company makes a line of action figures whose names are English words based on traits relevant to the characters, can the collective of the English-speaking world sue them? Or would it be more rational not to waste our energy on something so inconsequential? If the usage of words and names from other cultures truly warranted a lawsuit, why don't cultural groups sue for that reason all the time? Because even the aforementioned angry Hindu minority didn't take Hi-Rez to court; if they tried, the clearly weren't able to.


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Stan Lee did. Are there a lot of Scandinavians upset over this?

I'm not a comics expert so I can't judge this exactly, but I would at least point out that Norse mythology is quite prominent, so many people would probably know that names like Thor didn't begin with the comics. I don't think many people would know the same about the Maori words and culture, given that the Maori are from small islands on the edge of the known world and so not extremely prominent.

 

it's not something worth getting upset over, so I wouldn't expect Lego to even consider that the Maori would get mad

I would. If you're going to take something that another group considers theirs and pass it off as your own, a reaction to that isn't unlikely.

 

The fans would have to find out eventually, as a lot of us did.

Why would they have to? Bearing in mind most fans move on after just a few years, and those of us who stayed interested for many years are a minority of all those ever interested in Bionicle.

 

And I think it was only because of the Maori action that many people learnt that the 'Bionicle words' were actually Maori words.

 

Lego needed names for characters, ideas, and places, so they did what writers who also sell their work do all the time and turned to existing languages.

And swiped a load of words exactly as they were and applied them to fictional things apparently without caring how the people associated with the language felt about that.

 

It can if it's a deliberate sleight against them that's obviously meant to draw parallels. That's thankfully not common these days, but it's been done; old antisemitic political cartoons tend to depict Jews as "vermin" without explicitly naming them as such, for example.

Of course people can draw parallels if the people depicted are extremely similar to real world people - but when we're dealing with a bunch of rainbow-colored robot beings with big masks on their faces, it's surely going to be very hard for audiences to make any parallel with real world people.

 

Ripping off the Xenomorphs is profiting off of another artist, of something someone else deliberately created for a specific purpose in recent history, without crediting or compensating that artist. Languages don't exist in the same context.

But language is also deliberately created for a specific purpose, and Lego didn't credit or compensate the Maori for the use of their language.

 

Language cannot be owned because culture cannot be owned.

No, not owned in the legal sense (as I've said), but culture is owned in an associative sense by the people/area it originated in. I mean, are Samurai and Tengu not part of Japanese culture? Are Pegasus and the Cyclops not part of Greek culture?

 

If a Chinese toy company makes a line of action figures whose names are English words based on traits relevant to the characters, can the collective of the English-speaking world sue them?

I think this analogy doesn't work because the English language isn't spoken only by or associated with a specific group of people as the Maori language is; English is now too widespread for its use to be controversial or restricted.

 

If the usage of words and names from other cultures truly warranted a lawsuit, why don't cultural groups sue for that reason all the time? Because even the aforementioned angry Hindu minority didn't take Hi-Rez to court; if they tried, the clearly weren't able to.

Often they don't have the money or means to, plus the use of cultural terms probably isn't outright illegal anyway.

 

Did the Maori actually sue, BTW? They might have just contacted Lego and complained in the way customers do.

Edited by Sir Kohran

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Stan Lee did. Are there a lot of Scandinavians upset over this?

I'm not a comics expert so I can't judge this exactly, but I would at least point out that Norse mythology is quite prominent, so many people would probably know that names like Thor didn't begin with the comics. I don't think many people would know the same about the Maori words and culture, given that the Maori are from small islands on the edge of the known world and so not extremely prominent.

 

It's still lifting someone's cultural heritage for use as your own work.

 

it's not something worth getting upset over, so I wouldn't expect Lego to even consider that the Maori would get mad

I would. If you're going to take something that another group considers theirs and pass it off as your own, a reaction to that isn't unlikely.

 

That doesn't normally happen, though, mostly for the aforementioned reason that--and I cannot stress this enough--this happens all the time. Why would Lego expect a cultural group to get upset when it's so rare for a company to get in hot water for this?

  

Lego needed names for characters, ideas, and places, so they did what writers who also sell their work do all the time and turned to existing languages.

And swiped a load of words exactly as they were and applied them to fictional things apparently without caring how the people associated with the language felt about that.

 

Because there's A. nothing to get upset over and B. no reason to expect anyone to get upset because that's so rare.

 

It can if it's a deliberate sleight against them that's obviously meant to draw parallels. That's thankfully not common these days, but it's been done; old antisemitic political cartoons tend to depict Jews as "vermin" without explicitly naming them as such, for example.

Of course people can draw parallels if the people depicted are extremely similar to real world people - but when we're dealing with a bunch of rainbow-colored robot beings with big masks on their faces, it's surely going to be very hard for audiences to make any parallel with real world people.

 

And that's probably for the best. Can you imagine if colonialism got involved in all this? It'd be a much messier situation.

 

Ripping off the Xenomorphs is profiting off of another artist, of something someone else deliberately created for a specific purpose in recent history, without crediting or compensating that artist. Languages don't exist in the same context.

But language is also deliberately created for a specific purpose, and Lego didn't credit or compensate the Maori for the use of their language.

 

There's no need for them to do so. Whole religious narratives can be lifted from living cultures with only minor eye-batting and maybe some articles on various tabloids spewing the things tabloids spew; history and culture is not owned.

 

Language cannot be owned because culture cannot be owned.

No, not owned in the legal sense (as I've said), but culture is owned in an associative sense by the people/area it originated in. I mean, are Samurai and Tengu not part of Japanese culture? Are Pegasus and the Cyclops not part of Greek culture?

 

They are, but why should their usage require compensation for the cultures who consider that part of their heritage? It's history, it's information, it's not the product of a small group trying to make art.

 

If a Chinese toy company makes a line of action figures whose names are English words based on traits relevant to the characters, can the collective of the English-speaking world sue them?

I think this analogy doesn't work because the English language isn't spoken only by or associated with a specific group of people as the Maori language is; English is now too widespread for its use to be controversial or restricted.

 

That doesn't change the fact that it's still part of our collective cultural heritage. If the English-speaking world bands together and says "this is our cultural heritage and we don't want you to use it," are we justified in doing so? Prevalence doesn't change the language's cultural significance.

 

If the usage of words and names from other cultures truly warranted a lawsuit, why don't cultural groups sue for that reason all the time? Because even the aforementioned angry Hindu minority didn't take Hi-Rez to court; if they tried, the clearly weren't able to.

Often they don't have the money or means to, plus the use of cultural terms probably isn't outright illegal anyway.

 

Of course it's not; there's nothing that needs protecting. Language, like other cultural constructs, is going to be spread around no matter what. Sometimes, this happens through art. Now that we have the internet, we don't need direct cultural contact for this spread to occur; I can google whatever language I want and get words for it, provided there's sufficient information about it.

