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Use of English in Samoa under the microscope

MEDIA RELEASE

3 October 2014


Use of English in Samoa under the microscope

The use of English in Samoa today will be the focus of two lectures by Victoria University of Wellington’s 2014 Ian Gordon Fellow Letuimanu’asina Dr Emma Kruse Va’ai.

Dr Va’ai will discuss the position of Samoan and English as official languages in Samoa, the contexts in which they are used and the attitudes expressed towards these languages and towards bilingualism. She will also raise issues of language policy and of cultural identity.

“Dr Va’ai’s lectures will touch on a number of issues that are important not just for her native Samoa but also more generally for the Pacific region and for us in New Zealand,” says Paul Warren, an associate professor from Victoria’s School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. “The co-existence of more than one language is a common experience in most Pacific Island communities, both in the islands and in New Zealand.”

Dr Va’ai studied at Victoria as a New Zealand Aid scholarship student in the mid-1970s, completing a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and Political Science. She also completed an Honours degree in English and a teaching diploma. She was a senior lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Samoa before becoming the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor. She maintains a strong interest in linguistics, particularly in the use of language in bilingual Samoa. Her book,Producing the Text of Culture, documents the appropriation and use of English in various domains in contemporary Samoa. Dr Va’ai has also published poems and short stories for young adults and children.

Dr Va’ai’s visit is courtesy of the Ian Gordon Fellowship. The Fellowship was established through a gift from the late Professor Ian Gordon to the Victoria University Foundation to support and promote the study of English language and linguistics at Victoria.

As well as public lectures, Dr Va’ai will be meeting with staff and students in the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies and in Va’aomanū Pasifika, which offers programmes in Pacific Studies and Samoan Studies.

What: Who speaks what to whom and when in Samoa? An overview of language use in bilingual Samoa. Public lecture by Dr Emma Kruse Va’ai.
When: 6pm, Thursday 9 October 2014
Where: Lecture Theatre 102, Level 1, Maclaurin Building, Gate 6, Kelburn Parade, Wellington

What: Gaining new words, losing your aspirations, watching your Ps and Bs and other aspects of the Samoan/English relationship. Public lecture by Dr Emma Kruse Va’ai.
When: 6pm, Tuesday 14 October 2014
Where: Lecture Theatre 102, Level 1, Maclaurin Building, Gate 6, Kelburn Parade, Wellington

RSVP: Lectures are free to all but please email lals@vuw.ac.nz by Monday 6 October to register your attendance.

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