WE SAY

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s a truth that should be self ev­i­dent: as an of­fi­cial lan­guage of New Zealand, te reo Ma¯ori de­serves to be held in the same es­teem as English. A ba­sic first step to­ward that de­served level of mana is us­ing the lan­guage cor­rectly.

That’s why we are in­tro­duc­ing macrons (to­huto¯) for Ma¯ori words in the Kapiti Ob­server and on Stuff. We’re pleased to be able to do this in Te Wiki o te reo Ma¯ori, Ma¯ori Lan­guage Week.

Macrons are the hor­i­zon­tal lines above some vow­els. They in­di­cate a longer vowel sound. For in­stance, the macron in Ma¯ori gives it an ‘a’ sound like in ‘car’. As well as show­ing re­spect to our Ma¯ori au­di­ence by en­sur­ing our us­age is tech­ni­cally cor­rect, adopt­ing macrons will aid pro­nun­ci­a­tion and pre­vent mis­taken mean­ings.

In­clud­ing or miss­ing a macron can make a big dif­fer­ence to a word’s mean­ing. To bor­row one ex­am­ple from the Ma¯ori Lan­guage Com­mis­sion: ‘‘He keke ma¯u?’’ trans­lates to the de­li­cious ‘‘Would you like some cake?’’ But the very sim­i­lar ‘‘He ke¯ke¯ ma¯u?’’ trans­lates to the much less ap­petis­ing ‘‘Would you like some armpit?’’

This in­tro­duc­tion is ar­guably over­due – af­ter all, the Ma¯ori Lan­guage Com­mis­sion has now been ad­vo­cat­ing the use of macrons for 30 years.

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