 

This is distinct from ripping off contemporary art, where the artist loses their thunder when they get ripped off because they worked on something and aren't being credited for it and because homogenizing something otherwise totally original makes it less distinct. Language, on the other hand, loses nothing from this.

 

Did the Maori actually sue, BTW? They might have just contacted Lego and complained in the way customers do.

They threatened a suit, apparently, but it doesn't look like they had a chance to follow through before Lego decided to cave in.


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It would have been interesting to see how the lawsuit would have panned out if they had gone through with it. How would a court decide if they “stole” things that weren’t originally “owned” in the legal sense?

 

Oh, and on the Stan Lee/Thor thing, I remember reading that the majority of Americans didn’t really know anything about Norse mythology prior to the comics. He wanted to make a mythology-based superhero, but by that point, Egyptian, Greek and Roman mythology were so well known that they’d seem stale. So he did take a mostly unknown culture/language and use it as basis for a story. I guess the key difference is that his characters were basically fictionalized versions of the originals rather than entirely new characters.

 

Edit: Come to think of it, while we’re on the subject, some Roman mythology is just Greek mythology with either altered or completely different names, and a lot of people think of those myths as Roman instead of Greek. So people have been “stealing” from other cultures for thousands of years.

Edited by Cheesy Mac n Cheese
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It's still lifting someone's cultural heritage for use as your own work.

Which I feel is at the very least dubious, though I'd need to know more about how the comics used the mythology before I could say for sure that it was outright wrong.

 

That doesn't normally happen, though, mostly for the aforementioned reason that--and I cannot stress this enough--this happens all the time. Why would Lego expect a cultural group to get upset when it's so rare for a company to get in hot water for this?

It may be rare, but it has happened. In the decade before that point, Disney got a bad reaction from Middle Eastern people over the portrayal of Arabs in their Aladdin movie, and from the Greeks over the huge changes made to their mythology in Hercules.

 

Therefore it would make sense to consult with the people concerned when dealing with them or their culture.

 

Because there's A. nothing to get upset over

In your opinion as somebody who wasn't affected (I assume you aren't a Maori). The Maoris clearly felt there was something to get upset over.

 

And that's probably for the best. Can you imagine if colonialism got involved in all this? It'd be a much messier situation.

I'm not quite sure what colonialism has to do with this?

 

There's no need for them to do so. Whole religious narratives can be lifted from living cultures with only minor eye-batting

Yeah, the people involved in Charlie Hebdo got only eye-batting for their handling and portrayals of Islamic content, right?

 

They are, but why should their usage require compensation for the cultures who consider that part of their heritage? It's history, it's information, it's not the product of a small group trying to make art.

No, it probably shouldn't require compensation, and I doubt the Greeks or Japanese have been paid for all the movies that have been made about or with their culture - but then, the movies didn't ever pretend the culture was that of a fictional world or people as Lego did with the Maori words.

 

That doesn't change the fact that it's still part of our collective cultural heritage. If the English-speaking world bands together and says "this is our cultural heritage and we don't want you to use it," are we justified in doing so? Prevalence doesn't change the language's cultural significance.

I feel it does, as you'll find English speakers in almost every part of the world now. Its use by so many different people means that English just isn't specifically any person or group's cultural heritage at this point, whereas the Maori language remains the cultural heritage specifically of the Maori people because it hasn't spread beyond New Zealand in any significant way.

 

There's also the fact that English itself contains many words that are there almost intact from other languages (French and Latin mostly), so English words are not 'uniquely' English in the way Maori words are.

 

there's nothing that needs protecting. Language, like other cultural constructs, is going to be spread around no matter what.

This is distinct from ripping off contemporary art, where the artist loses their thunder when they get ripped off because they worked on something and aren't being credited for it and because homogenizing something otherwise totally original makes it less distinct. Language, on the other hand, loses nothing from this.

Whilst languages may not be commercial or copyright property, they do need protecting when they are dying out with the rise of another language, or just aren't spoken by many people to begin with (as is the case with the Maori). Language, when it is of a specific group of people, is or can be an important part of a culture's heritage and its people will probably want to make sure it's not used in a manner that changes it in an undesirable way (as Lego's use for their line of building toys arguably was).

 

It would have been interesting to see how the lawsuit would have panned out if they had gone through with it. How would a court decide if they “stole” things that weren’t originally “owned” in the legal sense?

Lego might have actually won on the grounds that (as you say) the words probably weren't the Maoris' strictly legally, but 'big Western company exploits natives and gets away with it' wouldn't be too good for Lego's image, so they may have actually wanted the Maoris to win to a degree.

 

And/or perhaps they just realised their use of Maori culture for their own products without any kind of consultation wasn't right, as I've argued it wasn't.

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It's still lifting someone's cultural heritage for use as your own work.

Which I feel is at the very least dubious, though I'd need to know more about how the comics used the mythology before I could say for sure that it was outright wrong.

 

Thor is the god of thunder. He is from Asgard. His dad is Odin, the one-eyed king of Valhalla. Loki, a trickster and former friend of the family, does some stuff and everyone's like "please don't do that stuff" but he does it anyway. All manner of things from the Prose Eddas are lifted and re-tooled. Stan the Man changed various details to make it usable as a superhero comic, but it's very obviously a ripoff of Germanic mythology. Stan took something he did not create and made something new with it. Marvel later took that same idea and did it with other mythologies, albeit much less--Hercules got a comic sometimes in the 2000s IIRC, and there was a Spider-Man comic that combined him with the West African folkloric figure Anansi at one point.

 

That doesn't normally happen, though, mostly for the aforementioned reason that--and I cannot stress this enough--this happens all the time. Why would Lego expect a cultural group to get upset when it's so rare for a company to get in hot water for this?

It may be rare, but it has happened. In the decade before that point, Disney got a bad reaction from Middle Eastern people over the portrayal of Arabs in their Aladdin movie, and from the Greeks over the huge changes made to their mythology in Hercules.

 

First, I wasn't under the impression Agrabah was supposed to actually be a representation of the Middle East. I thought it was like Camelot--a made-up, faraway land somewhere in a part of the world that exists.

 

Second, Disney kind of butchered Greek mythology in a lot of ways and sold it as. You know. The Heracles myth. Like, everything they could have gotten wrong, they did. Obviously the part where Heracles kills his kids might not have made a good cartoon musical for children, but Jesus H. Christ, they literally did not do their homework at all. When you try to represent something from a culture outright and then proceed to A. completely miss the point and B. change literally everything so that the whole thing is totally removed from the thing you're selling it as and lacks everything that made it timeless to start with. Which isn't to say that it's a terrible film (I personally haven't even seen it), but...they made Hades the bad guy! Hades! A bad guy!!! And Zeus is a competent dad!!! And Hera!!! Is just there!!! How do you fail this badly???????

 

Therefore it would make sense to consult with the people concerned when dealing with them or their culture.

