Category Archives: reading/writing

Numbami Origin Story (in English)

This Numbami story was first told to me in Numbami in 1976 by former village head Abu Bamo, who said his ancestors were inlanders who had shared a village with the coastal Numbami for a time after the latter fled inland to avoid attacks by people from farther down the south coast, toward Morobe Patrol Post. (Stories of giant twin monsters are common among inlanders, while stories about a giant sea eagles, octopuses, and moray eels are common among coastal peoples.) My English translation is based on the Tok Pisin version translated by Leah Sawanga from my Numbami host family.

Long, long ago, Numbami villagers used to fear several kinds of monsters. Two were giant men called Ilimolo and Dolimolo. Others were the Sea Eagle, the Octopus, and the Moray Eel. These bad creatures would kill and eat people, so the Numbami were afraid and wanted to take refuge on a small island called Awayagi. All the men and women gathered at a canoe, but one young woman who wanted to go with them lacked a paddle, so one man told her to stay back. This man rose and said, “This is a bad time for all of us and we can’t allow anyone to come along without a paddle.” He said, “Everyone must have a paddle so that we can quickly paddle to the island.” The mother of the young woman said, “All right, we two can stay while you all go.” So all the people paddled to the island while the old woman and her daughter went back and stayed at a little point of land called Maito. The two of them built a village there for themselves. At this time, the daughter of the old woman was with child.

After the two lived there a while, the forest had covered up their house, so the people who went to Awayagi thought maybe the monsters had killed and eaten them. The two of them stayed there, and one day the old woman stayed home while her daughter went off to work in their garden. She trimmed the sugarcane and pulled weeds. As she was working, a sugarcane blade cut her hand. Blood gushed out. She got scared and dug two holes and drained her blood into them. After filling the two holes, she covered them up and carried food back home.

After that, the two of them didn’t go back to the garden for a while. While they just stayed home, the girl’s blood that filled the two holes turned into two little boys. Their names were Lefthand Man and Righthand Man. They lived in the holes but would sometimes go up to the garden and sit in the sun. They kept doing that until they had grown up enough to work in their mother’s and grandmother’s garden. Then one day the old woman and her daughter went to the garden. When they got there they were shocked to see that people had been working in their garden. “Who has been working in our garden?” they wondered. They finished their garden work and were about to go back home when the old woman’s daughter told her mother, “You go back home and I’ll stay and find out who’s been working on our garden.” Her Mother replied, “Won’t the monsters kill you if you stay?” But she got up and carried all their food back home, while her daughter stayed hidden inside the sugarcane.

The two boys waited until the afternoon then came out to the garden. When they arrived at the garden, Righthand Man told Lefthand Man to hold the stick while he held the taro so they could plant food for their mother and grandmother. As they planted taro, they talked among themselves, “All the people afraid of the monsters went away to Awayagi and Mama wanted to go but didn’t have a paddle, so she stayed behind. Grandma wanted to go, too, but wanted to stay with Mama. Listening to this, the girl thought, “Maybe my blood that I put in those two holes turned into these two boys.” When they finished planting taro, Righthand Man suggested to Lefthand Man that they go stick grasshoppers and eat them, but Lefthand Man said, “No, we have to go eat eat sugarcane first, then go hunt for grasshoppers.

They went to look at the sugarcane and liked the very canebrake that their mother was hiding in. As they were about to cut the cane, their mother jumped out and grabbed both at once, telling them, “I’m your mother.” The two boys were very happy and said, “This is our mother!” Their mother took them both back with her to their grandmother’s house. When they got home, she left them behind the house and went up into the house and her mother asked her, “What’s up?” Her daughter, “Nothing to worry about. That time I went to the garden and the sugarcane leaf cut my hand and blood gushed out and I dug two holes to drain my blood into, well, they turned into two boys. Their names are Lefthand Man and Righthand Man. I brought both of them with me and left them outside the house. The old woman went down to get them and her daughter brought mats down for them to sit on. The old woman went and asked them, “Where did you two come from?” They replied, “Nowhere, Grandma, we’re Lefthand Man and Righthand Man.” Their grandmother rejoiced and brought them into the house. They went and sat on the mat their mother had made, and their grandmother fetched ripe bananas for them to eat. While they ate, she told them, “All the people of this village are afraid of all the monsters, so they left for the island. I wanted to go away, too, but I worried about your mother and stayed back. Your mother didn’t have a paddle so one man sent her away, and that’s why we’re here.

