Tree types

aingge hardwood (dark, used for making handdrums)
amonai soursop
bale tree used for making gunwales
bonama ironwood (used for canoe paddles)
bui beech tree (favored for canoes)
bungana hardwood (with roselike fragrance)
dabaya fish poison tree
gowe conifer type
gubata tree type (slender, pliable, used for smokeracks)
gulengguleng tree type (used for timber)
kalokalowana tree type (used for firewood)
kaseli tree type (favored for canoes)
kosi strychnine tree
laki New Guinea walnut
mamosi tree type (with edible fruit and leaves)
nambola wild fig
naola breadfruit
nawi Malay apple, rose apple, mountain apple
ngaliti hardwood type
nunggununggula tree type (with edible fruit)
ondela casuarina
onzali tree type (medicinal, very bitter, used for cough medicine)
pasa tree type (with edible fruit)
pimbulu-pambulu Tahitian chestnut
sagaliya tree type (used for making canoe gunwales)
sakalamiya tree type
salita sea almond
sambali hardwoood
saniye canoe tree
sawasawagi hardwood (shore tree, casuarina?)
tawame nut tree type
tolonga mangrove
tuwila hardwood
wasala hardwood tree used for canoe paddles
wawali beach hibiscus
yalipa almond
yameyame coral tree
yaume canoe tree
zaza hardwood type (found high in mountains)
zigumi hardwood
zimani acorn (fed to pigs)


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Palm types

bagani fan palm (with unseparated, fanlike fronds)
bala sago palm type (with thorns)
bimbini pandanus type with edible fruit
buli sago palm type (without thorns; with reddish leaf stalk)
buwa areca palm/nut
buwa bunge reddish-pulp areca nut
buwa usouso whitish-pulp areca nut
dawena sago palm type (with thorns)
gabila pandanus type
gingi pandanus fruit
iyaiya sago palm type (thorny and rare)
iyawama sago palm type (with thorns)
kadiya areca type (small, wild, edible nut)
kundu sago (in general)
kutawi sago palm type (without thorns)
lewa black palm (used for spears, ax handles)
mandanga rattan
salana sago palm type (with thorns)
siwi sealing wax palm
soluwe palm type (with folding, separated, fan-shaped fronds)
tebetebe sago palm type (with thorns, rare in Numbami area)
ubu pandanus type
umalau pandanus type (wild)
walola sago palm type (inedible)
yagomi pandanus type
yawanzi palm type
zigi wild areca

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Insect types

zole termite
banekau horsefly
daninggala bee, wasp
dengge bedbug
gulesanga cockroach
gunggu beetle
kandakandami firefly, glowworm
kawanda mosquito
lala spider; spiderweb
langgambusa fly
lola ant
lola ketu ant eggs
zinzitaila horsefly type, small biting fly

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Bird types

binae kingfisher type (small)
duwaduwala bird type
gawagawaka crow
kanakana tern
kananggala parrot
kisuwala cassowary
kokiyo bushfowl
kuwaingkuwaing black cockatoo
makiyangkiyang bird type
manggimbola white bird
mangoza hornbill
mani bird (generic)
mani zole nightjar, frogmouth
mayaga bushfowl
miliyami bird type (bright, red-headed)
mumu pigeon
ogou parrot
okulukulu grass owl
sagola cockatoo (white)
sangawila bird of prey, eagle, owl
saole egret
saumba frigate bird
tolouma kingfisher (hook-billed)
wiwi small black bird
yabeyala na mani gannet, brown-faced booby
zibaya small birds (undifferentiated)

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Mollusk types

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
dalugu limpet?
damana augur shell
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
tonza barnacle
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
koita barnacle
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

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Kinship terms

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.

amba ‘great-grandfather’
ambanewe ‘great-grandmother’

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!


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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 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 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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