Samoan language is our identity

By Aruna Lolani ,

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WE NEED OUR SAMOAN LANGUAGE: Rev. Lavilavi Soloi, Rev. Vaiao Alailima Eteuati and Makerita Asiata.

WE NEED OUR SAMOAN LANGUAGE: Rev. Lavilavi Soloi, Rev. Vaiao Alailima Eteuati and Makerita Asiata. (Photo: Aruna Lolani)

We should value our Samoan language and do the best we can to strengthen how it is used.

That is the message from the Chairperson of the Samoan Language Commission; Reverend Vaiao Alailima Eteuati.

He was speaking during a press conference to highlight the work of the Commission, especially in relation to how symbols are applied in the written word.

The Commission is concerned about the many ways the symbols and signs are wrongly used. Rev. Vaiao pointed out that our language is slowly fading because elders no longer place emphasis on its use and how it is used.

“That is why the government has decided to find a way to bring back the Samoan language and use it correctly,” said Rev. Vaiao.

 “Our language is our identity from God and that is why we had to bring this issue to the Cabinet.”

The Commission was first established in 2014.

“Our language is slowly slipping away, and that’s why the government set up this Commission for us to look deeply at ways to recapture our Samoan Language.”

 “The main goal now is for our people to emphasize and keep our Samoan language alive through writing and the main purpose of the legislation is to treasure and develop our language for the people of Samoa before they go outside of our country.”

Rev. Vaiao added that the legislation is based on the correct use of punctuation marks or symbols in the Samoan language has been passed and approved by the Cabinet.

 “The macron (-) and apostrophe (‘) are symbols that are normally used in the Samoan written language.”

 “And it comes down to this, where we are required to emphasize the use of this method or these symbols to aid the clarity and comprehension of the written language. Clarity is the most significant factor here.”

“However, if these symbols are misused in any form of Samoan writings, the writer is the one at fault.”

Rev. Vaiao highlighted the growing number of students failing Samoan language classes at school.

 “A lot of them don’t have good results when it comes to Samoan exams and a reason given by teachers and educators is that this is one of the most threatening issues; the use of symbols in the written language,” he said.

 “Don’t use symbols on words that it shouldn’t be used on.”

The Commission initially convened on November 2014, after Parliament passed the Samoan Language Commission Act 2014 in August of the same year.

Under the Act, the Samoan Language is declared as an official language. 

It is empowered to ensure the Samoan language is and remains a vibrant language and accorded the status, right and privilege as to the use in all government or State institutions. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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