Maeaka Tohana

Our Language

To make sure our True Language and Culture survive for future generations.

contact us: mt.ourlanguage@gmail.com

MTLP

NOTE: If you would rather use direct transfer, please email us at mt.ourlanguage@gmail.com for bank account details.

Latest news!

Media Personality Maureen Mopio does it again!

Thank you Maureen, for airing an interview with our linguist, Colleen Hattersley in the Kaleidoscope program on 4eb on 30 September 2020.

The interview was recorded at the beginning of the year, before Covid19 played havoc with everyone's plans for 2020. It did not matter. The project goals and processes are still the same and have been progressing steadily. We are in good shape to meet our target of end October to have the information in reasonable form for publishing.

Listen to the interview here. Scroll down to the list of programs and choose the one dated 30 Sept 2020.

The image below shows Ikupu and Colleen at Agevairu market in 2017.


QUIZ QUESTION

What happens when you give a resource to a father and son team in the village and the same resource to a mixed group of people in Australia?

Answer

Lots of learning fun of course!

Come join us!

You are invited to sit with us as we work through a couple of entries. Remember, the language consultant is in the village in PNG, the linguist is in a small house south of Brisbane, Qld. The video camera is fixed and trained on to the linguist's screen. In the video we are checking entries beginning with the letter P.

Donations to publish our knowledge book are now open

Keeping our language alive for our kids

The Language Project is entering a new phase of checking and archiving. Soon we will be ready to plan the printed book - BUT - we need assistance to print. If Language speakers are ever to hold a book of their language, we need to raise $10,000. Donations can be made from anywhere in the world. Click here to donate or use the DONATE TODAY button at the top-right corner of any page.

A great way to support the project and gain something unique for yourself is to purchase our products.

Piri- $AU20 per copy - postage $5.00 (Learn how to make a palm-leaf roof.) Purchase button is at the top of every page.

Maeaka Marerena $AU5.00 - postage free (Learn our alphabet with colouring-in fun!) purchase here

New Release - Maeaka Marerena (Learning Our Language)

The Covid19 Lockdown is not all negative!

As a break in the intensive Language work, some members of the Project Team developed a colouring book for kids and introductory learners. We had fun making it and hope that others will be interested in purchasing a copy or two. All proceeds will go back into the project - even to another print run if demand exceeds supply. Please use the Maeaka Marerena button above to secure your copy.

If you don't hear from us within a week, please drop us a line at mt.ourlanguage@gmail.com with the heading MMbook.

Our Senior Language Consultant in PNG tested out a draft with his 5-year-old son. The speakers were in the village in PNG, their voices were captured by a video camera in Australia. This is the result: watch Maeaka Marerena.

Consultant at work

By way of reminder of what is involved in this project, here is a short video of our Senior Language Consultant at work in 2019. The electronic version of the dictionary will provide many audio examples of the spoken language. This is how they are created.

Covid 19 in PNG

Lockdown in Australia has had wide-reaching effects, especially for those who have lost their source of income. We acknowledge the hardships and the efforts of our governments to keep us as safe as possible during this trying time.

Papua New Guinea has also met the challenges of this disease in a timely and professional manner. Here is a look at a screening centre in Port Moresby. PNG medical response

For the general populaton, who are mainly village dwellers, the situation is very challenging. Here is one story: effects on the people

Now for a Progress Report

During the Senior Language Consultant's visit to Brisbane in 2019 around 1,000 - yes, a thousand - entries were considered, corrected, value added or rejected. Then they were sent to an external proofreader (volunteer) who picks up inconsistencies and possible difficulties in the English content. Each time we work on a block of entries we gain further insight into life during the collection period. The sample sentences illustrate not only the application of words and grammatical structures, they also provide a window into life as it was 80 to 100 years ago. We find ourselves looking, not so much at the words on the screen but instead we speak in terms of what images are created in our minds and how to best express those in English. Sometimes that expression is very difficult because English just does not have adequate words to express the concepts being offered.

Since late January, and with the two workers in separate countries communicating over very unreliable network connections, over 1,000 (one thousand) more entries have been completed. These entries consist of the largest two blocks of words - those beginning with the alphabet letters of A and B. There are 12 blocks of A words, most of which consist of over 60 entries each, and 10 blocks of B words which range between 50-70 entries per block.

