|Samoa Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
Description[edit | edit source]
Samoan and English are the official languages in Samoa. Including second-language speakers, there are more speakers of Samoan than English in Samoa. 
Samoan, a Polynesian language, is the first language for most of the Samoa Islands' population of about 246,000 people. With many Samoan people living in other countries, the total number of speakers worldwide is estimated at 510,000 in 2015. It is the third-most widely spoken language in New Zealand, where 2.2% of the population, 101,900 people, were able to speak it as of 2018.
The language is notable for the phonological differences between formal and informal speech as well as a ceremonial form used in Samoan oratory. 
English is the second language and all islanders can speak English as well. There are several levels of spoken language.
Word List(s)[edit | edit source]
|a||of, particle used in many ways|
|ali'i||man of rank, chief|
|asu||smoke from a fire|
|aumai||get or bring|
|fa'a||In the way of, fa'a Samoa, the Samoan way|
|fale||house, falea'oga- school house|
|i||in, particle denoting position|
|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|
|leai||no, none, gone|
|manuia||happy, lucky, Manuia le aso|
|manuia le kerisimasi||merry christmas|
|matai||title of extended family chief|
|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)|
|taupou||title for position of village maiden|
|toga||fine mat, very valuable|
|tusi||write, tusitala, person who writes stories|
|'ukulele||small stringed instrument, you know it!|
|'ula||garland of flowers, 'ulalei, garland of ivory|
|va'alele||airplane, 'flying canoe'|
Learning to Count
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.
|viole, mumu pa'auli||purple|
|A Few Words Borrowed from English|
Alphabet and Pronunciation[edit | edit source]
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.
|Aa, Āā||Ee, Ēē||Ii, Īī||Oo, Ōō||Uu, Ūū||Ff||Gg||Ll||Mm||Nn||Pp||Ss||Tt||Vv||(Hh)||(Kk)||(Rr)||‘|
|/a/, /aː/||/ɛ/, /eː/||/ɪ/, /iː/||/o/, /ɔː/||/ʊ, w/, /uː/||/f/||/ŋ/||/l, ɾ/||/m/||/n, ŋ/||/p/||/s/||/t, k/||/v/||(/h/)||(/k/)||(/ɾ/)||/ʔ/|
Vowel length is phonemic in Samoan; all five vowels also have a long form denoted by the macron. For example, tama means child or boy, while tamā means father.
The consonants in parentheses are only present in loanwords and formal Samoan.
In formal Samoan, used for example in news broadcasts or sermons, the consonants /t n ŋ/ are used. In colloquial Samoan, however, /n ŋ/ merge as [ŋ] and /t/ is pronounced [k]. 
Language Aids and Dictionaries[edit | edit source]
- G B Milner, Samoan dictionary : Samoan-English, English-Samoan, Auckland, N.Z. : Pasifika Press, 2001 - Available at WorldCat
- George Pratt, A Samoan dictionary : English and Samoan, and Samoan and English, Memphis : General Books, 2012 - Available at WorldCat
Additional Resources[edit | edit source]
- Samoan Word Book
- Samoan Language (Omniglot)
- Samoan Language Phrases (Omniglot)
- Samoan Language Alphabets and Writing Systems (Omniglot)
- Galumalemana Afeleti L Hunkin, Gagana Sāmoa : a Samoan language coursebook, Honolulu : University of Hawaiiʻ Press, 2009 - Available at WorldCat
- Alan P Johnson, Lillian E Harmon & F Ronald Haymore, An introduction and guide to the Samoan language for missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Auckland, N.Z. : Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1977 - Available at WorldCat
References[edit | edit source]
- Wikipedia contributors, "Samoa," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samoa#:~:text=Samoan%20(Gagana%20Fa'as%C4%81moa)%20and%20English%20are%20the,speakers%20of%20Samoan%20than%20English%20in%20Samoa., accessed 14 Jun 2021.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Samoan language," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samoan_language, accessed 14 Jun 2021.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Samoan language," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samoan_language#:~:text=In%20formal%20Samoan%2C%20used%20for%20example%20in%20news%20broadcasts%20or%20sermons, accessed 14 Jun 2021.