gola seashell, mollusk
bambasinga conch shell (blood-mouth)
biya trochus shell
bose turban shell (blotched or spotted)
bulembule cowrie shell (small cowries in general)
bulenda money cowrie
gingini wati na vase shell type (lit. rock vaseshell)
gingini vase shells
gungamala cerith shell
itaita ark shell?
sambawaya pen shell
susuka cowrie shell (small)
tataleko conch shell (true conch)
temiye giant clam
ai usi cowrie shell (humpbacked)
awila kiki cowrie shell
bula cowrie shell (large, white)
dandanggolana giant clam (fluted)
goluwe clam type (elongated)
kalambali sanguin clam
kodo venus clam
kokoli shell scraper, coconut grater
kokowa nerite shell (plain)
langana conch shell type (spider conch)
lelewa turban shell type (striped or plain)
nano didi marble cone shell (lit. funny face)
ndendeyanga conch shell type (spider conch)
nginza giant clam
sekalekale wedge clam
sisiyaka nerite shell (spotted)
yalausi oyster shell, mother-of-pearl
yamumu venus clam
zekele mud whelk
gola seashell, mollusk
Although the actual words to describe the relationships differ from language to language, the Numbami kinship system is fairly widespread, not just among indigenous peoples in Papua New Guinea and Australia, but also in South India and across North America. In North American terms, Numbami kinship terminology can be classified as of the Iroquois type.
One of the major classificatory criteria of such a system is whether a chain of relationships crosses sex lines or stays within the same sex. For instance, siblings of the same sex (parallel siblings) are distinguished according to whether they are elder or younger than oneself. Siblings of the opposite sex (cross-siblings) are not. Similarly, one’s father’s brothers and mother’s sisters (parallel siblings) are distinguished according to whether they are elder or younger than the respective parent, and their children (parallel cousins) are classified as either elder or younger parallel siblings in accordance with the relative age of their parents.
In contrast, relative age is not regularly distinguished for relatives linked across sex lines, such as one’s father’s sister’s children or mother’s brother’s children (cross-cousins). This lack of age-ranking among cross-cousins may help explain why the gode-lu-gode (‘cousin-to-cousin’) relationship is considered the most open and easygoing among kin relationships.
Numbami kinship terms also show unique morphology. The suffix -(e)we (from ewa ‘female’) marks specifically female equivalents in male–female pairs of terms. And the female suffix also preserves a few older traces of possessive suffixes that used to mark kin terms (and body parts) in a pattern that is very widespread in Oceanic languages, but generally eroded to varying degrees in the Huon Gulf languages of PNG. These traces of older possessive suffixes are discussed below.
tumbuna ‘grandson, grandfather’
tumbunewe ‘granddaughter, grandmother’
tama ‘father’ (somewhat archaic or technical in usage)
tina ‘mother’ (somewhat archaic or metaphorical in usage)
mama ‘father’ (both referential and vocative)
awa ‘mother’ (both referential and vocative)
mama bamo ‘father’s elder brother, mother’s elder sister’s spouse’
awa bamo ‘mother’s elder sister, father’s elder brother’s spouse’
mama kae ‘father’s younger brother, mother’s younger sister’s spouse’
awa kae ‘mother’s younger sister, father’s younger brother’s spouse’
sika ‘elder (usually male) parallel sibling (father’s elder brother’s son or mother’s elder sister’s son)’
sikanewe ‘elder female parallel sibling (father’s elder brother’s daughter or mother’s younger sister’s daughter)’
kapa ‘younger (usu. male) parallel sibling (father’s younger brother’s son or mother’s younger sister’s son)’
kapowe ‘younger female parallel sibling (father’s younger brother’s daughter or mother’s younger sister’s daughter)’
lu ‘cross-sibling (woman’s brother or male parallel cousin)’
lunewe ‘female cross-sibling (man’s sister or female parallel cousin)’
gode ‘cross-cousin (mother’s brother’s or father’s sister’s child, usu. male)’
godenewe ‘female cross-cousin (mother’s brother’s or father’s sister’s daughter)’
asowa ‘spouse (husband or wife)’
asosika ‘spouse of one’s elder parallel sibling’
asokapa ‘spouse of one’s younger parallel sibling’
iwa ‘spouse’s (usu. wife’s) cross-sibling’ (TP tambu)
iwanewe ‘husband’s cross-sibling’
kolamundu ‘cross-sibling’s spouse’ (TP tambu)
wowa ‘uncle (mother’s brother or father’s sister’s husband)’
wawe ‘aunt (father’s sister or mother’s brother’s wife)’
natu ‘offspring, son (of self or parallel sibling)’
natunewe ‘daughter (of self or parallel sibling)’
tamota ‘nephew (son of cross-sibling or cross-cousin)’
tamotewe ‘niece (daughter of cross-sibling or cross-cousin)’
In Numbami, possessive suffixes have been lost everywhere except on a handful of kin terms. (They are eroded, but somewhat better preserved in Jabêm and even better preserved in Iwal).) Even where the suffixes survive, however, they only distinguish the person, not the number, of the possessor. They are also highly variable in actual usage, and almost always redundant because the possessor is also marked by a full pronoun. (The only exceptions are a few vocatives, like tumbu-gi-to ‘my collective grandsons’). If one is ever unsure about which form to use, the safest choice seems to be -n-ewe, which used to signal a 3rd-person singular possessor.
