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Glossary

Mini-Glossary

Hello: iaorana -Thank you: maururu - Good bye: nana - Yes : e - No - aita - Woman: vahine - Man: tane - Good: maita'i - Very good: maita'i roa - Finished: oti - No problem: aita pe'a pe'a - Cheers! : manuia! - Welcome: maeva - House: fare - French: farani - American: marite - Land : fenua - Work: ohipa - Forbidden: tabu - Power, gift: mana - Tattoo: tatau,

 Glossary

Below is an overview of some current words and expressions that could be useful to the occasional traveler. Influenced both by the French and the British in the previous centuries, Polynesian society has included a number of exotic terms or expressions in its daily language. Here are some examples:

BRINGUE : Much beyond its French meaning, the bringue is the top of all parties in the Polynesian islands. When invited to a bringue, it is better not to plan a time for your return. By the beach or in some Polynesian friends' tropical garden, this "mother of all parties" remains a must for all party animals.

DEMI : They are Polynesians who defined themselves as metis. Half Chinese, whose parents are Asian and Polynesian, Half Popaa whose parents are white and Polynesians. We tend to forget that there has not been any pure Polynesians for over a century. Whether or not to be called "demi" is up to the person himself. While we count more than 70% Polynesians, it is because Polynesians think of themselves as Ma’ohi more than as "demis".

FAFARU : food based on raw fish, first marinated in a mixture of sea water and shrimp and fish heads. While Polynesians love it, tourists often find it hard to taste this traditional meal, one othe main components of the famous ma’a Tahiti. If howver you can overcome the unpleasant smell, you will find out that it is an original recipe to enjoy local fish.

FARE : The fare, is the typical Polynesian house. It is more and more rare (and expensive) nowadays. Basically it is a hand built traditional hut, built from local wood and covered with a tight thatch roof made of coconut or pandanus leaves. The use of vegetal materials keeps an enjoyable freshness inside the fare, unlike "hard" buildings with metal roofs or synthetic materials.

FARANI : the noun designates a person of French origin. There is enough provocation in the way of saying "Farani" (pronounced FRRRAANI) to understand when it is meant to be pejorative. Used as an adjective, it just means "French".

FENUA : The land, in the "our mother land" meaning or "our country".

FIU : it is the Polynesians' down feeling, melancholic wearriness. You'll often hear: "c'est fiu" (I've had it) or " j’suis fiu (I'm tired) ". People are often "fiu" the morning after a "bringue"!  Find out more


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MA’OHI : Polynesian by opposition to "Popaa".

MANUIA : " santé " in French, " cheers " in English, " skoll " in Swedish,… here, we say" Manuia " when drinking with friends a local beer or an authentic cocktail… Why not a delicious MAITAI, for example…

MOTU : They are low islets, outgrown from the reef. Only a few dozens of centimeters above sea level, these islets framing the main parts of high islands are most often desert and without other vegetation than a few coconut trees. They are covered with white sand and "coral soup". They are often equipped for picnic near magnificen turquoise lagoons. More

POPA’A : it is the White Man, who gets easily sunburned and becomes as red as a stewed lobster. In fact Popa’a means "grilled".

MANA : in Polynesian language, mana means power, supernatural power, that is...

TAPU or TABU : means taboo. This English word comes straight from the reo ma’ohi, the Polynesian language of the old days. The same is true about tattoo, tattooing, from the ancient Polynesian word TATAU (which of course means tattoo). Tattooing finds its origin in the heart of ancestral culture of the Ma’ohi.

NANA (IAORANA) : Nana is short for Ia orana which means "I wish you a good day", also "see you soon".

RAE-RAE : An homosexual, sometimes transsexual. A man who dresses and behaves like a woman. The rae rae (pronounced "Rayray") is part of the local Traditional culture. There is no shame to show up as a rae rae, to the contrary, rae rae have been for ever part of the ma’ohi culture and they were entrusted with particular tasks, exclusively reserved to their "cast".

TATAU : Tattooing. In 1769 Captain Cook coined the word "tattoo" from the Tahitian word tatau.

TIURAI : The old name for the July celebrations called the Heiva (the feast) today. Tiurai is the Tahitian rendition of the English July.

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