12 September, 2017. Samoa – According to Miss Samoa Victoria Inc, Adele Faasofia, proficiency in the Samoan language is vital in order to be “fully known” as a Samoan.
At the recent Miss Samoa Speech Contest, Ms. Faasofia spoke on the question: ‘What can we do to preserve and maintain the richness of our Samoan language?’
Over the course of time, the Samoan language has adapted to include foreign words and terms. With outside influences, the primary language of communication is English, for many young Samoans today.
Ms Faasofia said, “The Samoan language is what identifies us as a people; it is our heritage, our measina, our treasure. I believe we can maintain and preserve the language, through church, village and school life, but it all starts in the home.”
According to Miss Faasofia, part of the responsibility lies with parents to introduce and train their children in Samoa language, enabling them opportunities to effectively communicate.
“Being a part of the village activities can encourage oral and practical learning of the culture and language. It could be through little things like during family prayers, conversations during toona’i or by singing Samoan songs.”
During questioning time, Judge Simon Fruean agreed with Ms. Faasofia and said, “That’s a good example you mentioned earlier, that I starts in the family. I have to say, I am guilty as a father. When my son grows up, I have no idea how it’s going to be, since he can’t even speak Samoan.”
According to Mr. Fruean, the Samoan language is always seen as an unimportant subject in schools. He said, “This is because our money-earning careers do not depend on our culture.”
“So my question is, if you were to be the Miss Samoa or Miss Pacific Islands, what would you do to ensure that our Samoan language carries on?”
Ms Faasofia insisted that the Samoan language should be compulsory from pre-school, up to tertiary level education.
She said, “It’s true that speaking English will allow us employment opportunities, however I would suggest that we continue with the four main pillars I mentioned: family, church, school and village life, since they are things that we are so used to. Using these pillars we can remember who we are as people and continue it to the next generation.”
Reporter with Samoa Planet.