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Samoa Travel Guide

Samoan Vocabulary

Although you can get by with English in both Samoas, knowing a few words of the Samoan language will make things more enjoyable.

Written Samoan has only 14 letters. Always pronounce g as "ng," and t may be pronounced "k."

Every letter is pronounced, with the vowels sounding as they do in Spanish.

An apostrophe indicates a glottal stop between syllables.

Samoan Vocabulary

  • afakasi: half-caste
  • afio mai: a Samoan greeting
  • afu: waterfall
  • 'ai: eat
  • aiga: extended family
  • aitu: ghost, spirit
  • alia: catamaran fishing boat
  • ali'i: high chief
  • alofa: love
  • alu: go
  • Alu i fea?: Where are you going?
  • 'ata: laugh
  • fa'afafine: transvestite
  • fa'afetai: thank you
  • fa'afetai tele: thank you very much
  • fa'amafu: home-brewed beer
  • fa'amolemole: please
  • fa'a Samoa: the Samoan way
  • fa'a se'e: surfing
  • fafine: woman
  • fa'i: banana
  • faife'au: an ordained church minister
  • failauga: orator
  • fale: house
  • faleoloa: store
  • fautasi: a Samoan longboat
  • fia fia: happy; a Samoan feast
  • fono: council
  • fou: new
  • i: to, toward
  • i'a: fish
  • ietoga: fine mat
  • inu: drink
  • ioe: yes
  • lafo: a ceremonial exchange of gifts
  • lali: a large wooden drum
  • lavalava: traditional men's skirt
  • le: the
  • leai: no
  • leaga: bad
  • lelei: good
  • lelei tele: very good
  • le tau: the cost, price
  • lotu: religion
  • malae: meeting ground
  • malaga: journey
  • malo: hi
  • malo lava: response to malo
  • manogi: smell
  • manuia!: cheers!
  • manuia le po: good night
  • matafaga: beach
  • matai: head of an aiga
  • mau: opposition
  • mea alofa: gift
  • moe: sleep
  • motu: small island
  • musu: to be sullen
  • niu: coconut
  • nofo: sit
  • nu'u: village
  • oi fea: where is
  • Ou te alofa ia te oe.: I love you.
  • Ou te toe sau.: I shall return.
  • paepae: the stone foundation of a fale
  • palagi: a non-Samoan; also papalagi
  • paopao: canoe
  • pe fia?: how much?
  • pisupo: canned corned beef
  • Poo fea a alu iai?: Where are you going?
  • pule: authority, power
  • pulenu'u: village mayor
  • puletasi: traditional women's dress
  • pupu: blowhole
  • sa: taboo, sacred
  • sau: come
  • savali: walk
  • sene: a cent
  • siapo: tapa cloth
  • sili: best
  • siva: dance
  • soifua: good luck
  • sua: an important ceremonial presentation
  • taamu: giant taro
  • taavale: car
  • tai: sea, toward the coast
  • tala: dollar
  • talofa: hello
  • talofa lava: hello to you
  • tama: a boy
  • tamaloa: a man
  • tamo'e: run
  • tanoa: kava bowl
  • taulealea: untitled man
  • taupou: ceremonial virgin
  • tautua: untitled people, commoners
  • tele: much
  • tofa: goodbye
  • tofa soifua: fare thee well
  • tuai: old
  • tulafale: talking chief, orator
  • uku: head lice
  • ula: lei (flower necklace)
  • uma: finished
  • umu: earth oven
  • uoteine: girlfriend
  • uta: inland
  • va'a: boat