Goodnight & Shark Dreams

As an SLP, I thought that I would quickly be able to pick up the Samoan language. And I was quite right. My finely attuned ear could distinguish the slightest nuances. I could discriminate all of the different vowel sounds and combinations. I unconsciously adopted a new intonation pattern and was raising my eyebrows in 27 new ways to communicate something different. While I picked up the vocabulary quickly, I didn’t realize that Samoan is a language full of homonyms. For my entire volunteer assignment I was always amazed at what I thought I heard and read in Samoan.

  • My neighbour gave birth to a butterfly (pepe = butterfly/baby).
  • The office where you pay your electricity bill had a line for orange geckos (moli = orange/light, pili = gecko/bill).
  • I was tempted to see just what went on in a goat hair house (oti = goat/cut).
  • On more than one occasion I was left wondering why I would want to have shark dreams (malie = shark/sweet).

Even though I was lost in translation… what interesting translations they were!


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