Compare the following:
nanggi lu ‘my (usu. male) cross-sibling’
anami lu ‘your (usu. male) cross-sibling’
ena lu ‘her (usu. male) cross-sibling’
nanggi lunggewe/lunewe ‘my female cross-sibling’
anami lumewe/lunewe ‘your female cross-sibling’
ena lunewe ‘his female cross-sibling’
nanggi gode ‘my (usu. male) cross-cousin’
anami gode ‘your (usu. male) cross-cousin’
ena gode ‘his/her (usu. male) cross-cousin’
nanggi godenewe/godenggewe ‘my female cross-cousin’
anami godenewe/godemewe ‘your female cross-cousin’
ena godenewe ‘his/her female cross-cousin’
NOTE: The formerly 3rd-person suffix -n- also shows up in a few body-part compounds, as in tanga-n-owa ‘ear(hole)’, nisi-n-owa ‘nose(hole)’, tai-n-owa ‘arse(hole)’ and the words for male and female genitals, all of which are external body parts whose holes perform vital bodily functions!
This account was told by a schoolteacher’s wife in her 50s, on 16 December 1976, in Siboma village, Morobe Province, PNG.
Ewesika ndi kulakula ti-nisi bani na.
women their work they-boil food of
Women’s work cooking food.
Ewesika usouso aindi bani i-ye kapala woya-ma.
women white their food it-lie house ready-ly
White women, their food lies in a house ready.
Ti-ki bani i-ye kapala ti-baga bani na
they-put food it-lie house they-buy food of
They put food in a house for buying food [= food store]
wa ai ti-ambi goleyawa ti-wesa ti-ambuli bani i-ye kapala ti-baga bani na
and them they-hold money they-go they-buy food it-lie house they-buy food of
and they take money and go buy food at the food store
wa ti-nggewe ti-wesa ti-nisi i-ye aindi kapala.
and they-carry they-go they-boil it-lie their house
and carry it and go cook it at their house.
Aito aindi ekapakolapa asowa to, aito ti-ani ti-mi kapala lalo.
them.few their girls.boys spouse with them.few they-eat they-dwell house inside
They and their children and spouses, they eat [it] in their houses.
Wa i ewesika kikiya, inami kulakula bamo ano-ma.
and us women black our work big true-ly
But us black women, we have a lot of work.
Ika wa-nggo na-nggo tuwatuwa ditako su inami kulakula bani na.
so I-say I’ll-say story a.little on our work food of
So I want to talk a little bit about our food work.
Ikana inggo i ma-wasa ma-mi uma,
so when us we-go we-dwell garden
So, when we go to the garden,
ma-pai kulakula ka na-nggo:
we-do work as I’ll-say
we do work like the following:
We plant taro,
ma-so undi iwoya,
we-plant banana sucker
we plant banana suckers,
ma-so towi iwoya,
we-plant sugarcane sucker
we plant sugarcane suckers,
ma-pai kulakula uma na ikana,
we-do work garden of thus
we do garden work like that,
ma-pai ma-mi beleya.
we-do we-dwell no.more
and we keep working until we finish.
Tako, ma-woti ma-ma ma-nggewe bani.
okay, we-descend we-come we-carry food
Okay, we come back down carrying food.
We carry taro,
we carry bananas,
ma-nggewe // ma-tawi igabo.
we-carry // we-dig sweet.potato
we carry // we dig sweet potatoes,
Tako, ma-nggewe su // ma-waya su wali ma-nggewe ma-ma su teteu.
okay, we-carry to // we-wrap in netbag we-carry we-come to village
Okay, we carry them to // we put them in netbags and carry them back to the village.
Tako, ma-waga bani na wosa.
okay, we-divide food this apart
Okay, we divide the food up.
Into two parts:
ma-ki inggo ni-ye gaya wambanama na i-ye susuna,
we-put [it] SAY it-lie morrow morning Th it-lie corner
we put it if it’s for the next morning in the corner,
wa manu inggo mana-nisi na ma-ki i-ye maina-ma.
and which SAY we’ll-boil Th we-put it-lie other-ly
and that which we plan to cook we place separately.
