Hey Greg, I was doing some research into Bionicle name translations and discovered that gali is Lithuanian for can. Does it mean anything other than can?
IIRC, in Maori, it means “water.” It also means that in the Matoran Language.
A good number of 2001 names come from various Polynesian languages besides Maori, including half the Toa. In the case of Gali it’s definitely not Maori because there’s no G in the alphabet, just the Ng digraph. (And no, Ngali isn’t the answer.)
Gali in Samoan means “to gnaw,” which…obviously isn’t right. The next closest match is galu, which is Samoan for “wave.” A modification of that word isn’t entirely out of the question because Onua was derived from the Tongan fonua, meaning “earth.” I’m eager to see if anyone else can find a better origin.
Also, no. The Toa names are not officially the names of the elements. Their names, in-universe, are delivered from the element prefix.
but pohatu literally means stone
Yeah, in Maori.
This is a tough call overall, because Alastair Swinnerton was allegedly shooting for a mix of a few different islander languages to enhance the objective realism of the line. That said, I don’t explicitly recall catching notice of the fact that it meant “water” in universe. I’ll have to look back.
I wasn’t working at LEGO when these names were chosen, so I don’t know their genesis. I only came on board five months before BIONICLE launched.
A friendly reminder to everyone: please do not mark solutions as given unless they refer directly back to an answer given in Bionicle canon (such as something cited in BS01), or if they have been directly answered by Greg. While @Maku gave a very informative answer, marking something a post as solved categorizes it as being solved and might defer further insight on such questions.