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Mix-masters (was: various infotaining natlang tidbits)

From:Kristian Jensen <kljensen@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 14, 2000, 17:36
Leo J. Moser wrote:
>----- Original Message ----- >From: "Lars Henrik Mathiesen" <thorinn@...> >To: <CONLANG@...> >Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 5:06 AM >Subject: Re: various infotaining natlang tidbits
>> > Actually, the terms I posted are the older Tok Pisin forms used during >> > the days of the Cargo Cults. The term "Miks masta bilong Jesus Christ" >> > certainly reflects Cargo Cult understanding, doesn't it? > >A bogus example, I think. > >>> There were a >> > lot terms like that equally (if not more) hilarious -- a pity I don't >> > remember them. >> >> Hilariously simpleminded natives. Right.
Au contraire! Hilariously creative natives. I didn't mean to belittle traditional people. Of course, from our point of view (and especially to native English speakers), it is hilarious because we have names for the gadgets of the modern world. Many languages genuinely borrow words and coin new ones from these borrowed words. Japanese does this a lot with English loans. E.g. "sutoobu" exclusively designates a room heater, or "manshon" apparently means apartment block, or "bakkumiraa" when English speakers would say a car's rear-view mirror. Many English loans in Japanese are hilarious to the ears of English speakers because the loans may be recognizable, but not the way they are used.
>> Well, it may turn out that these phrases are genuine old Tok Pisin. > >Some are. Some seem "humorous" in English. But this is no longer English.
My point exactly.
>> But they just remind me too much about the humorous 'examples' that >> used to be in the little joke segments between articles in fifties- >> vintage Reader's Digests. Like 'lazy white man sits down and walks' >> for bicycle, and 'box with teeth, you hit him, he cry' for piano.
I remember these, but I know that those aren't genuine Wantok.
>> When I was nine and reading through my grandmother's boxes of back >> issues, I could actually believe that that was how those endearing >> primitive people talked. But now I very strongly suspect that they >> were made up to be cute --- or hilarious. (I'm not sure which is the >> least attractive of the two). And the same for Kristian's examples.
Like I said, I don't mean to belittle traditional people or speakers of Tok Pisin. The examples I gave are supposedly genuine. If it isn't genuine, then I must apologize of course. Though, had I wanted to belittle them, then I would have given "bikpela bokis yu hitim teeth i krai" as an example for piano -- I didn't. I see nothing wrong with humoring over the peculiarities of other languages, and creoles are especially fun because we can recognize the lexicon but not necessarily the way its used. -----<snip>-----
>> Pikanini turns out to be more widespread than I thought, but there are >> lots of other things that make me suspicious. > >There are lots of serious and substantial dictionaries of TokPisin. > >"The Jacaranda Dictionary and Grammar of Melanesian Pidgin" by F. Mihaic, >shows: >child = pikinini >Son of God = Pikinini Man bilong God (or ... Bikpela)
Yes! "Bikpela" I remember that!
>daughter = pikinini meri >hair = gras >grass = gras
There you go! "grass bilong hed" for hair -- that is, if you want to be specific about it. Otherwise, "grass" alone is perfectly understandable given the context, e.g. "combing my grass".
>kitten = pikinini pusi >Lamb of God = Pikinini Sipsip bilong God >crown = hat bilong kwin/king >helicopter = helikopta > >no mixmasters
Hmmm... I suppose not. Or perhaps that dictionary does not have old terms or specifically Cargo Cult jargon.
>> For instance: >> Prince Charles was born in November 1948, after the Cargo Cult days >> (which ended with WWII, IIRC). (OK, that's marginal). > >no relevance to cargo cult.
Didn't the Cargo Cults appear after WWII? The way I understand it, they arose when military planes ceased delivering cargo to the remote garrisons stationed in New Guinea. Some locals believed that outsiders and missionaries had intentionally diverted the cargo planes from their area, and seeing that it was their right to receive a share of the cargo they made cults aimed at calling the cargo planes back.
>The word pikinini is standard for child, descendent -- also seed/fruit >So Prince Charles really is "pininini bilong kwin." No more humorous >than the religious terms cited.
You guys must think I laugh at the strangest things.
>> Why would TP borrow a word for grass before a word for hair? > >It's both.
What's wrong with borrowing the word for grass before the word for hair? Why would it necessarily be the other way around?
>> Wouldn't a stage of TP that has borrowed MixMaster not also have a >> word for plane, and use something natural like 'plane like MixMaster'? >> (There would have been very few helicopters in those days anyway---the >> only WWII helicopter was the R-4 (from 1943), and AFAIK that was a >> single-person rescue craft, not a cargo or combat craft).
Weren't the last of the Cargo Cults still persisting in the 1960's? There were definitely helicopters then. And perhaps planes were simply called "cargo"? When helicopters become more practical to use than planes in the dense jungles of New Guinea, and Cargo Cults still persisting, then perhaps these new forms of "cargo" were the "miks masta bilong Jesus Christ bilong Kago Muvmen" and the answer to all the Cargo Cults prayers. This is all speculative, of course. But I'm trying to keep an open mind.
>I think this one is whimsical. They don't much use >mixmasters in the villages.
They don't have to use it to get acquainted with it. Perhaps missionaries had them. Perhaps cult leaders got acquainted with them as part of the cargo, but never used them themselves. Who knows? -kristian- 8)