Ta ma-yaki manu inggo mana-nisi na, ma-yaki beleya,
That we-pare which SAY we’ll-boil Th we-pare no.more
Then we pare that which we plan to cook until we finish;
tako, ma-poni yawi.
okay, we-kindle fire
okay, we light the fire.
Ma-poni yawi beleya,
we-kindle fire no.more
We finish lighting the fire,
wa ma-ki bani manu ma-yaki na su ulanga.
and we-put food which we-pare Th in pot
and we put the food we’ve pared into the pot.
We add freshwater,
we add saltwater,
wa, tako, ma-kuwa gauma.
and okay we-cover lid
and, okay, we put the lid on.
wa, tako, ma-nggewe bele kele ma-wasa su tina.
and okay we-carry plate dirty we-go to river
and, okay, we take the dirty dishes to the river.
Bani manu yaweni i-ndo,
food aforesaid fire.eat it-sit
(While) that food stays cooking,
ma-wasa ma-uya bele
we-go we-wash plate
we go wash the dishes,
wa, ma-yuma tina beleya
and we-bathe river no.more
and we finish bathing
wa, tako, ma-ma.
and okay we-come
and, okay, we come back.
Ma-koko ulanga ma-ki su kisa
we-lift pot we-put to aside
We lift the pot off the fire
wa ma-wesa bani
and we-distribute food
and we dish out the food.
Ma-ki bele manu ma-yawali i-wete inami asowa to ekapakolapa, ito tiyamama.
we-put plate aforesaid we-spread it-count our spouse with girls.boys us.few all
We spread those plates [we mentioned] out for our spouse and children, for all of us.
Inggo tae-wembi inami iba-wa-wawe katalu,
SAY belly-it.hold our in-laws some
If we think of some of our in-laws,
ma-ki bele katalu totoma.
we-put plate some along.with
we put out some extra plates.
ma-wesa bani manu i-wete bele manu i-wesa beleya,
we-distribute food aforesaid it-count plate aforesaid it-go no.more
We dish out the food into each plate until there’s no more,
tako, ito tiyamama ma-tamu ata ma-ani bani manu.
okay us.few all we-join selves we-eat food aforesaid
okay, we [collective] all join together in eating the food.
Bani inggo bamo,
food SAY much
If there’s a lot of food,
eta ma-ani go,
then we-eat after
then after we eat
ma-ki katalu i-ye lalawila wa towambana inggo mana-ani.
we-put some it-lie afternoon and night SAY we’ll-eat
we leave some until the afternoon and evening for us to eat.
Inggo bani ditako,
SAY food a.little
If there’s [only] a little food,
ma-ani tiyamama beleya.
we-eat [it] all no.more
we eat it all up.
Ewesika tiyamama eta ma-mi puta na
women all that we-dwell earth Th
All of us women who live on the earth,
inami kulakula bamo ano-ma su kulakula eta bani na.
our work much true-ly on work that food of
we really have a lot of work to do preparing food.
That’s all the work,
Eta na-nggo tuwatuwa tupe ikana.
That I’ll-say story short thus
So I’ll stop my story short like this.
This account of sago processing was told by Sawanga Aliau, a former Jabêm schoolteacher and Siboma village leader in his 50s in early December 1976 in Morobe Province, PNG.
Kulakula kunda na
work sago of
Tae-nembi inggo tana-lapa kundu te,
belly-hold Say yumi-beat sago one
If we’re thinking of beating a sago palm,
takalama aita tana-nggewe yawanzi, nuta, wanginda.
today yumi yumi-carry sheath, webbing, pounder,
today we’ll bring the sheathes, the webbing, the pounders;
Nomba tatena, tana-ki woyama ni-ye.
thing this, yumi-put ready it-lie
These things, we place ready.
Gaya, go ta ta-tala kundu tomu.
morrow after that yumi-chop sago severed
The next day, we chop down the sago.
Inggo ta-tala kundu tomu na,
Say yumi-chop sago severed Rel
When we chop the sago down,
a kole luwa mo toli ina-wosa ina-tala tomu.
maybe man two or three they-go they-chop severed
maybe two or three men will go chop it down.
Tako, ta lawa katalu ina-wasa ina-tamu,
okay then people some they-go they-join
Okay, then, some [other] people go join them,
wa, tako ina-so gilu.
and okay they-stab spines
and, okay, they’ll strike off the spines.
Wa lawa teulu, ina-ambi siyala ina-ma.
and people part they-take pole they-come
and one group will bring poles.
Ina-so gilu inggo beleya,
they-stab spines Say no.more
They’ll strike off the spines until they’re done,
tako, ina-so wosa.
okay, they-stab broken
okay, they’ll pry it open.
