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Common Tahitian Words

Common Tahitian words

Although English is widely spoken in resorts, restaurants and touristy areas, learning a few phrases in Tahitian will endear you to the locals...and help you understand words like motu and marae, which are often incorporated in signs and brochures!

Knowing French, the other official language, is also helpful, but not necessary.

The Tahitian alphabet contains only thirteen letters.
Vowels: a as in car, e as in may, i as in machine, o as in cold, and u as in salute.
Consonants: f, h, m, n, p, r, t, v pronounced as in English with the exceptions of the h pronounced sh when preceded by i or followed by o and the r sometimes having a trill sound.

hello, good day, friendly greeting: ia orana or bonjour (French)
goodbye: nana
welcome: maeva
thank you: mauru'uru or merci (French)


good!: maita'i
to your health, toast: manuia

yes: e, oia
no: aita

small: iti
big, large: nui

man: tane
woman: vahine

TheBigDay travel specialist, David, and a local Tahitian in 2007.
house: fare
islet in the lagoon: motu
ancient temple: marae
traditional quilts: tifaifai
traditional dance: tamurei
flower: tiare
ocean: moana
feast: tamaaraa

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