Saturday, 30 November 2013

Language . . .

Annie Crummer's "Language" is one of my favourite songs featuring the beautiful reo Kuki Airani (Cook Islands language).  The song features the steady rhythmic strumming of ukulele, Annie's soaring vocals and her own layered harmonies, which she intersperses with the syncopated rhythms of the male background vocals.  I particularly love the opening line which speaks about the importance of language, to hold onto your heritage language and to never forget it.

8. Language fluency (e.g. Communicates in oral/written forms).
The overwhelming response by parents is that gifted Pasifika students are able to speak, understand, or write in their mother tongues.  The identity continuum of language fluency shows that despite where New Zealand-born Pasifika may fall, that it is the school's responsibility to value and cater for the needs of the differing types of gifted Pasifika students.  (Faaea-Semeatu, 2011).

There have been debates around language, the heritage languages of migrants, more specifically about whether you are the Pasifika culture that you are, if you know your language.

Growing up in my own household, my brothers and I were encouraged to speak our mother tongue for fear that we would lose it.  We were not allowed to speak English at home.  English language was relegated to our public school education.  Samoan language was reinforced in our church, known by Samoans as the E.F.K.S (Ekalesia Faapotopotoga Kerisiano i Samoa), known in English as the C.C.C.S. (Christian Congregational Church of Samoa). Being a Sunday School student and youth member allowed me the opportunity to practise my Samoan language skills, learning how to address Samoan elders in my church using formal Samoan and then speaking informal Samoan with my peers.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that my parents' insistence on maintaining my first language would lead me to spaces and contexts that serve a greater purpose.  Being able to speak in my mother tongue has allowed me to communicate and show respect by honouring my parents' wishes to maintain our culture, even when we are far from our homeland.  Regardless of how much of your heritage language that you can speak, just remember that as Annie Crummer sings, your language is manea..... e manea....