Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Samoan cities.
Upolu is named after the first woman on the island, according to Polynesian mythology.
Pe'ape'a Cave is named for the swallows which inhabit it.
Vailima means, according to an old Samoan legend, 'water in the hand'. It seems a woman gave some water, or vai, in her hand, or lima to a friend who was very thirsty. Yes, that's what I wondered and I don't know, perhaps the friend had her hands full.
Falefa means 'four houses', although refers to the four sub-divisions of the large village - Sagogu, Gagaemalae, Saleapaga, and Sagapolu.
Malua is a shortened version of the Samoan maluapapa meaning 'shelter under the rock'.
Safotu is named after the mythological child of Lafai.
Saleaula is another named from a mythological founder, Sa Le'ula 'the family of Le'aula'.
Safotulafai is, like the previous example, named after a mythological figure. Indeed, he is the brother of the above, named Letufuga.
Vaitogi is often held to refer to the low rainfall here and said to translate as 'water thrown'.
Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.