A Pocket Guide to New Guinea
For use of Military Personnel only. Not to be republished
in whole or in part, without the consent of
the War Department
SPECIAL SERVICE DIVISION, ARMY SERVICE FORCES
UNITED STATES ARMY
in cooperation with the OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES
A POCKET GUIDE TO
"I told him to read his Pocket Guide, but he said he knew how to make friends!"
PAGE Introduction 1 Fascinating Islands 5 A Political Patchwork 8 Meet the People 9 Where the People Live 17 Past and Present 21 Who Speaks What? 28 Weather 29 Jungle Life 29 Food and Travel 32 Native Customs and Manners 42 Keeping Fit 49 What Makes Trouble With Natives? 54 Hints on Pronouncing Melanesian Pidgin English 55 Useful Words and Phrases 60
ON this job some of the hardest fighting over some of the worst terrain in the world is going on. We don't need to tell you about that nor is a long lecture needed to prove that New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are of the greatest strategic importance to the United Nations.
Everyone remembers only too well the grim days when the Japs spread out like a swarm of locusts over the peaceful Philippines and East Indies toward Australia, and eastward into the Pacific Islands. Determined Australian jungle fighters slowed and finally stopped them in the New Guinea mountains. Meanwhile our naval task forces hit at them in the seas of east New Guinea and the Solomons, and our marines gave them the surprise of their lives at Tulagi and Guadalcanal. Australia was saved from almost certain invasion, and protection of our vital supply lines to the South Pacific was assured.
President Roosevelt has labelled what happened at the earlier stages of these actions "defensive attrition." What's cooking now has the Japs trying to do the defending. These islands are going to serve as important offensive bases from which to push the Japs back to where they came from.
Though the main importance of these islands is strategic, they are also rich in resources. There are hundreds of plantations scattered through the area while in many places there are important deposits of gold and other valuable minerals largely untouched. The existence of these minerals is one of the main reasons why Japan has coveted the islands for years.
On this job, you'll know the South Seas a lot better than when you looked at Dotty Lamour's sarong in the movies back home. Some things are as you expected--coral reefs and coconut palms, green jungles and natives whose clothing doesn't cost much. Some things you won't find, for they never really existed at all outside the imagination of novelists and movie directors. Others the movies never showed--including diseases, smells, and bites.
You don't need to be told that campaigning in these islands in no picnic--you're often steamy and sweaty and muddy; in fact conditions are about as bad as on any
battlefront in the world. But the islands are not all bad by any means.
People are inclined to exaggerate the difficulties of living in such places, even in jungles and swamps. Remember that Government officials, gold and oil prospectors, and others have lived for months at a time in some of the worst parts of New Guinea, and have come out feeling fine and with their heads still on their necks. You too will do a good job of pulling through, and the reason for this guide is to make a tough job a little easier by helping you to feel as much at home as possible in a strange land.
An important part of your military assignment in these islands is to get along well with the local people. Nothing would please the Japs more than to find trouble breaking out between us and our British allies or between us and the native islanders. But we Americans generally have a knack for making friends and respecting other people's ideas and feelings.
The native islanders, too, are just as anxious as you are to have the Japs thrown out. Bombs and guns have wrecked their houses and gardens, killed their relatives, and made many exiles from their homes. So long as we do nothing to shake their confidence in us, they should give us every help possible. Although a large part of this guide deals with the natives and their customs, there
Eastern New Guinea
are lots of things you'll have to find out for yourself.
It can obviously make a great deal of difference under conditions of jungle warfare if the local inhabitants are friendly rather than hostile. Friendly natives have saved the lives of many of our airmen who have been shot down in isolated places. Many natives have fought bravely on our side, and some have received military decorations. Others have helped as guides, carriers, and stretcher-bearers, or have given food to soldiers temporarily cut off from sources of supply.
PERHAPS you can best see what these islands are like by picturing what would happen if a continent more than half the size of the United States were submerged in the ocean, leaving only the rugged mountain ridges and peaks with swift streams and occasional marshy flats.
The main island of New Guinea, in such a picture, would correspond to the Rocky Mountains. This island, perched like a giant bird over Australia, is the second largest in the world (Greenland is larger). It is 1,300 miles long, about the distance from New York to Omaha; at its widest point it is 400 miles across, the distance from Boston, Mass., to Washington, D.C. It is twice the size of Japan, and much larger than Germany. Only the
eastern or British half of New Guinea is covered in this guide; the western half--Dutch New Guinea--is politically a part of the Netherlands East Indies.
New Britain, the next largest island in this group, is as big as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut combined. Altogether about a dozen of the islands are very large. At the other extreme are many hundreds of tiny islets, sandbanks and reefs. Many of these are inhabited, though you may wonder how the natives manage to live on them. Coral is everywhere in these warm tropical seas, from fringing reefs close inshore to barrier reefs often far out, and palm-fringed atolls--rings of coral round a central lagoon, often many miles across.
These islands contain some of the most rugged stretches of tropical country in the world. In the mountainous interior the people of one native village can sometimes shout to those of another, yet it may take hours to cross the chasm between. On the flat lands there may be miles of swampy country in which native groups live pretty much like ducks.
The main east-west backbone of New Guinea actually rises in the Dutch part of the islands to peaks over 16,000 feet. These are topped with glaciers and perpetual snow. Even the passes over this mountain chain are often 10,000 feet high. It is a tangled region of countless crags, gorges,
and twisting streams. Tough government patrol officers and mineral prospectors have covered an amazing amount of this highland area, but there is still much to be explored.
New Guinea has some very large rivers rising high in the mountains. The Fly River, which drains the great coastal plain on the south side of the island, is navigable by small boats for more than 600 miles. On the north coast the giant Sepik, whose muddy waters discolor the ocean in a wide swath, can be navigated by seagoing vessels for 180 miles. The Ramu, Purari, and Lakekamu are also large rivers. On the smaller islands the streams are swifter, dropping rapidly from the mountains to the coast.
Where rivers and streams reach the ocean there are usually breaks in the coral reefs, since the small organisms whose dead lime skeletons build up as coral cannot survive in fresh water. These passages enable boats and sometimes ships to get into the sheltered lagoons. The harbors of the islands are mostly of this character.
A Political Patchwork
THE area we are talking about is all under the British flag, but is divided into three political units.
1. Papua consists of the southeast quarter of New Guinea, together with a chain of islands running out from the eastern tip. It is a territory of Australia, with its capital at Port Moresby.
2. The Mandated Territory of New Guinea is made up of the northeast quarter of New Guinea, together with the Bismarck Archipelago, the Admiralties, and the northern Solomons. This used to be a German protectorate,, but was put in Australia's charge by the League of Nations after the last war. Its capital was Rabaul, but because of the uncertain temperament of a nearby volcano the capital was shifted to Lae just before the Japanese attack.
3. The British Solomon Islands Protectorate ("B.S.I.P.") comprises the main part of the Solomon Islands, together with the Santa Cruz group and a peppering of smaller islands to the north and east. Its capital is Tulagi.
As in many other colonial areas there isn't much rhyme or reason to these political divisions. Like Topsy they just grew, a result of various agreements--and disagreements--between the nations interested in Pacific colonization. The islands of Choiseul and Ysabel areas in the
Solomons, for instance, were given to Britain by Germany in 1899 in return for Britain's withdrawal from Samoa, leaving the Samoan group to be divided between Germany and the United States. Obviously, what the natives who lived in such places thought, didn't count for much in this political juggling.
