This Pidgin Won’t Fly

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on November 8th, 2008 by MadDog
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We may as well all jump into the fray of constructive criticism of Air Niugini now that it seems possible that healthy competition will yet help to heal the festering sore of an airline and allow it to become serviceable and affordable for its passengers.

There are improvements. One that I am personally happy with is the new Fokker F-100. Why, you might ask? Well, I live right next to the end of the runway in Madang. Does that answer your question? The F-100 is much quieter on take-off than the old F-80.

Here’s my artsy-fartsy tribute to Air Niugini’s new F-100s: (you might want to click to enlarge . . . or not)

A somewhat artistic rendition of the Fokker F-100

I took this shot as I disembarked in Port Moresby last Sunday morning. I brutally massaged the frame with several Photoshop Artistic filters.

However, none of this is the subject of this post.

You would think that airlines in general would put a modicum of effort into the preparation of something that passengers have to stare at throughout the flight.

Not so, Air Niugini.

Here is what you must look at on the back of the seat in front of you:

This Pidgin Won’t Fly

Let’s start with the English.

I’ll get the most picky point out of the way first. There is no full stop (period for Yanks) at the end of the sentence. The same is true for the Tok Pisin version.

Sticking with the English for the moment, I can find absolutely no reference to the spelling of the word equipment as equiptment. If this is a Papua New Guinean way of spelling the word, then I can only suggest, “Stop doing that!” America has already sufficiently savaged the English language. There is no need for the rest of the world to join in the slaughter.

Now, let’s get to the Tok Pisin version – it’s much more interesting.

First, here is my literal back-translation into English: “It is against the rules truly to throw out all life jackets and all another things from this aircraft.”

Again, I’ll start with the nit-picking complaint. The Tok Pisin word raus comes from the German raus which, as far as I can tell, means throw out, get out, throw away, or such things as, “get out of here!”

According to the The Jacaranda Dictionary and Grammar of Melanesian Pidgin by my old friend Father Frank Mihalic S.V.D. (R.I.P), it can mean take away, but this is a lesser usage.

The better word would be stil which means to steal. In Tok Pisin, the word stilim (the transitive) more clearly conveys the meaning of the sentence.

Airlines generally understate. What they want to say is, “Don’t steal our life jackets or any of our other stuff!” The word “remove” is a linguistically weak-kneed way of saying it.

Let’s look at another word. In the Tok Pisin version, the word narapela is definitely wrong as far as I can see. It should be arapela. Let me explain.

Again, according to Jacaranda, narapela means another, while arapela means other. So, if we back-translate the Tok Pisin version it says, “all another stuff” which doesn’t make sense.

I won’t even get into the matter that na means and while o means or. Or . . . maybe I will.

Locically, the Tok Pisin sentence is explaining that it’s only wrong to take the life jackets if you also take all of the other stuff too. If you take only the life jacket(s) then it’s okay. It’s apparently also okay if you take all of the other stuff and leave the life jacket(s).

I’m not a native Tok Pisin speaker, so I welcome any and all comments on my comments.

Here would be my Tok Pisin translation of the English sentence:

“I tambu tru long stilim life jacket o olgeta arapela samting long dispela balus.”

I would back-translate this into English as: “It is illegal to steal life jackets or any other things from this aircraft.”

I’m feeling feisty, so bring on the critical comments.

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