Riding the Giant Crab

This wouldn’t be a proper blog about living in another country if I didn’t make and admit to language errors. The Samoan language consists of a lot of words that were so similar that it was easy to slip up and use the wrong consonant. I needed minimal pairs therapy pronto! One of our teachers, an American Peace Corp volunteer, was visiting the neighbouring island and missed school that day. A student came up and asked me where she was and I replied in Samoan that she was riding the big boat over. His eyes widened. He asked me again. I repeated that she was on the big boat and gesticulated the size of this giant boat. A steady stream of students thus came to ask the adventures of our teacher. I told our teacher the next day that everyone was very interested in where she was… because apparently I told them that she was riding a giant crab across the island. Va’a = boat, pa’a = crab. Minimal pairs got me again!

The local crabs in Samoa were not quite as ‘giant’ as I described in my story!

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