Meet the People
NO one know exactly how many people are living in this region today. It hasn't been possible lto take accurate census counts, especially as the larger islands still have mountain and jungle areas not yet brought under government control. There are perhaps 1,300,000 native islanders--850,000 in the New Guinea Mandate, 350,000 in Papua, and 90,000 in the British Solomons.
Before the war there were also about 10,000 immigrant settlers, Nearly 7,000 were white, or "Europeans", as they are called locally--4,500 in the New Guinea Mandate, 2,000 in Papua, and 400 in the Solomons. About 2,000 of the settlers were Chinese. The rest were Malays, natives from other South Sea islands, a few Japanese, and persons of mixed descent.
There are about 6 persons to the square mile, against 44 in the U.S. and 900 in Java. The region is one of the great empty frontiers of the earth.
The Native Islanders. You'd better junk right at the start any ideas you may have about South Sea savages. Here are some of the facts.
The dark-skinned natives in this part of the Pacific are usually called Melanesians--literally, "black islanders." More exactly this name is applied to many coastal peoples of eastern New Guinea, the Bismarcks, and the Solomons, while others in the rest of New Guinea and the interiors of some of the offshore islands are called Papuans (from a Malay word meaning "wooly haired"). The Melanesians are generally taller (though still only of medium height), and also lighter in color, more bushy haired, and less heavily featured than the Papuans. Many Papuans. with their long, hooked noses and loose-hanging lips, are not exactly handsome by our standards. The Papuans of the interior are often very short, some actually of pygmy size like the Negrito peoples of southeast Asia and the Philippines.
If you expect these islanders still to be cannibals and headhunters, you'll be disappointed--that is, unless you go deep into some of the remotest mountains and swamps of New Guinea and New Britain. Don't let the old-timers kid you. The natives look pretty wild in some places, but most of them are accustomed to government supervision, probably go to church far more regularly than some of us
do, send their children to school, and around the ports are a pretty sophisticated lot. Many of their old customs remain, of course--they are by no means convinced that our ways are better than theirs in all respects. Their life is still a strange mixture of primitiveness and civilization.
You'll hear a hundred and more different accounts of the native character. Actually the islanders have about as great a range in conduct and temperament as, say, the peoples of Europe. Some groups are cheerful, approachable, and talkative; others are dour and reserved. Some are trustworthy and dependable; others have a tradition of double talk and deception in dealing with outsiders. Some are clean; some are dirty. Some work hard; others appear to be lazy--until you discover what they think is worth working for. As with us, some are smart; some aren't.
Obviously, dealing with these islanders calls for as much local knowledge as possible. This you will have to pick up on the spot, either by personal contacts with them or through white people who know them well. A good point always to remember is that, if in many respects the native seem backward and dumb to you they are often astonished and at times amused by your ignorance of the ways of the jungle and your not appreciating their customs.
White Residents. White people who live in such places fall into a few distinct types. The natives have learned to know the peculiarities of each, and how to act toward them. If any other brand of white man arrives, they're a little puzzled just where to fit him in.
First, there's the government official. He's usually obeyed promptly, since back of him stand the police, the jail, battleships, and soldiers. he's often liked personally, for government officers usually have fairly expert knowledge of native customs and keep in close touch with the native villagers in their districts. There are times, however, when the official is not so popular--especially when he wants jobs done or puzzling new laws obeyed.
Then, there's the missionary. Among the converts of his denomination he's a highly influential figure. Missionaries, Catholic and Protestant, have played an important part in breaking the natives in to civilization, and most educational and health work in the islands has been left by the governments to the mission bodies. Some of the missions also run large plantations and trading businesses, with their converts as workers and clients. Don't be surprised when you see a sign over a store reading "Sacred Heart of Jesus Ltd."
Finally, there are the trader, the labor recruiter, the planter, the miner, and the oil prospector. All have played
a colorful part in the history of the islands. In early days many white men came to get rich quick. Some did; others left disappointed, and some just stayed on, eking out a living and remaining because they liked the place. Before the war such old-timers were seen at their best on "boat days" at the little island ports, when the overseas steamers arrived with mail and supplies. Then you'd find their schooners and cutters tied up at the piers, and clusters of them on the porches and at the bars of the little island hotels--ice-cold beer and fabulous stories of old days going the rounds.
Such picturesque settlers, however, have been growing scarcer every year. More and more, the small individual traders, planters, and miners have been replaced by large commercial companies.
Most of the white settlers are Britishers, usually from Australia. There are ordinarily about 200 American residents, mainly connected with gold and oil development, or else mission workers. There are also hundreds of Europeans of various nationalities, nearly all on the mission staffs. French Catholic missions carry on work at several points, and five German mission bodies, Catholic and Lutheran, continue to operate in the New Guinea Mandate. The terms of the mandate which placed this territory in Australia's charge specified that freedom of religion be
allowed. These German mission shave been the ones most active in plantation and trading enterprises, and their combined white staffs normally added up to some 500 workers, most but not all of whom were Germans.
You'll hear a lot of discussion about the political loyalties of the German mission workers. Some of the older ones probably had no truck with Hitler, but undoubtedly others carried on pro-Nazi activities among the natives. It seems clear that the Germans kept alive among their adherents the idea that Germany would take over the islands again. After 1939 known Nazi sympathizers were interned in Australia. But many Germans, along with other mission workers, stayed on after the Japs moved in. These people aren't likely to be pro-Japanese.
Chinese. You'll most likely come across some of the Chinese if you're in the New Guinea Mandate or the Solomons. They are either elderly people who came from China in early days to work as plantation laborers, or else the children of these laborers who were born in the islands and hold British citizenship.
In peacetime most of them make a living as small storekeepers and skilled craftsmen. The main settlements have had little Chinatowns. you can be sure that these Chinese are just as anxious to get the Japs ousted as you are.
The Japanese. A few dozen Japs were settled at widely scattered points and some of these at least proved to be agents. It is worth noting that the Japs probably know large areas in northern New Guinea and the Solomons far better than the British do, especially the offshore waters. For years before the war, their fast Diesel-powered sampans operated in the region ostensibly to fish. The Australian government protested several times against the trespassing and poaching done by these vessels but this did not stop such activities.
The Aussies.And now a word about our allies here, the soldiers from Australia. There's quite a new lingo to learn if you're going to understand everything these Aussies say. They'll know our slang better because they've picked it up through American movies.
Aussie soldiers are sometimes spoken of as an undisciplined bunch. It's true that they aren't much on parading and saluting and they don't fight out of a textbook. But when the guns start going off, they're the sort of people you like to have on your side of no-man's land. The Aussies have an enviable battle record in both the last war and this one. Officers often come from the ranks, and are a young group like those in our own Army.
You'll probably run across some young officers who
were on the administrative staffs of these island territories before the war. These fellows had a man-sized job on their hands. As resident magistrates, district officers, or patrol officers, it was their business to know thoroughly the country and the people. Often one of these men had charge of a slice of territory the size of one of the smaller states back home, and he was judge, tax collector, medico, and a dozen other things for thousands of natives. These officers are usually well informed about the high back country and the remoter islands. You can rely on their advice as to how to get around.
Where the People Live
MOST whites settled along the coast and navigable rivers. It took important business to get them to go inland where there were no roads and the natives were likely to be hostile: usually missionary work, gold mining, or oil prospecting. The earliest settlers often chose little offshore islands like Samarai, Tulagi, and Gizo, because they were less likely to be attacked there by people from the interior.
The largest towns in the New Guinea area are Rabaul, Port Moresby, Samarai, Wau, Lae, Salamaua, Madang, and Kavieng. In the Solomons there have been small white centers at Tulagi, Gizo, Faisi, and Kieta. Each of
these places has its own picturesque history and reason for existence.
