----- Original Message -----
From: "Lars Henrik Mathiesen" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 5:06 AM
Subject: Re: various infotaining natlang tidbits

> > From: Kristian Jensen <[log in to unmask]>
> >      Pikanini namba wan bilong Queen <Prince (of Wales) Charles>
> >      Gras bilong hed <hair>
> >      Miks masta bilong Jesus Christ <helicopter>
> > Date:         Wed, 14 Jun 2000 13:36:23 +0200
> > From: Kristian Jensen <[log in to unmask]>
> > Actually, the terms I posted are the older Tok Pisin forms used during
> > the days of the Cargo Cults. The term "Miks masta bilong Jesus Christ"
> > certainly reflects Cargo Cult understanding, doesn't it?

A bogus example, I think.

>> There were a
> > lot terms like that equally (if not more) hilarious -- a pity I don't
> > remember them.
> Hilariously simpleminded natives. Right.
> Well, it may turn out that these phrases are genuine old Tok Pisin.

Some are. Some seem "humorous" in English. But this is no longer English.

> But they just remind me too much about the humorous 'examples' that
> used to be in the little joke segments between articles in fifties-
> vintage Reader's Digests. Like 'lazy white man sits down and walks'
> for bicycle, and 'box with teeth, you hit him, he cry' for piano.
> When I was nine and reading through my grandmother's boxes of back
> issues, I could actually believe that that was how those endearing
> primitive people talked. But now I very strongly suspect that they
> were made up to be cute --- or hilarious. (I'm not sure which is the
> least attractive of the two). And the same for Kristian's examples.

Reader's Digest often presents a kind of pablum, IMO.
Full of stereotypes. Unfortunate because widely read.

> > "Pickaninny" is apparently a word that has been incorporated in all
> > the European-based creoles of the world in some form or other. Same
> > with "savvy" apparently. These originated perhaps from a Portuguese
> > based jargon spoken on sailing ships in the old days with a
> > multinational crew. I.e. "pickaniny" from "pequenho" and "savvy" from
> > "saber" (I think).
> Pikanini turns out to be more widespread than I thought, but there are
> lots of other things that make me suspicious.

There are lots of serious and substantial dictionaries of TokPisin.

"The Jacaranda Dictionary and Grammar of Melanesian Pidgin" by F. Mihaic,
child    =  pikinini
Son of God = Pikinini Man bilong God (or ... Bikpela)
daughter = pikinini meri
hair = gras
grass = gras
kitten =  pikinini pusi
Lamb of God = Pikinini Sipsip bilong God
crown = hat bilong kwin/king
helicopter = helikopta

no mixmasters

> For instance:
>    Prince Charles was born in November 1948, after the Cargo Cult days
> (which ended with WWII, IIRC). (OK, that's marginal).

no relevance to cargo cult.

The word pikinini is standard for child, descendent -- also seed/fruit
So Prince Charles really is "pininini bilong kwin." No more humorous
than the religious terms cited.

>    Why would TP borrow a word for grass before a word for hair?

It's both.

>    Wouldn't a stage of TP that has borrowed MixMaster not also have a
> word for plane, and use something natural like 'plane like MixMaster'?
> (There would have been very few helicopters in those days anyway---the
> only WWII helicopter was the R-4 (from 1943), and AFAIK that was a
> single-person rescue craft, not a cargo or combat craft).

I think this one is whimsical. They don't much use
mixmasters in the villages.


Leo J. Moser