 

In the case of Hercules, it's more because Didnee clearly had no idea what they were doing. If they accurately represented (as best they could, given constraints) the Heracles myth, there'd be less concern from the Greeks and mythology nuts everywhere.

 

Because there's A. nothing to get upset over

In your opinion as somebody who wasn't affected (I assume you aren't a Maori). The Maoris clearly felt there was something to get upset over.

 

Objectively, the Maori were unaffected. They didn't lose anything, nor were they taken advantage of.

 

And that's probably for the best. Can you imagine if colonialism got involved in all this? It'd be a much messier situation.

I'm not quite sure what colonialism has to do with this?

 

As the West decided it wanted to eat the rest of the world, it became convenient to paint other cultures as weird and/or inferior--an attitude that had already been around. The arts reflected this in some cases. See: old Disney cartoons where Africans and African-Americans are...well, they speak for themselves. But this really has nothing to do with anything, anyway.

 

There's no need for them to do so. Whole religious narratives can be lifted from living cultures with only minor eye-batting

Yeah, the people involved in Charlie Hebdo got only eye-batting for their handling and portrayals of Islamic content, right?

 

1. They're a newspaper making satirical political cartoons meant to say something about the real world. Of course people will react to that in some way. I'm talking about cultural appropriation purely for art's sake, not for satire; though art can be satirical, as with Life of Brian, for instance.

 

2. The shooting was uncalled for, in any case. Even if it offended people, there's no cause to shoot someone. That's never acceptable.

 

They are, but why should their usage require compensation for the cultures who consider that part of their heritage? It's history, it's information, it's not the product of a small group trying to make art.

No, it probably shouldn't require compensation, and I doubt the Greeks or Japanese have been paid for all the movies that have been made about or with their culture - but then, the movies didn't ever pretend the culture was that of a fictional world or people as Lego did with the Maori words.

 

If I had a nickel for every fantasy work that used its own fictional world but took heavy influence from foreign cultures, I could complete my Bonkle collection. Look at the Avatar series, which blatantly rips off Japanese and Chinese culture on multiple accounts, even borrowing bits from other cultures from time to time (Agni Kai is derived from the name of...actually, I referred to Agni in the OP, ironically).

 

That doesn't change the fact that it's still part of our collective cultural heritage. If the English-speaking world bands together and says "this is our cultural heritage and we don't want you to use it," are we justified in doing so? Prevalence doesn't change the language's cultural significance.

I feel it does, as you'll find English speakers in almost every part of the world now. Its use by so many different people means that English just isn't specifically any person or group's cultural heritage at this point, whereas the Maori language remains the cultural heritage specifically of the Maori people because it hasn't spread beyond New Zealand in any significant way.

 

There's also the fact that English itself contains many words that are there almost intact from other languages (French and Latin mostly), so English words are not 'uniquely' English in the way Maori words are.

 

Fine, bad example. Language isn't working here. Let's move to national icons. Here in the Colonies, George Washington and the American Revolution are distinct parts of our cultural heritage. They're uniquely American, and we "own" them as much as a culture owns a unique language. Now, let's say a Chinese filmmaker--let's call him Ted--gets really into US history and Tolkien's work. Ted says to himself, "Hey, you know what would be cool? High fantasy with a US revolutionary-era aesthetic!" So he rounds up his studio, gets some funding, and makes a real auteur film with characters whose names are derived from English. Sells it as original work. Now, he's going to profit off of something from someone else's cultural heritage. He is appropriating American culture. Is Ted harming us Americans in any way? Are we being exploited?

 

there's nothing that needs protecting. Language, like other cultural constructs, is going to be spread around no matter what.

This is distinct from ripping off contemporary art, where the artist loses their thunder when they get ripped off because they worked on something and aren't being credited for it and because homogenizing something otherwise totally original makes it less distinct. Language, on the other hand, loses nothing from this.

Whilst languages may not be commercial or copyright property, they do need protecting when they are dying out with the rise of another language, or just aren't spoken by many people to begin with (as is the case with the Maori). Language, when it is of a specific group of people, is or can be an important part of a culture's heritage and its people will probably want to make sure it's not used in a manner that changes it in an undesirable way (as Lego's use for their line of building toys arguably was).

 

Using Maori words for worldbuilding doesn't worsen its chances of dying off. It's important to cultural heritage, but taking inspiration from it doesn't hinder its use or spread. If anything, it gives a small chance for it to get around a little more.

 

It would have been interesting to see how the lawsuit would have panned out if they had gone through with it. How would a court decide if they “stole” things that weren’t originally “owned” in the legal sense?

Lego might have actually won on the grounds that (as you say) the words probably weren't the Maoris' strictly legally, but 'big Western company exploits natives and gets away with it' wouldn't be too good for Lego's image, so they may have actually wanted the Maoris to win to a degree.

 

It was clearly a PR move. The press wouldn't be worth the minor artistic details, especially when there's plenty of dead languages to use in the stead of Maori.

 

And/or perhaps they just realised their use of Maori culture for their own products without any kind of consultation wasn't right, as I've argued it wasn't.

It's not right, and it's not wrong. It just is. If you appropriate culture in such a way that harms the culture or the perception of it, then that's bad; if you do so harmlessly or even beneficially, then it's not bad. It's all in how you use it, as with almost any facet of art. Not only that, but it's pretty hard not to do at times, especially where worldbuilding is concerned.


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Thor is the god of thunder. He is from Asgard. His dad is Odin, the one-eyed king of Valhalla. Loki, a trickster and former friend of the family, does some stuff and everyone's like "please don't do that stuff" but he does it anyway. All manner of things from the Prose Eddas are lifted and re-tooled. Stan the Man changed various details to make it usable as a superhero comic, but it's very obviously a ripoff of Germanic mythology. Stan took something he did not create and made something new with it.

I guess it would depend on whether it was close enough to count as a 'retelling', or just taking preexisting mythology and telling a largely new story with it (like Disney with Hercules).

 

First, I wasn't under the impression Agrabah was supposed to actually be a representation of the Middle East. I thought it was like Camelot--a made-up, faraway land somewhere in a part of the world that exists.

If it's not the Middle East, why are there mentions of Allah, and the words 'sultan' and 'vizier'? And the film's city was originally meant to be Baghdad until the Gulf War.

 

And none of the responses from Disney people tried to claim they were depicting a totally fictional culture or people. One of their arguments was actually "Aladdin and Jasmine are Arab!" (IE, we're depicting Middle Eastern people in a positive light.)

 

Obviously the part where Heracles kills his kids might not have made a good cartoon musical for children, but Jesus H. Christ, they literally did not do their homework at all. When you try to represent something from a culture outright and then proceed to A. completely miss the point and B. change literally everything so that the whole thing is totally removed from the thing you're selling it as and lacks everything that made it timeless to start with. Which isn't to say that it's a terrible film (I personally haven't even seen it), but...they made Hades the bad guy! Hades! A bad guy!!! And Zeus is a competent dad!!! And Hera!!! Is just there!!! How do you fail this badly???????

