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08 January 2018


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Nice article. Thanks!

As Don Mitchell says, Amos Tutuola is well-worth reading. I particularly like his 'The Palm-Wine Drinkard' (think drunk and drinking hard).

The novel is a classic of modern African literature, widely taught and successfully adapted as a folk opera in Nigeria. In it Tutuola retells many of the stories he first heard as a child in Abeokuta, a Yoruba-speaking town in western Nigeria where he was born in 1920.

This tale of a man so besotted with palm-wine that he ventures into the next world to find his deceased tapster [bartender] brings together many of the strange and supernatural stories upon which Yoruba culture is partly founded. There is, for example, the spectre of the Complete Gentlemen whom a lady follows into the bush.

"I could not blame the lady for following the Skull as a complete gentlemen to his house at all. Because if I were a lady, no doubt I would follow him to wherever he would go, and still as I was a man I would jealous him more than that, because if this gentleman went to the battle field, surely, enemy would not kill him or capture him and if bombers saw him in a town which was to be bombed, they would not throw bombs on his presence, and if they did throw it, the bomb itself would not explode until this gentleman would leave that town, because of his beauty".

As a reviewer said:

"This idiosyncratic English came naturally to Tutuola, though there were those who thought it an affected naivete, particularly as it stayed with him throughout his writing life. Others felt that he was a bad model for younger readers. In fact there could hardly have been a better one. Tutuola was a born story-teller, taking traditional oral material and re-imagining it inimitably. In his way he was, though very different in method and craft, the Grimm or Perrault of Nigerian story-telling, refashioning old tales in a unique way which made them speak across cultures".

Phil, you hit that nail on the head! Trupla!

I sometimes get turned off and, soon after I turn off, I feel maybe I am not on par with you all on the use of our missis kuin tokples [the Queen's English]?

Bernard Corden, thank you for the brief summary from George Orwell. PNG writers and probably others too need more of this advice through PNG Attitude.

He's not a PNG author (he's West African), but if you want to see an author having his way with English (and an astonishingly wonderful way it is) have a look at Amos Tutuola's "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts."

It's fantastic in every sense of the word.

Thank you for the recommendations. Will let you know when I get to them.

I read Quadrant (December 2017 Issue) for the first time a few weeks back. Ummm..interesting. Didn't agree with James McCann but I did like his writing style.

Just a further note on Joe (lifted from Wikipedia).

"After Bageant's death, his Australian publisher asked Bageant's literary executor, Ken Smith, to select and edit about 80,000 words of his essays.

The book was published in November 2011 as Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant. This posthumous collection was available only in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa where, according to Smith, it sold reasonably well.

According to Smith, "no American publisher is yet interested in a book by a redneck socialist—and that says a lot about American culture and the US book business." When his friends at 'The Greanville Post' learned about the seriousness of his condition, he was unanimously voted as editor emeritus of the publication.

In addition to being Joe's literary executor, Ken Smith maintained Joe's websites. Smith himself died in 2016 and with the continuation of the website being uncertain".

To try and understand the Hanson enigma, Anna Broinowski's recent book 'Please Explain' is well worth a read.

Both Hanson and Trump have attained popularity by making populist statements. This is easy since neither had any idea of what they would do or how they would do it if they achieved political power.

Hanson has recently been reduced in political power in Queensland but Trump has been allowed to gain what now seems like a gift but has no real idea of what to do now that he is in the chair.

The underlying reason Hanson has been so popular is I suspect that voters had given up on the main political parties that are not listening to what the average person is saying.

The lesson to be learnt is t voters should judge a candidate on their history and not on what they say.

I agree with Ed. I think that Joe Bageant's 'Dear Hunting With Jesus' is a much better book.

The title alludes to the mix of guns and religion in the USA's outer limits.

He also wrote 'Rainbow Pie:A Memoir of Redneck America'.

He had a great blog but he died in 2011. The best pieces from the blog were published in 'Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball'.

They are all well-worth reading.

If you're enjoying 'Hillbilly Elegy', as I did, Rashmii, I would encourage you to read the inestimable and late lamented Joe Bageant's 'Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War' which, in my view, is a far better guide to the condition of the US working (and non-working) poor '(where) every citizen props up an iniquitous structure in order to protect a redundant dream of wealth and self-actualisation' and where 'ignorance is their greatest enemy: not terrorism, or drugs, or illegals, but sheer daftness.'

Bageant, like Vance, was an Appalachian 'hillbilly' and even though 'Deer Hunting' was published 10 years ago, his rage and bewilderment resonate with relevance today.

Phil - interesting you mention Pauline Hanson. I was mid-way through David Marr's long form 'The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race' (Quarterly Essay Issue 65) when I picked up Vance's book. Up now to where Vance talks about his part-time job at Dillmart. Jarring similarities in rationale of Vance/ 'hillbillies' and One Nation voters.

I agree that Vance is eloquent and is well- balanced in academic research and personal narrative. Similar to why I enjoyed Annabelle Crabb's 'Wife Drought' so much.

I have Maxine Clarke Beneba's ' The Hate Race' on my table to read when done with Vance.

I read 'Hillbilly Elegy' about a year ago Rashmii. The critics were saying it was those hillbillies who elected Trump. I'm not so sure about that. That's how the book was marketed too.

We have our own hillbillies in Australia, mostly in Queensland and WA (although there are quite a few in Tumby Bay too) and they all vote for Pauline Hanson.

I'm still making my mind up about that proposition.

Vance is very articulate and smooth and just doesn't fit the 'hick made good' image.

Phil makes a good case for encouraging Papua New Guineans to participate more through writing via PNG Attitude.