The two boys stayed with their mother and grandmother and after they grew into big men, they asked their grandmother about how to build a canoe. She said, “You can’t just say ‘canoe’ because the same damned thing can be found not just on the sea but also in the mountains.” They replied, “It’s because we hear the name, that’s all.” Then the two went exploring in the forest and leaves of the canoe tree fell into their hair. When they returned home, their grandmother picked off their lice and found plenty fallen leaves in their hair. She asked, “What were you two doing that you got so much rubbish in your hair?” She looked for lice and found leaves from the canoe tree in their hair, so she said, “You know that thing you asked me about, I found its leaves in your hair.” When she showed them the leaves of the canoe tree, they said, “We’ll search around and find it.”

They looked around and came upon the place the canoe tree was standing, then they cut it down, hollowed it into a canoe, lifted it onto their heads, and carried it back home. They asked their grandmother what kind of tree people make into paddles and spears to fight with, and she said, “You can’t make those things.” The two went hunting for game in the forest and the leaves of this tree fell into their hair, and when they came back home and their grandmother picked their lice, she found the leaves and showed them to the boys, telling them, “These are the leaves of the tree you asked me about. The two went into the forest and cut down the tree and carved it into paddles and spears for fighting and carried them back to the canoe and then returned home. They did all this without telling their mother or grandmother. They asked themselves, “Who will show us the ropes and woods for building a canoe?” and the grandmother heard them talking and told them, “The leaves of the rope vines are long, the leaves of the wood for canoe parts are short.” The two of them went into the forest and cut the vines and the wood and left both of them in the sun to dry. They finally prepared everything they needed, then then built a canoe. After they finished they lined up their paddles and spears on the canoe platform, and then went to bed.

When they saw they had finished everything they needed, they wanted to go fight Ilimolo and Dolimolo. Their grandmother told them, “If you do that, then all these monsters will come down and kill us all.” They replied, “They can’t kill us, because we’ll survive.” They told their grandmother that they would just go take a look. And their grandmother replied, “You’ve just arrived, and you can’t just leave us behind. You two send word to all the folks on Awayagi to come and then you can all go see these monsters.” They replied, “What will all the folks on Awayagi come do?” Then they went and pulled their canoe to the mouth of the river, and carried all their weapons up the mountain where the two giants lived.

Both monsters weren’t together there when they arrived. Dolimolo had gone hunting in the forest and Ilimolo was left to take care of their house when Lefthand Man and Righthand Man came. As they approached the monsters’ house, the two boys left all their weapons beside a little stream and went up and called the old monster. The old monster came and said, “Where did you two grandchildren come from?” They replied, “We came to see you.” He said, “All right. You two wait and I’ll come.” But he just went and got his two big fangs. He fastened one of them in place and just as he was about to do the other one, it slipped out of his hands and into the boys’ hands. The old monster called out, “Did you see something of mine fall down?” The two boys replied, “We found something here.” They told him to come down and get it. He got the other fang and didn’t want to got back in the house, so he went outside to attach it, but he didn’t hold it well and it fell down and the two boys got it. Then the old monster went down to the boys. Just as he was about to stab Lefthand Man, the two boys threw their spears at him and killed him. They killed him and pulled out his fangs and Lefthand Man held onto them while Righthand Man went up into their house and gathered up all their things and set fire to the house.

They set fire to their house and burnt up everything the two monsters had. As smoke rose from the fire, Dolimolo saw it and said, “I think something has happened to Ilimolo while I’ve been away.” He got up and ran back home. When he got there he saw his counterpart lying dead. He saw Lefthand Man and Righthand Man and asked them, “How did this happen?” The two replied, “Nothing. We came to see you.” He told them to wait and he would come down. He ran to find his fangs, but he couldn’t find them, and came down to the two boys. They took him to the stream where the boys had left all their things. They laid sugarcane stalks across the stream, like a ladder, and they walked across to the other side. The old monster asked them how he could get across and they told him he could walk across the ladder as they had done. Dolimolo walked across the ladder and it broke in the middle, and he fell down into the water. The two boys jumped up and got their spears and stabbed him to death. They carried his body back and put it next to the other one, then carried the fangs and all the weapons back to where they had left their canoe. They put everything into the canoe and paddled back home.

