Monday, May 28, 2012

My Samoan Language Journey

My own journey in the Samoan language began as a freshman in college at a BYU football game back in 2000, LaVell Edwards's final season, for those who care.

As the game progressed, I kept hearing the announcer saying things like, "Setema Gali on the tackle," pronouncing the g in Gali as an n. I could see the spelling for Gali on the jumbotron, and, confused at the illogical pronunciation, asked my rabid-BYU-football-fan-of-a-roommate why. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I dunno. It must be a Samoan thing." To which I replied, "Well, that's dumb!"

Weeks later, I received my call to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Samoan islands, speaking, of course, Samoan, where I would learn that a g is pronounced as ng, and get to meet some of the said Gali's uncles.

I soon repented of calling Samoan orthography and phonology dumb (the announcer, bless his ignorant white heart, was mispronouncing Gali's name). They make much more sense than their English counterparts, since words in Samoan, with very few exceptions, are pronounced just as they're written.

So help stamp out mispronunciation of Samoan names and join the approximately 370,000 Samoan speakers worldwide in celebrating International Samoan Language Week or Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa, if for no other reason than Samoan is probably the fastest growing language in American football.


Karyn K said...

Thanks Nate! :) Happy Samoan Language Week!

Jim said...

Ha, Setema was my home teaching companion back in the P-Town days. Even though he drove a baller car, we always seemed to end up taking my Prizm. . . never could quite figure that one out.

Nate said...

@Jim: Nice. Maybe he figured his would get keyed or something if he took it too many places.