Do you mean all this or are you being sarcastic to make a point?

 

If they accurately represented (as best they could, given constraints) the Heracles myth, there'd be less concern from the Greeks and mythology nuts everywhere.

It's not really clearly if they were trying to retell the original story or just using it for a new story.

 

Objectively, the Maori were unaffected. They didn't lose anything, nor were they taken advantage of.

They arguably were taken advantage of, by a company using their language for financial gain without any consideration of them.

 

They're a newspaper making satirical political cartoons meant to say something about the real world. Of course people will react to that in some way. I'm talking about cultural appropriation purely for art's sake, not for satire; though art can be satirical, as with Life of Brian, for instance.

I don't think the context really matters; the basic point is that when you handle culture or other content that's associated with other people, there can easily be reactions.

 

The shooting was uncalled for, in any case. Even if it offended people, there's no cause to shoot someone. That's never acceptable.

The men responsible obviously thought there was cause, just like the Maoris thought they had cause to be upset with Lego's use of their culture, though to their credit they didn't start killing people over it.

 

Look at the Avatar series, which blatantly rips off Japanese and Chinese culture on multiple accounts, even borrowing bits from other cultures from time to time (Agni Kai is derived from the name of...actually, I referred to Agni in the OP, ironically).

I see what you mean, but - a bit like the English language - Japanese culture is so widespread that it isn't under threat of being distorted like Maori possibly was with Bionicle. I mean, Ninjago uses 'ninja' in a fictional setting, but I think most people do already know that ninja existed in the real world, so the use of the word 'ninja' isn't really controversial.

 

So he rounds up his studio, gets some funding, and makes a real auteur film with characters whose names are derived from English. Sells it as original work. Now, he's going to profit off of something from someone else's cultural heritage. He is appropriating American culture. Is Ted harming us Americans in any way? Are we being exploited?

It would depend how closely the end results resembled the original (real) elements. If there was a character exactly named 'George Washington' leading people exactly called 'Americans', then I could understand Americans reacting to it (positively or negatively). If the character and people had made up names (English or otherwise) and only vaguely resembled anything real, I probably couldn't.

 

Using Maori words for worldbuilding doesn't worsen its chances of dying off.

I feel it does, because giving the words new meanings that are irrelevant to the Maori culture/world can lead to the old 'true' meanings being replaced and forgotten.

 

If anything, it gives a small chance for it to get around a little more.

Problem is that it's not in a way that has it recognisable as a real world language with the original meanings.

 

especially when there's plenty of dead languages to use in the stead of Maori.

Kinda wonder why they chose Maori when Bionicle's overall story had almost nothing to do with the Maori culture and history.

 

If you appropriate culture in such a way that harms the culture or the perception of it, then that's bad; if you do so harmlessly or even beneficially, then it's not bad.

And I guess you feel Lego's use was the second?

 

it's pretty hard not to do at times, especially where worldbuilding is concerned.

This is more a matter of how you do it and in what situation.

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Kinda wonder why they chose Maori when Bionicle's overall story had almost nothing to do with the Maori culture and history.

I don't want to dive too far into this debate, which is at risk of overwhelming the actual interesting subject matter of the topic as a whole. But I can answer this—I remember reading that Lego went with Polynesian languages and an island setting to help it stand out from the mainstream European fantasy that was taking off in franchises like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

 

Also, I also think I remember hearing that Lego sourced more of the names from a proto-Polynesian language, rather than directly from Maori. The reason the issue arose is because of the extant Polynesian languages, Maori is the one that has the most in common with that earlier language, leading to the issue of certain terms having culturally important meanings to indigenous people of New Zealand.

 

Ultimately, I think Lego's response to that whole kerfuffle was a good one, changing the names that caused the offense to replacements (most of which were homophones anyway). It doesn't hurt anyone to err toward cultural sensitivity.

Edited by Lyichir
  • Upvote 1

Formerly Lyichir: Rachira of Influence

Aanchir's and Meiko's brother

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Also, I also think I remember hearing that Lego sourced more of the names from a proto-Polynesian language, rather than directly from Maori. The reason the issue arose is because of the extant Polynesian languages, Maori is the one that has the most in common with that earlier language, leading to the issue of certain terms having culturally important meanings to indigenous people of New Zealand.

Do you know which language this was or might've been? I'd be interested to know if more name meanings could be found from it.

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If it was ever said by anyone that Lego took the words from some proto-Polynesian language, whoever said it was misinformed. It was Alastair Swinnerton who initiated the word-appropriating, and while he does say that Maori wasn't his 'first choice' (that was Rapa Nui, which as far as I can tell is no more proto than Maori), he says he used a Maori dictionary. That said, even the initial four words Swinnerton took to name the Toa (Tahu, Gali, Fonua, Lewa) come from a selection of languages - it seems that either the dictionary he had was woefully inaccurate, or from very early on the Bionicle team was comfortable taking from whatever culture they liked without much specificity beyond "Polynesia." Either way, all the languages used are modern and, quite the opposite from being early and archaic, many are in danger of dying out thanks to colonial practices violently suppressing Polynesian languages. Gamilaraay, the language Gali's name is taken from, is already deemed dead, with no fluent speakers left alive today.

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I know I'm a little late to the party, but I think I found a few more names to add to the list:

  • Lhikan: From Old English læcan "whip, flicker (as a flame)"
  • Dume: Possibly from Lithuanian dūmas "smoke" or perhaps Polish duma "pride"
  • Nokama: Probably from Sotho noka "river"
  • Kotu: From Maori koutu "to dip"
  • Ahkmou: From Lithuanian akmuo "stone"
  • Ehrye: Probably from Welsh eira "snow"
  • Nuparu: Probably from Maori paru "dirt, mud, earth"
  • Makuta: From Maori mākutu "to inflict physical and psychological harm and even death through spiritual powers, bewitch, cast spells"
  • Takanuva: Possibly a mix between Maori taka- "sense of revolution" and Ido nuva "new"
  • Takutanuva: A mix between Maori tākuta "doctor" and Ido nuva "new"
  • Axonn: Possibly from Greek axon "axis" or axe
  • Brutaka: Probably Swedish brutala "brutal" or brute
  • Graalok: From Scottish Gaelic grealach "entrails"
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nice! not sure on all of those (for example takutanuva is certainly just a portmanteau of takanuva and makuta) but those definitely look like the sources for kotu, ahkmou and probably ehrye as well (that one's tricky since we don't know what the mnogii version of the name spelling was). Nuparu coming from paru would be pretty ballsy of them if accurate since they definitely weren't supposed to be using Maori terms at that point.

