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Speak Tahitian!

As you get ready to visit our islands, why not learn a little Tahitian?

There are only a few Tahitian words that have found their way into everyday conversation by English-speakers, but some characteristic expressions are commonly used by foreigners living in French Polynesia, such as, aita pe’ape’a, which means things couldn't be better. The word “popa’a” is often used to refer to foreigners.

Even though French is the official language, why not learn a little Tahitian?

PARAU TAHITI 'OE?
Do you speak Tahitian?

GREETING PEOPLE

To say good morning to someone, say: “'Ia ora na!” (Good morning!). If they answer you with: “E aha tō 'oe huru?”, which means, “How are you?”, you can answer: “Maita'i” (Good!), “Maita'i roa” (Very good!) or even “Maita'i ri'i” (Not bad.).

SAYING THANK-YOU

If you want to say “Thank you”, say: “Māuruuru”. If you want to say "No Thank You”, say “Māuruuru maita'i”. To say “Thank you very much”, say “Māuruuru roa!”.

SAYING GOOD-BYE

To say good-bye to someone, say: “Nānā!” (Until we meet again!)

YES OR NO

To say Yes (a definite yes), say: “'E!”. To say “Maybe” (an indefinite, vague Yes,), say: “'A!”. To say “No“ (firmly with no chance of changing your mind), say: “E'ita!”. To say “No” in a normal and neutral way, say: “'Aita!”.

Glottal stop, the letter h, accents and misunderstandings

A glottal stop is regularly used in Tahitian. It is a genuine consonant just like the others, however, it is represented by a straight apostrophe (') instead of with letters. It is pronounced by emphasising the pronunciation of the following syllable. Make sure you know when and when not to use “h”. In addition, vowels are long when they have an accent mark (ā, ē, ī, ō and ū). Depending on how you use these subtleties of pronunciation, the meaning may vary, much to the amusement of the Polynesians!
Examples:
- “Te ua” means rain but “Te hua” means sex
- “'Ori” means dance but “Ori” means meander, roam or aimlessly wander about
- “Māmā” means Mommy but “Mama” means “Open your mouth and spread your legs”
- “Te ū” means milk but “Te hū” means fart

You have been warned!

Here's little lexicon of Tahitian words and expressions

 

 

ENGLISH

TAHITIAN

  welcome

maeva, manava

  Good morning

‘ia ora na

Apprendre le Tahitien

Good-bye

nana

Thank you

mauruuru

Thank you very much

mauruuru roa

Yes

e, ‘oia

No

‘aita

How are you?

e aha te huru?

Just fine, thank you

maita’i mauruuru

No worries

‘aita pe’ ape’a

Cheers!

manuia!

Take a seat!

haere mai!

Husband, man

tane

wife, woman

vahine

beautiful

nehenehe

big

nui

good, well

maita’i

sky

ra’i

flower

tiare

island

motu

sea

miti

ocean

moana

food

ma’a

ancient religious site

marae

song

himene

traditional dance

ori

drum

pahu

dance together

tamure

outrigger canoe

va’a

carved statue

tiki

Happy New Year!

'Ia ora na i te matahiti 'āpī

Have a healthy and happy 2020!

'Ia ora na 'e 'ia maita'i i te matahiti 'āpī 2020

Best wishes

'Ia pū te 'ae'ae

Merry Christmas!

'Ia 'oa'oa i te Noera

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

'Ia 'oa'oa i te Noera 'e 'ia maita'i i te mau 'ōro'a matahiti 'āpī ! »

Happy Easter

'Ia 'oa'oa i te 'ōro'a Pātate

Happy Feast Day

'Ia 'oa'oa i teie 'ōro'a

Happy mother's Day, Mum

'Ia 'oa'oa i tō 'oe 'ōro'a nō te mau māmā

Mothers' Day

'Ōro'a nō te mau māmā

Fathers' Day

'Ōro'a nō te mau pāpā

Happy anniversary

'Ia 'oa'oa i to 'oe mahana fānaura'a

Birthday

'Ōro'a mahana fānaura'a

Congratulations!

Te ha'apoupou atu nei !

Well done!

Pōpō !

Hooray!

Hūrō !

Wow!

'Ī ïa! Wow!, it's just breathtaking! [referring to the scenery] “'Ī ïa!, 'ua ha'aviti mai!”

Yeah!

Ī hī! / Ī hā! Yeah, I've won! Ī hī!, 'ua rē au! ”

Fantastic/brilliant

'Aita atu ai! (The walk was fantastic! 'Aita atu ai te tere ori hāere! / That's very clever of you! 'Aita atu ai, tā 'oe mea! ”

Oh, my!

'Auē! “Oh, my! This is the first time I've seen such a big lobster! 'Auē!, 'a tahi nei au 'a 'ite i te hō'ē 'ōura miti rārahi mai teie te huru! ”

Oh dear/Ouch!

'Ae! Oh dear, that's much too heavy for me! 'Ae! Mea toihā roa 'ino nō 'u! ”

Enjoy your holiday

'Ia maita'i i te fa'afa'aeara'a

Have a good time!

Fāna'o maita'i! Have a good weekend! Fāna'o maita'i atu i tā 'oe hope'a hepetoma! ”

Have fun!

'Arearea maita'i !

Smile!

'A 'oa'oa !

Chin up!

Tāpe'a te māna'o !

Yours truly

Fa'ari'i mai te tāpa'o nō tō 'u aroha

Sincerely yours

Fa'ari'i mai te tāpa'o nō tō 'u manava tae

Kisses!

Te 'āpā atu nei

A big hug!

Te 'āpā maita'i atu nei !

Quelques mots utiles en Tahitien

Have a nice walk!

'Ia maita'i te ori-hāere-ra'a !

Come back soon!

'Ia maita'i te ho'ira'a

Have a good trip

'Ia maita'i te terera'a

Good luck

'Ia mānuia

God bless you!

'Ia ha'amaita'i mai te Atua iā 'oe !

God keep you!

'Ia tīa'i mai te Atua iā 'oe !

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