August 03, 2006

to English

I don't like discussing the various 'curiosities' of Kriol because historically creoles are plagued by being noticed for the 'cute' things they do with the superstrate language. Or in otherwords, creoles are always mocked for being 'cute' or 'bastardised' versions of their derivative languages, and not appreciated in their own right.

But I noticed something great about Kriol today. You can use 'English' as a verb, meaning to speak to someone with English.

Today my wawa A was outside talking away to two munanga he used to work with and his wife comes in and says, 'yu wawa jeya ingglishbat' (translation: Your brother is there 'englishing'). She was giggling about it, because her husband's English isn't all that flash, but he was there having a good old yarn to these guys.

After I heard that, I realised I'd heard it before. I remember my banji telling about a white girl being interested in him, but he couldn't go talk to her "dumaji im mait Ingglish-ingglish na mi" (translation: because she might English-English to me).

It's interesting... to 'Ingglish' is more than to just speak English, it also incorporates the aspect of making Aboriginal people step outside their linguistic and cultural comfort zone.

5 comments:

Sheena V said...

I've heard it used as a verb in Tok Pisin too, although I'm not sure it has the added connotations with stepping outside your linguistic/cultural comfort zone as you describe for Kriol.

laraba said...

Hey what a cool thing, thanks for sharing that with us!
How are ya, Greggie?
Magaggie :o)

Wamut said...

Hi magaggie!

I'm good thanks. How are you? Are you still missing Katherine? :-)

Sheena, I'm not 100% of my thoughts regarding the added connotations of 'englishing', but I think it's significant that I've never heard any other language name used that way...as in 'to Kriol/Kriolbat' or 'to Marra/Marrabat... in PNG can somebody be 'tok pisin-ing' or 'kuanua-ing'?

Sheena V said...

It sounds like it's probably just has different connotations in each language - your description of the added connotations in Kriol make sense to me. In Tok Pisin, (at least in the dialect that I'm familiar with) you can use other languages the same way. I'm quite shy about speaking Tok Pisin, because I don't get the chance to speak it very much, and people will encourage me by saying "Bai yu Tok Pisin!" (Speak Tok Pisin!). And when people want to hear me speak Vinitiri (the language I'm working on) and they don't speak it, they will tell me "Bai yu tok peles!" (Speak in vernacular! - 'tok peles' basically means local language). I can't think of any time when someone has used the name of a local language in this sense, but I think this has to do with the fact that these languages have so many "names" - the typical way of referring to any vernacular is to say "tok peles" - and the particular vernacular can be is inferred from context (or the name of the cultural group can be added afterwards - as in "tok peles Tolai" - the language of the Tolais).

I don't know if this occurs in all dialects of Tok Pisin. In both Vinitiri and Kuanua, the speakers refer to their language by nominlising the verb "to speak" - so "Vinitiri" is actually "vitiri" (to speak) with the nominalising infix -in-. So there's an obvious relationship between the verb and noun. Maybe this has had an influence on how it's used in Tok Pisin. And Kuanua (along with other languages in the area) has had the most influence on Tok Pisin compared with all the other languages of PNG.

Anyways, sorry for the long post...

bulanjdjan said...

Hey Wamut,

sheena v talking about tok peles (from 'village'??) got me thinking about how you said no one says 'to Marra', 'to Kriol' etc. I think it's safe to assume that the Kriol/Aboriginal English equivalent of tok peles is tok langguj 'talk/speak (traditional) language, where langguj is a deictic term referring to a local language, or the language of the subject of the verb (i.e. the person 'talking language').

So, my point/line of enquiry is this: can you say imin langgujbat in Kriol? My guess is no, but it's probably worth asking about! Maybe even doing a bit of language engineering to establish it in common usage as part of language revitalistion efforts!