1. Misuse of Uso
In English it is understood that a brother is your male sibling, and a sister is your female sibling. In the Samoan language, how you refer to your sibling not only depends on their gender but your own.
For a male: Your brother is your uso, your sister is your tuafafine
For a female: Your sister is your uso, your brother is your tuagane
Put simply, uso is what you call your sibling of the same gender only. I find it hard not to jump in and make this point when a girl calls a guy her uso, and vice versa. Knowing how to refer to family members or friends is one of the first basics one should learn in any language.
2. Mistranslation of Cousin to be Kasegi/Taseni
Kasegi or taseni means dozen. So when you are trying to convince me that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is your kasegi, what you are really telling me is that he is your dozen.
The proper word is tauusoga. Your relationship with the son or daughter of your aunty or uncle is tauusoga, not kasegi. Unfortunately this word kasegi is becoming an acceptable replacement only because more and more people are now using it . . . erroneously.
3. Misuse of A’e and Ifo
The use of Directive Particles would normally be a much longer topic in one of my classes, but I will try to summarise and get across an idea with a few quick examples.
a’e: describes something going in the upwards direction, e.g. rising, increasing, ascending, climbing
ifo: describes a downwards direction, e.g. falling, decreasing, descending, lowering
Ou te ala ifo, ua uma le lakapi . (When I woke down, the rugby had finished.)
As you can tell from the English translation, this has a contradictory description and does not make sense at all. It should be:
Ou te ala a’e, ua uma le lakapi. (When I woke up, the rugby had finished.)
|setting of the sun - goto o le la|
Ua oso a’e le la. (The sun has come up.) I often hear people use oso ifo instead, so in translation they are describing the sun to be rising downwards.
Ua goto ifo le la. (The sun has gone down.) Never use goto a’e together, referring to the sun setting upwards.
Sounds silly in English, doesn’t it? Well it also sounds silly in Samoan, yet it is surprisingly common.
4. Incorrect spelling of ma le, i le, a le. . .
I will not go on about the use of prepositions, particles, and conjunctives in the Samoan language. The only point I would like to make is that some people (even some newspaper articles, surprisingly) tend to lump some of them as one word.
pusi male isumu pusi ma le isumu (cat and the mouse)
male faaaloalo lava ma le faaaloalo lava (with the utmost respect)
alu ile faleoloa alu i le faleoloa (go to the shop)
le taavale ale tama le taavale a le tama (the car of the boy/ the boy’s car)
5. The increasing popularity of the letter W
I am not sure if this is just another one of those spelling trends where people deliberately misspell certain words but I have noticed the increased appearance of the letter W in Samoan social posts. For instance: wa la, awoi, awa.
There is no W in the Samoan alphabet. Some are incorrectly replacing the letter U, which only sounds like the W in the English alphabet. Therefore the words in the examples above should be: ua la, auoi, aua.
What is your opinion of the points I have listed? Do you have other suggestions? What other common errors have you also noticed? Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or have a related issue you would like to discuss.
Ma le faaaloalo lava :)