Rabaul and Port Moresby, for example, owe their beginnings to their first-class harbors. (Really good harbors are surprisingly rare in these coral seas.) Wau is the center of the rich Morobe gold fields. It is up 3,000 feet in the mountains and practically everything for its establishment and maintenance, including house materials, machinery, motor vehicles, gold dredges, and food supplies, had to be flown in by plane. Lae and Salamaua were founded in 1927 to serve the developing air transport lines into these gold fields. Samarai is in the China Strait, the vital sea passageway between the east tip of New Guinea and the maze of reefs and islands that extend eastward for over 250 miles. The Japs doubtless aimed to get control of this strait when they hit at Milne Bay.
These little tropical towns have now been more or less shattered. But in peaceful days they were picturesque settlements with red roofs under bright flowering trees and streets fringed with vivid croton hedges and gardens. Such towns sprang to feverish life every few weeks when the overseas steamer reached port, then lapsed once more into a leisurely round. But all is now of the past--and the future.
Around the main town and along the more accessible coasts there are usually plantations, with their regular lines of coconut trees along the shore, and perhaps rubber and coffee groves back in the hills. From the sea the planter's bungalow is usually visible, together with labor barracks, sheds, and a small landing. Nowadays many small plantations are owned by native communities.
Here and there, too, stands a government station with offices, constabulary barracks, and jail; or else a trading post; or a mission station, with church, schools, and sometimes an industrial unit where native youths learn carpentering, boatbuilding, and other trades. Back in the interior valleys, too, airmen may sight little government or mission stations, and occasionally a mining center, perhaps with a gold dredge squatting like a fat duck in a large pool of water.
Settlements of the native islanders are sometimes perched on piles out in the sea, or placed on offshore sandbanks. These are the "salt water" people whose babies often learn to swim before they learn to walk. The sea gave them safety from marauding "bush" people. Other native settlements are frequently hidden deep in the jungle. The mountain peoples usually place their villages on crags or ridges where guards can look over the country, and the steep slopes can easily be defended.
Sometimes villages have bamboo palisades, or living fences of the twisted aerial roots of banyan trees. In some isoilated places, a whole community even today lives in a single huge house, or houses are built high in trees. In recent years the governments and the missions have persuaded many groups to abandon their traditional types of settlement and build substantial villages in accessible spots. Often these are well laid out, with neat houses, paths, hedges, and flower gardens. Native housing materials are readily at hand--bamboo, palm trunks, palm leaves, and grass for thatching. You will find that you yourself can quickly make a shelter or hut with these materials when necessary.
Yet such marks of habitation only serve to emphasize, by contrast, the vast empty spoaces in thse islands. For mile upon mile, tropical jungles or mangrove swamps may finge the shores without a single break, and in the interior the succession of ridges and peaks and gorgezs may continue, for what seems forever, without a sign of life.
Past and Present
An Exciting Past. The first white voyagers to reach the islands were Portuguese and Spaniards in the early sixteenth century. One of these, Saavedra, gave New Guinea the name Isla del Oro, "Island of Gold." Another, Mendaña, was apparently responsible for the name of the Solomon Islands; perhaps, thinking them the source of King Solomon's riches, he made an ill-fated attempt to establish a colony at Graciosa Bay, in the Santa Cruz group. The names given to the various islands carry over to modern days vivid echoes of their history: San Cristoval, New Georgia, Bougainville, New Ireland, Bismarck Archipelago, and a thousand others.
Nobody wanted these islands at first. White settlers were flocking to the rich temperate lands of North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The South Sea islands further east were healthier. White settlers went there as the inhabitants more quickly gave up the idea that the best thing to do with a white man was to serve him up as a roast of "long pig" or to collect his skull for their sacred houses. Even when the Dutch took over western New Guinea early in the nineteenth century, it was only because this was part of the domain of one of the native princes in the Moluccas.
Not until 1860 did the Melanesian islands begin to
arouse attention. Sugar plantations were then being developed in Queensland and Fiji, and laborers were urgently needed. The rakish craft of "blackbirders" nosed into the islands, and before long thousands of natives had been "recruited," some voluntarily, others by trickery and kidnapping. Trading vessels, too, brought in liquor, guns, and ammunition to exchange for sandalwood, pearls, bêche-de-mer (dried sea slugs which are a delicacy in China) and other products. It became unsafe in many parts of the islands for a native to be without a gun, and casualties from native feuds became far more frequent than in the days of spears and bows and arrows.
Land grabbers as well as legitimate settlers and miners began to arrive. Mission vessels sought out points at which to land their workers. Many of these pioneers were killed, for the native peoples had growing reason to hate and fear the white man. Meantime new diseases like flu, measles, and smallpox, against which the native had no immunity, wrought havoc even in remote villages. In some places whole communities were wiped out, and almost everywhere the population declined.
In 1875 the British set up a "High Commission of the Western Pacific" to bring this messy situation under control, at least as far as British nationals were concerned. British warships patrolled the islands. Traders and labor
recruiters operating under the British flag had to get licenses. The Governor of Fiji was made High Commissioner, a position which he still holds, and resident commissioners were put in the various island groups to supervise their affairs.
All this time the islands were regarded as politically independent. The British home government in this period was anything but expansionist minded. But the British settlers in the Australian colonies (Australia did not become a Commonwealth until 1901) demanded that the Union Jack be planted in the islands for obvious reasons of strategy. Finally, when Germany moved into the Bismarcks and northeast New Guinea in 1884, Britain did annex the southeast part that is now Papua. In 1905 control of this territory was given wholly to Australia. The British declared a protectorate over the eastern part of the Solomons in 1893, again to forestall the Germans. It is today supervised by the High Commissioner of the Western Pacific at Fiji.
Australians continued to look on German New Guinea as a kind of lost territory. Then in 1914, immediately after the outbreak of war with Germany, an Australian military force moved in. At the peace conference the Japs made a bid for rights in New Guinea. But the Australians stood firm against this, and the Japanese backed down to
bide their time. A mandate form of government for this area was accepted by Australia. This means that administrative affairs have been under scrutiny by the League of Nations Mandates Commission, and an annual report has been made to that body.
Government. You'll hear people speaking of "uncontrolled areas". These are remoter places where government influence has not reached or is not yet effective. In the central highlands of New Guinea and New Britain there are still very large areas though which, at most, an armed government patrol passes once in a while.
Over the greater part of the islands, however, orderly government has existed for several decades. The natives you'll see are likely to be peaceable, law-abiding taxpayers. Like ourselves, they sometimes pan the government, and like ourselves some of them have seen the inside of the hoosegow.
The three administrations (Papua, the Mandate, and the British Solomons) are now under military rule. Before the war, each was run by a top civilian official, called an administrator in the case of the two Australian territories, and a resident commissioner, in the case of the Solomons. Under these officials were various executive departments dealing with native affairs, land, agriculture,
and so on. In legislative matters each top official was assisted by advisory councils made up of the most important white officials and of unofficial representatives from among the local white residents of the territory concerned.
The white staffs needed to run each territory have been surprisingly small in size. This is partly because quite a lot of the educational and welfare activities was left to the missions; partly it is accounted for by that fact that natives themselves have taken increasingly important responsibilities. You'll meet picked young men who have been trained as native medical practitioners and orderlies, clerks, radio operators, machinists, and in many other skills. Some of the Solomon Islands youths have been to the famous Rockefeller-supported medical school in Fiji, others to high schools in Australia and New Zealand. Then, too, there are the local armed native police forces, and thousands of minor native officials scattered through the villages.
