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13 November 2016


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When i have some time to kill I also like perusing books in secondhand shops looking for a PNG gem.

I rarely have any luck but about ten years ago i hit the jackpot.

It was in a small store in the Perth suburb of Maylands that i asked the proprietor if he had any books on PNG.Did he ever! There were several shelves of them.

He had lived in Port Moresby pre-independence and was originally from Europe.I had not met him in Moresby but he told me he was known locally for sailing his own canoe up and down the coast.He showed me photographs from his time spent in Papua New Guinea.

The books were part of his personal collection that he had decided to sell.He had hefty prices on them so i only bought a half dozen or so.

When i returned months later to purchase more books the store was empty and i never did find out what had happened to the man or his business.

A treasure trove of books had slipped through my fingers.

Phil a few comparisons of your word list with Mihalic’s Jacaranda Dictionary.

Askit – Jaw = Wasket in Mihalic (chin, lower jaw)

Hansuit – right hand – cf “hansut” or “han bilong sut” in Mihalic

Nainsi = Nancy? English Cockney slang (not in Mihalic)

Tuot – Perspiration = Tuhat in Mihalic (perspiration – literally “too hot” ?

Me – goat = Meme

Virua – accident - violence - cf Birua in Mihalic - Accident, enemy

Finally the word Esel for Mule reminds me of the Gaelic “Asal” meaning donkey.

Interesting read, Phil. While 'Sumatin', 'tannem/taunem' and 'Taronggu/tarangu' were an integral part of my Tok Pisin lexicon in the late 1960s, I don't recall any of the other examples you cited.

And yes, I do remember, with fondness, Sam Piniau with whom I shared more than a few SPs on my verandah.

Sam was a great man, my onetime boss and a dear mate. You may be interested in this obituary I wrote of him in 2007 - KJ

Hi Phil, This is a fabulous subject and I managed to pick up a Tokpisin book by Geoff Smith during an open day at the Lae University of Technology. It contained a section on Tokpisin argot and many were quite innovative.

My favourites are meme for a goat and rokrok for a frog. I still haven't fathomed the derivation of pukpuk. Matakiau will probably mean dead eye ball or egg ( Matmat, matador, checkmate-the King is dead) and kiau is colloquially a testicle or more often egg.

I too can spend hours in a rural town bookstore and frequently visit the used book store in Charlotte Street in Brisbane and always check out its PNG section.

When an expatriate passes away his library often ends up there.

In responding to many of your blogs it dawned on me the other day that I had forgotten to mention the works of Upton Sinclair. His classic was The Jungle, written in 1906 and the US, despite many of its limitations, has delivered some absolute gems.

Would Des Ashton be related to Chris Ashton, the former AAP/Reuters reporter in Port Moresby? Chris is currently writing for The Spectator and did last week's editorial.

No relation, Bernard - KJ

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