[Mihalic] More on Phrases in Harvesting Development

Thomas H. Slone THSlone at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 12 05:44:45 EST 2005

I contacted Karl Benediktsson regarding nuspes and beksaitbun.  Below 
is his reply.  Since we still don't know how widespread these phrases 
are, I think these should not add them to the dictionary yet.  I 
think that if we can determine that they are used in more than one 
language group, then we should consider adding them.  For 
comparisonn, consider the localized terms "kukim nus" (Mihalic, p. 
117) and "karim lek" (p. 107), which are localized TP phrases.

>From: "Karl Benediktsson" <kben at hi.is>
>To: "'Thomas H. Slone'" <THSlone at yahoo.com>
>Subject: RE: Phrases in Harvesting Development
>Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2005 09:53:26 -0800
>Dear Tom
>Mi lukim pinis dispela websait long "Revising the Mihalic" - gutpela wok tru!
>Regarding the two terms you are asking about - 'nuspes' and 
>'beksaitbun' - , they may well be rather specific (or at least the 
>usage I report in the book) to the place where I did most of my 
>fieldwork in 1994-5: Kasena Village, the Upper Asaro, EHP. Both are 
>transliterations from English - 'noseface' and 'backbone' - and are 
>used for describing forms of gift exchange practices which may be 
>fairly local - I simply do not know how widespread their usage is.
>I frequently heard about (and witnessed) 'nuspes' ceremonies in the 
>upper Asaro (cf. my discussion on pg. 14 in the book, and footnote 
>15, pg. 21). As this was not central to my study at the time, I did 
>not really enquire about the etymology of the word. I have a 
>feeling that 'noseface' ('nuspes' is my own spelling, close to local 
>pronunciation) is used elsewhere in PNG rather literally, but not 
>necessarily elsewhere in this metaphorical sense.
>Regarding 'beksaitbun', I can unfortunately provide even less 
>information. I did not witness a 'beksaitbun' payment taking place 
>during my fieldwork. In my understanding it was not as formalized or 
>common exchange practice as the 'nuspes' appeared to be, but a kind 
>of a honorary recognition to an old woman's line that she had worked 
>hard through her life for her husband and his kin, in all likelihood 
>ending up with a crooked back... I remember some ethnographers 
>talking about 'lower back' payments. Robin Hide would surely be able 
>to fill you in on this! I am sending a cc: of this mail to him.
>Hope this is of some help. Best regards!
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