One word, many different meanings
In my posts you’ll see I put the English translation for the Maori words I use into brackets like this; (for this context:….) because in another context, the words could stand for something else entirely. Be mindful that the language my ancestors used to speak is different to Te Reo Maori (the Maori language) spoken today not without efforts to regain the poetry and elegance of old. It's as if the push to translate Maori into English and vice versa has affected the quality of commonly spoken Te Reo Māori to become more simple and literal, to fit in with foreign language structures and grammar rules.
For example, my previous post was titled, "He kai kei aku ringa." It literally, word for word translates to, "there is food in my hands." Nobody cares if you have food in your hands! Unless you're in high school, it's lunch time, and your mates conveniently left theirs at home. Although, there are enough clues to suggest that kīwaha (sayings, quotes) have a deeper meaning to them if you can acknowledge that Te Reo Maori isn't always as literal as you may think. As for the example mentioned above, eventually you arrive at an understanding that kai (food) can represent abundance; that ringa (hands) can be a symbol for ones own abilities, or capacity. Therefore, "he kai kei aku ringa" becomes something like, "my abilities are abundant." I don't know about you but that sounds a lot more poetic and motivating than, "there is food in my hands."
If you want to jump right in the deep end, you could ask, what does 'Maori' mean? It's translation means, 'natural' and 'of the land,' yet if we're talking about Maori people, there is big variation to what people consider being 'Maori' means, looks, feels, smells, and sounds like. This is a great article which highlights some of the varied definitions, and written by someone who apparently doesn't fit the aesthetic of what being Maori or being from Waimana looks like.
Having multiple definitions for one word isn't isolated to Te Reo Maori, as many words in the English language can hold various meanings . For instance; success (as defined by me in the previous post). Success is a tricky one as I've come to realise. A lot of my research and experience with school, my business, sports and life suggests that people are motivated and inspired to succeed by different means; money, fame, family etc. Wait, what?! No way, we're all different in our understanding of the word success? How about that.. CrossFit is another great example. Its founders created a definition for what fitness, or being 'fit' means and how to measure it. Yet you don't have to look far to find someone who'll dispute CrossFit doesn't test fitness at all; the pull ups are 'wrong', it's unsafe, whatever. We're not gonna get into that here but you get the point, yeah? To add to success and fitness, here are some more words I'll challenge you to think about and define; 'health', 'happiness', being a 'good person', 'depression', 'grief', 'love'.
Te Reo Maori is a rich, sophisticated, playful and poetic language I was blessed to learn and speak as my first language. Perhaps learning two different languages growing up has helped me to be more aware of multiple meanings for a word or different ways of observing a given situation. With the language also comes the cultural practices, traditions, protocols, song and dance, the history, stories and much more which inevitably help to shape how I view the world and view myself as part of it.
I launched this company and website to represent me in the best way possible. A big part of who I am/what I identify with, is my connection to Te Ao Maori/my Maoritanga (Maori worldview). I was trying to think up a name for this blog, but I was stumped (still stumped) on how to put into two or three words my passion for sharing stories and acknowledging all the different aspects that make up who I am. Lucky for me my domain provider doesn't include a space for a title on the blog page, so meltdown averted. However, I see the challenge to acknowledge all cultures I identify with as a gift and a strength that helps me to navigate and be mindful of the worlds I walk in.
Here are some pretty cool articles about bilingual studies and results of what goes on in bi/multilingual individuals brains and how we are more superior and our brains are more developed than those who only know one language haha just kidding.. Or am I? Check them out to find out more. Or comment, email, get in touch with me! I look forward to hearing your stories and thoughts.