After they finished working in the garden and planting taro, they asked their mother and grandmother where exactly the Sea Eagle could be found, and their mother and grandmother said, “Ilimolo and Dolimolo were humans, and you two killed them, but this thing is really bad. If he flies down the whole sky will go dark and his long talons will pluck out your eyeballs.” The boys replied, “Even so, we just want to go have a look.”

The boys paddled away, then drifted while Righthand Man pounded on the canoe. The Sea Eagle came flying. He was so big he almost covered up their canoe. Righthand Man told Lefthand Man, “Grab the axe and chop here.” And he did, and they chopped the Sea Eagle until he died, then they paddled back home. As they arrived home, the grandmother told them, “You two have killed Ilimolo, Dolimolo, and the Sea Eagle, but one more thing remains.” They asked her what it was, and she told them it lived in the sea and has lots of limbs. “If it comes to the surface, its hands will pull your canoe down into the sea.”

They just got up and paddled to where the Octopus lived. Righthand Man dropped a rock on the Octopus and the Octopus came up and put his arms all over the place to grab their canoe. The boys jumped up on the bed of the canoe and cut one Octopus arm after another until its head fell back into the sea. Now, little children of Lefthand Man and Righthand Man used to follow them around. They were not real humans but little fish called Mudskipper, Blenny, and Siyabudo. When the Octopus head fell, these fish went down to fetch it. They tried and tried without success until finally Siyabudo was able to bring the head up. They all took it back home to show their mother and grandmother.

Now that Lefthand Man and Righthand Man killed all the monsters, they began building houses. They selected a huge pig, called Omadede, so that they could send word to all the folks on Awayagi to come for a big feast. They would kill the pig for everyone and also kill the man who had exiled their mother. After they finished preparing everything, they sent the Blenny to Awayagi to tell everyone to come to the party. The Blenny didn’t go in the shape of a man, he went as nothing special. When he got there everyone had gone to the garden. Only one woman remained at home because she was carrying a child. When the Blenny arrived at the island, he jumped into a floating coconut shell. The sea carried it onto the beach, and when the woman came to bathe in the sea she saw the Blenny. She said, “I’ll lay this big fish aside while I bathe, then take it back to cook and eat.” While she was bathing, the Blenny changed into a very big man and stood up.

When the woman finished bathing and came to get her fish, she couldn’t find it but saw this big man standing there, so she asked him, “Where did you come from? Did you see my fish here or not?” And the man replied, “That was me.” The Blenny told the woman that he had come to tell everyone to go to the village for a big feast. The woman took him back to her house and told him that all the men and women had gone to the gardens. The Blenny stayed with the woman until the afternoon, when all the men and women came back from the garden. After everyone had come together, the Blenny told them, “The woman you exiled, along with her mother who stayed behind, she drained her blood into two holes and grew to young boys. Those two boys killed all the evil monsters and they would you to go to their village and we will all have a big feast. Then the Blenny went back home.

All the men and women on Awayagi stayed until the morning then they all went back to their old village. They all went and no one stayed behind. They put just their canoe in one place and went up to the village where Righthand Man and Lefthand Man had built them a house. They just went and stayed in the house while the two boys finished lining up all the pigs. Then the men and women walked around looking at all the pigs and they swallowed hard. The two boys carried a big fighting pole and looked over all the pigs until they came to the big pig they had marked to kill along with the man who had exiled their mother. They came to this pig and Righthand Man threw the pole and killed the big pig. Then the two turned and threw the pole again and killed that man. Everyone began to run away and the boys called them to come back, telling them, “We’re not doing the same to you. This man exiled our mother, so we killed him.” Everyone came back and they all had a very big feast with portions enough for everyone. They finished eating and stayed home and no longer returned to Awayagi.

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Tupela wetim pul (Numbami origin story)

This Numbami story was first told to me in Numbami in 1976 by former village head Abu Bamo, who said his ancestors were inlanders who had shared a village with the coastal Numbami for a time after the latter fled inland to avoid attacks by people from farther down the south coast, toward Morobe Patrol Post. (Stories of giant twin monsters are common among inlanders, while stories about a giant sea eagles, octopuses, and moray eels are common among coastal peoples.)

In 1982, my wife and I invited Leah Sawanga from my Numbami host family to visit us in Honolulu, where she typed up a Tok Pisin version of the same story. Her rendition follows, scanned and converted to text, then lightly edited by me to regularize spellings and word breaks. I’ll post it here while I work on an English translation and then a Numbami edition.

