When you step off the plane into the balmy air of Apia’s Faleolo Airport, you’ll feel instant calm at the wafting notes of the Samoan ukulele welcoming you to this island paradise. One of the next things you’ll hear is the word ‘Talofa’ and it won’t be the last time, for sure. It means hello and is always accompanied by a large, joyful, trademark Samoan smile. It won’t be long before you find yourself greeting everyone with this cheerful salutation - and adopting the easy-breezy attitude that accompanies it.
While English is widely spoken, the national language is Samoan; it’s a soft, beautiful tongue to listen to whether from the mouths of airport staff, shopkeepers or ‘Aunties’ sharing the village gossip. Samoans love it when you attempt even a few words, so learn some phrases before departure for an even more authentic experience, including more interaction with local people. There is a formal version of the language and a more everyday version, but the people of this beautiful pacific island are so laid back they won’t care what you attempt. You can also download apps that can help you with Samoan language acquisition, it can be super helpful to have help in your pocket when you need it.
|Sorry||Fa'amalie atu||fa-ah-mah-lee-eh ah-too|
|Have a good day||Manuia le aso||ma-noo-ee-ah leh-ah-so|
|That's all right||Ua lelei||Oo-a-lelay|
|Big / small||Tele / la'ititi||teh-leh / lah ee-tee-tee|
|Quick / slow||Tope / gese||toh-peh / nge-seh|
|Early / late||Vave / tuai||vahveh / two-eye|
|Near/ far||Latalata / mamao||lah-tah-lah-tah / mah-maow|
So, get stuck in and have some fun on your holiday. While Samoa is famous for its idyllic blue waters, swaying palms trees, beautiful beaches and fresh tropical cuisine, it’s equally well-known for its ever-friendly, smiling people; having a few phrases up your sleeve will help you to get to know the real Samoa so much better. Manuia!