15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa
15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa

© SamoaPocketGuide.com

Samoan Words and Phrases to Learn for Your Next Trip

Travelling is all about exploring different cultures. One of the basic ways to get started on becoming immersed in new surroundings is to start speaking the local language. Speaking of which, this list of Samoan words to learn for visiting Samoa is a great place to start.

Don’t get us wrong, you don’t need to be fluent in Samoan to get by in Samoa. Younger Samoans and those living and working in Apia and the main resorts are typically fluent in English. On the other hand, not only is knowing some Samoan words helpful if visiting villages, where it’s best to speak English slowly and clearly to be understood, but locals often appreciate you making the effort to speak their language.

Check out What is the Samoa Language? for a crash course on pronunciation. In the meantime, here are some easy Samoan words and phrases to learn for your next trip to Samoa.

1. Talofa! – Hello!

Learning a new language usually starts in the same place; hello! or talofa (tah-lo-far) in Samoan. Talofa is the most standard way of saying hello in Samoan, but variant greetings include the following:

  • Talofa – Hello
  • Talofa lava – Hello (formal)
  • Mālō – Hi (informal)
  • Mālō le soifua – Hello/Good health

How Do You Respond to Talofa or Talofa Lava?

Respond to talofa or talofa lava with the same word, “Talofa Lava!”

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

2. Tofa – Goodbye

Speaking of greetings, it’s also good to know how to sign out! An easy one to remember once you have talofa down, tofa (toh-far) means “goodbye”. Again, there are various ways to say your goodbyes, such as:

  • Tofa – Goodbye
  • Tofa soifua – Goodbye (formal)
  • Toe feiloa’i – See you later
  • Feiloa’i taeao – See you tomorrow
  • Manuia – Goodbye (wishing somebody well).
15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

3. Manuia Le Aso – Have a Good Day

Manuia (ma-noo-ee-ah) is a very common word in Samoan that can be used to wish somebody well in any situation, while it can also be used to say goodbye. So if you want to wish someone a good day, say “Manuia le aso!” (ma-noo-ee-ah leh-ah-so). Other ways to use manuia include:

  • Manuia le taeao – Have a good morning
  • Manuia le aso – Have a good day
  • Manuia le afiafi – Have a good evening
  • Manuia le pō – Have a good night.
15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© Unsplash

4. Fa’afetai (Tele) – Thank You (Very Much)

Samoans are very accommodating so there are probably going to be a few occasions when you’ll want to show your gratitude by saying thank you (that’s if your momma taught you right)! Fa’afetai (fa-ah-feh-tie) means “thank you” or take it a step further by saying fa’afetai tele, which means “thank you very much”.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© Unsplash

5. Fa’amolemole – Please

On the subject of politeness, if you want to say “please” at the end of your question, say fa’amolemole (fa-ah-moh-le-moh-le).

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

6. Tulou Lava – Excuse Me (When Passing in Front of Someone)

For the very specific situation of passing in front of someone, Samoa not only has a special phrase but it’s customary to say tulou lava. For more rules of etiquette, check out Samoan Etiquette: Samoa Customs & Traditions.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

7. Ioe – Yes, Leai – No

These two simple notions are important to be able to express no matter where you are in the world, so when you’re in Samoa, note that Ioe (ee-oh-e) means “yes” and Leai (le-ai) means “no”.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

8. ‘O ā Mai ‘Oe? – How Are You?

If you want to get the polite conversation off and running, start with “O ā mai ‘oe?” which means “How are you?”. You can respond “Manuia fa’afetai“, which means “Fine thank you” and is the most common response. If the conversation continues, you might like to say “Manuia fo’i fa’afetai” which is “Fine also thank you” or “Feoloolo” which means you’re not so good.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

9. Tasi, Lua, Tolu… – One, Two, Three…

fā, lima, ono, fitu, value, via, fefulu! Now you know how to count from one to ten in Samoan! Other useful Samoan numbers are:

  • 20 – Lua sefulu
  • 50 – Lima sefulu
  • 100 – Selau
  • 1,000 – Afe
15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© Pexels

10. Fa’a Samoa – The Samoan Way

When referring to the Samoan culture in terms of etiquette, social organisation, customs and traditions, it’s known as fa’a Samoa; the Samoan way. Learn more about fa’a Samoa in A Traveller’s Guide to the Samoan Culture.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

11. ‘Aiga – Family

As family means everything in the Samoan culture, ‘aiga is a good word to know in Samoan. ‘Aiga refers to not just your parents or children, but extended family including grandparents, cousins, nephews and nieces.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© Samoa Tourism Authority

12. ‘Ava – Kava

An important drink in Samoa and across the Pacific Islands, ‘ava, also known as kava, is made from the root of the pepper plant and shared often with a ceremony. Learn more about the drink in the 10 Drinks in Samoa You Have to Try.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

13. Siapo – Tapa Cloth

Siapo is a traditional craft in Samoa where cloth made from the bark of a mulberry tree is printed with traditional designs. The cloth is worn during celebrations, dance performances and ceremonies, as well as crafted into bags and other useful souvenirs. Check out some examples in the 10 Best Souvenirs from Samoa.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

14. Fale – House

Fale is the general word for “house” and is a term that visitors often hear as their accommodation, whether it’s on the beach or a bungalow at a resort, is known as a fale. Different buildings will have the word “fale” incorporated, for example, “church” is falesa and “shop” is faleoloa.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

15. Tala – The Currency of Samoa

Before you go to Samoa, not only will you want to know what tala is but you’ll probably want to exchange some currency so you can pay with tala. Tala or Samoan tala is the national currency of Samoa, often seen as ST$, T$ or WST. See our complete guide on What is the Currency of Samoa? to learn more.

15 Samoan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Samoa© SamoaPocketGuide.com

More About Samoan Words

That’s it for our list of Samoan words to know when visiting Samoa. Learn more about the language and culture of Samoa in the following articles:

Finally, find more essential advice for visiting the islands in The Best Samoa Travel Guide and the 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa.

Author

Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Samoa Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Samoa. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Upolu and Savai’i’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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