There is a rule in my house. Lea faka-Tonga! For the most part my kids and I do speak in Tongan. But like most kids nowadays if they are not encouraged to speak the language they will not. My 7yo daughter was speaking Tongan regularly before primary (elementary) school but now has to be prompted. Hence Uncle Sam’s message. A friendly reminder to my kids and myself. ‘Oku ou fiema’u ko e ke ke lea faka-Tonga! I want YOU to speak in Tongan!
In Tongan society, the women or the sisters outrank the males or brothers in the family unit. Accordingly, the language used is one of respect.
This value and respect the women’ rank is evident in cultural celebrations where the male or brother performs his duty to his paternal aunty and sisters. They are culturally elevated, and honoured fakalāngilangiʻi with presentations of food, gifts of money, fine mats and tapa. The language follows these cultural values where one’s ‘eiki or chiefly side of the family is always referred to with politeness and respect.
We are celebrating International Womenʼs Day with a vocabulary theme of words which describe women and their roles within the family.
ta’ahine (n) girl, lady. Also regal word for woman or chiefʼs daughter.
finemu’i (n) young girl not yet married
‘ofefine (n) describes daughter of a man.
tuofefine (n) describes sister of a male
fefine (n) woman, girl (adj) female
fafine (n) (adj) plural. girl, women, females
faʻē (n) mother
mehikitanga (n) fathers sister, paternal aunt
fine’eiki (n) lady (polite) word for wife
finemotu’a (n) elderly woman, married woman. (derogatory) word for wife