Long bipo tru long ples Numbami ol man save pret long ol dispela lain masalai. Tupela em man, naem bilong tupela Ilimolo na Dolimolo. Ol sampela em, Tarangau [Sea eagle], Kulita [Octopus], na Maliu bilong solwara [Moray eel]. Ol dispela lain samting nogut save kilim ol man na kaikai olsem na ol Numbami i pret na laik i go i stap long wanpela liklik ailan ol i kolim Awayagi. Olgeta man na meri i bung long wanpela kanu tasol na wanpela yangpela meri tu laik i go wantaim tasol nogat pul bilong em olsem na wanpela man tokim em long i stap bek. Dispela man kirap na i tok, nau yumi i stap long taim nogut na wanpela man or meri noken i kam nating na nogat pul bilong em. Em i tok, olgeta man mas i kam wantaim pul long bai yumi pul hariap i go long ailan. Mama bilong dispela yangpela meri i tok, em orait bai mitupela i ken i stap na yupela i go. Em nao olgeta man na meri pul i go daun long ailan na lapun meri wantaim pikinini meri bilong en i go bek na i stap tasol long wanpela liklik poin ol i kolim Maito. Tupela i wokim dispela hap kamap ples na tupela i stap long en. Long dispela taim pikinini bilong lapun meri i stap wantaim bel.

Tupela i stap long dispela hap i go, na bus i karamapim haus bilong tupela olgeta. Ol lain i go long Awayagi ting olsem, ating ol lain masalai i kilim tupela na kaikai pinis. Tupela i stap long ples i go na wanpela taim lapun meri i stap long ples na pikinini bilong en tasol i go long gaden na wok long gaden bilong tupela. Em i klinim suga na kamautim ol gras. Em wok i go nau lip bilong suga i katim han bilong en. Blut i no isi long i kam daun. Meri ya i pret nau i digim tupela hul na putim blut bilong en i go insait long tupela hul ya i go pulap pinis na i karamapim pinis na i go karim ol kaikai na i go long ples.

Long dispela taim tupela i no i go long gaden liklik, tupela i stap tasol long ples i stap na blut meri ya, i putim long tupela hul ya, i kamap tupela liklik boi. Naem bilong tupela Kaze Kole [Lefthand Man] na Ano Kole [Righthand Man]. Tupela i stap long hul i go na sampela taim tupela save i go antap long gaden na sindaun long san i stap. Tupela wokim olsem i go na tupela i kamap bikpela boi liklik nau tupela i wokim gaden bilong mama na tumbuna bilong tupela. Wanpela taim nau lapun meri na pikinini meri bilong en i go long gaden. Tupela i go kamap long gaden na tupela i kirap nogut long lukim ol man i wokim gaden bilong tupela. Tupela i tok, husat tru wokim gaden bilong mitupela. Tupela i wokim gaden bilong tupela i go pinis na laik i go bek long ples na pikinini bilong lapun meri i tokim mama bilong en i tok, bai yu go long ples na mi stap na lukim husat tru wokim gaden bilong mitupela. Mama bilong em i tok, bai ol masalai kilim yu or nogat na yu laik i stap? Em i kirap tasol na karim ol kaikai bilong tupela na i go long ples. Pikinini bilong en i go insait long suga na hait i stap.

Tupela boi i stap i go apinun na tupela i kam antap long gaden. Tupela i kam kamap long gaden na Ano Kole i tokim Kaze Kole long holim stik na em i holim taro na bai tupela i planim kaikai bilong mama na tumbuna bilong tupela. Taem tupela i planim kaikai, tupela i tokim tupela yet olsem, ol man na meri pret long ol lain masalai ya na i go pinis long Awayagi na mama laik i go tasol nogat pul bilong en, olsem na em istap. Tumbuna laik i go tu tasol tingting long mama olsem na i stap wantaim mama. Meri ya wok long harim i stap na tingting olsem ating dispela blut bilong mi, mi putim long tupela hul ya kamapim tupela manki ya. Tupela i planim taro pinis na Ano Kole i tokim Kaze Kole long tupela i go sutim ol grasopa na kaikai, tasol Kaze Kole i tok nogat, mitupela mas i go kaikai suga pastaim, orait bihain bai mitupela i go painim ol grasopa.

