Mālō e lelei! To encourage the use of the Tongan language we are posting a word of the week that can be used with children or beginners.
Ako (ah-koh) is a wonderful word in Tongan. It is the word for learning. It is also the word for teaching. In our culture, ako is about the collective sharing of knowledge, mutual learning. It is one word that can be used to describe all types of learning. To learn, to teach, to master, to practice, to study, to teach oneself: self-education.
Naʻa ne ʻalu ʻo ako. He/She went to school.
Tau ‘alu ki he ako faiva’. Let’s go to the dance practice.
For as long as I can remember I wanted a Tapa wedding dress for my wedding and 12 years ago I did just that when it wasn’t in vogue. It is so nice to see the creativity and popularity grow. Hope you enjoy my little tribute to the wonderful creations. If you’re a bride-to-be, may it inspire you.
Five things/ vocabulary to know about Tapa.
Tapa is cloth made from the bark of the mulberry tree.
Feta’aki is the white cloth before any dye or design (kupesi) is put on to make it the final product called a ngatu.
Ngatu ‘uli (plain all black-coloured) is the chiefly of all types of ngatu.
Koka’anga is the term for the making of the Tapa.
Fale koka’anga is where traditional learning and knowledge is shared for all the women.
When a ngatu presentation is done you will hear the Matapule say “Fakafetaʻi e koka’anga” (Thank you for your Tapa presentation).
At this time of year I like to remind myself and all the entire Tongan Language School of how much they have achieved in 2015. So I created this video. Kids always love to see themselves in videos. I then challenged my family to write down their new goals. Amongst our new family goals is to speak more in Tongan. To consciously catch ourselves when we speak in English. To make more opportunities to use our language. What one Tongan word will describe 2016 for you? Will it be ako (learn, learning). For me it will be the word “va’inga” (play). To be more playful, to incorporate more play-based learning into my lessons. 2016 will be a year to play.
Do you or your child have a long Tongan name? Chances are most pālangi people can not pronounce it. Am i right? Like Taulupe, you are probably using a nickname or prefer your pālangi name over your Tongan name. It’s James not Semisi.
When asked her name, a young student said her pālangi name until the teacher found out her name was Vaʻelaveamata and insisted on using her Tongan name. Who would name their child (foot injured face/eyes) which is the literal meaning. I wondered wether she knew the origin of her name? She was a beautiful girl who became the wife of the Tu’i Tonga back in 1450. Her name was Va’e (foot) but when the Tu’iTonga saw her he was so blinded to the point of injury by her beauty that she became known as Va’elaveamata.
Here are my tips in teaching kids at a young age to love their name.
Know the Story behind the name.
Share the story. Keep reminding them what an awesome name they have. Share stories of their namesake.
Make sure teachers/ friends can pronounce their name correctly. It isnʻt that hard teachers ʻread it how you see it, phonetically.
It’s great to see the Government placing an emphasis on community languages being taught with government schools. The Tongan Language School here in Sydney is establishing itself and there are 2 to 3 government primary schools that teach Tongan within their primary curriculum.
Community Language Teacher Mary Greatz talks about her experience within one of these government primary schools.
This is another of my internal questions that has lingered in my head regarding the Tongan language. I have always used Taimi’ ni which means at this moment in time/ right now. Then I started to hear people say Taini’ mi, so are you saying it right or not.
It has been confirmed by Tongan linguists so you can be rest assured, the correct term is Taimi’ ni. The Tongan version of time (taimi) is used with (ni) an enclitic word, joining together to pronounce it as one word with the fakau’a (glottal stop) TAIMI’ NI.