[Mihalic] what they are saying
Fr Patrick Gesch
pgesch at dwu.ac.pg
Wed Mar 22 09:43:04 EST 2006
For what it's worth, here is Tok Pisin from the streets of Madang (mostly ol
Sepik bilong Madang). It is claimed that "everyone" knows and uses these
expressions, but general acknowledgement is given that Angra Kennedy on the
radio generates many such worthy expressions.
Ol manki i tok: "Goan yumi traim brukim dispela lip. Yumi lukim, husat i ken
tromwe ston stret. Yu gana stret. Yu win tru."
To be rendered as: "OK let's see who can break that leaf. Try throwing stones
at it. You are a real marksman."
Such a use of "gana" is good for marbles and catapults also. It appears
to come from "gunner".
Retpela bilong em:
- "Mi tokim yu, yu no ken ran long haiwe, na nau yu painim trabel. Nau yu
lukim retpela bilong em."
To be rendered as: "I told you not to run on the highway, and now this has
happened to you. Now you see the danger of doing that."
- "Bos bilong mi em i hambag. Klostu bai em i lukim retpela bilong em."
"My boss is being disagreeable. He will find trouble if he keeps going on
While it is not to be ruled out that this has a sexual meaning, one
explanation given was that it means a needle on a gauge (such as the water
temperature in a car) indicates trouble when it goes into the red zone.
A girl is standing some distance away in the market. A boy signals to her
with his hand and when he gets a response tells his mates: "Mi sutrik long
dispela meri. Em bai laikim mi o nogat?" Hopefully the girl will laugh and
the boy will see his designs as successful.
Tanim: "I signalled my interest to the girl. Will she like me or not?"
The meaning must be: I aim my tricky little gesture in her direction.
"Planti man i save long em, na em i karim wanpela or tupela pikinini. Dispela
paiarais i kam nau, em bai mekim wanem tok long mipela? Yu paiarais yu tekof!"
Tanim: "She has been with a lot of men and has some illegitimate children.
What will she say to us? You profligate, go away."
This expression can be used of men as well as women. I did not get a good
explanation of this term, but it appears to mean: something good which is
A little footnote: the expressions "skwad" and "gespaia" which I commented on
before, now appear many times a day on the radio stations.
Fr Dr Patrick F Gesch SVD
Divine Word University
P O Box 483 Madang
Papua New Guinea
Tel:  852 2937
Fax:  852 2812
More information about the Mihalic