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A Grammar and Dictionary of the Samoan Language, with English and Samoan vocabulary

Chiefs' Language

Chiefs' Language

There is a large number of words used to chiefs and strangers; and to use any other when addressing such is equivalent to an insult. These words are never used by a chief speaking of himself. The chiefs' language is not confined to chiefs, but is also used in courtesy to any strangers.

Amongst these are words used according to the rank of the person addressed; e.g. tausami, to eat,—a respectful term to a “tulafale;” taumafa—to a chief; taute—to the highest chief. Ua maliu, he is gone; Ua folau, he is on a voyage.

All members of the chief's body: Ua gasegase le aʻao o le aliʻi, The arm of the chief is weak. His actions of body or mind: Ua toasa le aliʻi i lona nuʻu, The chief is angry with his people. His dwelling: Ua afio le aliʻi i lona maota, The chief has gone to his house. All these have different words to those used of common people. Offensive weapons or tools: Vaeane aliʻi, ua li ʻiloa loʻu faʻasagaese, Asking pardon of chiefs, I have lost my axe. Marriage, disease, death: ua gasolo ao, the clouds have passed along; and burial—o le a fale-lauasi le aliʻi, the chief is about to be buried; all have special words. The greatest families have each a special word for the death of a member of that family.

If a chief adopts a common name of anything, that word ceases to be used by that chief's adherents, and is changed for another word: Thus, peʻa, a bat, is manulagi, a bird of the air, in Peʻaʻs tribe, &c. So also the names of gods were not allowed by their worshippers to be used in common. Vave was changed to laʻalise, titi to noa, fiti, to tapena.

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Other Examples of Chiefs' Language

Ua alala le aliʻi i lona maota, The chief is sitting in his house.

Ua falafalanaʻi le aliʻi, The chief is reclining.

Ua taumamafa aliʻi, The chiefs are eating.

Ua taute le tupu, The king is eating.

Ua ʻauʻau i le taufa, He is bathing (lit. swimming) in the water.

Ua afio i lona uiuiga, He has gone in his canoe.

Sauni ia le tofaga, Prepare his bed.

Aua le toia le va, va toʻa le aliʻi, Donʻt make a noise, the chief sleeps.

Ua tulei mai le afioga a le tupu, The chief speaks.

Ua i le maota le masiofo o le tupu ma ona alo, The wife of the king and his children are in the house.

Ua malumalu ao le faatafa o le aliʻi The sickness of the chief is very great.