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A few more I found were Bohrok probably coming from Serbo-Croatian borac "fighter" and Vahki possibly from Finnish väki "power, strength, force"

I think Lhii might come from Cebuano lihi "to charm, to invite, to bring good luck"

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So about 4 years ago I started looking into the names of characters, creatures, locations, and items in the early 2001 Bionicle story. Over time I slowly came up with this (nearly complete) list. I had intended to post this earlier, but wanted to wait until every word was explored. But since the community seems to be interested in Bionicle conceptual lore lately, and my work had not gained any new additions for over a year, I decided to go ahead and share anyway.

I do not profess to be a language scholar or even an enthusiast. But I do love Bionicle and, thanks to the brand, also have an interest in Pacific culture.

It should be noted that, although Alastair Swinnerton claims to have resorted to Māori for his inspiration, there are many other Pacific island languages utilized in Bionicle. I will link my sources at the end of this post. If anyone here is fluent in any of these languages or customs please feel free to correct and/or elaborate on any words in this list!

Words with * are up for debate. Either I found no translation from any relevant language or there were too many conflicting definitions to warrant a proper translation.

DEITIES

Spoiler

 

Mata Nui - island home; Great Spirit

Mata (Maori) - face, eye, surface

Nui (Maori) - to be large, many, great

Makuta - evil spirit, Master of Shadow

Mākutu (Maori) - witchcraft, sorcery, spell or incantation

 

 

HEROES

Spoiler

 

Toa - elemental heroes/protectors

Toa (Maori) - warrior, courage, champion, bravery, expert

Tahu - Toa of Fire

Tahu (Maori) - to burn, ignite, set on fire

Pohatu - Toa of Stone

Pōhatu (Maori) - stone

Kopaka - Toa of Ice

Kōpaka (Maori) - ice

Lewa - Toa of Air

Lewa (Hawaiian) - sky, air, atmosphere; to float, swing

Gali - Toa of Water

Gali (Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay) - water, rain

Galu (Samoan) - wave

Onua - Toa of Earth

Honua (Hawaiian) - earth, land, world

Fonua (Tongan) - the whole earth

Kaita - fusion of heroes into one being

Kaitā (Maori) - large, great

Akamai - Kaita of Valor*[1]

Akamai (Hawaiian) - wise, skillful

Wairuha - Kaita of Wisdom*[2]

Wairua (Maori) - spirit, soul

 



LOCATIONS

The locations on the island of Mata Nui shed some light into the great secret: that the island is not just named after the Great Spirit, it IS the Great Spirit, slumbering beneath the surface. Each location refers to a body part, typically of the head/face.

Spoiler

 

Koro - village

Koro (Fijian) - village

Suva - Toa shrine

Suva (Fijian) - mound or pile of stones used to mark a place; Capitol of Fiji

Mangaia - great volcano

Mangai (Maori) - the mouth

Ihu - great mountain peak

Ihu (Maori) - nose, snout

Kini - temple*[3]

Kini Nui - great temple

Kini (Maori) - to pinch, to nip

Kini (Hawaiian) - any number indefinitely greater (40,000 or higher), innumerable stars, infinity

Bikini (Fijian/German New Guinea) - beacon, as for sailors; surface of coconuts

Wahi - region

Wahi (Maori) - to divide, to split

Naho - Ga-koro bay

Naho (Hawaiian) - eye sockets

Kanae / Kauae - Le-koro lake and bay*[4]

Kanae (Maori) - type of fish

Kauae (Maori) - jaw, chin

Pala - Le-wahi lake

Pala (Samoan) - a muddy deposit in the sea; Black mud from the swamp: to rot/decay

Pala (Rotuman) - to be audible; burst open, to have a hole in something

Fau - Le-wahi swamp

Fau (Tahitian) - type of tree

Fau (Rotuman) - cheek (side of face)

Kumu - southern islets
Kumu (Maori) - bottom, butt, tail-end; to clench, carry in closed hand

Kukumu (Pascuan) - cheekbone, knuckle, finger joint

Kumkumu (Rotuman) - beard; chin; to rinse mouth with water

Motara - northern desert

Motara (Rotuman) - forehead

Hura Mafa - Ga-wahi river

Hura (Rotuman) - to break up (from a meeting), to disperse; to shed tears

Hura (Maori) - uncover, begin to flow

Mafa (Rotuman) - eyes

Tren Krom - Ta-wahi lava break
Tren (various European languages) - train

Krom (Dutch) - crooked

Leva - Po-wahi bay

Leva (Rotuman) - hair

Tiro - Po-wahi canyon

Tiro (Maori) - to look

Tiro (Rotuman) - to watch closely (telescope/mirror/lens)

Tiro (Tahitian) - to mark, or select a thing

Papa Nihu - Onu-wahi reef

Papa (Maori) - bed of a lake or sea, earth, shell of crayfish and mollusks

Papa (Pascuan) - underground rock; rocky seabottom

Papa Niho (Hawaiian) - row of teeth

Marn - Onu-wahi tunnels

Marn (Turkish) - marl (marlstone, a lime-rich or mudstone made of clay and silt)

 

 

ITEMS / OBJECTS

Spoiler

 

Amaja - story circle

A'maja (Rotuman) - to develop a story/theme

Koli - Po-matoran sport played with a stone ball
Koli (Hawaiian) - meteor

Haka - dance

Haka (Maori) - to dance

Ignalu - lava surfing sport

Ignis (Latin) - fire

Nalu (Hawaiian) - wave

Ngalawa - boat rowing sport

Ngalawa (Swahili) - dug-out canoe

Makoki - stone keys collected by the Toa*[5]
Makoah (Maori) - soft slaty rock

Okoki (Rotuman) - badly arranged

Mako'iko'i (Pascuan) - kidney

Madu Cabolo - explosive fruit

Niu Madu (Fijian) - Fijian coconut

Cabolo (Fijian) - to make a sudden loud noise

Bula - berries

Bula (Fijian) - life, good health

Vuata Maca - energy fruit-tree

Kauvuata (Fijian) - fruit-tree

Maca (Fijian) - dry (Maba comes before it in the dicitonary, which is a type of tree)

Macou (Fijian) - cinnamon tree bark

Harakeke - flax planet

Harakeke (Maori) - flax plant

Huai - snowball slinging sport

Huai (Hawaiian) - to dig up something covered in the ground

Volo Lutu - grappling hook / harpoon gun

Volo (Maori) - hair

Volo (Fijian) - ball

Lutu (Maori) - to rattle to attract sharks, cause sound by striking water

Lutu (Fijian) - to fall
Amana Volo - sphere of dark energy

Cakamana (Fijian) - miracle

Amana (Maori) - almond

Volo (Fijian) - ball

Daikau - carnivorous jungle plant

Dai (Fijian) - trap

Kau (Fijian) - plant

 

 

ELDERS

It should be noted that some of the region-specific characteristics of the Turaga, such as elemental powers or tools/trades, are used as names for titles and masks, rather than the idea they represent.