They’ll take the husk
wa ina-so wosa.
and they-stab broken
and pry it open.
Ina-so wosa ni-wesa beleya,
they-stab broken it-go no.more
They’ll pry it open until it’s finished,
tako, ina-ki lawa lomosanga na wa lawa ina-lapa na.
okay they-set people rinsing of and people they-beat of
okay, they’ll set people for rinsing and people to pound.
Lawa lomosanga na ata ina-nggewe aindi kundu kapole wa nomba gabagaba ina-wasa ina-ki su tina.
people rinsing of later they-carry their sago stalk and thing various they-go they-put to river
The people for rinsing will then carry their sago stalks and things over to the river.
Lawa wanginda na, ewesika teulu, tamota teulu, ata ina-lapa.
people pounders of women part men part later they-beat
The pounder people, part women, part men, will then pound.
Wa ewesika teulu ina-ambi kundu ulasa ni-wesa su tina.
and women part they-take sago pulp it-go to river
And part of the women will take the sago pulp over to the river.
Go ta, lawa lomosanga na ina-lomosa.
after that people rinsing of they-rinse
Whereupon, the rinsing people will rinse it.
Wanginda na lawa, wa ina-yatingi kundu ni-wesa tina na ena lawa, ai ina-pai beleya,
pounder its people and they-transport sago it-go river of its people them they-do no.more
The pounder people, and who transport the sago to the river, those people, they’ll finish,
tako, ina-wasa su teteu,
okay they-go to village
okay, they’ll go to the village
Wa, ai lawa lomosanga na, ai ina-pai kulakula ka ina-mi.
and them people rinsing of them they-do work like they-dwell
And, those rinsing people, they’ll keep right on working.
Ina-lomosa ka ina-mi inggo ina-yanggo
they-rinse like they-dwell Say they-see
They keep on rinsing until they see
kundu na ulasa i-tabinga inggo beleya,
sago its pulp it-close Say no.more
the sago pulp is almost finished,
orait, ina-nggo binga denga lawa katalu [manu ti-walanga ata na],
alright they-say word to people some Wh they-release self Rel
okay, they’ll send word to some of the people who are resting,
ina-nggo, tako, muna-ambi damu wa walasa.
they-say okay yupl-hold torchfronds and rope
they’ll say, okay, “Bring torch fronds and rope.”
Ai ina-wasa ina-ambi damu wa walasa ina-ma ina-kalati woyama.
them they-go they-hold torchfrond and rope they-come they-fix ready
They’ll go fetch torch fronds and rope and come get them ready.
Wa ai lawa [eta ti-lomosa] ina-nggo beleya,
and them people that they-rinse they-say no.more
and those people who are rinsing, they’ll announce they’re finished,
tako, ina-ambi gogowa wai,
okay they-take chutes Fin
okay, they’ll take the washing chutes away,
wa, tako, ina-lapa tina tomu,
and okay they-beat water severed
and, okay, they’ll draw off the water
wa ina-so kundu na ano.
and they-stab sago its essence
and hit the sago starch.
They’ll spread out the coconut webbing,
wa, tako, ina-ki kundu na ano suwa.
and okay they-put sago its essence onto
and, okay, they’ll put the sago starch onto it.
Lawa [manu ti-ambi damu wai ti-ma i-ye woyama], ata ina-nggo binga de ata
people [Wh they-hold frond Fin they-come it-lie ready] later they-say word to self
The people who have brought the torch fronds ready, then they’ll say to each other,
ina-nggo ka ina-kalati sa [inggo ina-lalangi kundu na].
they-say like they-fix place Say they-scorch sago Rel
“Let them fix the place for scorching the sago.”
Tako, ina-kalati sa beleya,
okay 3pIr-fix place no.more
Okay, they’ll finish fixing the place,
wa lawa ina-usingi kundu.
and people they-shape sago
and [other] people will shape the sago.
Ina-usingi kundu su gogowa.
they-shape sago in chute
They’ll shape the sago in the [washing] chutes.
Ina-usingi ni-wesa beleya,
they-shape sago they-go no.more
They’ll finish shaping the sago,
tako, ina-poni yawi.
okay they-kindle fire
okay, they’ll build a fire.
Kole ni-ambi damu dudu na mainama.
man he-hold frond tip the separate.
A man will hold the torch frond tips separately.
E ata ni-tutuni damu dudui wai,
him later he-ignite frond tip Fin
He’ll later ignite the frond tips,
tako, e ni-ambi tamu ni-ndo
okay him he-hold together it-stay
okay, he’ll stay holding them together
wa ni-badami inggo ina-yatingi kundu,
and he-wait Say they-transport sago
and wait until they move the sago,
ina-ambi ina-ki su sak [manu ti-kalati wai woyama].
they-hold they-put on place Wh they-fix Fin ready
until they take it and put it on the place they’ve prepared.
