Samoan Accent Marks

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Fa’ataofi and Fa’amamafa

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In Samoan pronunciation, these symbols are very important and are needed to pronounce words correctly. This is known as the fa’amamafa meaning to make heavy or emphasize, also known as a macron. These macrons go over vowels.  Not observing a macron could change the entire meaning of a word like tama or boy to tama or father.  All we did was hold the a for emphasis.  tama…tama

 This here is known as a taofi or fa’ataofi, also known as a glottal stop.  It abruptly starts or stops a vowel.  For example o instead of ‘o as in ‘o lo’o.  You hear the difference when it’s a smooth sounding o as opposed to an abrupt sound. o…..’o.

You might be able to hear it better in this example.  As in the case of lau and la’u.  these are two different words.  Lau is your, la’u is my.  It might help to look at a taofi like a letter.  The problem is, when you’re reading online or when native speakers write, they don’t often use the fa’amamafa or the fa’ataofi because they’re fluent in what they are writing and they’re writing to fluent readers.

But as you’re learning, practice including your fa’amamafa and taofi in your writings because that will help you with your pronunciation.  

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