Native Police. You'll find as remarkable a body of police in these territories as exists anywhere in the world. The governments have for years enlisted natives in constabulary units. These are carefully trained, and serve under white officers. They are armed with regular Australian service rifles. Small groups of these men are distributed at
the government administrative stations, and also placed in areas where trouble occurs or the people are being newly broken in to official control.
These native police have shown themselves in general to be amazingly efficient, brave, and loyal. They act as guides and interpreters. Many a government official owes his life to their accurate shooting or their ability to get food or to outtalk troublesome natives.
Who's Who in a Native Village. Unless you're in remote uncontrolled parts of the interior you can expect any reasonably big native settlement to have some native officials in it who are used to dealing with white men. These officials are either appointed by the government or elected by the people under government supervision. They are the persons to inquire for if you want anything. They may not look very competent. Their only distinguishing marks may be an official cap or coat with buttons (not always very neat or clean), or a badge. But you'll find they usually get results.
In Papua the key official is called the village constable ("V.C."). In the New Guinea mandate the top official is called a luluai (pronounced "loolooeye") and his assistant is called a tultul. In the Solomons there are district and village headmen.
Another influential figure in many communities is the native mission pastor or teacher. The missions, like the government, have depended upon natives to carry on their work. Every mission has one or more training institutions in which they prepare their pastors and teachers, usually picking the finest young men possible from their mission schools. Today there are about 4,000 such native church leaders scattered through the region. These Christian leaders have often helped our men, even at the risk of their lives.
Not to be forgotten, too, are native missionaries who come from other islands of the South Seas. Some of the most dangerous mission assignments have been handled by Fijian, Tongan, and Samoan missionaries, and you'll probably come across such individual carrying on work today in places which white missionaries have had to leave.
Sometimes native villages have traditional leaders who are powerful, perhaps men of wealth (by native standards), heads of clan, or former outstanding warriors. Old people nearly always have high prestige.
Who Speaks What?
THERE'S probably no other place in the world where so many different little local languages and dialects are spoken as in these islands. Here and there, before the white man came, the needs of trade carried a native language over a fairly wide area. But in general people were locked in their own tiny mental worlds.
Into this situation came the white man, wanting to talk about trade, land buying, and other matters. Snappy, short-cut kinds of speech were developed that are nowadays called "pidgin" languages. Today these pidgins are used not only between white and natives, but also between natives who speak different languages. Pidgin-English is a mixture of words from English, native tongues, Chinese, Malay, German, and other languages put together with a minimum of grammar and liberally sprinkled with the salty oaths of early sailormen. But in spite of its apparent rough and ready form, it really has fixed rules. At the end of this guide there is a list of pidgin English words and phrases that my be helpful to you.
Though there are a number of local variations, the pidgin English spoken in this area is on the whole rather uniform. In Papua a pidgin form of the Motu dialect is widespread. Some natives speak English fairly well.
ALTHOUGH there have been thermometer readings in the sun as high as 125° to 135°, the temperature along the coast in New Guinea and the Solomons rarely rises higher than 95° in the shade or sinks below 72°. Inland it becomes increasingly cool the higher you climb.
There is plenty of rain, especially from November to March. Rainfall varies a great deal regionally--from 40 inches in an average year at dry Port Moresby (New York City averages 2 inches), to 165 inches at Woodlark Island, east of the New Guinea mainland.
When it rains in the islands it really does rain, even though the downpour doesn't usually last long. You can hear the rain coming from a long way off, heavy and dull just as if someone had turned on a whole lot of shower baths, and when it hits it is like a wall of water. As a result the rivers have a nasty habit of rising 10, 20, or even 30 feet in a short time. Because of this, old-timers have learned to pitch overnight camps well up from the river banks.
MOST parts of the islands are covered with dense rain forest--hot steamy jungle, with eerie green twilight. In drier places, however, there are sometimes stretches of open grassland or savannah. This tropical grass, usually
coarse and from 4 to 6 feet high, in the distance looks like wheat. Natives in some places burn the grasslands once a year as a method of hunting wild game.
The rain forest, with its tall trees, occasional vivid flowers, tangled lianas, and interlocking maze of roots, may seem lifeless at first but you'll soon realize that it is teeming with life.
The islands, like nearby Australia, have various kinds of marsupials, that is, pouched mammals. There are several types of small kangaroos in New Guinea, none of them more than 3 feet high. The commonest ones are tree climbers. Other marsupials are woolly, slow-moving creatures like the cuscus, about the size of an opossum. There are many types of bats, including the giant flying foxes, fruit eaters with a 4-foot wing spread. Rats are plentiful, too, some over 2 feet long.
The most striking creatures of this region are the birds. Their voices in the early morning sound like a regular jazz band. There are hundreds of kinds ranging from the big black flightless cassowary, 4 and 5 feet high, whose kick is a dangerous as a stallion's, to the beautiful yellow and red plumed birds of paradise. The feathers of the paradise birds were once the basis of a wealthy trade, until the government stopped the killing of these birds to save them from extinction. Around sundown, flocks of noisy white
cockatoos circle over roosting trees. There are dozens of kinds of parrots and pigeons. On New Guinea lives the beautiful crowned pigeon, a smoky-gray bird as big as a small turkey and delicious to eat. The megapode or brush turkey, also good eating, buries its eggs in large hillocks of earth.
There are many varieties of snakes, including poisonous kinds. Be especially careful of sea snakes, usually banded yellow and black. Some of the big lizards look quite ugly, but are harmless.
Crocodiles of two kinds are fairly common. One is a small fresh-water type that lives well up the rivers. It is considered harmless by the natives. The other is a big brute that likes the brackish water of river mouths. It is much feared by the local inhabitants, and is a serious menace in some places to would-be swimmers and to travelers.
Most places are alive with ants, cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, wasps, sand flies, and other bugs. Scorpions and centipedes may hole up in your shoes or clothes. Colorful butterflies include the giant bird-winged variety.
Most unpleasant of all, perhaps, are the leeches which grab at you, or drop on you from leaves in the jungle. They will probably get in through to your skin no matter what you wear. If allowed to bloat up on your blood they will drop off. Get rid of them as soon as you can. But
never tear them off, as a bad sore may result. A lighted cigarette, a cigarette lighter, a spit of tobacco juice, soapy water, gasoline, or a pinch of salt are used to make leeches let go. Don't scratch the spot afterwards, or it may become a sore. 'Tis said old residents miss all such vermin when they leave the islands.
As for fish, they are common in the streams and along the coasts, and the underwater life of the coral reefs and lagoons is just as colorful and fascinating as that of the jungles.
Food and Travel
IN a region such as this, knowing what to eat and where to get it becomes more than just a matter of interest. It may mean the difference between life and death. So, too, may knowing how to travel. There's always a chance that you may get off by yourself, or be in a small party that is cut off from supplies.
Island Foods. Every bit of food brought into the islands takes up valuable shipping space. Local foods in the South Seas are mostly both good and tasty. Some tropical fruits and vegetables are familiar enough to you in home markets--like coconuts, sweetpotatoes, bananas, and pineapples. Others you've probably only heard about.
In place of our wheat and potatoes, most islanders use
taro and yams. Taro is the bulbous root of a kind of lily, and is usually a light purple when cooked. The yam is like a giant potato. Both have a high food value, and may be eaten roasted or steamed. Breadfruit is prepared in the same way. The breadfruit tree has leaves something like giant fig leaves, and the knobby yellow-green fruit is often almost the size of a football. Nowadays may native communities grow corn and manioc (cassava, from which tapioca is extracted). Sugarcane is widely grown, and, incidentally, New Guinea is the original home of this plant.