Spoiler

 

Turaga - village priests/leaders

Turaga (Fijian) - man, chief

Vakama - Turaga of Fire

Vakama (Fijian) - burn

Kama (Maori) - to be quick, eager, keen, willing

Nokama - Turaga of Water

Waka ama (Moari) - outrigger canoe

Noka, Nokata (Fijian) - to tie up, make fast, a boat from going adrift

Noke (Fijian) - woven basket for collecting seafood

Nuju - Turaga of Ice

Nuju (Rotuman) - river bank; beak; mouth; to recite by memory/heart; spokesman

Nuju (Sudanese) - to lead, tend

Onewa - Turaga of Stone

Onewa (noun, Maori) - granite/basalt, short weapon made of stone

Whenua - Turaga of Earth
Whenua (noun, Maori) - ground, land

Matau - Turaga of Air*[6]
Matau (Maori) - to know, be certain of (noun) knowledge, understanding; fish hook

Mata'u (Rotuman) - carefulness, caution; to watch

Matau (Tahitian) - fear, dread; accustomed or used to a thing; fish hook

Majau (Rotuman) - carpenter

Matau (Fijian) - adept; right-hand side; axe used for boat building

 

MASKS
 

Spoiler

 

Kanohi - masks of power

Kanohi (Maori) - face, countenance

Pakari - mask of Strength

Pakari (Maori) - to be strong, sturdy, mature

Hau - mask of Shielding

Hau (Maori) - vitality; breath, air

Kaukau - mask of Water Breathing

Kaukau (Maori) - to swim, bathe

Miru - mask of Levitation

Miru (Maori) - alveolus (air sacs of the lungs)

Mirmiru (Maori) - a bubble

Kakama - mask of Speed

Kakama (Maori) - be quick, alert, nimble

Kamaka (Maori) - boulder, rock, stone

Akaku - mask of X-ray Vision

Akakū (Hawaiian) - vision, trance

Huna - mask of Concealment

Huna (Maori) - to conceal, hide

Huna (Hawaiian) - secret

Rau - mask of Translation*[7]

Lau (Tongen) - to talk, to converse, familiar discourse

Parau (Tahitian) - to speak, converse; the shell of the pearl oyster

Rau (Rotuman) - to enumerate; to read/recite/recount (a list of names)
Forau (Rotuman) - to travel by sea

Rau (Maori) - to catch with a net (fish)

Rau (Fijian) - type of grass used for making fishing dragline

Komau - mask of Mind Control*[8]

Mau (Maori) - to seize, to take hold of

Koma (Maori) - axe head made of stone

Mahiki - mask of Illusion*[9]
Hiki (Maori) - to lift up, carry

Mahiki (Maori) - to jump, leap, hop, vibrate; lawn

Hiki (Rotuman) - to caricature/exagerate/magnify

Mahiki (Hawaiian) - to blow away with puff of the wind

Matatu - mask of Telekinesis*[10]

Matatu (Maori) - to be watchful, to keep awake

Matatu (Tahitian) - a gloomy face

Ruru - mask of Night Vision

Ruru (Maori) - owl

Aki - mask of Valor

Āki (Maori) - to encourage, challenge, incite; to beat, pound, throw down

Rua - mask of Wisdom

Rua (Maori) - hole, chasm, abyss (where heavenly bodies disappear before returning again); two, second

Vahi - mask of Time

Vahi (Pascuan) - to pass (of the beginning of a season)

Vahi (Rotuman) - to be completed; to be past/gone by (events, time)

 

 

RAHI

Spoiler

 

Rahi - beast

Rahi (Maori) - servant; great (either physically or morally)

Rahi (Rotuman) - fire

Taku - small bird

Taku (Rotuman) - duck/goose

Taku (Fijian) - turtle

Hoto - fire bug

Hoto (Maori) - barbed stinger (of a sting ray); to start a quarrel

Ruki - small fish

Ruki (Rotuman) - fish

Kuna - snake

Kuna (Hawaiian) - a dangerous sore, itch difficult to heal

Makika - large toad

Makimaki (Maori) - a cutaneous disease (poisoned skin)

Hoi - turtle

Ho'i (Rotuman) - to carry

Hoi a (Rotuman) - turtle

Ussal - large crab*[11]

Usa, Usana (Fijian) - to carry the cargo, freight

Puku - ussal taxi crab

Puku (Maori) - stomach, belly, swelling, bubble; affection

Puku (Rapa Nui) - rock, boulder; to feel an urge to defecate or urinate

Thali-Whali - pet bug*[12]

Waliwali (Hawaiian) - soft, gentle

Fikou - large spider

Fikou (Rotuman) - hermit crab

Vako - rhino

Ivako (Fijian) - nail (carpentry), horn (cow, goat)

Vako (Fijian) - to nail

Hikaki - large fire lizard

Hika (Maori) - to rub violently (to kindle a fire)

Takea - shark

Takia (Fijian) - small outrigger canoe

Kewa - large bird*[13]

Kewa (Maori) - name in Maori myth (whale)

Fusa - large kangaroo rat

Fusa (Swahili) - attack, beat

Husi - ostrich

Husila (Rotuman) - woodpecker (bird)

Maha / Mahi - goat

Mahi (Maori) - to work

Mahi (Hawaiian) - farm

Kahu - great hawk

Kāhu (Maori) - hawk

Kahu (Maori) - cloak

Nui-Rama - giant flying insect

Rama (Pascuan) - bunch of dry leaves used as a torch when lit

Rama (Rotuma) - beware of; to shine

Rama (Tahitian) - torch used by fishermen

Ramu (Tahitain) - mosquito

Nui-Kopen - great wasp

Kopena (Hawaiian) - hornet, wasp

Kofo-Jaga - small fire scorpion

Nui-Jaga - giant scorpion

Kofo (Rotuman) - to smoke, to emit fire

Reumajaga (Rotuman) - earwig (insect with forked tail); scorpion ('akrava is more specific)

Tarakava - giant water lizard

Tarakuero (Pascuan) - a fish

Tarakona (Maori) - dragon

Turukawa (Fiji) - legendary hawk who created humans

Tara-kaka (Maori) - bold in robbing

Tara (Maori) - tooth (of a comb); rumor

Tara (Fijian) - to catch

Kava (Fijian) - fish

Kawa (Maori) - sour, bitter

Muaka - great tiger*[14]

Mua (Maori) - god who consumed blood sacrifices

Mua (Fijian) - to head for (place, direction) in traveling

Ka (Hawaiian) - to hit, strike, throw, smite with a quick hard stroke

'aumakua (Hawaiian) - a family god, often takes the form of an animal (also rocks and people)

Kane-Ra - great bull*[15]

Kane (Hawaiian) - diety who gives life to dawn, sun and sky. Father of living creatures.

