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On the Use of Rotuman Language

by Martoa Vuibau (Suva, Fiji)

I have read a lot of good articles on the Rotuma Website and this is just a thought I would like to share. We are all proud to be called Rotumans--but are we proud of our Rotuman language ?

Gou a'hae famor ma'oi la teag'esea ma gou 'e reko 'e 'on 'i'I te kelea'e hanisi kaunohoag ta o'rua famor Rotuam rua ka faeag fifis kikia.La'riri'I faeag fifis 'e hanue ta.'Inea ne tes ta 'ae noh 'e Fiti ne 'e ut tes 'e ran te'ka nono ka 'ae fak mane'ak 'ae famor Rotume ma gou a'hae nonoj pau la 'ae la fak mane'ak 'ou faeag Rotuam ta.

Submitted 10 May 2004


Martoa noa'ia 'e faega.

Surely every Rotuman is proud to be one. I am proud of Rotuma, of being a Rotuman, of my culture, of my traditions, and of my language with all its complexities and its encompassing effect on me. 

Fortunately, those of us who grew up in Rotuma were taught in school the ability to read and write the Rotuman language. I say fortunate because the Rotuman language is not easy to read and write, and therefore it is a privilege to be afforded that opportunity in school. The language is quite complex, given the syntax, the vowels with the apostrophes before and after a vowel, the two or sometimes one dot above and below the letter "a" that results in the spoken language’s unique pronunciation.

No doubt many can speak the Rotuman language, but unfortunately not all who can speak can read and write it. Those of us who can should count our blessings and good fortune.

Furthermore, I believe the Rotuman language is not taught in schools outside Rotuma. Since we are a minority race, the Rotuman language has never been a major part of the educational curriculum proper in Fiji, except for the primary schools in Rotuma.

The wish of every good parent is for their children to do well in life, and a good education plays an integral part of this. As a consequence, children tend to spend a lot of time in school with their peers from other ethnic backgrounds, where English or other languages are used. Hence the peer influences that model our children's behaviours and language.

Also, I believe that although the Rotuman language is used as the main means of communication in most Rotuman households, which allows the children to speak or understand it, that by itself is not enough to develop reading and writing skills. Given freedom of choice, whether any of our folks decide to communicate in Rotuman, English, or any other language shouldn't be of concern to any of us readers. 

I believe that Alan and Jan set up this website for the benefit of the Rotuman community. It allows us to correspond and communicate with each other about the happenings in the community. I perceive that English is more widely used to reach, impact, and influence our community and I have no objection to that. However, having said this, I am supportive and always interested to read and enter into a discussion in Rotuman as well.

Te ne 'ae 'e ko sasig, noj pau. Ko ma'oit 'e 'os kainag Rotuam ta kal pora la hat ne fa' 'e 'os faeag ta. Ka po'e 'oris hil te ta'a, ma 'is kop la taf se kepoi ka ta sasigit fa' 'e faeag Fifis ta ne ta faeg hoi'akit.

Henry Enasio
Sydney, Australia

Submitted 15 May 2004

--o0o--

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