As of today, 27 May 2020, we are working on the last two B blocks and have five A blocks waiting for attention to complete this phase of the project.

Once all the blocks of words are completed, they will be examined again and eventually combined to create one database of entries from A to K. We plan to reach that stage by the end of July 2020.

This will give us an electronic database of the updated Coluccia Dictionary that was commenced sometime around 1900 and has been amended and expanded by at least four French scholars until it was printed and bound in 1939. Though they were indeed scholars, and spoke the language fairly well, they still missed the point with many words and expressions. The current project is the first time that a literate bilingual consultant has been an integral part of the total process. We believe that the resulting document will provide a solid benchmark for future use and study of Our Real Language, Maeaka Tohana.

Covid or not Covid? Doesn't matter, the work continues

What have the Covid 19 restrictions meant for the Maeaka Tohana project?

In Australia it has meant that our Linguist has been able to continue preparing the entries for examination by our Senior Language Consultant. It doesn't seem to matter how many times the entries are viewed, there is always something to be tweaked and some question to be asked.

In PNG, travel is restricted and the village school is closed. This means there are more people around the village during our hookup sessions. That means more talking, more background activity and more distractions. Village life is amplified by the phone and transferred to the quiet office in Brisbane in all its complexity. Our Senior Language Consultant deserves special recognition for his commitment and 'stickability" Thank you rarina Ikupu Paru for keeping us on target with processing entries.

Is Language humanity's greatest invention?

In this TED talk, David Peterson offers some ideas worth considering: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_peterson_why_langu...

That's why we are doing what we are doing.

Food for thought

Here is a link to an interesting TED talk about how language influences the way we think. It is all part of why it is important to document Maeaka (Our Language) now, while there are people who can explain the specific meaning of words and concepts.

How Language shapes the way we think

Dialects in Our Language

One of the first features people want to explain, is that there are several dialects of the Waima/Roro language. Almost everyone can identify which villages speak the same way and what the differences are. However,these differences are not well recorded and are in danger of disappearing under the pressures of the modern world. Our dictionary 'Ai'ai 'eukia miaho Maurina Ways of the Ancestors M-W summarises the discussion about dialects as recorded by observers in the past. An image of the page is below.

To enquire about obtaining a copy of the dictionary, please contact The Secretary, Maeaka Tohana Language Project at email: mt.ourlanguage@gmail.com.

Senior Consultant visit 2019

It is always a pressure-packed time when the Senior Consultant is able to work with the Linguist in Brisbane for a few weeks. Such a time was during October and November 2019. Being in the same place, and able to work face-to-face progresses the work much faster and to a higher standard than is possible over a dodgy internet connection. It is not a matter of just translating the language words - or even of translating the original French. The priests who made these early records did their best, and we are grateful, but sometimes they misunderstood the wider application of words as is illustrated in the sample sentences they created. It can take quite a while to sort out some entries.

During the Senior Consultant's visit we were able to sort out close to 1,000 - yes, one thousand - entries already in the computer and to enter another thousand or so of A and B entries from printed document to computer. Making sense of the A and B entries is our next task for the first half of 2020.

Come join us in Brisbane as we sort out some mosquitoes and learn about barbed spears.


Building skills 2

Ikupu and Colleen attended the Edit it! workshop at the QSFT. We didn't edit Hayden's interview as anticipated - instead we had the opportunity to make our own edits of an old American Western movie. The experience showed us just what power the editor has! It was another well presented and enjoyable few hours though we found it much more challenging than the Film it! workshop. Once again, thanks to Hayden and the QSFT team.

PARADISEC Archive

Our work will eventually be available in the PARADISEC Archive as well as ELDP. Click the link to view an interview with Professor Nick Thieberger about PARADISEC.

https://youtu.be/bwhfSuAUGVw

Building skills

On Saturday 23 November 2019 three MTLP members (Maureen, Ikupu and Colleen) attended a short course at the Queensland School of Film and Television (QSFT). The course, called Film IT! was to provide us with some basic knowledge about recording good video image. After a few hours of instruction and hands-on with the equipment, the instructor, Hayden Lowry was interviewed on video by the student group. In two weeks time that video will be used to teach us about editing. Thanks Hayden, we enjoyed the few short hours and look forward to the next part.