Tupela i go lukluk long ol suga i go na tupela laikim dispela suga mama bilong tupela hait long en. Tupela i go na laik katim suga nau, mama bilong tupela i kalap i kam na holim tupela wantaim na tokim tupela olsem, mi mama bilong yutupela. Tupela manki i hamamas nogut tru na tupela i tok, dispela em mama bilong mitupela. Mama bilong tupela boi i kisim tupela wantaim i go long ples long tumbuna bilong tupela. Ol i go kamap long ples na em lusim tupela i stap long baksait long haus, na em i go antap long haus na mama bilong em i askim em, olsem wanem? Pikinini meri bilong em i tok, nogat, dispela taim mi bin i go long gaden na lip bilong suga bin katim han bilong mi na blut i no isi na mi digim tupela hul na putim blut bilong mi long en na em tasol i kamapim tupela boi. Naem bilong tupela Kaze Kole na Ano Kole. Mi kisim tupela wantaim i kam na lusim tupela long baksait bilong haus. Lapun meri i go daun long kisim tupela na pikinini meri bilong en igo kisim mat i kam daun na putim long bai tupela sindaun. Lapun meri i go na askim tupela, yutupela i kam long we? Tupela i tok nogat, tumbuna mitupela Kaze Kole na Ano Kole. Tumbuna bilong tupela i amamas tru na kisim tupela i go antap long haus. Tupela i go sindaun long mat mama bilong tupela wokim, na tumbuna bilong tupela kisim banana i mau i kam na tupela kaikai. Taim tupela i kaikai, em i tokim tupela olsem, ol man na meri bilong dispela ples i pret long ol lain masalai nogut ya, na ol i go pinis long ailan. Mi laik i go pinis tasol mi tingting long mama na mi stap bek. Mama nogat pul na wanpela man rausim em olsem na mitupela i stap.

Tupela manki i stap wantaim mama na tumbuna bilong tupela i go na tupela i kamap bikpela man pinis nau, tupela i askim tumbuna bilong tupela long wok bilong wokim kanu na tumbuna bilong tupela i tokim tupela long no ken kolim kanu long wanem ol samting nogut i stap long solwara na tu long maunten. Tupela i tok, bilong wanem bai mitupela i harim tasol. Tupela i go raun long bus i stap na lip bilong kanu i pundaun long gras bilong het bilong tupela. Tupela i go bek long ples na tumbuna bilong tupela i painim laus bilong tupela na i painim planti pipiya bilong lip long gras bilong tupela na i tok, yutupela i go wokim wanem i stap na planti pipiya tru i stap long gras bilong yutupela. Em i painim laus i go nau em i painim lip bilong kanu long gras bilong tupela na em i tokim tupela olsem, dispela samting yutupela askim mi long en ya, mi painim lip bilong en long gras bilong yutupela. Em i soim lip bilong kanu long tupela nau tupela i tok, bai mi tupela i raun na painim.

Tupela raun i go kamap long ples kanu sanap long en nau tupela i katim i kam daun na sapim i go pinis na kalamapim i stap long het bilong en na tupela i go bek long ples. Tupela i askim tumbuna bilong tupela long wanem diwai ol i save wokim pul na spia bilong pait na tumbuna bilong tupela i tok, no ken wokim ol dlspela samting. Tupela i go painim abus long bus i stap na lip bilong dispela diwai i pundaun long gras bilong tupela na taim tupela i kam bek long ples na tumbuna bilong tupela i painim laus bilong tupela i go na painim lip bilong dispela diwai na em i soim long tupela na i tokim tupela olsem dispela em lip bilong diwai yutupela bin askim mi long en. Tupela i go long bus na katim diwai ya i kam daun na sapim i go kamap pul na spia bilong pait pinis na karim i go putim wantaim kanu i stap na tupela i go long ples. Tupela i wokim ol dispela samting na ol i no tok save long mama na tumbuna bilong tupela. Tupela i askim tupela yet olsem, husat tru bai soim mitupela long rop na diwai bilong wokim kanu, na tumbuna bilong tupela harim na i tokim tupela olsem, lip bilong rop em longpela na lip bilong diwai em i sotpela. Tupela i go long bus na katim rop wantaim diwai na karim i kam long ples na putim rop long san long bai drai. Tupela i redim olgeta samting i go pinis nau tupela i pasim kanu. Tupela i pasim kanu pinis na lainim pul na spia bilong tupela i go long pret bilong kanu na long baksait i go long bet.