Kana (Fijian) - to eat

Kanakana (Fijian) - cow pasture

Ra (Rotuman) - bough, branch

Ra (Maori) - sun, day, sail of a canoe

Ra (Fijian) - below or downwind (as a suffix for place-names or a prefix for word combinations to indicate direction); West

Ra (Fijian) - "sir" as a title for animals in fables (eg. Ra Vonu = Sir Turtle)

Kuma Nui - giant rat

Kuma (Rotuman) - baby rat

Mana - giant crab

Mana-Ko - king mana

Mana (Maori, Hawaiian) - authority, supernatural power

Mana (Fijian) - mud lobster

Mana (Pascuan) - spiritual force; to suddenly appear (as if by magic)

Mana (Rotuman) - miraculous; supernatural power; superhuman; power

Ko (Hawaiian) - to gore, stab, kill

Brakas - monkey*[16]

Moa - bird

Moa (Rapa Nui) - poultry

Vatuka - stone monster

Vatu (Fijian) - stone

Ka (Fijian) - thing

 

 

VILLAGERS

The original word "tohunga" was replaced with "matoran" after the Māori lawsuit with LEGO. Many of the early Tohunga names are based around Pacific words respective to their elemental regions. Takua, Nuparu, and Hahli were later additions to the canon, and may not follow the same naming scheme. Later Matoran names, especially those that appear in Templar Studios' Mata Nui Online Game 2, are based on elementally themed words from various languages.

Spoiler

 

Tohunga - villagers

Tohunga (Maori) - to be expert, proficient, adept

Tohunga (Maori) - priest, wizard, skilled person

Lhii - legendary surfer

Wii (Kamilaroi) - fire; firewood

Ihi (Tahitian) - skill, wisdom, dexterity

Taipu - Onu-matoran

Taipu (Maori) - heap, pile, stack; sandhill

Kapura - Ta-matoran

Kapura (Maori) - fire, flashlight

Huki - Po-matoran

Huki (Maori) - to roast on a spit; to avenge

Hukihuki  (Maori) - to contract suddenly, as the muscles (shake)

Huke (Maori) - to dig up

Tuki (Maori) - to hammer, beat, pound with a stone; header (soccer)

Huki (Rapa Nui) - to strike, or digging stick

Maku - Ga-matoran

Maku (Maori) - be wet, moist, damp; dampness, moisture

Onepu - Onu-Matoran

Onepu (Maori) - sand

Kongu - Le-matoran

Kongu (Maori) - to be cloudy, overcast

Tamaru - Le-matoran

Tamaru (Maori) - to be shady, cloudy

Matoro - Ko-matoran

Matoro (Maori) - to woo, visit, investigate

Matoro (Hawaiian) - to approach on hands and knees before a chief

Matoru (Tahitian) - to be inured to hardship

Kopeke - Ko-matoran

Kopeke (Maori) - cold, winter

Jala - Ta-matoran

Jala (Rotuman) - to set fire to (grass), to burn

Kotu - Ga-matoran

Kotutu (Maori) - basket used for catching fish

Hafu - Po-matoran

Hafu (Rotuman) - brick; made of stone; jewel; slate writing; tombstone

Nuparu - Onu-matoran

Paru (Maori) - dirt, mud, earth; sewage; (stative) dirty, muddy

Hahli - Ga-matoran

Hali (Hawaiian) - to carry, fetch, bear

Takua - Ta-matoran Chronicler

Takua (Tongan) - to mention, call by name

Takua (Maori) - a kind of goatfish, a good bait for dropline fishing

Kua (Hawaiian) - the back of a person

 

 

GA-MATORAN

Spoiler

 

Kai

                Kai (Hawaiian) - the sea

Kailani

                Kai (Hawaiian) - the sea

                Lani (Hawaiian) - the sky, heavens

Marka
                Marka (Finnish) - wet

                Marka (African name) - steady rain

Pelagia

                Pelagos (Greek) - of the sea, marine; a genus of jellyfish

Okoth

                Okoth (Kenyan Name) - born when it was raining

Amaya

                Amaya (Arabic name) - night rain

Shasa

                Shasa (African name) - precious water

Nireta

                Nireta (Greek name) - from the sea

Nixie

                Nixie (Germanic myth) - shape-shifting water spirit

Vhisola

                Visola (African name) - longings are waterfalls

 

 

PO-MATORAN

Spoiler

 

Golyo

                Golyo (Hungarian) - ball

Kamen

                Kamen (Slavic) - stone

                Kamen (Japanese) - mask

Ally

                Ally (Celtic name) - stone, harmony, noble

Piatra

                Piatra (Romanian) - stone

Kivi

                Kivi (Finnish name) - stone

Bour

                Bower (African) - rock   

Pekka

                Pekka (Finnish name for Peter) - rock

Epena

                Epena (Hawaiian name) - stone

Gadjati

                Gadjati (Serbian) - to pelt with stones

Ahkmou

                Akmuo (Lithuanian) - stone

                A'mou (Rotuman) - to make firm

Podu

                Podu (Romanian) - the bridge

                Podu (Telugu) - clearing forest by burning to provide cropland

 

 

TA-MATORAN

Spoiler

 

Aft

                Aft (Albanian) - warmth from a fire

Agni

                Agni (Hindu god) - fire

Aodhan

                Aed, Adhan (Old Irish, Scottish Gaelic) - fire

Brander

                Brander (English) - hot iron used for marking

                Brand (Dutch) - burner

Keahi

                Keahi (Hawaiin) - fire

Maglya

                Maglya (Hungarian) - bonfire

Nuri / Nuhrii

                Nuri (Hebrew) - my fire

Tiribomba

                Tiribombe (Romanian) - firecracker, also carousel/ferris wheel ride

                Tiritiri (Rotuman) - signal bonfire

Vohon

                Vohon (Ukranian) - fire

Kalama

                Kalama (Hawaiian) - flaming torch

 

 

LE-MATORAN

Spoiler

 

Boreas

                Boreas (Greek god) - god of North wind

Kumo

                Kumo (Japanese) - cloud

Makani

                Makani (Hawaiian name) - wind

Sanso

                Sanso (Japanese) - oxygen

Shu

                Shu (Egyptian god) - god of air

Taiki

                Taiki (Japanese) - air, atmosphere; could also mean "big tree"

                Taiki (Maori) - wicker basket

Tuuli

                Tuuli (Finnish) - wind

Vira

                Uvira (Tahitain) - lightning*[17]

                Vira (Swedish) - to wind or roll*[18]

                Vira (Czech) - faith

Orkahm / Orkan

                Orkan (German) - hurricane

 

 

ONU-MATORAN

Spoiler

 

Aiyetoro

                Aiyetoro (African name) - peace on earth

Akamu

                Akamu (Hawaiian name) - red earth

Azibo

                Azibo (African name) - earth

Damek
               
Damek (Hebrew name, form of Adam) - earth

Dosne

                Dosne (Celtic name) - from the sand hill

Kaj

                Kaj (Danish name) - earth

Mamru / Mamoru

                Mamoru (Japanese name) - earth

Tehutti

                Tehuti (Egyptian god Thoth) - scribe of the underworld

Zemya

                Zemya (Bulgarian) - land

Nobua / Tamariki

                Tamariki (Maori) - children*[19]

