Samoan Culture

Naming

  • Typically, first names come before last names. For example, Teuila AUTUFUGA.
  • If someone holds a title, that name will come before their given name.
  • Samoans often name their children after their relatives, such as aunts, uncles or grandparents.
  • Some Samoans have biblical names or names with a religious meaning along with traditional Samoan names. Other names may represent characteristics or animals.
  • If someone has the title of Matai, this name will precede their given first name.
  • Some people may hold a number of different Matai names from different branches of their .

 

Surnames

Historically, people in Samoa were known by single names. A person was generally given one name, which was a descriptive name. Other names and titles may have been added on later, or the person’s name might be changed entirely to honor some event in that person’s life.1

 

The modern use of surnames came about much later through the introduction of Christianity and arrival of Europeans. Many Samoan adopted patronymic surnames (father's name). However, various patterns of name styles emerged in different areas. 

 

As a result, there is no ‘standard’ convention for surnames in Samoa. Generally, it is down to the person and their family's personal preference. For example, a person’s surname may consist of [mother’s name followed by the father's name], [father’s name followed by the mother's name], [mother's name alone] or [father's name alone], etc. 

 

1 FamilySearch, 2020

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