Tupela i lukim olgeta samting inap pinis nau tupela laik i go pait wantaim Ilimolo na Dolimolo. Tumbuna bilong tupela i tok, sapos yutupela wokim dispela pasin nau bai ol dispela masalai i kam daun na kilim yumi. Tupela i tok, ol i [no?] ken kilim yumi, bilong wanem bai yumi i stap. Tupela i tokim tumbuna bilong tupela olsem bai tupela i go lukim tasol, na tumbuna bilong tupela i tok, nau tasol yutupela i kamap na i no inap long bai yumi i stap i go bihain, na bai yutupela salim tok i go na ol lain long Awayagi i kam pastaim na bai yupela i ken i go lukim ol dispela masalai. Tupela i tok, ol lain bilong Awayagi i kam wokim wanem? Em nau tupela pul i go na putim kanu bilong tupela long maus bilong wara, na tupela i karim ol samting bilong tupela long pait, na tupela i go antap long maunten tupela masalai i stap long en.

Long dispela taim tupela masalai wantaim i no i stap long ples, Dolimolo i go painim abus long bus na Ilimolo tasol bosim haus bilong tupela i stap na Kaze Kole wantaim Ano Kole i go. Tupela i go kamap long haus bilong tupela masalai nau tupela i lusim ol samting bilong tupela long pait klostu tasol long wanpela liklik wara na tupela i go singautim lapun masalai. Lapun masalai i kam na i tok, tupela tumbuna yutupela i kam long we? Tupela i tok, mitupela i kam long lukim yu. Em i tok, orait yutupela wet bai mi kam. Em i go tasol na kisim tupela bikpela tit bilong em na putim wanpela i go pas pinis na laik putim narapela nau i aburis na pundaun i go daun na tupela boi i kisim. Lapun masalai i singaut long tupela tok, yutupela lukim samting bilong mi ya pundaun i kam daun na tupela boi i tokim em olsem, mitupela painim dispela samting na i kam. Tupela i tokim em long i kam daun na kisim. Em i kisim narapela tit bilong em na i no laik i stap insait long haus orait putim long maus bilong en, nogat em i go autsait na putim na i no holim gut na pundaun i go daun na tupela manki ya i kisim. Em nau lapun masalai i go daun long tupela na laik sutim Kaze Kole nau tupela i tromwe spia bilong tupela i go na kilim Ilimolo i dai olgeta. Tupela kilim em na pulim tit bilong en na Kaze Kole holim i stap na Ano Kole i go antap long haus bilong tupela na bungim olgeta samting bilong tupela wantaim pinis na putim paya long haus bilong tupela.

Tupela i putim paya long haus bilong tupela na i kukim olgeta samting bilong tupela masalai olgeta. Simok bilong paya i go antap na Dolimolo lukim na i tok, ating mi kam i stap na wanpela samting kamap long Ilimolo. Em i kirap na ron i go long ples. Em i go kamap long ples na lukim narapala bilong em idai istap. Em lukim Kaze Kole wantaim Ano Kole na i askim tupela, olsem wonem? Tupela i tok, nogat mitupela i kam long lukim yu. Em i tokim tupela long bai tupela wet bai em i kam daun. Em ron i go long kisim tit bilong em tasol i painim nogat na i kam daun long tupela. Tupela i kisim em i go long dispela wara tupela putim ol samting bilong tupela long en. Tupela i putim wanpela namel bilong suga, olsem lata, i go kamap long apsait bilong wara na tupela wokabaut longen i go kamap long apsait. Lapun masalai i askim tupela long bai em i go olsem wonem na tupela i tokim em long bai em i ken wokabaut long lata tupela bin wokabaut long en. Dolimolo wokabaut i go long namel na lata i bruk, na em i pundaun i go daun long wara. Tupela boi kirap tasol na kisim spia bilong tupela na kilim em i dai olgeta. Tupela karim em i go putim em klostu long narapela bilong em na tupela karim tit na ol samting bilong tupela long pait na tupela i go long ples kanu bilong tupela i stap longen. Tupela i putim ol samting bilong tupela long kanu na pul i go bek long ples.

