Over use of punctuation marks confuses Samoan language users

PHOTO: The Samoan dictionary targets school children not to confuse them over the use of punctuation marks in Samoa words

By Rula Su’a – Vaai

APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 17 OCTOBER 2018: The overuse of punctuation marks in Samoan words has confused school children and users of the Samoan language. This is according to a board member of the Samoan Language Commission, Reverend Ma’auga Motu.

Motu told Talamua that that is the task the Samoa Language Commission is setting out to do as it starts to put together a Samoan dictionary.

“The new dictionary will highlight words that need punctuation marks, like glottal stops and stresses and words that do not need any symbols at all.”

The problem is that over the years, teachers have been using too many unnecessary punctuation marks.

“The end result is that, Samoan words look ugly,” said Reverend Motu.

The Samoan dictionary is one of the initial works of the Samoan Language Commission under the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture which was established in 2016.

Reverend Ma’auga Motu

Endorsed by cabinet, its task is to look as establishing a Samoan Language Policy in an effort to standardize the Samoan Language for use by the education system and the general public as well as the media which has been criticised for bastardizing the language over the years.

The Vice Chancellor of the National University of Samoa, Fui Professor Asofou So’o, applauded the initiative. He said the dictionary should assist many Samoans on the use of the Samoan vocabulary including the language used by the orators.

“There are some words that are being used at the Land and Titles Court during court cases that we do not understand and those words should be found in the new dictionary.”

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Fuata’i shared the same sentiments.

“Punctuation marks shall be used accordingly, and used at the right time, and that is the aim of the project so that they will not be overly used, or it will be grammatically wrong.”

The task force for the dictionary project include members from the Ministry of Justice, National University of Samoa, MESC, two members from the community, representative from the National Council of Churches, and the Samoan Language Commission members.