It’s Rotuman Language Week so naturally, I decided to write about some phrases and words that I’ve managed to learn or pick up throughout my life, and by “throughout my life,” I mean in the past few years as my father-in-law is Rotuman and I need to earn brownie points whenever I visit the in-laws.

Before we start with the list, I just want everyone to know that I’m saying this is a list of MY favorite phrases because these are phrases or words that you can use almost anywhere and maybe even as ice breakers in a social settings where you think these would be relevant.

Also, please keep in mind that the spelling varies and you can actually tell what denomination one belongs to just by how they spell their words, so I’ve been told.

AE TAPEN? (How are you?)

This one you can use whenever you meet a friend and personally I feel like it gives you a feel of accomplishment when they notice that you made an effort to ask them how they are in their vernacular.

FAIAKSE’EA (Thank you/Informal Hello)

This is a more common one and probably one of the first things non-Rotuman speaking individuals tend to pick up from their Rotuman counterparts.

A’TE (Eat)

As most people know, I’m a big foodie. I’m the “there for the food” type of person and to be honest, you can’t shame me for it. So it was only right to learn how to say “eat” in another language.


I like this one because you can always slip it in during a conversation in English. If you’re somebody that obviously doesn’t speak Rotuman, this will definitely get you a double take.

TAN FIGALELEI (Water, please)

This one has a funny backstory to it, actually. I made a friend in the clubs one night and I was trying to impress my husband, who by the way knows a little Rotuman because of his bonus dad so I asked my new friend how to ask for water. She gave me that phrase and when I repeated it back to my husband, he had the biggest smile on his face and just nodded his head and went to get me a glass of water. Ever since then it’s become like an inside joke between me and my friends who were out that night with us.

I have a few more words and phrases that I want to add, but seeing that they have some embarrassing background stories to it, I’ll just keep it cute and end it there.

If you speak fluent Rotuman, let us know in the comments some words and phrases that you’d like non speaking Rotumans to know.