The coconut palm is a larder in itself. You are probably used to getting coconuts only at the ripe stage when the flesh is hard and white. The soft jelly-like flesh of a half-
ripe nut is far more delicious. Nuts for drinking purposes are best picked at the stage when the flesh is just begining to form. Get to know how to husk such nuts in the native way, and how to chip off the top with a few well-placed blows of a tooil or stone. Coconut juice is the "pop" of the Tropics.
The white flesh of the ripe nut, if shredded and squeezed, give a rich coconut "cream". This may be used like dairy cream, or cooked as a custard. By heating and stirring the shredded coconut with water, "milk" can be extracted instead. In an emergency, nuts which have lain on the ground for some time can be opened and the spoingy ball inside eaten; or the growing tip of "cabbage" at the top of the tree may be cut off and cooked--but cutting this tip kills the tree.
A word of warning is in order here. Coconout flesh and juice disagree with some people and it isn't wise for anyone to rely for more than a few days at a time upon coconut juice for drinking.
The sago palm provides the main food for many native peoples who live in the marshy lowlands where this palm thrives. With sago swamps at hand some groups hardly bother about cultivating taro or other garden produce. Sago making is hard work. The thorny palm is cut down and split open so that the pith can be extracted. This is
squeezed in water and the white sediment which settles is dried into sago flour. A good sized palm should yield 700 pounds of sago, and a couple of native workers can make about 45 pounds in a day. Every sago palm is likely to have an owner so don't cut one down except in an emergency.
Sago is almost pure starch. Some persons find it hard to swallow because of its stickiness. But it can be fried into good cakes.
Pigs and chickens can often be bought at native settlements. Domestic pigs are particularly valuable to the natives. They are used in native feasts and ceremonies, and sometimes in religious sacrifices. Wild game, including marsupials, wild pigs, pigeons, and ducks, is another source of food. The black flesh of the cassowary is eaten by natives, but it's awfully tough.
Not least of all, there are many kinds of river and sea foods: fish, crabs, and so on. Usually all kinds of fish can be eaten except those with parrotlike beaks and those that blow themselves up with air or water and are called puffers or porcupine fish. It is well, however, to inquire locally if any sea foods are poisonous.
Keep an eye on native fishing methods. After all, these islanders have been catching fish for hundreds of years, and have developed many useful tricks. One is to use the
root of a vine known as derris. When this root is scraped a thick white fluid comes out. Put into a pool or slow-flowing stream, it will stupefy fish within two minutes, and they will float to the surface. This does not spoil them for eating.
Emergency Foods. One of the first things worth doing after you arrive in the islands is to get to know what other local plants and animals can be eaten in an emergency. Some outback regions of New Guinea are so barren that even a native would soon starve there. Wherever you are likely to be, however, it should be possible to keep going indefinitely with emergency foods and liquids.
Tender new shoots of ferns make an excellent vegetable, and the roots of ferns, wild lilies, and a number of other plants may be eaten boiled, steamed, or roasted. Waterlilies are a real find, for the roots, stems, flowers, and seed pods can all be eaten. Seeds of the pandanus may be roasted like chestnuts. Flowers of wild sugarcane and "cabbages" on rattan vines can also be cooked. By gashing the stems of either of these plants, juice for drinking can be obtained. Flowers, too, often have liquid in them, especially in the early morning. A good point is to watch the birds. Anything they eat should be good for you.
Wild honey is much prized by the natives. Lizards may
be eaten after roasting--the tail is best. The big white wood grubs are often eaten by natives as we would eat candy. Birds' and turtle eggs are a standby. The tracks of a turtle lead you to where its eggs are buried. On the coast there are all kinds of emergency seafoods, among them edible seaweeds and shellfish.
An excellent cup or cooking vessel is a coconut shell or a section of bamboo. A native method of lighting a fire is by rubbing a sharpened stick of soft wood in a groove cut in another piece fo soft wood; dry moss or leaves may be used as tinder. To get dry wood in the jungle you may have to cut deep into a tree or log. The native ovens is usually a pit in which heated stones are put, with the food either on top or below. Leaves are used as a covering to keep in the steam. Sea water may be used for cooking. A piece of dried coconut flesh will burn like a candle. Dried coconut husks will smoulder for a long time like punk, and fire can be kept going in this way.
Travel. The main "highways" in these islands are on the sea. People use small coastal ships, auxiliary schooners, launches whaleboats, and native canoes. Usually canoes have outriggers. Ocean-going canoes may even be double. By putting a platform across two native canoes a
craft can be made which is capable of transporting quite heavy loads, especially if powered with an outboard motor. On the island streams rafts made of light jungle woods are sometimes used.
In the New Guinea region, the airplane might well be considered the second most important method of travel. Before the war, airplanes were extensively used by government, business, and missions.
Good roads are found around the main settlements and on the big plantations. Otherwise all overland travel is by trail usually suitable only for foot traffic.
The islands are crisscrossed by hundreds of miles of government trails ("tracks"). Native communities are supposed to keep such trails in good condition. The term "good" here is not to be taken too seriously, for even with the best of care they are often barely passable, with steep grades, precarious footholds on cliffsides, and deep mud. Some streams are crossed by swinging bridges reinforced with wire rope, or by native rattan bridges. But mostly there's just a flat-topped log or two. The government trails are supplemented by numerous native tracks,
the usual condition of which is perhaps best left unmentioned.
Pack animals are rare in the islands, so that nearly all travelers hire native carriers. Native men carry a standard load of 40 pounds, and women 30 to 35 pounds; packs must conform to such weight limits. The governments fix pay scales for this and other kinds of work. Don't overpay or give tips!
Native Customs and Manners
ALMOST every native village and hamlet is a little independent group. Within the spaces of a few miles there may be great differences in custom and language. In the old days neighbors fought and feuded; every settlement was an armed camp. This is still true in the uncontrolled areas. In modern days, barriers between groups have been breaking down, yet natives don't like to leave their own localities except under the protection of white men. For these reasons, natives are easily lost outside their own districts, and native guides have to be chosen carefully.
Religion. Practically all the native peoples living around the ports and accessible coasts are now converts to
Christianity, and so are many groups deeper in the interior. Altogether, the 12 different mission bodies, Catholic and Protestant, working in these islands, claim to have over half a million converts. Native Christians are usually very devout and strict about Sunday observance and churchgoing.
The Bible has been translated into a number of their languages, and also into pidgin. You'll hear natives frequently humming or singing hymn tunes.
The usual name for Christianity in the islands is "Lotu", the "Word", and the Christians will speak of themselves as Lotu people.
You'll find, however, that even the Christian natives still hold on to some of the old religious beliefs, which continue to flourish among the unconverted natives.
The islanders are very much concerned with spirits, good and bad, including those of their ancestors. They also practice magic and sorcery.
After all, life is pretty precarious around these parts, and they take no chances with things supernatural.
Many native villages have a sacred house or other holy place where secret societies meet and religious ceremonies are held.
Here also are kept sacred objects, such as images, drums, flutes, and masks. Keep away from these places.
How Natives Make a Living. Most natives are quite smart in driving a bargain and by tradition they are great traders. Salt water people exchange products with the hill people. Some coastal groups trade over considerable distances of ocean. The goods may include shells and "shell money", clay pots, canoes, and foods. For the most part, however, native communities are self-supporting. The people garden, gather wild forest products, hunt, and fish. Generally they satisfy their needs from day to day. Only when seasonal crops like yams and breadfruit are harvested or when special foods are grown for some big celebration, are there likely to be food surpluses on hand.
It is usually possible to buy small amounts of food from native settlements. But any large drain upon their gardens and orchards would quickly reduce them to starvation.