Tupela i wokim gaden na planim taro i go pinis na tupela askim mama na tumbuna bilong tupela long wonem hap tru Taragau save i stap na mama na tumbuna bilong tupela i tok, Ilimolo na Dolimolo em man na yutupela kilim, tasol dlspela samtlng em samtlng nogut tru. Sapos em i kam daun bai ples i tudak olgeta na longpela han bilong em bai rausim ai bilong yutupela. Tupela i tok, olsem mitupela laik i go lukim tasol.

Tupela boi i pul i go na trip i stap na Ano Kole i paitim kanu i stap nau Taragau flai i kam. Klostu em karamapim kanu bilong tupela. Ano Kole tokim Kaze Kole holim tamiok na katlm long hap na em i katim long hap. Tupela i katim Taragau i go na i dai olgeta na tupela pul i go bek long ples. Tupela i go kamap long ples na tumbuna bilong tupela i tokim tupela olsem, yutupela kilim Ilimolo, Dolimolo, na Taragau pinis, tasol i gat wanpela samtlng moa i stap. Tupela askim em long wonem samtlng tru, na em i tokim tupela long dispela samtlng i stap insait long solwara na i gat planti han bilong em tru. Sapos ikam antap bai han bilong em i go na pulim kanu bilong tupela i go daun long sol wara.

Tupela i kirap tasol na pul i go long ples Kulita i stap longen. Ano Kole i sutim ston long Kulita i go na Kulita ikam antap na han bilong em i go karamapim olgeta ples na ikam antap long holim kanu bilong tupela. Tupela boi i go antap long bet bilong kanu na katim olgeta han bilong Kulita pinis olgeta na het bilong Kulita i pundaun i go insait long solwara. Ol liklik mangi bilong Kaze Kole na Ano Kole i save bihainim tupela olgeta taim. I no ol man tru tasol ol liklik pis. Naem bilong ol em Kotekote [blenny], Simbaya [mudskipper], na Siyabudo. Taem het bilong Kulita i pundaun i go, ol dispela lain traim long i go daun na karim i kam antap. Olgeta i traim i go i no nap tru na taim Siyabudo i go daun nau i karim i kam antap. Ol i kisim i go long ples long soim mama na tumbuna bilong ol.

Kaze Kole na Ano Kole i kilim olgeta samting nogut pinis na tupela kirap na wokim ol haus. Tupela i makim wanpela bikpela pik tru, naem bilong en Omadede, long bai ol i salim tok i go na ol lain long Awayagi i kam na bai ol wokim bikpela kaikai tru. Na dispela pik em bilong ol kilim na bai kilim dispela man rausim mama bilong tupela. Tupela i pinisim olgeta samting pinis nau, ol i salim Kotekote i go long Awayagi long tokim olgeta man long i kam long pati. Kotekote i no i go olsem man, em i go olsem wanpela samting nating tasol. Long dispela taim olgeta man bilong ples i go long gaden na wanpela meri tasol i karim nupela pikinini olsem na em i stap long ples. Kotekote i go kamap long ailan na wanpela sel bilong kokonas i trip i stap na em i go insait long en. Solwara i kisim em i go pas long waitsan na dispela meri i kam long waswas long solwara na lukim Kotekote. Em i tok, bikpela pis bilong mi bai mi putim i stap na waswas pinis bai mi kisim i go kukim na kaikai. Taem meri ya i go waswas i stap na Kotekote i senis i go kamap traipela man tru na sanap i stap.

Meri ya i waswas pinis na i kam long kisim pis bilong em nau i painim nogat na lukim bikpela man ya sanap i stap na em i kirap askim em, yu kam we, yu lukim pis bilong mi i stap ya or nogat? Na man ya i tokim em olsem, em mi tasol. Kotekote i tokim meri long em i kam long tok save long olgeta man long bai ol i go long ples long wokim bikpela kaikai. Meri ya kisim em i go long haus bilong em na tokim em long olgeta man na meri i go pinis long gaden. Kotekote i stap wantaim meri ya i go inap long apinun na olgeta man na meri i kam bek long gaden. Olgeta man na meri i kam bung pinis nau, Kotekote i tokim ol olsem, dispela meri yupela bin rausim em na tupela mama bilong em i stap bek ya i putim blut long tupela hul na kamapim tupela yangpela boi. Dispela tupela boi i kilim olgeta samting nogut pinis na ol i laikim bai yupela i go long ples na bai yumi wokim bikpela kaikai. Em nau Kotekote i go bek long ples.

