Tag Archives: language

What my Tongan language means to me?

Koe ‘Otua mo Tonga Ko Hoku Tofi’a.

One of the few Tongan phrases I know but the one that speaks to me the most.

Embedded in our deep love for God and Tonga is our language. Our language tells our stories from the sea-farers that came before us, and will be the same language for future generations.

Tongan language is a way for those who are born outside of Tonga to stay connected to our roots. It is our connection to our traditions, culture, and ways of life. Simple words like faka’apa’apa and talangofua hold deep meanings and at times there are no words in the English dictionary that can be used to fully translate such words.

What does Tongan language mean to me?

When I hear the hymns being sung in church, or even a simple conversation, I feel as though I am somewhat proud to be Tongan. Before I moved to Dunedin for University, I can safely say that I was rarely exposed to the Tongan language. I went to church but I did not understand, I sung the hymns but did not understand, I would hear my mother and her relatives laughing over a cup of tea but I did not understand. This never really bothered me until I moved.

For the first time in life I found myself with a group of Tongan friends, who not only spoke in Tongan but actually knew the culture and the traditions. At this point, I learnt that our language carries our culture, traditions and ways of life. Our language is the essence of who we are. When I hear another person speaking Tongan I light up, because there is someone else who I can identify with. Language bring us together, it gives us the opportunity to celebrate our identity, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

By creating safe and comfortable spaces where our Tongan students feel free to speak their language, laugh in their language and interact with each other is important. Within the Canterbury University Tongan Students Association we aim to promote this. Being able to create these kind of spaces creates a home away from home for our Tongan students from all over New Zealand as well as the world.

Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori 2015

Tena koutou! Next week is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week – and UC will celebrate with a wide range of events and activities on campus.

The theme this year is Whāngaihia te reo Māori ki ngā Mātua – supporting parents to pass te reo on to their tamariki/children.

If you’re keen to get involved, you can pick up a free UC te reo resource pack from the Māori Development Team reception in the Te Ao Mārama building, the Puaka-James Hight Library or the Henry Field Library at Dovedale. You can also access a wide range of resources on Learn.

The week will be launched at 9.30am on 27 Hōngongoi/July in the Puaka-James Hight Library where Te Akatoki Kapa Haka will perform waiata tautoko. You can find out what else is happening on campus here. You can also follow the national week of celebrations on Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori on Facebook.


Speaking Kiwi – an outsider’s view

I was chatting to a New Zealand visitor recently who speaks English as a second language. We discussed the language difficulties they’ve faced since being in NZ, especially considering us Kiwis use some pretty rare slang in daily conversation. I found it so interesting that I asked my new international buddy to email me some of the new terms that they’ve picked up since living in NZ.

Take a look below at what they found unique about our language and see if you think they got all of the meanings correct…

Speaking with Kiwi – an outsider’s view (unedited)
After getting a little bit use of the cute Kiwi accent here is a second step – get to know some special words that you can hear just in New Zealand. Here are some of them:

1.    Choice
Not used as an act of choosing between two or more possibilities, but as saying that something is really good or top quality. Studying at University of Canterbury? Choice!

2.    Tramping
Never heard this word before? You might know hiking and you know camping, but tramping is probably new word. Here in Kiwiland hiking would be used when you are walking up to the hill or a mountain and tramping wold be used more if you are walking on flatter tracks. Or maybe as a combination between walking on trails combined with camping. Trails + camping = tramping.

3.    Jandals 
Japanese sandals. Of course, simple as that. The one that the rest of the world knows as flip-flops.

4.    Munted
You can especially hear the use of this word in Christchurch as it means ruined, demolished – buildings or streets after earthquake are munted for example.

5. Togs
Swimming suits or swimming outfit. Hard to know why they call them togs, but so you will know if someone tells you »I can´t go swim, I forgot to take my togs«.

6. To be stocked [note from Janelle: I think they actually mean stoked but it’s interesting how this has caused obvious confusion]
In the rest of the world it would mean that you have a supply of some product available for sale, but in Kiwi slang to be stocked would mean to be very excited about something. Or overly happy about it. So you can be stoked with excitement maybe.

7. Biscuit
If someone point you a person and comment that he/she a biscuit, don´t get confused. Is not a cookie you should search for, it is an attractive person who you should put your eyes on. Another expression is “hottie” or a “stunner” and there is also a “cutie” for cute and a “cupcake” for sweet, loving person. Lots of compliments all around.

8. Sweet as
Oh yes, you will hear that one a lot. »Let´s go for a coffee after classes?« You won´t hear an answer as yes or sure or sounds good or let´s do that, but you´ll hear »sweet as« or just »sweeeet«. And is simply means yes with a pinch of enthusiasm.

9. Clubhead
You might be called clubhead if you will become known as a person who goes to clubs a lot.

10. Eh
It is not really a word, is something you add to the end of a question when you are expecting yes for the answers or just general agreement to you statement. For example: »Wow, that is a very good piece of cake, eh?« 

So that would be list of 10 interesting slang words you can hear in everyday life here in New Zealand. You can also hear some sayings as “Don´t be a dag” which would mean don´t kill the joy, opposite of being cool. Another one with a bit of agricultural background would be “Rattle your dogs”. Well the meaning of this one you might search for yourself.

If you think you know a better (or more correct) meaning than that described above, please leave a comment. These terms definitely need clarifying to keep our international students out of awkward situations!