No matter where you’re travelling, it’s never a bad idea to learn a few words in the local lingo. Not only is it fun to learn a new language, but a few basic phrases can go a long way in helping you communicate and connect with the people and places you're visiting. Even if you don’t pronounce words perfectly, we have no doubts that your efforts will be warmly welcomed and praised by local Samoans. To save you the hassle of relying on Google translate, here are some basic Samoan words and phrases to learn before you set off on your tropical adventure.
What languages are spoken in Samoa?
Samoan is the official language of Samoa. Samoan is an ancient Polynesian language with an estimated 250,000 speakers worldwide. Samoan shares similarities with other Polynesian languages like Cook Islands Maori, Tahitian, Tongan and Fijian, but they're not mutually intelligible. While Samoan is the main language spoken across the archipelago, English is also spoken in the main tourist hubs and also by an increasing number of younger Samoans, however, it’s less common in more remote villages so it’s definitely worth having a few Samoan phrases under your belt!
1. Hello – talofa! (tah-low-far)
If you can only remember one word in Samoan, what better word than Talofa!, or 'hello'. You'll hear this word a lot, and it usually comes with a big, friendly smile.
2. Thank you – fa'afetai (far-ah-feh-tie)
Another basic phrase to learn is fa'afetai, or 'thank you'. Samoans are very friendly and welcoming people, so saying 'thank you' in their language is a nice way to show your gratitude.
3. Please – fa’amolemole (far-ah-moh-leh-moh-leh)
Saying fa’amolemole, or 'please', might look like a bit of a mouthful, but after a few times practising you'll be impressing locals with your manners in no time.
4. Yes – loe (ee-oh-e), no – leai (le-ai)
'Yes' and 'no' are two of the handiest words you can learn in any language. Even if you’re asked a simple yes/no question in English, it’s nice to respond in Samoan to build rapport with the person you’re chatting to.
5. Have a good day – manuia le aso (ma-noo-ee-ah-leh-ah-so)
Another phrase you'll hear a fair bit is manuia le aso. This salutation means 'have a good day', and locals may say it to you as you're checking out of your hotel, or leaving a bar or restaurant.
6. Excuse me – tulou lava (too-loh-la-va)
If you need to get up during dinner, grab a market vendor's attention or get through a busy street, you can say tulou lava, which means 'excuse me'.
7. Good night – manuia le po(ma-noo-ee-ah-leh-poh)
If you're leaving a restaurant or bar, or heading up to bed, you can say manuia le po to your friends to wish them good night.
8. Cheers – Manuia! (ma-noo-ee-ah)
If you want to make a toast with new friends you meet on your trip, you can raise your glass (or coconut!) and say manuia, or 'cheers'.
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