In a simple, Samoan introduction, you would say hello, tell us who you are – your name – where you come from, who your parents are, and maybe a few more interesting facts about yourself. For example, you might introduce yourself in Samoan like this:
Talofa! O a’u o Tavita. Ou te sau mai Aukilani. O lo’u tamā o Mareko. O lo’u tinā o Maria. Ou te fiafia e ai asikulimi* ma matamata le TV.
Hello! I am Tavita. I come from Auckland. My father is Mareko. My mother is Maria. I like to eat ice cream and watch TV.
* Note: Samoans say aisa (ice) kurimi / kulimi (cream) to mean icecream, but in practice, it always sounds more like ‘asi‘ rather than aisa, so either spelling – aisakulimi or asikulimi – is generally acceptable.
Let’s break that Samoan introduction down:
|O a’u o [name]||I am [name]|
|O lo’u igoa o [name]||My name is [name]|
|Ou te sau mai [place]||I come from [place]|
|O lo’u tinā o [name]||My mother is [name]|
|O lo’u tama o [name]||My father is [name]|
|Ou te fiafia e [action words]||I like to [action words]|
|Ai asikulimi||Eat ice cream|
|Matamatama le TV||Watch TV|
A Cultural Note on Meeting People
Culturally, we Samoans are not reeeally into talking about ourselves. In fact, it’s more appropriate – and more comfortable – for us to offer attention and even veneration to the person we are meeting for the first time.
It’s also a source of pride (and power) to know as much as possible about that other person. Imagine meeting a potential enemy for the first time, and you already know more about his or her family and village than that person knows about you.
Mhmmm… But that’s another story.
The point is that it’s very ‘Samoan’ to focus our attention and respect towards other people, and to deflect it from ourselves. The language we choose in these interactions should reflect that – we always use more respectful words to refer to the other person, and normal words for ourselves.
For example, to tell you my name, I would say, ‘O lo’u igoa o…‘ – which are normal words. But if I want to know your name, I would ask, ‘O ai lou suafa?‘
Suafa is the respectful word for ‘name’. We would never use suafa to refer to our own names.
In the comments below, write a simple introduction for yourself in Samoan using the prompts above.
If you’d like to add other information about yourself in your introduction and you’re not sure how in Samoan, let us know what you’re trying to say and we’ll help you.