Samoan Dictionary is Overdue for an Update

May 29, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh

An academic at Victoria University seeks to use his newly acquired language skills to create a much needed updated Samoan Dictionary. 

Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, a senior lecturer in Samoan studies attended a five day workshop in February that inspired him to embark on the project.  He also hopes to create a larger collection of work documenting the Samoan language. 

Hunkin recently explained, ““Samoan is a threatened language, and it needs all the help it can get to survive. The real possibility of producing dictionaries in this way is not only exciting, but it would be a very useful tool for learners who use the web regularly to learn languages.” 

Although the research was initially just part of the work required for his masters degree, it soon turned into more of a passion and mission for Hunkin. His collection of over 300,000 written and spoken Samoan words was recently compiled into the internationally renowned language website Sketch Engine.

Hunkin believes that dictionaries are essential to preserving a language and that is one of the main reasons behind his desire to update the Samoan language dictionary. 

He concludes his thoughts by saying, ““It is particularly important for Samoan to have a modern and easily accessible dictionary for people around the globe who want to learn the language, and also for translation purposes.”

You can view the Samoan words as well as many other languages on Sketch Engine at


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