Eana, ina-ki ni-wesa inggo beleya,
this they-put it-go Say no.more
This, they’ll keep putting there until it’s done,
tako, kole yawi na i-tutuni yawi.
okay man fire of he-ignite fire
okay, the fire man lights the fire.
Tako, ina-ki damu ni- ni-nzeka kundu,
okay they-put frond it-[go] they-lie.on sago
Okay, they’ll place the fronds on top of the sago,
wa e ni-ki yawi ni-solonga.
and him he-put fire it-enter
and he’ll put the fire into it.
Yaweni ni-mi inggo beleya,
fire.eat it-dwell Say no.more
It keeps burning until it’s done,
tako, ina-ambi kundu dudu lau te ina-ma,
okay they-hold sago tip leaf one they-come
okay, they’ll bring a [type of] sago leaf tip
wa ta kundu lau na, ti-kamba ti-nggo ka sunimbani.
and that sago leaf the they-call they-say like sunimbani
and that sago leaf, they call sunimbani.
They’ll bring it
wa ina-wou yawi gaula [manu yaweni na].
and they-whisk fire ash Wh fire-eat Rel
and they’ll whisk the ash that’s burnt.
Ai ina-wou ina-mi,
them they-whisk they-dwell
They’ll keep whisking it,
tako, wiya anoma.
okay, good truly
okay, very good.
Go ta, tako ina-usa.
after that okay they-slice
Whereupon, okay, they’ll slice it.
Ina-usa kundu, ena [manu yaweni], ina-usa,
they-slice sago its Wh fire-eat they-slice
They’ll slice the sago, its burnt part, they’ll slice
wa ina-kowa ena baloga.
and they-peel its crust
and they’ll peel off its crust.
Ina-kowa ena baloga,
they-peel its crust
They’ll peel off its crust,
tako, ina-ambi ina-wasa ina-ki ni-ye mainama.
okay they-hold they-go they-put it-lie separate
okay, they’ll take it and place it separately.
Wa kundu ketu, kundu ano, eana ina-ambi kundu lau ina-ma, to walasa ma ina-ma.
and sago egg sago essence this they-hold sago leaf they-come with rope Adv they-come
And the inside of the sago, the sago essence, this, they’ll bring sago leaves and come, along with rope.
Tako, ina-so nusa.
okay they-stab envelope
Okay, they’ll tie a leaf envelope.
Ina-so nusa ka ina-yomba.
they-stab envelope like they-wrap
They’ll tie a leaf envelope, like wrapping it.
They’ll wrap it,
tako, ina-so nusa beleya,
okay they-stab envelope no.more
okay, they’ll finish tying the envelopes,
tako, ina-zubusa kundu bamo na ni-pi sesemi ni-ye,
okay they-pile.up sago much the it-upon one it-lie
okay, they’ll pile most of the sago up in one place
wa ena baloga ina-bada de lawa kulakula na,
and its crust they-distribute to people work of
and its mantle, they’ll distribute to the workers
[manu ti-lomosa na mo ti-lapa wanginda na, mo ti-yatingi kundu i-wesa su tina na],
Wh they-rinse Rel or they-beat pounder Rel or they-transport sago 3s-go to river Rel
who rinsed, or wielded the pounders, or transported the sago to the river,
ena baloga ina-bada de ai.
its crust they-distribute to them
its mantle, they’ll distribute to them.
Wa kundu ano, ai ina-nggewe ni-wesa su kapala
and sago essence them they-carry it-go to house
And the sago starch, they’ll carry to the house
go ta, tako, ina-bada de lawa [manu ti-pai kulakula ], ewesika, tamota, lawa [manu ti-lapa wanginda na].
after that okay they-distribute to people Wh they-do work women men people Wh they-beat pounder Rel
then, okay, they’ll distribute it to the people who did the work, women, men, people who wielded the pounders.
Ina-bada de ai ni-wesa beleya.
they-distribute to them it-go no.more
They’ll finish distributing it to them.
Wa kundu nata, aindi ni-ye inggo ina-ani.
and sago owner theirs it-lie Say they-eat
And the palm owners, theirs will lie [ready] for them to eat.
Te kulakula kundu.
Topic work sago
And that’s sago work.
This introduction to sago was told by Sawanga Aliau, a former Jabêm schoolteacher and Siboma village leader in his 50s in early December 1976 in Morobe Province, PNG.
Nomba eta kunda na.
The thing known as sago.
