RSS Feed

Tag Archives: language

The kus. (a linguistic snotfest)

Posted on

In a country where more than 700 languages are spoken, Melanesian tok pisin is one of the three official languages of Papua New Guinea. The other two are English and Hiri Motu.  Tok pisin is a colourful language which is often used in Parliamentary debates and some of it’s words deserve wider promulgation.

kus   (‘u’ pronounced as in ‘bush’) = cough or respiratory infection characterised by wheezing, elevated temperature and nasal discharge.

There are two common varieties of kus and a third closely-related virus which, according to my medical research, usually kills people stone motherless dead.

1. Liklik kus.  Literally ‘little kus’ which is the common cold.

2. Bikpela kus. The ‘big kus’ or influenza.

3. Draipela mama bilong kus.  The unbelievable mother of all kuses.
There is only one person on the planet who gets this rare strain of kus and lives to tell the tale. Me. It’s an infection of such severity that only a human specimen of extraordinary constitutional robustness could ever survive it’s pathological virulence.
I call it the F*B* Kus.  Loudly. Angrily. Repeatedly. I croakily curse the cosmos for the injustice of infecting a clean-living organism like myself with such a debilitating scourge.

Fortunately there are cures for all three kinds of kus;

1.  Cure for Liklik Kus
One of these daily, plus seven days rest.


2.  Cure for Bikpela Kus
One of each of these daily, plus seven days rest.


3.  Cure for F*B*Kus
This lot in it’s entirety, plus seven days rest.
Please consult your medical practitioner before overdosing on vitamins and mixing alcohol with the medication.


*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *
I’m up to Day 4. Donations of bottled medication will be gratefully accepted in lieu of sympathy.
*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *


Melanesian tok pisin: Lesson #1

Posted on

The Bucket’s Special Minority Languages Unit, in consultation with some of the world’s  pre-eminent linguistic scholars, is proud to inflict upon you  launch this special illustrated guide to the use of Melanesian tok pisin, the lingua franca of Papua new Guinea.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *


Ol pato bilas gut tru na behainim wanpela man igat bilakpela hat.

Several ducks dressed in their finery are following a man with a black hat.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

messing with myhead

Dispela sampting emi bagarapim stret tingting bilong me.

This is really messing with my head.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

as-nating meri

Yangpela as-nating meri holim wonem sampting tru long han bilong em na lukluk igo long solawara?

What imaginary objects is the naked young lady pretending to hold while she’s looking out to sea?

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

Cycling Pigeons

Planti pisin sindaon na pekpek nabaut antap long ol wiliwil.

Lots of pigeons are sitting and crapping on the bicycles.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *


upper class dog

Tupela blari longlong dog. Wanpela lesbaka putim shoe na hat na malalo olsem masta, na narapela bilas na sindaon long tebol redi long kaikai olsem Prince Charles.

Two stupid bloody dogs. One dressed up relaxing like an expatriate, and another sitting at the table dining like Prince Charles.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *


Pikinini lukim bol bilong lapun man na poreit nogut tru.

The kid sees the old man’s privates and is horrified at the sight.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

Crunching numbers

Posted on

Papua New Guinea has more than 600 distinct languages because the tribal groups evolved in geographical isolation from each other and the world. 
Similarly, their systems of counting were traditionally many and varied, and rarely decimally based.

Foreigners seeking numerical answers from village elders to questions in "Tok Pisin", the lingua franca of PNG, sometimes elicit the response "sori mi sot long namba".  ("sorry, I have run out of numbers")

This brings me to thinking that a whole lot of numbers might be surplus to my own requirements too.
Only rarely does my numerical vocabulary have practical use for numbers greater than one thousand.

For good things in life like good friends, sunsets and moon-rises, happy days and memories, my counting system goes something like this;
98,  99,  100,  Sufficient.  Be thankful.

For bad things like broken electoral promises, aggressive people, flat tyres, and bodily ailments, I count;
98,  99,  100,  Too many.  Automatic cutoff.  Stop counting.

I certainly have no earthly use for the number One Million.

Once, together with some friends in Form 4 at school I tried to grasp the true magnitude of the number 1,000,000.

The corridor of our new school was 6 feet wide, and the ceiling was clad with perforated fibro sheeting.  The holes were spaced 2 inches apart, so that every foot of corridor length had approximately 200 little holes in the ceiling.

It was quite sobering to understand that the corridor would have needed to be almost a mile long before we could have counted 1 million holes.

(There is also a remote possibility that my arithmetic is faulty given that I achieved 19% in my mathematics examination that year.  I think  I might have been too busy counting holes in the ceiling to be concerned with the real curriculum)

These days, whenever I read that someone has paid $1 million for a house, or has a mortgage of $500,000 I know that it represents an awful lot of $5 notes.
I understand five dollar notes best, because it is the hourly rate of pay I earned during my years of milking cows and doing other farm work.

And a BILLION of anything? 

Well frankly it is just way too many.

You can have them.  The whole lot. 

The entire one thousand miles of corridor.

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

A hard nights day

Posted on

Today I tread for the first time upon some dangerous ground.
Now if anyone can't keep a secret, please immediately go elsewhere and read someone elses blog.
We don't want old GOF to suffer repercussions at home now do we?

For Mrs GOF,  English is the fifth language she learned to speak.
She remains competent in all five, but through a combination of having lived in Australia for the past 30 years, and incessant relentless  a devotion to practice, English is now her primary language.
Her vocabulary puts many native English speakers to shame, for which I would accordingly like to take all credit.
Except being a good Methodist boy I am forbidden to tell lies.

Nevertheless, like many for whom English is not their mother tongue, Mrs GOF is delightfully prone on occasions to generate innovative use of language.

Recently Mrs GOF got out of bed at her normal early hour, stretched, yawned, then gave consideration to the heavy work schedule which confronted her on that day.

Two minutes silence.



"I am going to bite the bullet and go back to bed".

I'm  thinking she should start learning her sixth language and stop wasting her life lounging around in bed

Just thinking.

Read and post comments


Send to a friend