Monday, January 21, 2013


Photo: A lagatoi (a multi-hulled Motuan vessel) anchored near Ela Beach, Port Moresby. 

Here I provide some basic phrases in the three common languages spoken in PNG. Tok Pisin/Pidgin is a creole – it borrows words from English and other languages, including German. If you take a good look at the phrases, you can see components of English words in them.    

ENGLISH                        TOK PISIN (PIDGIN)                MOTU
Hellow                               Halo/hellow                                    Oi namo? (You fine)
Good morning                    (Gutpela) moning                            Dabai namona
Good afternoon                  (Gutpela) abinun/avinun                  Adorahi namona
Good night                         (Gutpela) nait                                 Hanuaboi namona
Good bye                           Gutbai/Ta ta/Bye                            Bamahuta
Are you fine?                      Yu orait?                                        Oi namo?
Yes, I am fine                      Yes, mi orait                                   Io, lau namo
No, I am sick                      No/Nogat/ mi sik                           Lasi, lau gorere
Where are you going?          Yu go we?                                     Edeseni oi lao?
What time is it?                    Wanem taim nau?                          Ora gauna be ida?
When will they come?          Wanem taim bai ol kam?               Edena negai do idia mai?
What is that?                       Em wanem?                                  Ia be dahaka?
Who is he/she?                    Em husait?                                    Ia be daika?
How will you go?                Wanem taim bai yu go?                  Edena bamona do oi lao?
Why are you sick?               Olsem wanem na yu sik?               Dahaka dainai oi gorere?

NOTE: I grew up speaking English and Tok Pisin (as well as listening to other languages spoken, which includes my father’s language). I started learning Motu a few years ago. I am from the north of PNG where Tok Pisin is the common language used every day. Motu was spoken by people in the southern part of the country. I say “was” because nowadays many people in the south speak good Tok Pisin. That was not the case when I was attending school back here in Port Moresby in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Lately, I have been learning French with Alliance Française here in Port Moresby.

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