NZTC International - Word of the Week: matatahi

Date
Apr
13
20161304

NZTC International - Word of the Week: matatahi

Hunt for the WilderpeopleThe Māori language has a new word for selfie following a competition inspired by film director Taika Waititi on the occasion of the premiere of his new film “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”.

The winning entry, created by Ua’i Hetet Tainefu, was selected by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (New Zealand’s Māori Language Commission). The word is pronounced mar-ta-ta-hee and is built from mata, meaning face, and tahi, meaning one.

Other entries included ahau-ī (i-me), but matatahi was chosen because it is an authentic Māori form and is easy to pronounce.

Hunt for the WilderpeopleThe Twittersphere reacted enthusiastically and positively, putting the new term to good use straight away: Me kapohia e au he matatahi hou kia pōhi ki Pukamata. (I'll take a new selfie for Facebook.) (Pukamata is the accepted term for Facebook in Te Reo these days.) This was quickly extended to rākau matatahi for selfie stick.

In case you’re wondering how other languages handle this new term, here are a few examples:

Chinese has 自拍照 [zi-pai-zhao], or “self photograph taking”. Japanese captures the meaning similarly, with自撮り[jidori], and while Russian has an “authentic” term in the form of “себяшка”, apparently it’s cooler currently to use the English-derived “селфи” (sel-fee).

The English form “selfie” seems to predominate in most other languages, but we’d love to hear from other countries and cultures on any interesting creative solutions they may have come up with.