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ERIC Number: ED513265
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 200
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-8961-9
The Impact of Samoan Christian Churches on Samoan Language Competency and Cultural Identity
Lesa, Fa'afetai
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
The Samoan culture is instituted and organized in part through the daily use of respectful behavior and words. These words carry the essence of "Gagana Faaaloalo," the Samoan Language of Respect (SLR). "Gagana Faaaloalo" is a way of speaking that combines linguistic and non-linguistic elements as a more elaborate and careful way of speaking. It is marked by changes in posture, physical distance, and eye contact, as well as strict adherence to specialized vocabulary, formal grammatical structure, and changes in tone and volume. Competency in the Samoan Language of Respect (SLR) has an impact on Samoan cultural identity. SLR is naturally acquired by young adults as they grow up in traditional villages in which the Samoan church communities play great roles. Samoans born in Hawai'i and those who moved from Samoa at a very young age lack competency in the Samoan language, especially SLR. Consequently, their Samoan cultural identity is in question. Samoans in Hawai'i no longer reside in traditional villages where their language and culture can be practiced daily and therefore the opportunity to learn SLR is severely limited. For Samoans in Hawai'i the Samoan Christian church communities have become the last resort where language competency and cultural identity can be developed. Besides the Pacific Island home and village, the church is a place where adults go to use their language and reaffirm shared cultural knowledge and beliefs. The Samoan Christian churches in Hawai'i become an important and fundamental institution where younger generations can come together and learn from adults, the gate-keepers of knowledge as families do in a village; a place they can chose to participate and to belong. It is a place for them to be recognized as Samoan through the practice of traditional Samoan cultural activities and the use of SLR. This study first looks at how Samoan Christian church communities have developed as institutions that facilitate traditional cultural and linguistic interactions. In particular this study examines how Samoan Christian churches can be regarded as social and cultural institutions which instill and reinforce competency in the Samoan Language of Respect through traditional and cultural practices and social interactions. Secondly, this study investigates how the social, cultural, and religious institution of the Samoan church can help develop positive cultural identities for Samoan youth in Hawai'i. Finally, this study explores the characteristics, beliefs, and practices found in these churches that are most successful in maintaining SLR and the Samoan culture. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Samoa