Nearly 1,000 attend Iosepa launch

Almost 1,000 people attended a community-wide launching ceremony for BYU-Hawaii’s 57-foot traditional twin-hulled Hawaiian sailing canoe, Iosepa, held May 5, 2009, at Hukilau Beach in Laie.

I have been writing stories and taking photos of the Iosepa since the logs first arrived from Fiji in February 2001…and thought you might enjoy these most recent images of this amazing canoe and the community’s response to it.

Samoan vs. Hawaiian names

In my last entry, I went on-and-on about the Samoan language, and made a few comparisons with other Polynesian languages, which reminded me of a brief incident years ago that demonstrates the difference between many Samoan and Hawaiian names: [Read more…]

A primer on Polynesian pronounciation…

When I first started learning Samoan in 1965, I soon discovered:

  • It is totally unrelated to English or any other European language, except for ‘upu afakasi — borrowed or “half-caste” words. Please note, Samoa does not have a caste system, but the word afakasi refers to someone or something of mixed heritage.
  • English speakers can handle most of the sounds — except for a couple of sorta’ new ones and some dipthongs (vowel combinations) as well as some completely unusual “swaps” (more on these below).
  • Formal Samoan writing uses diacritic marks which definitely help second-language learners to understand better, but they are not included in most Samoan writing.
  • There is a separate lexicon of chiefly language, bolstered by historical allusions, proverbs and socio-genealogical-geographical knowledge — all filtered through a prescribed centuries-old tradition of oratory — that usually only matai or chief’s learn to varying degrees. Ministers, Latter-day Saint missionaries, and other officials are considered to be chiefly, or just below chiefly rank; and as such, for example, I learned enough to interact with the matai in giving appropriate responses to greetings, addressing chiefs, giving thanks and, of course, speaking in formal situations such as church meetings. But it seemed to me that every skilled Samoan orator considers him- or herself an authority on this chiefly language, and like many foreign-language situations, sometimes one learned just enough to get in trouble. It must also be noted that some references actually say this manner of oratory is a separate language, but it’s definitely Samoan. [Read more…]