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NEO-MELANESIAN, IN ONE EASY LESSON

Try to understand this Neo-Melanesian advertisement for a department store: Kam insait long stua bilong mipelastua bilong salim olgeta samtingmipela i-ken helpim yu long kisim wanem samting yu laikim bikpela na liklik long gutpela prais. I-gat gutpela kain kago long baiim na i-gat stap long helpim yu na lukautim yu long taim yu kam insait long dispela stua.

If some of the words look strangely familiar but do not quite make sense, read the advertisement aloud to yourself, concentrate on the sounds, and ignore the strange spelling. As the next step, here is the same advertisement rewritten with English spelling: Come inside long store belong me-fellowstore belong sellim altogether somethingme-fellow can helpim you long catchim what-name something you likim, big-fellow na liklik, long good-fellow price. He-got good-fellow kind cargo long buyim, na he-got staff long helpim you na lookoutim you long time you come inside long this-fellow store.

A few explanations should help you make sense of the remaining strangenesses. Almost all the words in this sample of Neo-Melanesian are derived from English, except for the word liklik for 'little', derived from a New Guinean language (Tolai). Neo-Melanesian has only two pure prepositions: bilong, meaning 'of or 'in order to', and long, meaning almost any other English preposition. The English consonant/becomes p in Neo-Melanesian, as in stap for 'staff, andpe/a for 'fellow'. The suffix -pela is added to monosyllabic adjectives (hencegutpela for 'good', bikpela for 'big'), and also makes the singular pronouns 'me' and 'you' into plural ones (for 'we' and 'you'plural). Na means 'and'. So the advertisement means:

Come into our storea store for selling everythingwe can help you get whatever you want, big and small, at a good price. There are good types of goods for sale, and staff to help you and look after you when you visit the store.


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