The work continues

Whoever might think that a visit to Australia is a holiday, take a look at the video below. After checking and re-checking entries several times each, our Senior Language Consultant then records headwords and sample sentences for about one third of the entries. To do this he has learned another set of specialist skills about audio recording and processing. The end result of this activity will be a talking dictionary.

Senior Consultant interview on Radio 4EB, Brisbane

There is no doubt about our Senior Language Consultant! He takes every opportunity to speak about our language project. On Wednesday 30 October, 2019 There was a call from well-known radio journalist Maureen Mopio from Radio 4EB in Brisbane. Her request - "Would you be available for a phone interview on the PNG Multicltural program?" "Of course, Maureen. When would that be?" Response: "Today. I will call you after lunch." Listen to the interview here :Mopio/Paru interview.

How brave to undertake an unplanned live telephone interview in one's second language out of four spoken.



THE BEST NEWS TO DATE

We are pleased and honoured to announce that the Endangered Languages Documentation Program (ELDP) has supported our work with a small grant to enable us to continue editing the 1939 Coluccia Dictionary. The Senior Language Consultant, Ikupu Paru is currently in Australia to do some concentrated work with Linguist Colleen Hattersley. The goal is to have the first user friendly dictionary of the Waima/Roro/Paitana language available by the end of 2020.


We sincerely thank Broome-based Aboriginal organisation, Madjulla Inc. for auspicing the grant for us.

Madjulla Inc.

welcome to a new Team member

We are very excited to welcome a new member to our MTLP Team. Albert Aitsi from Bereina was visiting Australia and expressed interest in the project. Albert studied some pages of original documents and explained many words in English. There were some words he was not familiar with and without understanding French he was not able to figure out what Fr. Coluccia said the words meant. But Ikupu and Colleen knew and had been able to make suitable dictionary entries. The video below shows what happened when Albert and Ikupu worked together over internet linkup for the first time. Despite the challenges, Albert has agreed to join the Team and become the Language proofreader and backup for tricky entries. He will also create some illustrations for the finished dictionary. Thank you Albert. You are most welcome and we look forward to working with you to complete the modern version of the Coluccia dictionary.


CELEBRATING 44 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

As usual, the Papua New Guinea Federation of Queensland presented a magic day of PNG culture and celebration at Bill Norris Oval, Beenleigh, QLD on 15 September 2019 to celebrate the country's independence. For anyone who is thinking of visiting Papua New Guinea, attending this function is a wonderful way to sample the joy and hospitality that is usually encountered there. The QKA dancers again excelled with their presentation of Kairuku song and dance. In the image below Abia Muir embodies the spirit of the day in her enjoyment of the moment. Thanks to Brian for this action photo of his mum.

Abia goes for a spin


Thank you to Joyce Pepe and Marie Sauge for making space on their stall for the Language Project. We were able to display our books and sell raffle tickets on the day. Our raffle prizes were:

1st prize - Broncos jersey signed by some players: won by Les from the next door stall.

2nd prize - a return trip on the vehicle barge to North Stradbroke Island (Straddie) - won by Jenny from the Gold Coast

Book Buyer's prize - $50 voucher for Gold Class at Event Cinemas - won by Helen, one of our energetic supporters.

Well done all and thank you to everyone who supported our efforts. We are more committed than ever to completing the current project by this time next year.

Our colourful stall
Les won the Broncos Jersey
Jenny won the barge voucher - and nearly made it into the photo
Book buyer's prize went to Helen

Review of archived documents

As the dust was still settling from the Language Party our Linguist was on an Air Niugini flight heading for Port Moresby - no wonder it has taken a while to update the web page! This was a short, two week visit to review some of the historic documents that are archived at the Catholic Diocese Office at Bereina. Most of the documents are very delicate and cannot stand up to too much handling; often they are undated and sometimes do not tell us who was the author. We photographed as much as possible and prepared an Excel sheet of metadata for the contents of three archive boxes. The documents ranged from a letter written in Language by someone at Yule Island farewelling a priest who was being sent to another parish, to a detailed French-Roro dictionary arranged alphabetically by the French word and typed. This document has been professionally bound with a hard cover and is in good shape - all 745 pages of it. Apparently Fr. Coluccia was not satisfied with completing over 500 pages of Roro to French in 1939 - he spent the next three years reversing the information to make it more accessible to French speakers.