I think this is the way to achieve the true cross-cultural writing/reading experience we all enjoy on here. I'm really enjoying seeing Sil Bolkin's writing again.

On this platform, I'm not one for adjusting writing style to suit the reader. I think of it as a learning experience and most often, I find the writing in the comments section add a good balance and variety, extending on the language on the original piece. Of course, as the other comments suggests - read...and read more.

I'm currently reading ' Hillbilly Elegy' b JD Vance. Anyone else read it?

Dear Paul,

Read it aloud phonetically, especially amongst a group of people and they will soon give you quizzical looks and fall about laughing:

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the Kings horses and....

It' was often given to someone who could allegedly speak French and asked to translate it at a party.

Somewhat obscure Bernard.

A small one of a little ca ton two flights
A small one of a small has two false sandals
To the fifteen out of sixteen one to the fifteen mine
That can not a little war to win

I can recall the following French poem:

Un petit d'un petit ca ton deux vols
Un petit d'un petit a deux gres faux
Aux les quinze hors seize un aux les quinze miens
Que na peut un petit tu guerre vers a gagne

Now read it aloud

Spell out the translation:

F U N E X? - 'ef've you any eggs?
S, V F X - Yes, we have eggs
F U N E M? - 'ef've you any ham?
S, V F M - Yes, we have ham
M N X please - Ham and eggs please.

It helps however if you have a Swedish accent.

PO sangiuve, mi faul olgeta long dispela txt toktok. Na Atus locket long PNG, misis kwin bai ino dai wantaim bel isi. Tok bilong em nau ol msm na Bill Gates ovateik. - Wan bel long yu O

Hey Baka Bina, perhaps we should go all the way on the SMS train?

Hence a potential conversation in a Swedish Restaurant at Breakfast time:

F U N E X?
S, V F X
F U N E M?
S, V F M
M N X please

R U OK with that?

Michael tru tru ave but alas, we now have a morer mobile language saave than the misis kwin english. We now txt morer and read morer txt. Phil O bel hevi istap long wonem planti rule bai bruk long tok bilong misis kwin.

So that we have a uniquer literature Michael.

To write better, read morer.

Know the rules so that you can break them properly.

Rules and models destroy genius and art - William Hazlitt

The difference, Phil, is that there are acceptable degrees of 'good(ness)': very; quite; outstandingly etc etc. Unlike 'unique', which is an absolute, unmodifiable, condition, 'good' is not absolute and can be modified.

That aside, my pedantry is not all-embracing (or, dare I say it, absolute) and I agree with you that it (pedantry) should not stand in the way of creativity or providing 'flavour' to writing.

The trouble with being a pedant, Ed, is that it can adversely effect creativity.

If you consider some of the famous works of our time a lot of them pay little attention to grammatical correctness.

I'm currently reading a book by a writer who makes it very clear in his preface that he will not entertain correspondence on matters related to his use of language or his spelling.

His book is littered with grammatical adventurism and words spelled as he likes them - he reckons they look better his way. Luckily the book was written in the 1960s so he didn't have to contend with 'spellcheck'.

Between you and me it's not a very good book and I'll probably toss it when I'm done.

English is a strange language, probably because it's a mongrel. In the sentence above you could use your logic and say that 'very good' is wrong - it's either 'good' or it isn't.

Of all the PNG writers I've read I find the ones who take liberties with the language the most attractive. Leonard Fong Roka is good at it and so is Sil Bolkin. What they do imparts a very Papua New Guinean flavour to their writing.

As a dyed-in-the-wool pedant, Phil, I am compelled to remind you that, in semantic terms, PNG Attitude, cannot be 'very unique'. It is either unique or it isn't.

My late brother was a pedant concerning English language and having studied Latin, placed a significant emphasis on the structure of a sentence.

The following link provides access to an article by George Orwell, which reflects Phil's comments:

George Orwell never wasted a word and here is a brief summary of his guidelines:

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are
used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you
can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous

PF on PC-writ?

Well, so I was tempted to suggest yesterday. Why then not sent, is I appreciate values and clarity of Phil's intention in promoting both reader-focused writing generally and vantage via PNG Attitude as a point.

Tempo today from the heart no doubt (though mention is of other body parts) invites question, that it brings a grin not chagrin.

Broadly, cherished are the contributors, the courageous who try.

Well said Arnold. wished I was listening in the literacy class when this was taught to me. I think I was watching the hair of the girl in front of me at Asaroka. They had nambis girls there and us rough highlanders putim skin long ol and forgot we went to school. One of those things we went to learn was writing sentences and I went for ever without paragraphing, comma-ring or full stopping.
I'm now scrambling to correct that and yes, wish I concentrated.
Thanks to Phil and Ed, I am slowly learning to message it in short sentences and short paragraphs.
Allowing for the reader's mind to take over - is my biggest problem that as I have to move away from our legend type stories which details all things to trying to say the essentials only. I guess that can only come by practice ie writing more and more. Some of our female writers have captured this and do write well though.

A well placed quote from a relevant author is always a good thing Paul. It might even inspire a reader to track down the author and read some more. I particularly enjoy Bernard's references and I've looked up lots of them.

Your good self uses quotes judiciously too.

What gets up my nose are the commentators who trot out cherry picked stuff and try to pass it off as the final word on whatever argument they are pursuing. That makes the belly hot.

Dia Fil - Tok inglis em gutpla toktok na nogut ol pipol ipas pinis lo save blo ol lain sumatin tasol.

Sapos sampla ino laik ritim ol toktok husat narapla ibin raitim emi olrait. Laik blo wanwan tasol. Maski yu belhat lo displa liklik samting.

These tips were supppse to come out even before I decided to take up writing as a hobby. Thank you, Phil.

Thanks Phil for these valuable tips.

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