Academic warns English replacing Samoan

An academic who is in the process of launching a Samoan language dictionary on the web in excess of one million words warns that the language is under threat in Samoa itself.

The programme director of Samoan Studies at Victoria University, Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, has already loaded more than 300,000 words onto international website Sketch Engine, alongside other world languages.

Galumalemana says the collection will be built up with the assistance of other scholars over the next few months.

He says it’s an opportunity to make sure the language doesn’t die globally but says it’s also an issue for the community in Samoa.

“Because of the power of English over the last hundred plus years you’ll find a whole lot of young people walking around the streets in American Samoa and Apia, in independent Samoa, not talking Samoan but talking English. That’s the phenomena that’s been happening over a period of time and those are signs that there is a transition going on from Samoan to English.”

Galumalemana says he’s pleased at efforts to arrest the trend, with moves in Samoa to encourage people to use the language in government settings and in American Samoa to have the language used alongside English in school.


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