Although English is spoken in all hotels, shops and restaurants, it’s always appreciated if you can say the odd word or phrase in Tahitian. It’s also useful to learn a few simple French phrases, as both Tahitian and French are the two official languages of French Polynesia.
PARAU TAHITI ‘OE? – Do you speak Tahitian?
Certain Tahitian words, like taboo and Mana, have already made their way into the English language. Other phrases are spoken so often that you’ll soon get used to them, like ‘aita ‘e pe’ape’a’, which means ‘no problem’ and ‘popa’a’, which means ‘white foreigner’. So while you’re in The Islands of Tahiti, why not learn a bit of the local lingo?
Hello is ‘Ia ora na! (usually pronounced more like ‘yoranna’). ‘E aha to ‘oe huru means how are you? to which you reply Maita’i (Fine) or Maita’i roa (very well).
Thank you is māuruuru. Thanks very much is māuruuru roa and no thanks is ‘aita māuruuru.
Yes and no
A definite yes is ‘E!, perhaps is ‘A! and no is ‘Aita!
The glottal stop, accents and confusion
The glottal stop is common in Tahitian and is used as a consonnant, but written as an apostrophy and places the stress on the following syllable. Certain vowels have accents (ā, ē, ī, ō and ū) which give subtle differences to their prononciation. And some words with very different meanings are pronounced in almost the same way to the western ear. Your mispronunciation will give Polynesians great pleasure!
– Te ū means milk, Te hū, means to fart.
You’ve been warned!
A short English/Tahitian dictionary
|Hello||‘ia ora na|
|Thanks very much||mauruuru roa|
|How are you?||‘e aha te huru?|
|Fine, thanks||maita’i mauruuru|
|No problem||‘aita ‘e pe’ape’a|
|Come over here!||haere mai!|
|Let’s dance||‘ori ana’e|