Kundu e bani tema, Niu Gini Papua ndi bani matana i-tamu ane,
sago it food one New Guinea Papua their food early it-join taro
Sago is a kind of food, Papua New Guineans’ original food, along with taro,
go ta bani kakapi katalu i-ma i-tamu.
after that food small some it-come it-join
after which some minor foods have come along.
Eta ti-kamba ti-nggo ka bani.
These they-call they-say like food
These they call “food” [or “staples”].
Sese kundu alu ane, e bani matana.
but sago and taro they food early
But sago and taro, they were the original foods.
kundu, ena lau wa kapole, ena wambala tiyamama nomba sesemi,
sago its leaf and stalk its cargo all thing one&same
Sago, its leaf and stalk, all its content is the same,
sese ena bolo luwa,
but its skin two
but its skin is of two types:
tema to luli,
one with thorn
one with thorns,
tema luli mou.
one thorn none
one without thorns.
To luli, ti-kamba ti-nggo kundu bala
with thorn they-call they-say sago bala
With thorns, they call bala sago,
tema, ti-nggo kundu iyawama
one they-say sago iyawama
one, they call iyawama sago,
tema, ti-nggo dawena.
one they-say dawena
one, they call dawena.
Wa kundu luli mou na, ti-kamba te, ti-nggo ka kutawi,
and sago thorn none of they-call one they-say like kutawi
And the sago without thorns, they call one kutawi,
wa te, ti-nggo ka buli
and one they-say like buli
and one, they call buli.
Aluwa-ndi wambala wa golonga nomba sesemi,
two-their cargo and adornment thing one&same
The content and foliage of the two is the same,
Sese, ai ti-ambi (= tembi) ase eta minamaina.
but, them they-take name that various
but they take names that are various.
Like most languages, Numbami has a class of ideophones, words whose sounds give a vivid sense of how speakers feel the sounds, shapes, movement, or mood of the world around them. But Numbami may be unique in having a special marker for such words, a suffix –a(n)dala, which is clearly related to the noun andalowa ‘path, way, road’—probably from andala ‘path’ + awa ‘opening’. (Words of similar shape and meaning can be found in many Austronesian languages, including Malay jalan and Hawaiian ala, both meaning ‘path, road’.)
Here are a few examples of how ideophones are used Numbami sentences.
Ai-sanga i-yotomu pakádala
tree-branch it-severed crackingly
‘The tree branch snapped with a crack’
Sai ko i-nggo kãiandala
who there he-said shoutingly
‘Who is that shouting over there?’
Gáwadala ti-nzolo ti-wesa
disappearingly they-scattered they-went
‘Away they scattered’
Wa-usi talápuadala wa-peka wai
I-stepped slippingly I-fell FIN
‘I slipped and fell down’
Here is a list of all such words that I was able to record in 1976. The accents mark where the stress usually falls in each word.
áiti-adala ‘going dark, dying out (as lamps)’
ambále-andala ‘happening irregularly’
bái-andala ‘overcast, clouded over’
bé-andala-ma ‘secretly, furtively’
galála-adala ‘splashing, disrupting surface (as rain or fish feeding)’
gáwa-adala ‘finishing up, letting up (as rain)’ (cf. gawagawa ‘above, on top’)
golópu-adala ‘slipping or dripping through’
gumúni-adala ‘chuckling, smiling’
ká-andala ‘bouncing back, ricocheting’
kelekále(-adala) ‘meandering, staggering’
kí-andala ‘scorching, parched’
kilikála(-adala) ‘crackling, scurrying, scampering’
kilikíli-adala ‘scampering, scurrying, crackling’
kitikáta-adala ‘writhing, fidgeting’
kúsu-adala ‘popping into sight, suddenly appearing’
paká-adala ‘getting light, flashing on, popping’
páku-adala ‘plopping, splashing’
palapála-adala ‘flip-flopping, moving restlessly’
pí-andala ‘bouncing up, springing up, rising up’ (cf. -pi ‘ascend, rise’)
pilíli-adala ‘flashing briefly (as lightning)’
pilipíli-adala ‘flapping, fluttering (as clothes or bird feathers)’
póko-adala ‘banging, snapping, slamming, bursting’
póu-andala ‘snapping, popping (as bamboo or sugarcane)’
púpú-adala ‘stinking, rotting’ (cf. sapu ‘ripe, rotten’; putaputa ‘rubbish’)
sái-andala ‘spurting, spraying’
salála-adala ‘slipping, sliding’
sí-andala ‘shooting up, springing away’
solólo-adala ‘plummeting, whistling’
sulúku-adala ‘sucking, slurping’
sulúpu-adala ‘disappearing’ (cf. sulupama ‘underwater’; -suluma ‘get dark’)
sú-undala ‘blowing out, blowing away (as blowing the nose)’
taká-adala ‘stuck fast, planted firmly’
talála-adala ‘slipping, sliding’
talápu-adala ‘slipping, sliding’
tíki-adala ‘going dark’
Jabêm also has many ideophones, but they don’t have their own marker as they do in Numbami. Instead, they’re marked just like other adverbs. Shorter ones are followed by tageŋ ‘once’, longer ones by geŋ ‘-ly’, and really long ones by nothing at all, as in the following examples.
