The universe, through me, is a geek

No Right Turn has been doing a bloody good job covering the request of new MP Su’a William Sio to be sworn into Parliament in Samoan – and the surprisingly (to me) vociferous reaction against this in other parts of the blogosphere.

Unless there’s some wacky trait in the Samoan language that means “I, , swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.” can’t be accurately translated, which I doubt, I don’t really see a problem.

But then, I did watch a lot of Babylon 5 as a child.

“The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. The language is not Narn or human or Centauri or Gayan or Membari. It speaks in the language of hope; it speaks in the language of trust; it speaks in the language of strength, in the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. And always it is the same voice.

It is the voice of our ancestors speaking through us and the voice of our inheritors waiting to be born. It is the small still voice that says, ‘we are one’.

No matter the blood, no matter the skin, no matter the world, no matter the star. We are one! No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter the loss, no matter the fear. We are one, here, gathered together in common cause.

We agree to recognize this singular truth, and this singular rule: that we must be kind to one another, because each voice enriches us and enables us. And each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are one. We are one.”

Personally, though, I’d go for the Pratchett approach:

I square bracket recruit’s name square bracket comma do solemnly swear by square bracket recruit’s deity of choice square bracket to uphold the Laws and Ordinances of the city of Ankh-Morpork comma serve the public trust comma and defend the subjects of His slash Her square bracket delete whichever is inappropriate square bracket Majesty square bracket name of reigning monarch square bracket without fear comma  favour comma or thought of personal safety semi-colon to pursue evil-doers and protect the innocent comma laying down my life if necessary in the cause of said duty comma so help me square bracket aforesaid deity square bracket full stop Gods Save the King slash Queen square bracket delete which is inappropriate square bracket full stop.



  1. George Darroch

    I see this as a direct challenge to the notion at New Zealand is a bi-cultural nation (Maori, as Tangata Whenua and the rest under the auspices of the Crown). He is instead demanding that New Zealand recognise all cultures as equally deserving of recognition under parliament.

    It’s not a debate we’ve begun to have yet in my opinion, and that’s why I think it has stirred such passion.

    I love multi-lingualism, and am glad that a compromise was come to, but even so still object to his initial demand.

  2. QoT

    I see this as a guy who is a Samoan and a New Zealander affirming that he can celebrate both simultaneously. I’m not sure why his choice necessarily has to include a wider analysis of Maori/Pakeha relations. And by your own phrasing, “Maori and the rest” there’s an assumption that everything non-Maori is a monolithic entity which can unproblematically be represented with the English language. Which for New Zealanders like Su’a William Sio is not the case.

    I think it’s “stirred such passion” because a lot of monolingual white people feel threatened when ethnic minorities are able to communicate in a language they don’t understand.

  3. Emma

    New Zealand may be a ‘bicultural nation’ or not (any reference to reality would say ‘not’), but it’s one with THREE official languages. Yet the Oaths and Declarations Act doesn’t appear to allow for the oath to made in Sign Language, either.

    There is, quite simply, no reasonable reason not to allow anyone to take the oath in any damn language they want. The Oath is supposed to have meaning to the person swearing it, that’s why we allow for affirming instead of making everyone swear on the Bible.

  4. QoT

    Emma – I totally agree, and have to add a *facepalm* because I totally forgot to bring up NZSL being an official language.