Counting in Samoan is pretty straight forward. Our numbers are very similar to those of other Polynesian languages. Here’s how we start:
To count into the “teens”, just think about what number you’re adding to 10. For example, 11 is 10 and 1, so in Samoan, 11 is sefulu and tasi, or sefulu ma le (and) tasi.
See how that works?
In every day Samoan, we often drop the ‘and’ (ma le) and just say sefulutasi.
From 20, we switch up the order that we put the numbers together. For example, to say 12, we use the words for 10 and 2 (sefulu ma le lua, or sefululua), but for the number 20, we think 2 and 10 instead. So 20 is lua (2) + sefulu (10), or luasefulu.
This will be the same pattern for 30 (tolu + sefulu), 40 (fā + sefulu), 50 (lima + sefulu) and right up to 90.
And then we just add the incremental numbers. So for 21, we would think 2 + 10 + 1 and say luasefulu ma le tasi, or just luasefulu tasi.
Numbers 20 – 31
And our numbers just continue like that right up to 100. Now, our word for 100 is selau. Our word for 200 is lua (2) selau. Our word for 300 is tolu (3) selau. See that?
Our pattern for numbers after 100 (or any hundred) is very simple and predictable, now. For 102, we would say selau ma le lua. For 112, we say selau sefulu lua. For 122, we say selau lua sefulu ma le lua. And for 222, we say lua selau, luasefulu ma le lua.
Numbers past 100
|100||selau (or tasi selau)|
|105||selau ma le lima|
|163||selau onosefulu (ma le) tolu|
|258||lua selau limasefulu valu|
|497||fā selau ivasefulu fitu|
|1000||(tasi le) afe|
|1200||tasi le afe luaselau (or afe luaselau)|
|2350||lua afe tolu selau limasefulu|
|5126||lima afe selau luasefulu ono|
|7892||fitu afe valu selau ivasefulu ma le lua|
Bonus Lesson: Counting People
All the numbers we’ve mentioned so far are used for all counting situations, but because our culture has a special regard for humans, when we count people, we always add the word ‘to’a’ in front of the number. For example:
- I have 3 houses. | E tolu o’u fale.
- I have 3 children. | E to’a tolu la’u fānau.
- She has 5 dogs. | E lima ana maile.
- She has 5 teachers. | E to’a lima ona faiaoga.
So don’t forget. When you’re counting people, it’s respectful to add the word ‘to’a’ before the number.