Perhaps the most astounding realisation was that our work of rendering the 1939 'Coluccia' dictionary into English is actually the fifth in a continuum of records that began around the turn of last century. We did not see the original dictionary compiled by Fr Caspar, MSC, but it is referred to by Fr Desnoes in the front page of his review of Caspar's work. Fr Norin later updated Desnoes' dictionary and Fr Coluccia improved on Fr Norin's effort. The 2019 Maeaka Tohana version, coming exactly 80 years after Coluccia's compilation, explains the information in English rather than French. It is the first time that a biliterate native speaker of the language has been an integral part of the process. The earlier works were well documented and have preserved many words that are no longer in use, however we believe that our version gives a more accurate sense of the meaning of many entries because of the bilingual competence of modern language consultants. This is why we often use the term 'Knowledge Book' for our version - because it contains much more than translations of words.

This short project was supported by a small grant from the Endangered Language Fund (ELF) which is based in the United States of America. We are extremely grateful for the support received to complete this small, but significant task, and to Fr Paul Guy for allowing us to have access to the documents. Eventually the information gathered will be available to researchers on the internet. Details will be provided on this site when they become available.


A peek into the pastUnpacking a treasure troveFuture-proofing informationFirst attempt to return boxesThank you to ELF




Maeaka Tohana Language Party

What a turnout it was! A whole cross section of friends and supporters came along to celebrate language diversity and raise funds to keep the project going. Of course, the success was due to a lot of hard work by a dedicated group who met every week for seven weeks to plan the event. Impromptu actions ruled - including a last minute decision to bring the Language Consultant, Ikupu Paru, from PNG to Brisbane for the event. When Ngugi academic Dr Glenda Nalder agreed to be guest speaker, the scene was set. The ushers set the tone with their tribute to cultural attire, making everyone, from children to grandparents, feel relaxed. The number of raffle prizes magically grew on the night, making it possible for many to leave with a significant memento of the evening. Some generous donations were also received on the night. Our grateful thanks go to all concerned, whatever part you played in making the event a success. We hope you will stay with us for another twelve months until we can complete the task of making the Coluccia Dictionary from 1939 available in English to language speakers and learners..

The first edition of our modern dictionary - 'Ai'ai 'eukia miaho Maurina Ways of the Ancestors was publicly launched and available for purchase on the night. Copies can now be purchased through this web site. Despite some technical challenges we managed to salvage some photos of the night - here are a few that may bring some smiles.

It is nearly here! 22 June is less than two weeks away. Do you have your ticket yet?

The event is shaping up well. There will be food, music, dancing, activities, spot competitions and prizes. and RAFFLES! Oh my! what raffles. Would you like to win a free stay in a resort on North Stradbroke Island? Or maybe a Cowboys jersey signed by the one and only J.T. What about a hundred dollars worth of hair braiding or extensions or a hundred dollars worth of surfboard repairs? Just $2.00 per ticket or 3 tickets for $5.00. Don't miss out - contact Aiva today to secure your lucky numbered ticket:

mt.ourlanguage@gmail.com - that is the email address you need.

Please Come to our Language Party - we need you!

Come to our Language Party on 22 June 2019.

We want to celebrate language diversity within our community. If you speak a language other than English, or come from another country, we would love to meet you on 22 June at Newnham Hotel, Upper Mount Gravatt at 7.00 pm. We are planning an evening of music, food and simple entertainment that will incorporate the languages of the people who attend. We can't do it without you! So, bring your language and wear your national dress if you can. This event is supported by International Year of Indigenous Languages and Maeaka Tohana Language Project.

Tickets @ $30 per adult or $20 for children and unwaged may be purchased through this web site (see the blue button above), via our email address: mt.ourlanguage@gmail.com or by calling Joyce on .0456 932 552 or Colleen on.0401 048 934.

