Samoa Languages

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Description[edit | edit source]

Word List(s)[edit | edit source]

Alphabet and Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Language Aids and Dictionaries[edit | edit source]

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

There are 165,000 people in Western Samoa. All are Polynesian and speak Samoan. American Samoans also have a rich language that remains the main language of the people.

English is the second language and all islanders can speak English as well. There are several levels of spoken language. The high talking chiefs have a high oratory of rhetoric that only the indoctrinated can understand. They are the politicians and negotiators. There are regular chiefs that speak the everyday language of the people and get things done. Many have noticed how similar this is to mainland American society.

Palagis (Caucasians) who try to learn are a great source of entertainment to native speakers. Learn to laugh along with them and be grateful their English is better than your Samoan!

Samoan is from the Austronesian family of languages. It is closely related to other Polynesian languages, especially Tongan. Here is a very cursory overview of the language and some vocabulary.

Consonants: p,t,m,n,g,f,v,s, and a glottal stop, '

A glottal stop is when you start a vowel with your throat closed, as usually is done in English. If you didn't, the word 'apple' would sound like 'happle.'

More letters k,h and r were added to the Samoan alphabet for foreign or borrowed words. To complicate things for the beginner, in the common vernacular some consonants are transposed when spoken: l for r and k for t. Thus the name Maria can become Malia and telefoni can become kelefoni.

The "g" is pronounced with "ng" sound, so Pago Pago is pronounced Pahngo Pahngo. You can have fun correcting your educated friends with this one.

Vowels: a,e, i, o, u pronounced generally as in romantic languages such as Spanish and Italian.

Brief Vocabulary[edit | edit source]

a of, particle used in many ways
a'oga school
ai eat
a'u I, me
ali'i man of rank, chief
alofa love
asu smoke from a fire
Atua God
alu go
aumai get or bring
fa'a In the way of, fa'a Samoa, the Samoan way
fa'afetai thank you
fa'amolemole please
faia'oga teacher
fale house, falea'oga- school house
galuega work
i in, particle denoting position
ie togafine mat
Kerisimasi Christmas. The Samoan word for Christ is Keriso and Kerisian for Christian.
lava commonly used like saying "enough" in English
lavalava clothes, particularly a wrap-around cloth
le the, definite article, plural e
leaga bad
leai no, none, gone
lelei good
lei ivory
matua parent
mai from
motu island
moa chicken
manuia happy, lucky, Manuia le aso
manuia le kerisimasi merry christmas
matai title of extended family chief
o of
oka okaoka, exclamation of surprise
papalagi also palagi, anglos
palolo segmented sea creature that comes out of the coral to breed (and be eagerly eaten)
sa sacred, forbidden
sami sea
sau come
talofa hello
tapu forbidden
taupou title for position of village maiden
timu rain
tofa goodbye
toga fine mat, very valuable
tupe money
tusi write, tusitala, person who writes stories
'ukulele small stringed instrument, you know it!
'ula garland of flowers, 'ulalei, garland of ivory
ulaula smoke
ulu breadfruit
va'a canoe
va'alele airplane, 'flying canoe'
vai water


1. tasi

2. lua

3. tolu

4. fa

5. lima

6 ono

7. fitu

8. valu

9. iva

10. sefulu

11. sefulutasi, 12. sefululua, 13. sefulutolu, 14. sefulufa, etc.

20. luasefulu, 30. tolusefulu, 40. fasefulu, 50. limasefulu, etc.

21. luasefulutasi, 22. luasefululua, 23. luasefulutolu, etc.

100. tasi selau, 200. lua selau, etc.


Kerisimasi Christmas
kolisi college
moa lawn mower
musika music
nusipepa newspaper
sikareti cigarette
telefoni telephone
televise television


enaena brown
lanumeamata green
lanumoli orange
lanumoana blue
mumu red
pa'epa'e white
piniki pink
samasama yellow
uliuli black
viole, mumu pa'auli