ka tulu diŋ tageŋ
tree severed crash once
‘the tree snapped with a crash’
ôsic kê-kac eb tageŋ
lightning it-tore flash once
‘lightning flashed suddenly’
waŋ kê-sêlêŋ kalalac-geŋ
canoe it-traveled hissing-ly
‘the canoe whizzed away’
ka-pê moc sololop
I-shot bird slipping
‘I shot and missed the bird’
bu kê-pulu mềŋboab-mềŋboab
water it-bubbled come-bubbling
‘the water bubbled up’
Japanese has maybe 2000 ideophones, well used and well studied. Korean also seems to have a lot.
This story was published in the Jabêm school Buku Sêsamŋa II [Book for Reading, 2d. ed.], edited by M. Lechner and Nêdeclabu Male (Madang: Lutheran Mission Press, 1955), pp. 99–100. I have inserted hyphens between stems and affixes and supplied the English (and Tok Pisin) glosses and free translation.
Nombaŋ tê-tu Sibôma.
Numbami ol-become S.
The Numbami become the Siboma.
Gêmuŋ-geŋ lau Sibôma nêŋ ŋaê teŋ Nombaŋ.
Before-ly people S. their name one N.
In the past, one name of the Siboma people was Numbami.
Êsêac sê-ŋgông gwêc atom,
they ol-dwell sea not
They didn’t live on the seacoast;
sê-ŋgông lôc ŋamuŋa tê-tôm lau saleŋ-ŋa.
ol-dwell hill behind ol-match people bush-of
they lived up in the hills like bush people.
Têm teŋ acgom ma mêŋ-sê-ŋgông gwêc naŋ ŋam amboac tonec.
Time one first and come-ol-dwell sea, that reason like this
Then one time, they came down to the sea, for the following reason.
Bêc teŋ ma êsêac Nombaŋ mêŋ-sê-kôc awê teŋ aŋga Kuwi-nêŋ malac.
day one and ol Numbami come-ol-get woman one from K.-their village
One day, the Numbami came and got a woman from the Kuwi village.
Kuwi-nêŋ ŋac teŋ kê-daguc gê-ja Nombaŋ
K.-their man one em-follow em-go N.
One Kuwi man went after the Numbami
ma kê-masaŋ biŋ gê-dêŋ êsêac gebe
and em-arrange word em-to ol SAY
and set them straight, saying
“A-kêŋ awê tau ê-ndêŋ aê ja-kôc ja-mu ja-na ê-tiam.”
yup-send woman self em-to mi mi-get mi-back mi-go em-again
“Give me that woman and I’ll take her back again.”
Ma lau Nombaŋ têntac ŋandaŋ kê-sa
and people N. bellies heat em-rise
And the Numbami people got angry
ma sê-sôm eŋ gebe
and em-tell em SAY
and scolded him, saying
“Ô-sôm paŋ-geŋ ô-kô,
yu-tell like-ly yu-stand
“If you stand there talking like that,
aêac oc a-nac aôm êndu
mip later mip-hit yu dead
we’re going to kill you
ma a-niŋ aôm su,
and mip-eat yu FIN
and eat you up
ma aôm-nêm lau oc sê-nam kauc aôm.”
and yu-your people later ol-hold mind yu
and your relatives won’t recognize you.”
Ŋac tonaŋ kê-têc
man that em-fear
The man was afraid
ma gê-êc gê-mêŋ malac kê-tiam
and em-flee em-come village em-again
and fled back to his village again
ma gê-jac-miŋ biŋ samob tonaŋ gê-dêŋ nê lau.
and em-hit-story word all that em-to his people
and told his relatives the whole story.
Nê lau sê-ŋô biŋ tonaŋ e têntac ŋandaŋ kê-sa
his people ol-hear word that till bellies heat em-rise
His relatives listened to those words until they got very angry
ma sê-kêŋ jaeŋ gê-dêŋ lau Buso to Lababia
and ol-send message em-to people B. with L.
and sent a message to the Buso and Lababia people
ac sê-ja sê-wiŋ êsêac
ol ol-go ol-join ol
and the latter went and joined with them
ma sê-kic biŋ sê-wiŋ tauŋ
and ol-bind word ol-join selves
and planned together
ma se-no laki sê-wiŋ tauŋ e sê-lic laki ke-letoc ŋajam.
and ol-cook ginger ol-join selves till ol-see ginger em-boil good
and consulted the war oracle together until they saw the ginger boiled over well.
