Samoan
Language facts sheet by Niklas Jonsson
©1997-2000 POLLI & Niklas Jonsson

A bibliography of works refered to in this file may be found in the Polynesian Literature List.


Country/territory where spoken
Samoa

Geografical region
Samoan Islands

Language codes
SAM (POLLI); SMY (Grimes 1996: Ethnologue); SAM (Biggs 1971)

Genetic affiliation
Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Central-Eastern Oceanic, Remote Oceanic, Central Pacific, Eastern Fiji-Polynesian, Polynesian, Nuclear Polynesian, Samoic-Outlier, Samoic

Dialects
Samoan has no significant dialect variations, but there are important register-based distinctions in the phonology. Varieties include colloquial speech (tautala leaga) and formal speech (tautala lelei). Many words also have two forms, a basic one used in both colloquial and formal speech, and polite one used in conversation with people of high rank.

Samoan speaking population
172,400 in the Samoan Islands (out of which 140,000 in Western Samoa (1987) and 32,400 in American Samoa); 15,000 in Hawaii; 90,000 on USA west coast; 50,000 in New Zealand; possibly 300 to 1,000 in Fiji; some in Australia; some in Tokelau; 8 in Sweden (1998); 328,000 total or more.

Subsistence type
Agriculturalists, fishermen

Status of language
Official language in Western Samoa.

Media
Samoan is used in newspapers, radio and TV.

Alphabet
A, E, I, O, U, ', F, G, L, M, N, P, S, T, V , H, K, R. The sounds represented by the letters H, K and R are mainly used in words of foreign origin. R is pronounced somewhat like the English R rather than the flapped R found in other Polynesian languages. In colloquial speech N is pronounced like G (nasal velar), and T is pronounced like K.

Word order typology
VSO, SVO

Remarks
70% lexical similarity with East Uvean, 67% with Rarotongan, 66% with Tongan, 62% with Tuamotuan.

Data last updated
14 November 1998



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY - SAMOAN

ALLARDICE, R.W.
1991 [1985]. A simplified dictionary of modern Samoan. Auckland. Polynesian Press

CAIN, HORST.
1986. A lexicon of foreign laon-words in the Samoan language

CHURCHWARD, CLERK MAXWELL.
1934. Relative pronouns in Samoan (in: Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 43, p 192-7)

CHURCHWARD, SPENCER.
1926. A Samoan grammar. Melbourne. Spectator

CHURCHWARD, SPENCER.
1951 (2nd edition). A Samoan grammar. Melbourne. Spectator

HAMBLIN, CHARLES.
1984. Languages of Asia and the Pacific (contains info on Samoan, including useful short vocabularies). North Ryde, Australia. Angus & Robertson Publications

HOVDHAUGEN, EVEN.
1985. A sketch of Samoan grammar

HOVDHAUGEN, EVEN.
1987. From the land of Nafua: Samoan oral texts in transcription with translation, notes and vocabylary

HUNKIN, G.A.L.
1988. Gagana Samoa: A Samoan Language Coursebook

IESE, TAVITA.
1974 (?). Grammar level 1, 2 & 3: Fa'a-Samoa

JOHNSON, A./HARMON, L.
1970. Let's speak Samoan. Auckland. The church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints

JONSSON, NIKLAS.
1997. Det polynesiska verbmorfemet -Cia; om dess funktion i samoanska [The Polynesian verbal morpheme -Cia; its function in Samoan] (B.A. thesis). Uppsala. Uppsala University, Department of linguistics

JONSSON, NIKLAS.
1999. Some grammatical properties of Samoan kin terms (M.A. thesis). Stockholm. University of Stockholm, Department of linguistics

MA'IMA'I, F.
1957. 'O le tulipe uliuli (translation from Dumas, A. The black tulip)

MA'IMA'I, F.
1958. 'O le motu o 'oloa (translation from Stevenson, R.L. Treasure Island)

MA'IMA'I, F.
1958. 'O 'oloa a Solomona (translation from Rider Haggard, H. King Solomon's mines)

MARSACK, C.C.
1962. Teach yorself Samoan. London. English Universities Press Ltd

MARSACK, C.C.
1973 (3rd impression with corrections). Teach yorself Samoan

MILNER, G.B.
1961. The Samoan vocabulary of respect (in: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland)

MILNER, G.B.
1962. Active, passive or perfective in Samoan: a fresh appraisal to the problem (in: Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 71, p 151-61)

MILNER, G.B.
1966. Samoan dictionary (Samoan-English, English-Samoan)

MILNER, G.B.
1973. It is aspect (not voice) which is marked in Samoan (in: Oceanic Linguistics, vol 12, p 621-39)

MISSIONARY TRAINING CENTER.
1984. Samoan for missionaries. Salt Lake City. The church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints

MOSEL, ULRIKE/HOVDHAUGEN, EVEN.
1993. Samoan Reference Grammar

NEFFGEN, H.
1918. Grammar and vocabulary of the Samoan language (togehter with remarks on some of the points of similarity between the Samoan, Tahitian and Maori languages)

OCHS, ELINOR.
1982. Ergativity and word order in Samoan child language (in: Language, vol 58, pp 646-671).

PAWLEY, ANDREW.
1961. A scheme for describing Samoan grammar (in: Te Reo, vol 4, p 38-43)

PAWLEY, ANDREW.
1962. The person-markers in Samoa (in: Te Reo, vol 5, p 52-6)

PAWLEY, ANDREW.
1966. Samoan phrase structure (in: Anthropological linguistics, vol 8, no 5)

PRATT, G.
1893. Grammar and dictionary of the Samoan language

PRATT, G.
1911 edition. Grammar and dictionary of the Samoan language

PRATT, G.
1960 (4th edition, revised and enlarged by Newell, J.E.). Grammar and dictionary of the Samoan language. Malua. Malua Printing Press

PRATT, G.
1984 edition. Grammar and dictionary of the Samoan language. Papakura. R. McMillan

SCHULTZ, E. (translated into English by Brother Herman)
1985 (1965). Samoan proverbial expressions (original title: Sprichwörtliche Redensarten der Samoaner). Auckland / Suva. Polynesian Press / Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific

SNOW, DAVID.
1974. Samoan language and customs (thesis). Chicago. University of Chicago

STUEBEL, O.
1896. Samoanische Texte (Texts in Samoan). Berlin. Veröffentlichungen aus dem Königlichen Museum für Völkerkunde

[TRAD.].
1855-1970. The Bible

[TRAD.].
1846-1982. New Testament

[TRAD.].
1836-1847. Portions of the Bible

[YEARLY LITERARY JOURNAL].
1979-. Moana. Apia. USP Center



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