Centre of Samoa Studies Director Calls For Training Seminars for Media Broadcasters in Correct Use of Samoan Language

"There is a need for workshops and seminars to help build the capacity of broadcasters in the right use of the language.."

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Ta'iao Dr. Matiu Matavai Tautunu - Director, Centre of Samoan Studies, NUS.

Translated from the files of FaaSamoa. The Director for the Center of Samoa Studies, Ta’iao Matiu Dr Matavai Taatunu, has expressed concerns over what he believes to be the incorrect use of the Samoan Language by media broadcasters.

Using product advertising and public notices on the media as examples during a talk given at the National Univeristy of Samoa last week, Dr Taatunu calls for all media broadcasters to receive training and attend seminars on the art of the Samoan Lanugage.

Dr Taatunu says the Samoan language has been affected by broadcasters, and there is a need for workshops and seminars to help build the capacity of broadcasters in the right use of the language.

“O le aafiaga o le gagana Samoa e mafua mai le galuega faasalalau, e ao ai ona toe o uma le au faasalalau e faatino aoaoga i le faatufugaga o le gagana, ma faatino ni aoaoga poo semina mo le aufaasalalau”

He went on to share examples of community notices and radio advertisements, adding that children are hearing the wrong things and it is influencing their understanding of the language.

“O la’u tuualalo e tatau ona toe o uma le aufaasalalau e toe aooga i le faatufugaga o le gagana, aua a oo ina ela le tatou vaai i vaega ia e ono ta’ina sese ai le fanau.”

As an example, Dr Taatunu says he heard a notice on the radio where members of the women’s committee (komiti tumama) were requested to come along with their husbands and used the phrase, “susu mai le tina ma aumai lana faiava..”

“That means that women have to go look for a husband..” concludes Dr Taatunu.

“O lona uiga e alu le tina e su’e mai se faiava..”

Dr Taatunu also touches on the incorrect use of “brother” and “sister” which are gender sensitive words in the Samoan language.

In the gagana Samoa, one must be specific in words used to describe “brother” and “sister”. A male’s brother is uso and uso is also used to described a female’s sister. However, if a male has a sister, she is referred to as his tuafafine. When a female has a brother, he is described as her tuagane.

Dr Taatunu says he once heard a commercial advertisement where the script mentions, “tuagane o lo’u tama” (tuagane of my father).

“The question is, does my father have a tuagane?”

In response, Senior Media Freelance Reporter, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says the points made by the head of the NUS Centre of Samoan Studies are valid and action must be taken to educate and upskill broadcasters as well as heads of media outlets.

Autagavaia says it is too easy to use the more casual version of the Samoan language, and incorrect paraphrasing which has eroded the Samoan language as more and more continue to use the incorrect form of phrases.

He adds that it is something the President of JAWS must look into.

In response the President of JAWS says she agrees that the Samoan language has been eroded, and appropriate action must be taken to rectify the damage done.

However, the JAWS President says the media are not the only culprits.

“It starts from the Heads of Churches, within Government, in schools including our National University, and many other organsations in Samoa.”

“But it is good to raise the issue so that we can all look into solutions moving forward.”

The JAWS President said she has requested a copy of the NUS research on more than one occasion, however, has still been unable to attain a copy.

Ms Keresoma says examples of public announcements and advertising scripts are outside of the mandate of news media, and it would be good to see the evidence-based research.

The President says JAWS has held recent workshops on the correct use of the Samoan Language such as the recently launched glossary of terms to be used to describe domestic and sexual violence.

The JAWS President says the association will be conducting more training seminars and workshops in this important area.

“Editors and those running news and broadcast rooms have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that what gets out are within proper standards.”