10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga
10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Learn Some Words in Fakatongan!

Travel is all about discovering new cultures and the Tongan culture is certainly a fascinating one! One of the basic ways to start immersing in the local culture is to speak the local language. While you can get by in English in Tonga, all Tongans speak Tongan or “Fakatongan” as a first language. It’s always fun to learn and speak some basic words in Tongan. Give it a try with these words listed in the Tongan words you need to know when visiting Tonga!

For more language talk, take a look at The Guide to the Tongan Language. Plus, wise up on the Tongan culture with The Guide to the Tongan Culture for Travellers.

1. Malo e Lelei!

Malo e lelei means “hello” in Tongan and is the Tongan word you’re bound to hear the most of a trip to the Kingdom.

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

2. Malo ‘Aupito!

Malo ‘aupito means “thank you” and, if you’re a polite tourist, it’s a word that you will be using a lot in Tonga. It is often met with a “‘lo malo”, which means “you’re welcome”.

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

3. Fale

If you’re staying at an island resort, you’re bound to be staying in a “fale”. This is a house in Tongan and, in the context of resorts, it’s your stand-alone cabin for sleeping in. Fale is a word seen at the beginning of a few words in Tongan as a word for different types of houses, for instance, the church is “fale lotu”, the hospital is “fale mahaki” and a restaurant in “fale kai”.

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

4. ‘Io / Ikai

‘Io means “yes” and ikai means “no” – simple!

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

5. Kai

Kai is the word for eating or food. Personally, we think it’s the most important word for anywhere in the world. Check out some “kai” worth trying in the 6 Unique Foods in Tonga You Have to Try.

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

6. Inu

On a similar note to kai, inu means drink! Check out some “inu” to try in the 10 Drinks in Tonga You Have to Try.

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) Pxhere.com

7. Fale Koloa

Another type of fale that you’ll need to know is the fale koloa. Fale koloa refers to the small convenience stores seen around Tonga with the metal grates over the windows. Learn more about shopping at fale koloa in Where to Buy Food in Tonga.

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

8. Palangi

A palangi is quite simply a “white person”, usually referring to foreigners/tourists/white people/Europeans.

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

9. Kava

Kava is the national drink of Tonga and a narcotic drink enjoyed across the South Pacific islands. Tonga is a significant producer of the pepper plant that makes the roots of which kava is made from. Kava is ground-up roots mixed with water. Traditionally, only the men drink kava with a woman blessing the kava before it is drunk.

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

10. Taha, Ua, Tolu…

Otherwise, “One, two, three…” However, this is only the number for the standard numbering system in Tonga. There are different numbering systems used for different items, for instance, there are different numbers for counting coconuts than there is for counting fish.

10 Tongan Words You Need to Know When Visiting Tonga(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Author

Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before settling in the South Pacific, so he knows a thing or two about planning the perfect trip in this corner of the world. Robin works and consults regularly with the Ministry of Tourism of Tonga. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides and is a regular host of webinars with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

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