Natives living near the ports and plantations now depend on trade stores for many articles, such as metal tools, cloth, matches, soap, and tobacco.
To pay for these goods the natives sell the trader valuable shells, dried sea slugs, and other things. Or they earn money as government employees, as laborers, or in some places by panning out alluvial gold. In many island communities it is now the accepted thing for almost every able-bodied young man to spend from 1 to 4
years as an indentured laborer in the white man's service.
Natives ordinarily need money for small annual head taxes, for church contributions, and sometimes for court fines. When the need for money is not urgent, however, they may prefer to be paid with stick tobacco, knives, razor blades, salt, or other articles.
Sticks of black twist tobacco (26 sticks to the pound) are a kind of secondary currency in the islands, and have a fixed value in particular areas--so many sticks for a bunch of bananas, so many for a half days' work as a carrier, and so on. When dealing with natives, it is always wise to follow prices set by the government.
Clothes. Around the areas of white settlement, calico waistcloths are the usual garments for natives, though short pants are coming into favor with the men. Women may or may not have a top covering. For reasons of health, the governments have discouraged the wearing of a lot of clothes, especially on the upper part of the body. Away from these settled areas, native style clothing--or the lack of it--is still usually the vogue.
Scanty as they are, fashions of native dress vary amazingly in detail from area to area. You'll be able to spot the home locality of a man by his type of loin cloth or his penis covering of shell, gourd, or bark, and of a
woman by the cut of her grass skirt or kilt. Such things as body ornaments, tattoo marks, strange hair-dos, and nose plugs will also show where natives come from. In dances and ceremonials, natives wear amazingly elaborate masks, headdresses, and other adornments made of gorgeously colored feathers, shells, human hair, etc.
Celebrations. The islanders are always ready for a celebration. Their life is spiced with all kinds of ceremonies--at birth, marriage, sickness, and death, when luck is good or bad, and before, during, and after housebuilding, gardening, hunting, and fishing. At these times the native really goes to town with feasting, singing, and dancing. You'll often hear the boom of native drums and songs over the jungles and through the hills. In pidgin a festivity of this kind is called sing-sing, a name which here has a pleasant meaning.
Amusements. Natives have many games of their own. One game, for example, is to throw spears for distance, or to try hitting a moving object bowled along the ground.
Some natives play soccer football and cricket. The government and missions found that these sports were a good way to work off tense feelings between natives--a
kind of substitute for intertribal warfare. In Papua the government bought footballs for native communities. The main centers have good sports grounds, and quite a few native villages have playing fields. When you first see natives playing soccer, you'll be surprised. They "boot" the ball with bare feet, and unless the referee is careful there may be more action than the rules permit. Before the war, annual tournaments were held to which districts and villages sent their teams.
Also a word as to betel chewing. Rookies have sometimes made the mistake of thinking that betel-chewing natives have just come from a cannibal feast. But chewing is only a good old island custom. A quid is made by combining betel nut (from the slender areca palm) with lime. When chewed this produces a bright red juice which the natives spit in all directions. Incidentally, betel chewing tends to blacken the teeth.
Women. You may think that native men don't have very much respect for their women. It is true that women are shut out from some of the important religious and other affairs of the community and they have to do a lot of the hard work.
More than we do, the islanders make a clear distinction between men's and women's activities, and in their own
field women have plenty of opportunities for self-expression. See them at a sing-sing and you'll realize they're just as concerned with glamor and with catching the eye of the opposite sex as our girls back home.
Natives, however free and easy they may seem to be among themselves, are likely to resent outsiders interfering with their women. Some of the island peoples, too, outdo the strictest mid-Victorians in their prudishness. In some places no public show of affection is allowed even between husbands and wives. Native women everywhere are likely to be much more timid than men. In more isolated districts they may even hide in the bush when strangers visit their village.
YOUR medical unit will give you careful instructions on how to get along in this not exactly healthy part of the world. Here are some of the main points.
Mosquitoes are almost as much your enemies here as the Japs. Dusk and dawn are the favorite raiding times for mosquitoes of the opposite sex and they're the ones that cause 90 percent of our malaria cases. Be modest--avoid these females by wearing full clothing. Take every possible precaution to keep her away from your anatomy.
You'll recognize her by her biting stance; she stands on
her head instead of operating from a horizontal position as other mosquitoes do. Incidentally she likes dark shaded jungles and dark houses. If your are camping out, try to find high, windswept ground away from native villages from which mosquitoes may bring infection to you. Practically 100 percent of the natives have malaria and it is the cause of more deaths among them than any other disease.
Your mosquito net is indispensable and should be available at all times. Mosquito boots, gloves and head nets are equally important; never wear "shorts" or short-sleeved shirts after sunset or if you are going into the jungle.
Atabrine is used to help prevent and to cure malaria. False is the rumor about the poisonous action of atabrine; true is the story that men have taken atabrine for over a year without any harmful effect. Don't be a sucker and get malaria because of a false rumor.[*]
Other mosquitoes carry dengue fever and filariasis (a worm infection) but these are daytime feeders, and will not cause as much trouble as the malaria mosquitoes.Never take risks with drinking water. If it comes from wells or streams around settlements and plantations always boil it. Sewage matter carried in water or in any other way spreads all kinds of diseases, including dysentery,
[* I believe the rumor referred to here is that the tablets would cause male impotence. Similar rumors (esp. that saltpeter was added to rations) have circulated among armies since Caesar crossed the Rubicon--if not long before. --HyperWar]
typhoid, and intestinal parasites. The lagoon and reef immediately around a coastal village is almost sure to be infected in this way--a warning to swimmers. When eating native foods that have been handled or stored, see that they are cooked well, and if possible eat them hot. Cold or reheated foods may be contaminated. Fruits with skins are safe only if the skins are unbroken. Always cook fish thoroughly, since they may be carriers of tapeworms and other parasites. Clean food, clean mess kits, and clean water cleans out diarrhea.
Wash clothing often and if possible take a bath every day. After bathing, dry thoroughly all skin folds (toes, crotch, penis, ears, and armpits) to prevent dhobie itch and other fungus infections. Doing this will also reduce the chances of getting scrub itch, caused by minute parasites which burrow into the skin. Get athlete's foot before it gets you. Itching toes, dead skin, and white patches indicate athlete's foot, so spend 10 minutes with the "Doc" and 10 more to boil your sock. Also never let anyone use your towel and don't use the other fellow's.
As the natives have many skin and eye infections, it is a good idea to have as little contact as possible with their clothing and other personal articles. Gonorrhea is very common; so is a venereal disease known as yaws, which resembles syphilis but is milder.
Whether it's mild or not, you can't be too careful! If you have sexual contact, by all means take a prophylaxis as promptly as possible .The importance of this cannot be overstressed--not only important to you now but vitally important to you and yours when you get back home.
Another word of advice. Shoes should be worn at all times. Bare feet invite hookworm, as well as bites from snakes and insects. If you are out in the sun, keep the other end of your anatomy covered, too, if possible with a hat that gives shade to your eyes. Sunstroke isn't a pleasant thing. Don't put away heavy meals at noon and then go out into the sun. If you do, the sun will put you away. The body needs more water than ever in this climate. Nix on alcohol taken in the heat of the sun--it leads to heat collapse and then the coffin.
Though the weather is warm, put on a sweatshirt or jacket after heavy exertion. Have sufficient clothing and covering at night, too. Even in the tropics it gets quite cool after midnight. Look out for scratches, especially on jungle thorns and reef coral. Minor cuts may turn into painful tropical ulcers, which take a long while to heal and may prove very serious. A cut here is 20 times as dangerous as at home. Don't be a tough guy; play smart and reports for treatment of even a small cut.