                Nobu (Japanese name) - faith
                Nabu (Fijian) - gift brought to a teller of tales, ancient stories, usually by appreciative youngsters

 

 

KO-MATORAN

Spoiler

 

Arktinen

                Arktinen (Finnish) - arctic

Jaa

                Jaa (Finnish) - ice

Jaatiko

                Jaatiko (Finnish) - glacier

Kantai

                Kantai (Japanese) - frigid zone or belt

                Kantai (Finnish) - bear

Kokkan

                Kokkan (Japanese) - severe cold

Kylma

                Kylma (Finnish) - cold

Lumi

                Lumi (Finnish) - snow

Pakastaa

                Pakastaa (Finnish) - freeze

Talvi

                Talvi (Finnish) - winter

Toudo

                Toudo (Japanese) - frozen soil

Ehrye

                Eira (Welsh) - snow*[20]

 

 

SOURCES

https://maoridictionary.co.nz/

https://books.google.com/books?id=9KUTAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

http://wehewehe.org/gsdl2.85/cgi-bin/hdict?l=en

http://kohaumotu.org/Rongorongo/index.html

http://www.rotuma.net/os/English-Rotuman_wordlist.pdf

https://books.google.com/books?id=61JF9QEzfrkC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=P9VIDPfc6LQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

https://www.dnathan.com/language/gamilaraay/dictionary/GAMDICTF.HTM

https://archive.org/stream/tahitianenglishd00davirich/tahitianenglishd00davirich_djvu.txt

 

[1] It is possible that the names of Akamai and Wairuha had been switched by accident.

[2] It is possible that the names of Akamai and Wairuha had been switched by accident.

[3] Needs better translation. Could be referring to a general apex/point/peak situated atop an outcropping, dome, or mountain.

[4] Kauae was the original name of Le-koro's lake. It was later changed to Kanae.

[5] Needs better translation

[6] It is possible that Matau was a named considered for the Turaga of Water, since "fish hook" seems to appear as the most common translation. Although the Fijian and Rotuma translations could imply that he carves boats from the jungle trees. Whether these are used for crossing swamps or seas, by Le-matoran or others, is unclear.

[7] It is possible that the Kanohi Rau is named after the water related trades of its most notable wearer: Turaga Nokama, rather than the power of translation.

[8] It is possible that the Kanohi Komau is named after the tool/staff belonging to the most notable wearer of said mask: Turaga Onewa, rather than the power of mind control.

[9] It is possible that the Kanohi Mahiki is named after the elemental powers of the Turaga of Air, Matau (its most notable wearer), rather than the power of illusion.

[10] Could be named after the shape of the mask, rather than its power.

[11] I'm not convinced this is the translation that inspired the name, but it is close.

[12] Needs better translation

[13] Needs better translation

[14] Needs better translation.

[15] Could mean "Mr. Cow" in Fijian

[16] Need translation.

[17] Incidentally, the Tahitian word Uvihi means "light whistling of the wind"

[18] Possibly mistaken for "wind/breeze"

[19] Tamariki was original name of Nobua in Legend of Mata Nui PC game.

[20] Not convinced this is taken from the translation.

Edited by chuckschwa
Consolidated info so this post isn't so long
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Got any ultra rare Kanohi misprints or prototypes for sale? PM me and we can talk business. Looking for rare Yellow Ruru and White Huna to complete my 2001 mask collection.

 

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Thanks for posting this, looks like it was a lot of work and theres a lot of cool stuff in there! The Fijian ra does sound really likely to me for Kane-Ra since they had a habit of calling it the Bull of Legends - just a stone's throw from 'Sir Bull.'

Edited by Peri
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Takanuva: Possibly a mix between Maori taka- "sense of revolution" and Ido nuva "new"

  • Takutanuva: A mix between Maori tākuta "doctor" and Ido nuva "new"

 

I think these characters' names derive from the names of the characters they came from: Takanuva = Takua + Nuva (Takua became a Toa who looked like a Nuva) and Takutanuva = Takanuva + Makuta (the characters who fused to form him).

Plus Maori wasn't being used by 2003.

Edited by Sir Kohran
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So my post is less relevant to the Maori etymology of words in the bionicle universe, but rather the etymology of the seemingly made-up words "matoran" and "matoro". "Matoro" sounds alot like "matoran", right? But Matoro was given his name even before the change from tohunga to matoran. So did the word "matoran" have anything to do with the pre-existing name "matoro" or were both words simply derived from "mata" (maori for spirit, I believe)  like in the Toa Mata or Mata Nui?

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19 hours ago, bionicfrog said:

So my post is less relevant to the Maori etymology of words in the bionicle universe, but rather the etymology of the seemingly made-up words "matoran" and "matoro". "Matoro" sounds alot like "matoran", right? But Matoro was given his name even before the change from tohunga to matoran. So did the word "matoran" have anything to do with the pre-existing name "matoro" or were both words simply derived from "mata" (maori for spirit, I believe)  like in the Toa Mata or Mata Nui?

Check the OP. "Matoro" means "to investigate" in Maori. "Mata" means "face." "Matoran" is probably derived from "Mata," or it is just a nonce word.


Rule #1: Always listen to Kek.

Rule #2: If you break rule #1, kindly don't.

Rule #3: EVERYBODY TYPE IN THE CHAT "AVAK IS A STUPID TRIGGER"

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So did the word "matoran" have anything to do with the pre-existing name "matoro" or were both words simply derived from "mata" (maori for spirit, I believe)  like in the Toa Mata or Mata Nui?

Probably the second and the similarity to Matoro is just coincidence.

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On 2/10/2020 at 2:18 PM, Sir Keksalot said:

Check the OP. "Matoro" means "to investigate" in Maori. "Mata" means "face." "Matoran" is probably derived from "Mata," or it is just a nonce word.

It's the former. In-universe the change to Matoran was because "the Tohunga realized they were one people." Before Matoran became the standard word, villagers were referred to as Onu-Koran, Le-Koran, etc., (later changed to Koronan, probably because it's not a good idea to have the name of the Islamic holy book in Bionicle), so there's a precedent for them being named after their homes. Along those lines, Matoran would be taken to mean "people of Mata Nui," named after their home/great spirit. The resemblance to Matoro is coincidental, the same way Maku has nothing to do with Makuta.

Edited by The Shadow Imperator

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In-universe the change to Matoran was because "the Tohunga realized they were one people."

A slightly weak reason for it given that 'Tohunga' was already the term for them as one people.

Before Matoran became the standard word, villagers were referred to as Onu-Koran, Le-Koran, etc., (later changed to Koronan, probably because it's not a good idea to have the name of the Islamic holy book in Bionicle)

I can't check right now, but I think Koran and Koronan are used a bit interchangeably throughout the MNOLG, I'm not sure if a big *change* happened with that.

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