Pijin

On August 1, 2008 by Michelle

“Solomon Islands Pijin, usually just called Pijin, is a blend of mostly English words modified to fit Melanesian sounds, together with a mix of English and Melanesian grammar. The primary means of communication among a group of people from different language areas, it is the first language of more than 5% of the population. Despite English being taught in all schools, Pijin is the spoken language of the playground, dormitories, businesses and even government offices.

Pijin is a near language and although you can get by in most places without it, most people tend to be more relaxed and open up if you use it. The basics can be learned in a short time.”

– Pidgin Phrasebook. Lonely Planet. 2008

Less than 24 hours in the Solomon Islands and I was at the fisherman’s dock with Mirjam, listening to her converse in Pijin with a local girl, understanding about 80% of what was being said. Only 10 days in the Solomon Islands and I understand as much Pijin as I do of my dad’s dialect, Illongo (from Visayas, Philippines.. don’t quote me on the spelling). I was lucky that Mirjam was already there 3-4 weeks and had a head start on it so she was able to do all the talking on my behalf when needed.

So recently, I exercised what I learned. Note: I’m still very much a beginner!

“dia Duphi,

iu stap oraet nomoa? mi hapi tumas fo raetem disfala email long iu, Mirjam an mi missem Fote tumas iet! Mitufala garem staka fotos blo pikinini blong Fote, bae mitufala wandem mailem go long Fote. Mi save nao lelebet pijin, see? Bat mi no save tumas :). Ating, mi sud praktis moa so mekem mi speakem an raetem pijin barava gud tumas!

i hope you can understand my pijin, mi sori if iu kan understand me. mi wandem raet email long iu so iu can telem Lucy an George, Moses an James, an olketa pikinini an teachers, dat Mirjam an mi think of iufala iet tumas. Mi raetem english nao, raetem in pijin hem difficult tumas.

(the english part of the letter is long and boring, I’ll end the excerpt here)”

And yesterday Duphe replied:

“Dear Michell,

Greetings to you and Mirriam from students and the staffs of Fote primary school.Mitufala Head master happy tumus fo readim message blo you today.Mitufala too sore for missim youtufala.Mitufal happy that youfala bae work on lo project ya.Babae hem no quictim as you sei,but mifala luk for ward that other frens blo you bae helpem you tufala.Mi talem finis Modester ,Jane and Maxford aboutim photo blo olketa pikini blo olketa.Ota happy tumus too.Michell mi seke tumus time you tok pidgin .Mi ting sei Mirriam nao tok kam but you nomoa.You save pidgin nao if samting you come back then marrige lo Fote nomoa.Kaen you tingim always Fote to ya.ha.ha.Mifala hope and like fo lukim you fala back lo Fote moa.I think hem nomoa time hem catch up weitim mitufala,so bae hope fo riciv from you tufala moa any time.We”ll sign off here,

Love and greetings from mitufala nao Moses and Duphe”

Why don’t you try translating?

Some vocabulary to help you (referencing Lonely Planet phrasebook spelling. Spelling in Pijin varies from region to region):

tumas –
very
long/lo – to/from
mitufala – we (two)
iutufala – you (two)
garem – have
staka – lots/many
blo/blong/bilong – belong/of
save – know
olketa – all

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