In the morning, they got underway
ma sê-sêlêŋ gê-dêŋ ocsalô e kêtulala
and ol-walk em-at forenoon till evening
and walked from morning until evening
ma tê-dabiŋ malac.
and ol-near village
and they came near the village.
Sê-pi malac sebeŋ atom,
ol-up village rapid not
They didn’t go up to the village right away;
sê-ê tauŋ susu sê-moa e gêbêcauc.
ol-pull selves away ol-stay till nightfall
they held back until nightfall.
Lau Nombaŋ samob sê-pi nêŋ malac
People Numbami all ol-ascend their village
The Numbami all went up to their village
ma sê-êc bêc acgom,
and ol-lie night first
and lay down for the night first,
go êsêac lau Kuwi to Buso ma Lababia sê-wa êsêac auc kê-tôm nêŋ andu
then ol people K. with B. and L. ol-sit ol closed ol-match their house
then the Kuwi and Buso and Lababia people surrounded each house
ma se-jop sê-ŋgông e geleŋŋa.
and ol-guard ol-dwell till daybreak
and kept watch until daybreak.
It got light
ma lau ŋacjo sê-sa ja-tê-tôc tauŋ gê-dêŋ lau Nombaŋ.
and people enemy ol-rise go-ol-show selves em-to people Numbami
and the enemies got up and went and showed themselves to the Numbami.
Ac sê-lic êsêac su
ol ol-see ol FIN
The latter saw them
ma sê-sôm gebe
and ol-tell SAY
and they said,
“Galoc tonec ta-mansaŋ biŋ
Now this yumi-arrange word
“This time, we’re going to set things straight
ma ta-no gêŋ êsêac
and yumi-cook thing ol
and cook them food
ma ta-kêŋ nêŋ awê sê-kôc sê-mu sê-na ê-tiam.”
and yumi-send their woman ol-get ol-back ol-go em-again
and send their woman for them to take back away again.”
Lau Buso to Lababia sê-ŋô biŋ tonaŋ e têntac ŋandaŋ
People B. with L. ol-hear word that till bellies hot
The Buso and Lababia people listened to this until they got angry
ma se-eŋ oliŋ tauŋ
and ol-eat groan selves
and were consumed with rage
ma sê-sôm lau Kuwi-ŋa gebe
and ol-tell people K.-of SAY
and they scolded the Kuwi people, saying
“Amac embe a-ŋgôm gêŋ amboac tonec
yup if yup-make thing like this
“If you do like this
ma a-kêŋ jaeŋ ê-ndêŋ aêac lau gamêŋ baliŋ-ŋa atom
and yup-send message em-to mip people place long-of not
then don’t send a message to us people from faraway places.
A-be a-ŋgôm asageŋ ê-jô aêac-ma lêŋ baliŋ
yup-say yup-make what em-afflict mip-our way long
What are you doing to make us come all this way
naŋ a-sêlêŋ gêbêc baliŋ e geleŋŋa.
that mip-walk night long till daybreak
that we walked all night long?”
They finished arguing
ma siŋ kê-pi ŋamalac
and fight em-upon humans
and fighting broke out among the men
ma sê-jac lau Nombaŋ samob e gê-bacnê.
and ol-hit people all till em-finish
and they beat all the Numbami until they were done.
Lau ŋagêdô naŋ siŋ gê-wa êsêac êliŋ-êliŋ sê-moa saleŋ.
People other that war em-divide ol scattered ol-stay bush
The other people, whom the fighting had scattered about, they stayed in the bush.
They stayed away at first
ma sê-jac tauŋ sa sê-pi tageŋ kê-tiam
and ol-hit selves up ol-upon one em-again
and then gathered themselves up in one place again
ma sê-wi malac laŋgwa sing
and ol-carry village old away
and abandoned the old village
ma sê-êc sê-sa gwêc sê-ja.
and ol-lie ol-out sea ol-go
and stayed out at the seacoast.
Ja-sê-kwêc malac wakuc gê-êc gwêc
go-ol-dig village new em-lie sea
They went and built a new village on the seacoast
ma sê-sam tauŋ se-be Sibôma.
and ol-call selves ol-say S.
and called themselves Siboma.
Ma malac laŋgwa taŋ sê-wi siŋ,
and village old which ol-carry away
And the old village that they abandoned,
gêgwaŋ to ka kê-pi e gê-jam auc.
grass with tree em-up till em-hold covered
grass and trees have overgrown it.