Look for this poster. Don't be shy - give us a call.

United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages

It is exciting to have a whole year dedicated to the world's minority languages. Will it make any difference to Maeaka Tohana Project? We hope so. We are trying very hard to complete Phase I of our Knowledge Book so that it can be made available to the Waima/Roro/Paitana people. Phase I will contain the edited entries from M to W and some introductory information about the language. At this stage we do not know exactly how many pages will be involved or how much a copy will cost. However, if readers want to be advised when details are available, please email us at mt.ourlanguage@gmail.com and we will put you on a notification list.

We have applied for some funding to support the completion of Phase II which will be the entries A to K. Our backup plan is to sell our book Piri to raise funds to support the second part of the project. You can help by encouraging people on your networks to purchase a copy of Piri...and of course, by buying and sharing your own copy.

Why are Indigenous languages important? Well, apart from the wellbeing of the people who speak them, these languages contain much knowledge about the human condition generally, especially how to live in different environments. The structures of different languages also provide insight into the workings of the human mind. Documenting and maintaining Indigenous languages is important for everyone. See a short video from senior language consultant Ikupu Paru here. Headphones may be necessary:

Stop press! It's here!

In February this year (2018) Colleen spent four weeks with Ikupu, Avia and family at Ekenuaku, near Hisiu in Papua New Guinea. Ikupu is keen to record cultural practices that are dying out, so it was natural that the video camera went on an excursion to Kohu to collect palm leaves for the chookhouse roof. The video is still being edited, but the images were so descriptive that we decided to make a small book using them. Along the way, some design students from Liveworm Studio at Griffith University became involved and together we created a story with pizzaz. The finished publication was due to arrive before we went to Canberra for the summer school (see below), but it didn't. Some frantic emails while we were away and on return to Brisbane had the desired effect. The box of 50 books was delivered about 10 hours before the Qantas flight left for Port Moresby. So we now have our first publication - Piri. Piri follows the process from collecting the palm leaves from the tidal marsh to the final touches on the roof. The full colour, 42-page books sell for $20 each in Australia or K30 in PNG. Please contact Colleen on colhatts@gmail.com for further information.

Maeaka Tohana Knowledge Book

Yes, it is coming along nicely. We have over 2,000 entries in reasonable shape - and 1,000 good enough to allow out in public. We have decided to publish in two parts, with Part I being words beginning with initial letters A to K and Part II being M to W entries. Since we began at W, we will be publishing Part II first. We are concurrently doing fine edits on the entries and writing front matter plus an introductory grammar. This will be our focus for the first part of 2019. Offers of publishing sponsorship, or ideas on how to obtain such, would be most welcome.

Because of a mix-up with our phone provider, we no longer have reasonably priced telephone communication between Australia and PNG, so a new working solution must be found. We have realised that we need to be in the same place for about three months at a time to complete this work sensibly and quickly. If any readers in Eastern Australia or PNG are looking for housesitters during 2019, please consider us. We are extremely responsible and would look after your house very carefully. That would be a fantastic win-win situation.

Attendance at CoEDL Summer School 2018

CoEDL, the Centre of Excellence for the Description of Language, holds a summer school each year. This year, 2018, it was hosted by the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, from 24-30 November. Maeaka Tohana Language Project was successful in obtaining travel scholarships for two representatives to attend the event so, of course, we went!

Senior consultant Ikupu Paru flew from Port Moresby to Brisbane and then shared the driving with Linguist Colleen Hattersley for a round trip to Canberra and back.That meant two days driving each way and a total of about 2,500 kilometres. There was much to do when we returned and Ikupu's departure day came around far too quickly.

The summer school brought together experienced linguists, students and community workers for an update of skills and sharing of knowledge in the common goal of unlocking the secrets of human language. Each day began with a plenary session where all participants attended a general presentation by an esteemed practitioner. After a break we split into smaller interest groups where we focused on one topic over four days. Then there was a light lunch followed by two more topic sessions in the afternoon. We took advantage of the Wednesday break in program to attend a 3 hour session about making better video recordings. The total experience was definitely worth the effort it took to be there.