All in all, this sounds pretty bad. yet the islands are really not so disease-ridden as many other tropical countries. Some of the worst diseases which are common in other places are not found in the islands at all--for example, smallpox cholera, and yellow fever. The main thing is to take all prophylactic measures, keep cheerful, and let your own tough constitution do the rest.
What Makes Trouble With Natives?
This question was put to a number of people who have lived in these islands. Their answers, put down in order of emphasis, are as follows:
Interfering with native women;
Entering sacred places without permission, and touching sacred things.
Molesting gardens, orchards, and interfering with pigs;
Taking goods owned by natives without compensation--even perhaps cutting trees or shooting game in their territories;
Coercion in recruiting labor, or clearing roads;
Striking or swearing at natives;
Entering native houses out of curiosity;
Making a lavish display of articles valued by natives.
Like ourselves back home, too, the natives have a thousand do's and don'ts, things allowed and things taboo. So far as you can understand these, respect them.
Hints on Pronouncing Melanesian Pidgin English
THESE are a few hints to help you in listening to the Melanesian Pidgin English records which have been supplied to your troop unit. At first Pidgin English may strike you as just plain funny and nothing to take seriously. You must remember that it is a true language with its own grammar, vocabulary and special way of saying things. you cannot just mix up English or talk the way you think a Chinese laundryman talks. And remember, learning a few simple phrases of Pidgin and seeing how it works might mean the difference between life and death to you.
Pidgin is spoken in much the same way in New Guinea
and through the islands south and east of New Guinea, all the way to New Caledonia. The dialect you are going to hear on the records is the one used in the eastern part of New Guinea, in New Britain and through the islands of Bougainville and Buka. The differences that are important in the usage of the Solomons are noted at the end of the "Useful Words and Phrases".
Usually, your pronunciation of words that are the same in English and Pidgin will be understood by the natives. However, their pronunciation might sound very strange to you. In general, you will notice the following things:
t, d, l, and r are often confused and your ear must be sharp enough to catch the individual native's tricks. k and g are often interchanged to our ears. Actually, the native is using one sound for both, sometimes sounding to us more like a k, sometimes more like a g. (Example: kiss-im or giss-im . . . ee come meaning "bring". This is probably fro English "git" for "get".) f and p are often confused to our ears. Again the native is often giving a sound halfway between p and f which might sound sometimes more like p and sometimes more like f. Actually, the sound is like the one you make when you blow out a match. (Example: pell or fella, from English "fellow", or pinis or finis, from English "finish").
ch and sh are often changed to "s". (Example, too mas from English "too much" and pinis from English "finish".) th often is changed to d or t (Example: someting for English "something".) Vowels, generally: a as in sofa is often put before English words beginning with a consonant. Example: a-road for English "road".) A vowel sounding like the y in city is often put between sounds that are pronounced together in English. (Example: si-moke for English "smoke".)
In words which have changed greatly from their English equivalents or in writing words taken directly from the native languages, the following system is used:
ah and a equal the a in father. a equals the a in sofa (in unaccented syllables). ai equals the ai in aide. au equals the ow in cow. aw equals the aw in law. ee equals the ee in feet. eh equals the e in let. oh equals the o in go. u equals the u in put, except when another pronunciation is noted for it. uh equals the u in but.
You will notice Pidgin has a peculiar sort of intonation. this is quite easy to imitate and very important. Try to memorize the phrases on the records exactly as you hear them, and give this intonation whenever you try to speak Pidgin.
Useful Words and Phrases
HERE is a list of the most useful words and phrases you will need in Melanesian Pidgin English. you should learn them by heart. They are the words and phrases included on the Melanesian Pidgin English language records, and appear here in the order they occur on the records.
Greetings and General Phrases
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling master master (pronounced MAHS-tuh) In referring to white women use Mrs.; in addressing employed natives use "boy"; in addressing native women use "mary." Yes
ee-got (from English "he got")
na-wuh-name (English "what name")
Understand you savvy I dont understand uh, me long-long Speak slowly you no can talk hurry-up; talk easy (pronounced EE-see) Where is
ee stop where
The government rest house in the village house kiap (KEE-ahp)
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling Where is the Government rest house? where stop house kiap hostel house drink Where is the hotel? house drink, ee stop where a toilet house peck-peck Where is a toilet? house peck-peck, ee stop where The answer to your question "where is such and such" will often be the phrase below accompanied by a gesture. It's this way or that way em, ee stop along hap (from English "half") If you want directions to a place farther than a short walking distance ask a native to accompany you. For this you use the phrase equal to, "you come and show me the road." You come and show me the road You come line-im me along road
Time is given in terms of the sun's position in the sky, and, as you will see later, distances are given in terms of time. When did he come? sun, ee stop where; now man ee come up When will I get there? by'n'by, sun, ee stop where; now, me come up The native will point to the path of the sun (directly over head for noon, half way between the horizon and the zenith for three o'clock, and so forth) and say: sun, ee stop allasame
Phrases for Time of Day
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling An hour before dawn number one pigeon, ee cry Dawn too-light Noon bell-o kai-kai About six o'clock avvy-noon Just after sunset too-dark pinis (English "finish") Night big night You should ask distances in such a way that the answer will be a time of day. For example, if you want to say, "How far is it to Rabaul," you should use the Pidgin for "If I leave here at dawn (noon, six o'clock) when do I get to Rabaul", you say:Suppose me loose-im place 'here along too-light, by'n'by sun, ee stop where now me come up along Rabaul?Distances can also be guessed from the number of times the verb (generally "go") is repeated or drawled out. It's pretty far
man, ee go-go-go-go-go
man, ee go-o-o-o-o
It's very far man, ee go lo-ol-o-ng way
too mas (English "too much")
You need to know the numbers. One to ten are the same as the English, but always add "pella" (English "fellow"). For instance: One man has two wives one pella man, ee got two pella mary
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling eleven one pella ten one twelve one pella ten two twenty two pella ten one hundred ten pella ten one thousand plenty too mas When you want to know what something is or what it's for, you say: wuh-name (English "what name") something 'ere or dis pella somting belong wuh-name
I want me like I want to eat me like kai-kai I want to drink me like drink Bring it kiss-im, ee come I want some firewood kiss-im some pella pire-wood, ee come
milk soo-soo a young cocoanut to drink koo-lau a ripe banana mau (also means "ripe") a ripe papaya paw-paw, ee mau pineapple na-nas limes, leomons, etc. moo-lee eggs kee-au
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling chicken kahk-a-rook beef bull-a-ma-cow (put the accent on "cow") vegetables sah-you foods like potatoes tah-roh
Native tobacco brus ("u" as in "put") drinking water water belong drink water for washing water belong wash-wash When you want to buy something in a shop or store you say: me like buy-im some pella Then add the name of the thing wanted.
To find out how much things cost, you say:
By'n'by me buy-im long how mas mark The answer will be given you in "marks," an Australian shilling, worth about 25 cents.
If you think the price is too high, you can say:
Dis pella someting, ee no eenup (English "enough") along two pella (three pella, ten pella, etc.) mark
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling yesterday assaday today now something that will happen today by'n'by now Something that has happened today now tas all (English, "that's all") tomorrow tomorrow day after tomorrow hap tomorrow day before yesterday assaday bepore The days of the week are: Sunday, one-day, two-day, three-day, etc.
The word for week is Sunday.
