Code Switching and Samolish

- a quasi comic relief  from political garrulity....

We "code switch" all the time when using Samolish.  What the #%$@%  am I talking about?  No it’s not switching to a non-political topic, or code. Leai! ...although... uhmmm...that might also apply but in a veeerry loooose sense of the term. Sole, this is harder than I thought. Ia se’i kaumafai aku legei famaree. Okay?

There, we have just used Samolish, ergo “code switching”.  What? .. Still don’t get it?

Okay, let’s see ....Riiiiinggg, Riiingggg, ...Ok, better still - [Ringtone]: “Pretty little teine ...Seki a oe...”

“Ga e maua la’u message?”
“Leai, le a le mehsuch?”
“Ua ou fiu fo’i e call aku oe agagafi”
“E ke kolo mai o la e makamaka la’u soap
“Soia e ke pesto, ai fo’i sa e surf
“Ia a surf ua le work le kumpiuka
“E le’i maua fo’i la’u text?”
“Ga o lau text lea ga maua.”

Code switching is when we switch from one language (dialect, jargon, vernacular, etc.,) to another especially within the same sentence, conversation or in a longer discourse. Again, we do it all the time when both writing and/or speaking. Amazingly, we do it in a very instinctual, natural and intuitive manner.

Why do we code switch?

Well, it has to do with intelligibility - or the capability of being understood. The main contributing factor to code switching is the inability of one language (usually the primary one) to translate (or transliterate) effectively a word or words of the secondary language(s). This includes the inability of a language to effectively grasp and articulate a particular concept which another language can.

For example - and here’s my favorite - the word “move” as in changing one’s place of residency - not the simple “soso aku, soso i luma,” etc. It’s quite common, if not completely standard and acceptable, for a person to use the word “move”in a strictly and exclusively Samoan conversation without being vilified or embarrassed.

“Ouke leiloa ua kou move.”
“E, ga makou move agagafi.”
“Makua kou move so’o fo’i”
“Ia a le move so’o fo’i i gei kamaiki”
“Oi ua koe move aku fo’i Makaio?”
“Ioe, ua koe move aku fo’i Makaio ma Luka”
“A’o fea ua move iai Paki ma Pilikaki?”
“La ua koe move i Falevao”

There actually is a Samoan word for the concept of moving from one place to another. The word is “si’i/si’itia” which although it means to “move from one place to another”, it still has a limited nuance which is often outside the regular exclusive context of changing one’s place of residency, as demonstrated in the above dialog/dialogue.

The other option - though less attractive - in avoiding code switching is to use a native descriptive translation. This involves describing the “function” of the word. Therefore it’s possible to use “sui le mea kou ke gogofo ai” (lit. “change the place where you live”) which is effectively accurate. The problem is that it’s non-intuitive, at least to Samoans living abroad, and even in the islands notably in the town area where English is often used. So “Ua kou move?” (“Have you moved?”) becomes much more intelligible, than using “si’itia” or the descriptive meaning.

Technology has definitely broaden the code switching domain. Using borrowed translations (often phonetic) or loan words have mitigated - though not totally solve - the “problem”.  Therefore, it’s not uncommon to find words like “password”, “keyboard” “monitor” “network” having no native translations - borrowed or descriptive; and code switching then becomes the recourse. “Password” is functionally translated as “upu tatala” by some but again, it’s rarely used in the vernacular context, only in more formal situations as in printed manuals and others.

Oh yes, Samolish is my coinage of “Samoan” and “English”.  So the next time you fill an application for employment and it asks you for the languages you speak, put “Samolish” down for one. And when asked by the interviewer to say a sentence in Samolish, say the following:

“O lea ouke apalai i le position o le customer service.”  Which, I must say, is perfect Samolish.  Now when asked to say the same in Samoan, say this:

“O lea ouke kalosaga i le galuega o le faiga o feau a isi kagaka!” ....Hahahaaa!!!

Ia gale ua ambiguous and ridiculous si kakou mea.  LOL!! .....

[Ringtone] “Pretty little teine ...seki a oe...pretty little teine ...seki a oe ...pretty little teine ...seki a oe ...pretty little teine ....”  ---
“Bleash leeve a meshuch ad da bib!” ...literally, “Faamolemole ku’u lau fe’au i le kalifaua.”

...Oh, the idiosyncracies and nuances of language ........  :)

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