Our travel scholarships included a week's accommodation at John XXIII hall of residence and included a wide choice of food for breakfast which sustained us until the lunch break. Though there are roads all through the university grounds, parking is very expensive, so we left our vehicle in a designated area and did lots of walking over the week-long period. Here are some images and a video of Ikupu talking about his impression of the Summer School.

Home for a week
Setting out
Made it!
Maus class
Trusty Toyota
Farmers' Market Canberra
Panel discussion
Group photo
Down by inland, back by coast

Radio interview

Friday 24 March saw Abia Paru Muir and Colleen Hattersley heading for the studios of 4EB in Brisbane to have an on-air talk with Maureen Mopio. Maureen hosts a weekly program, Women's Profile, on the ethnic broadcasting radio station 4EB. Abia came along for moral support and, fortunately, did a quick translation of the two songs Colleen had brought along to play on the day. The interview finished by acknowledging others who have been vital to the project, however, as is often the case, just as many names were omitted. If you are someone who has contributed please be assured that your involvement is greatly appreciated and any oversight was not intentional. For a short time the interview can be found on Women's Profile at:

If you miss out you should be able to hear it by clicking the play button below.

Aussie Walkabout

Yes, it will be amazing! 2017 began with a visit to Australia by Association Mentor Paru Kama Ikupu and Association President Ikupu Paru. In two weeks the team covered over 3,000 kilometres visiting outreach projects and potential sources of support. Our thanks to all of those people we met who encouraged us in so many ways.

The second two weeks were spent in concentrated work on the developing dictionary. We refined our method of working and set a goal of November this year, 2017, to have the language content of the first edition checked and edited ready for publication. This will take a lot of focus and dedication.

Here are some images of our amazing Aussie Walkabout.

The team is gearing up for an amazing 2017. Two extra data input volunteers in Brisbane (Linda and Joyce) are helping to complete the first phase of data input, and the two consultants in PNG (Fred and Ikupu) will be back at work soon. Completed entries have begun to be brought together in a possible 'final' format - this will be tested and increased over the coming year, and a grammar description began to manifest this morning. We are quiet because we are busy - but rest assured it is happening. Now we all need to believe that our project will be accepted for financial support by the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation. Applications closed last Friday - ours was submitted and received before Christmas.

The grammar description insists on making its presence felt. Early days yet!

The Watete Comedian Troupe provided many laughs at the launch of the Maeaka Tohana Cultural and Socio-Economic Association Inc..

Everyone turned out to celebrate the formation of the Association on 30 November 2016. What a proud Kairuku moment! Thanks to Francis Aeava who was official photographer on the day. You did a great job, Francis - enamo kiabaha.

Chairperson Ikupu Paru received the Certificate of Incorporation in a special ceremony at Hisiu Village on Wednesday 30 November 2016.

While we're waiting for the days to tick by towards the official launch of the Maeaka Tohana Cultural and Socio-Economic Development Association Inc., let's do a spot of revision on the database program.

It's not all hard work. See what happened when we all decided to have a haircut. Just click the image below for a giggle.

There is much activity happening to arrange for the launch of the Association on 30 November. As well as this, the Team have been continuing to solve entries and are operating a night market stall at Agevairua during November. Come along and show your support by purchasing some hot food, flex, biscuits or cool drink at the stall.

GREAT NEWS! The Maeaka Tohana Cultural and Socio-Economic Development Association Inc. is now registered. This means we can apply to government programs and private sponsors for support in our endeavours to ensure a secure future for our Kairuku people.

There will be an official launch of the Association at Hisiu Village on Wednesday 30 November from 8.30am to 2.00 pm.

Fred polishes up some entries after solid work with Mr Momo.

Mr Thomas Momo came to work with the two Language Consultants for three days 17-19 October. Much was achieved.

First meeting with Village Magistrate Thomas Momo at Bereina Mission Office. Thomas is aware of the need to make a permanent record of the language now and was very pleased to meet the Maeaka Tohana Team members. A future visit to Agevairua for a few days to work on the data was suggested by Thomas and enthusiastically accepted by the Team.

On Tuesday 4 October 2016 we reluctantly farewelled our linguist and mentor after four weeks of intensive progress on the dictionary and related tasks.

Haparua until next time!