Ol man na meri bilong Awayagi i stap i go long moning na ol i go long ples. Olgeta i go na nogat wanpela man i stap bek. Ol i go na putim kanu bilong ol long wanpela ples tasol na ol i go antap long ples we Ano Kole na Kaze Kole wokim haus long en. Ol i go tasol na i stap long haus na tupela boi i lainim olgeta pik i go pinis na olgeta man na meri wokabaut na lukluk long ol pik na daunim spet bilong ol. Tupela i kisim wanpela diwai bilong pait na wokabaut wantaim i go lukluk long ol pik i go kamap long bikpela pik tupela i makim long bai kilim na kilim man i rausim mama bilong tupela. Tupela i go kamap long dispela pik na Ano Kole tromwe diwai ya i go na kilim bikpela pik ya i dai olgeta. Tupela tanim tasol na tromwe diwai gen i go na kilim dispela man ya na olgeta man na meri kirap ronowe na tupela i singautim ol i kam bek na tokim ol olsem, mitupela i no wokim dispela long yupela. Dispela man i bin rausim mama bilong mitupela olsem na mitupela kilim em. Olgeta man na meri i kam bek na ol i wokim bikpela kaikai tru na tilim inapim olgeta man na meri. Ol i kaikai pinis na i stap olgeta long ples na i no moa i go bek long Awayagi.

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Kulakula tinisi bani na (Work cooking food)

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:

Ma-so ane,
we-plant
We plant taro,

ma-pai wai
we-do weeds
we weed,

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.

Ma-nggewe ane,
we-carry taro
We carry taro,

ma-nggewe undi,
we-carry banana
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.

I-u luwa:
it-become two
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.

Ma-ki tina,
we-put freshwater
We add freshwater,

ma-ki tai,
we-put saltwater
we add saltwater,

wa, tako, ma-kuwa gauma.
and okay we-cover lid
and, okay, we put the lid on.

Beleya wai,
no.more Fin
That’s done,

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.

Kulakula tako,
work that’s.all,
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.

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Kulakula kundu na (Sago work)

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
Sago work

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.

Ina-ambi yawa
they-take husk
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

ina-walanga ata.
they-release self
and relax.

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.

Ina-yawali nutai,
they-spread webbing
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.
fire.eat
It burns.

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.

Ina-ambi ina-ma
they-hold they-come
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.

Ina-yomba,
they-wrap
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.

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Nomba eta kunda na (Sago)

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.

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Nombaŋ têtu Sibôma

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.

Bêbêc-geŋ dê-di
morning-ly ol-arise
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.

Ŋawê kê-sa
Light em-rise
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?”

Sê-sôm su
ol-scold FIN
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.

Sê-moa acgom
ol-stay first
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.

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Writing system

You need only 5 vowels and 18 consonants to read and write Numbami. The 5 vowels are low a, front e, i, and back o, u. The consonants need to distinguish 4 voiceless positions p, t, s, k; 4 oral-voiced positions b, d, z, g; 4 nasal-voiced positions -mb-, -nd-, -nz-, -ngg-; 3 nasal positions m, n, ng, 1 liquid l, and 2 glides w, y

  1. The liquid l usually sounds like a flapped r (as it does in Jabêm).
  2. The glide w sounds a bit like v before the front vowels i, e.
  3. The oral- and nasal-voiced consonants only need to be distinguished between vowels, not at the beginnings of words.
  4. Voiceless s is consistent, but voiced z often sounds like English j (not like Jabêm j).
  5. The nasal ng is just an easier (but bulkier) keyboard equivalent of ŋ, which most people in the Jabêm circuit already know as the n baliŋ (‘long n’).

Click on the Wikipedia link for more technical details.

Here is a list of words showing contrasts between sets of consonants (from Bradshaw 1978).

ababa ‘crosswise, across’
ambamba ‘handdrum’

papaka ‘chip, plank’
boboka ‘twins’

kipa ‘sore, wound’
kemba ‘skin discoloration’

kote ‘not’
kodeya ‘meat’
kandeya ‘small basket’

totoma ‘along with’
dodo ‘play’
dondomu ‘sea grass’

sasa ‘waterfall’
zaza ‘type of tree’
zanzami ‘driftwood’

aga ‘taboo’
angga ‘yolk’

yagomi ‘type of pandanus’
yanggo ‘maize’

-weke ‘to leave (something)’
-wenggene ‘to face toward (something)’

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