This is Hoka sitting in my office concentrating on how to explain the meaning of a particular word. Usually this process is pretty simple, but occasionally–as on this occasion–it is complicated. The problem stems from using a (very limited) common language that is native to neither of us.

On this day I was asking about the Menyan word “iuti.” I had heard “iuti” in a sentence in which it was the only word I didn’t know–a short and simple sentence mind you. When Hoka translated the sentence I knew “iuti” corresponded with the Pidgin word “olsem.” Unfortunately that revealed nothing. When he is thinking Menyan speaking Pidgin and I am thinking English hearing Pidgin, things don’t always match. After ten minutes of effort on “iuti” we decided to shelve it for now. I concluded that I too would rather be hunting.

  1. Shandi Stevenson

    I love this–a great glimpse of such a complex process! He looks like he would rather be hunting. 🙂

  2. Mom O

    You say that the “common” language is very limited. Do either the Pidgin or Menyan language have many words as we do that have multiple meanings that seem unrelated? Example: incline as a noun means a sloping surface, as a verb it means to be likely to, or to bend or bow the head. Or do they have homonyms? My 5th graders are currently study for a test over 7 pages of all these words that sound exactly alike and mean something completely different. Examples: see and sea, to, too, and two. Your patience and determination amaze me, as always. Do you begin by determining what function (part of speech) a word is?

    • Joseph

      Pidgin and Menyan cannot be lumped together. Pidgin’s vocabulary is so limited that every word is taxed by it’s workload. It’s hard to describe detail and impossible to communicate nuance. Menya’s vocabulary is broad and precise. It includes numerous homonyms/homophones–and I only know a small fraction of the language so far.

What do you think?