Language is not just a means of communication; it holds within it a community’s rich history, culture, and identity.
Samoan Language Week is an annual celebration that provides an opportunity to recognise and appreciate the beauty and significance of the Samoan language.
To encourage us all to explore this beautiful language and celebrate the role of language in building connections, we explore why this week is celebrated and provide resources on where to learn more!
A Brief History of Samoan Language Week
Samoan Language Week, also known as Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa, has been celebrated every year since 2007.
The Ministry for Pacific Peoples organises the week-long event to promote the Samoan language and culture among Samoan communities and the wider public.
The chosen week typically falls in late May or early June and coincides with the Samoan Independence Day on June 1st. For 2023, the week will be celebrated from the 28th May to the 3rd June.
Why We Celebrate Samoan Language Week
Did you know: the Samoan language is the most spoken Pacific language?!
Samoan Language Week serves as a platform to celebrate and preserve the Samoan language, which is vital in connecting Samoan communities within New Zealand and worldwide.
By recognising the significance of this language, we honour the Samoan heritage and strengthen cultural ties.
It’s an opportunity to promote language revitalisation, encourage bilingualism, and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Samoan way of life.
4 Ways to Engage with Samoan Language
Did you know: nine languages a year – or one every 40 days – cease to be spoken?!
The Language Conservancy estimates that by 2080, the rate will rise to 16 languages yearly. By the middle of the next century, we will lose our linguistic heritage at the rate of 26 languages each year—one every two weeks.
It’s why things like Samoan Language Week are so vital – they help keep languages alive – and we can all play a role in ensuring this happens!
Below are four ways to engage with the Samoan language this week and all year round:
- Learn Key Phrases: Begin embracing the Samoan language by learning key phrases. Simple greetings like “Talofa” (hello), “Fa’amolemole” (please), and “Fa’afetai” (thank you) can go a long way in establishing connections and showing respect. Explore online resources and language apps, or connect with local Samoan communities for language learning opportunities.
- Immerse Yourself in Samoan Culture: Language and culture go hand in hand. Engage with the Samoan community through cultural events, such as dance performances, traditional music, or cooking classes. Participating in Samoan cultural activities will expose you to the language and deepen your understanding of the customs, traditions, and values embedded within the Samoan culture.
- Read Samoan Literature: Literature is a powerful medium that provides insight into a language’s essence and storytelling traditions. Explore Samoan literature, poetry, and folktales in written and oral formats.
- Listen to Samoan Music: Listening to Samoan music, which often incorporates poetic lyrics and traditional instruments, can also create a deeper connection with the language. Look for Samoan music albums or digital platforms that feature Samoan artists.
Where to Find Out More
If you’re keen to learn more and Samoan Language Week and find more ways to engage and support the Samoan language, various resources are available.
Below we’ve collated a few of our favourites:
- Ministry for Pacific Peoples: Visit the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website to access information about Samoan Language Week, language resources, and community events.
- Samoan Language Commission: The Samoan Language Commission’s website provides valuable information on the Samoan language, its history, and resources for learning.
- Local Samoan Community Centers: Reach out to your local Samoan community centres, churches, or cultural organisations. They often offer language classes, cultural events, and resources to connect with the Samoan community.
Samoan Language Week is an important celebration that allows us to honour the beauty and significance of different languages in our community.
Let’s celebrate together and keep these languages alive for years to come!