We’ve taken a few steps, on this blog, with Luke and Laura Warrington (most recently here), a couple serving God in Papua New Guinea. Recently, they have been using their linguistic training explore the Sissano language. The vocabulary that a Sissano speaker needs, it turns out, is very different from most English speakers:
There are many words that we just don’t have (or have need of) in English…
- n̪o’wǝriǝɸ – men’s ceremonial house
- pon̪’ruɁ – ritual clothing or ceremonial mask often representing a spirit
- n̪̩sol̪ – a barbed arrow used in hunting and warfare
- t̪αl̪ǝ’kepʰ– sacred place
- wǝul̪ – cord made from fibrous vines
But there are also words that help to illustrate some of the differences in life from a Sissano perpective. Counting for example. In Sissano, you count…
- pon̪t̪ǝn̪iǝn̪ – one
- el̪t̪in̪ – two
- el̪t̪in̪ pon̪t̪ǝn̪iǝn̪ – three (literally 2 & 1)
- el̪t̪in̪ el̪t̪in̪ (SSO) – four (literally 2 & 2)
There is no five, or six, or any other number! You have one and two, and you can make three and four using those two numbers. Beyond that, well, it’s ‘plenty’!
Read on in Luke and Laura’s blog to see why, in Sissano, Laura’s brother is her sister, why they need to learn about the ‘excrement of fire’ and why a turtle and a bat have more in common than you might think.
They finish with this thought:
Our job is not to impose on this community our own way of looking at the world, but by understanding their language, help them to allow God, through his word, to infuse their perspective and culture with fresh clarity and meaning.
You can be part of this job by helping to get Bible translation projects all the resources they need. Give God’s Story.