Si’osi’omaga vs. Si’osi’omiaga

There is apparently a disagreement/debate on the above words as to which one is the proper Samoan translation of “environment”. The Samoa Observer has the letter (here)  by one of the readers concerning this. I have already sent my response, a copy (modified) of which is given below.

Dear Editor:
(I hope this does not turn into another faalogona vs. faalogoga debate again for me. RIL my good friend Rev. Fauolo.)

This is a valid discussion point on the Samoan language. With language - which can get quite volatile - sometimes we have to rely on its natural and intuitive development, especially among native speakers to settle a linguistic issue. Anyway, here’s my lua pene, ia poo sene fo'i - same difference, though perhaps not in the case of  si’osi’omaga  and  si’osi’omiaga.

I firmly believe it depends on the root/base word. There are two possibilities in this case - one more correct than the other - “si’osi’o” and “si’osi’omia”. The former, though not often used, at least in the context at hand, is the more correct and veritable root/base, hence the word “si’osi’omaga” after the “maga” declension rule.  For example: faasino/maga, inu/maga, faaalu/maga, etc. These inflections hold true even if we use the “si’o” morpheme as the root/base word - si’o / si’o-maga / si’o-mia.

“Mia” - like “maga” - is an inflection (conjugation to be specific) in the form of a suffix as in tanu/tanumia, inu/inumia, faasino/faasinomia, masalo/masalomia, etc.  Moreover, if we take the word “faasino” and apply the same “rule” that produces “si’osi’omiaga” we would then have faasinomaga and faasinomia which are valid standard Samoan words.  But faasinomiaga on the other hand, is invalid, non-standard, awkward and vulgar. The same goes with other words above, and especially for inu / inumaga / inumia.  Truth is, you would not want to argue on the side of si’osi’omiaga when you have already considered applying the same rule to inumia. (Tulou!)

Again the root/base word is the keySi’o and  si’osi’o are the correct ones; si’osi’omia (already inflected) is not and should not serve as the root word.  Therefore, put simply, si’osi’omiaga is an anomaly at best and vulgarity at worst.

It is also interesting to see the similarity - not a blueprint- of the si'osi'omaga pattern and construction with its English translation - si’o/si’osi’o (surround); si’osi’o-maga (surround-ing); si’osi’o-mia (surround-ed).  In other words, one cannot say “surroundeding” which would be the equivalent of si’osi’omiaga - using the same paradigm and parameters as noted.

Oh well, just a thought and my sao/saoga/saofaga to the issue regarding the si'osi'omaga o le gagana.

Faafetai lava,
LV  Letalu

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