How To Pronounce Pago Pago

How to pronounce Pago Pago is a fun subject because there are so many misinterpretations of the correct way to pronounce Pago Pago. We will focus on the way it is pronounced by the majority of people in American Samoa because, after all, that is where Pago Pago is located.

Quite simply, it is easy to describe how to pronounce Pago Pago by telling people to think of the Bongo drum and just replace the “B” in Bongo with a P for Pago and then just repeat.

Now you might ask how the “n” got in there. Well, that’s easy. The Samoan sound for “g” is pronounced “ng” with the emphasis on “n”. In some cases, you can barely hear the “g” sound at all.

So, now try saying the Bongo drum word twice: Bongo Bongo. Now replace the “B” in Bongo with “P”, and say that twice to sound like Pongo Pongo, always with the emphasis on the “n”. To pronounce Pago Pago correctly, you almost have to drop the “g” sound and replace it with “n”…almost though.

Here is a recording of how to pronounce Pago Pago, which I found after listening to more than 10 totally incorrect pronunciations. This was a recording on Vimeo with accreditation given to Click here to hear the almost correct way to pronounce Pago Pago. The Vimeo recording also provided this phonetic way to pronounce Pago Pago: pahng-oh pahng-oh, which seems pretty accurate.

In the western part of the Samoas, now the country of Samoa, Pago Pago is most commonly reduced to a single word, “Pago”, and pronounced like the dance Tango with the “T” replaced with “P”. In American Samoa, Pago is always pronounced more like a singular part of Pago Pago as described in the Bongo drum metaphor above.

For more fun, let’s try to learn how to pronounce Samoa the way Samoan people would like to hear you pronounce it. To understand the correct pronunciation, you should know that the two syllables that make up the word Samoa are also two words: Sa means forbidden or sacred and is pronounced like saw. Moa is the Samoan word for chicken. So, Samoa is pronounced like sawmoa, or “forbidden chicken” or maybe “sacred chicken”.

Now, moa might have other meanings too, but I’m going to stick with chicken because the flag of Manua, American Samoa bears a graphic of a chicken.

There you have it; Pango Pango, American Sawmoa, is pretty close to the correct pronunciation. Remember to keep all the “a” sounds like the short form of the vowel.