What is your name? call-im name belong you What is the Pidgin for this-- Dis pella someting, white-man ee call-im wuh-name That's all right, or never mind mahs-kee In order to get an idea of how Pidgin sounds, listen to the following passage. A white man is asking a native boy what happened to a native whom he and his friend saw fighting the day before."Assaday me go along place, one time along ('with') pe-rehn (English "friend") belong me. Allright, me two pella look-im two pella kanaka ('natives') ee pight. Allright now one pella, ee kiss-im hap dee-wigh (English 'half-tree', hence 'club' or 'stick') pight him dis nudder pella man, ee die; tas all ee no
ee die pinis. Allright all-ee carry man, ee go. All-ee pass-im ('bandaged') head belong-im along dis pella house. New allasame wuh-name? Dis pella man ee pight-im em, ee no ee stop?"We will now take the passage sentence by sentence. Repieat in Pidgin English each time.
"Yes, master ee no ee stop, ee run away pinis."
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling 1. Yesterday I went to the village. "Assaday me go along place 2. With my friend. one time along ('with') pe-rehn (English 'friend') belong me 3. We saw two natives fighting Allright, me two pella (we) look-im two pella kanaka ('natives') ee pight. 4. One of them took a piece of wood. Allright now one pella, ee kiss-im hap dee-wigh, (English 'half-tree') 5. And knocked the other one out, but didn't kill him. pight him dis nudder pella man, ee die; tas all ee no ee die pinis. 6. They picked the man up. Allright all-ee carry man, ee go. 7. They bandaged his head in this house. All-ee pass-im ('bandaged') head belong-im along dis pella house. 8. What I want to know is: Now, allasame wuh-name 9. Isn't the man who it the other fellow here? "Dis pella man ee pight-im em, ee no ee stop?"
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling 10. No, master, he's not here. "Yes, Master, ee no ee stop 11. He has run away. "ee run away pinis".
For most of the Solomon Islands, note the following variations:
"I don't understand"--you will hear instead of "me long-long", "me no harim (English 'hear') good", or "me no harim savvy".
When did he come?--"em ee can come up long wuh-name time?"
When will I get there?--me can come up long wuh-name time?"
In addition to "brus", the word "tambak" for native tobacco is frequently heard.
In most of the Solomons, instead of dee-wigh for "tree", the straight English "tree" or te-ree" is most commonly used.
Additional Words and Phrases
bank ah-ra-reh darkness too-dark daytime long sun garden wuhk (English "work") fire pire (English "fire") forest or jungle bush grass grass ground gi-roun (English "ground") hill liklik mountain lake roun water (English "round water")
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling swamp gi-roun ee no strong moon moon mountain mountain sea
swawl water (English "salt water")
rain rain or a-rain river water star si-tar (Enlish "star") stream
sun sun wind win (English "wind") day day month moon morning morning time night big night year Christmas
boy monkey brother brudder or ba-rudder child pickaninny daughter pickaninny mary father papa girl
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling man man mother mama sister sisser son pickaninny man woman or wife mary grandparent tumboona relations-in-law tahmboo
arms ahn back backside body si-kin (English, "skin") eye eye ear ear finger pinger foot leg hair grass belong head hand
ahn (English "arm")
han (English "hand")
head head leg leg mouth mout nose nose (pronounced nohs) teeth teet toe finger belong leg joint si-crew (Englihs "screw")
House and Furniture
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling bed bed blanket ba-lanket chair chair cup cup door door house house kitchen house cook stairs ladder table table wall banis window window mosquito net taw-nam (particularly in Rabaul area)
Food and Drink--Tobacco
cocoanut coconuhs ripe cocoanuts dry coconuhs food kai-kai cigarette cigar or smoke bananas banana fruit pickaninny belong dee-wigh (English "tree") cucumbers kam-bang salt swawl (English "salt") fish piss sugar or sugar cane sukar coffee kawpee
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling meat meat jam jam ice ice mango mahngo shrimp kindam crab koo-pa rice rice pipe pipe pepper pepper clams, mussels, oysters kee-na tea tea steak meat tomatoes tomahtoes (rare) whiskey whiskey beer beer betel nut pilly nuhs
bridge, jetty or wharf bridge church house loh-too city town market boom or boong native men's house house tamberan dwelling house house married path road or a-road post office house post police station house police
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling store si-tore (English "store") street road cinema picture town town village place belong ka-na-ka
bird pigeon pigeon ba-lus chicken poul (English "fowl") cassawary maw-rok crocodile puk-puk ("u" as in "put") dog dog goat may horse waws or hors-ee flies lahng or gnat-gnat mouse or rat rat ants anis pig pig shark shark sheep sheep-sheep snake si-nake insect bin-a-tan small kangaroo see-kou leech liklik si-nake lice nit-nit
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling duck pa-to bedbugs nus-nus cat pussy spider dum-dum ("u" as in "but") cow bull-a-ma-cow (put the accent on "cow")
Trades and Occupations
cook cook government representative
lu-lu-igh or number one (for the whole area)
ku-ku-righ (for a village
tui-tui ("u" as in "put")
first number one and so on
belt led boots soo (English "shoe") coat coat hat hat necktie tie cloth lap-lap (outer) shorts short fella trousers shirt shirt socks sock or leg sweater sweater trousers trousers undershirt singlis
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling good good-fella bad no good big big-fella small lik-lik or lik-a-lik
(lik-lik in area around Rabaul)
right shoot left
arm no good
sick sick well
hungry hungry thirsty hungry long water black black-fella white white-fella red red-fella blue black-fella green black-fella or allasame leaf yellow
high too-mas (English "too much") low ee down long long fella short short fella deep ee down too mas
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling shallow ee no go down cold col hot hot-fella wet ee got water dry dry-fella dirty ee got dirty clean clean-fella expensive dear too mas cheap ee no dear empty noting (English "nothing." This follows noun) old old-fella (things
new new-fella young young-fella full full-up ready ready finis or a-ready finis
I me we me-fella (often does not include the person you are talking to) we vou-e (includes person you are talking to)
me-two-fellow (when only two people are speaking)
you (singular) you you you-two-fella (talking to two people) you (plural) you-fella
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling he em she em my, mine belong me your
theirs belongs all his belong em our belong me-fella this or that this-fella these or those this-fella all-a man which? wuh-name? who? hoosat? ("who's that?") how? all-a-same wuh-name? how many? how mas? (English "much") who, which or that (relative pronoun) ee anyone one-fella everybody altogether man all altogether
of, from belong to, in long or along with one time along near close to in front along eye belong
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling about on top again 'gain behind or after behind below underneat far long way here 'ere as much as ee-nup along less than ee no ee-nup along more more enough enup already finis (English "finish", pronounced "pinis" in Rabaul Area) a little liklik bigger, etc. bit-fella more near close to on that side along hap ee go on this side along hap ee come there (pointing) along this-fella hap very more or too mas (follows the adjective) where where stop
and now (often pronounced "nuh") for belong but tas all ("that's all")
English Simplified Melanesian Pidgin English Spelling if suppose yet yet still not enoh yet
Phrases for Every Day
Come here you come Come quickly you come hurry-up Go quickly Run you go What do you want? You look-out-im wuh-name something? Bring some drinking water kiss-im water belong drink ee come Bring some food Bring-im kai-kai ee come Where is the village? Where stop place belong ka-na-ka? I am hungry Me hungry I am thirsty Me hungry along water Where are you going? You go where? I'm going for a walk Me lin-lim-boor Be careful! or Lookout! Look out Wait a minute
Wait past time
Sun up past time
Where can I sleep Me can sleep long wuh-name place? I haven't any money, I have only cigarettes Me no got money, si-moke tasall I am sick Me got sick (and point to the part of the body affected) I am an American soldier, I am your friend. Me man belong 'Merica, me pe-rehn belong you.