July 15, 2008

How do you spell?

POSTED BY PETER BLACK 11.30.02

Sharon Patris included the following in a an email message she sent me a while ago:

"A classmate once asked a simple translation for some simple phrase. I can't remember the phrase, but I do remember not knowing the RIGHT spelling of the phrase (if there's such a thing as the right spelling). It brought up a great point about the Tobian language. Most of the younger generation know the language, but have a hard time spelling it out. From my understanding, there is no standard spelling, at least not like the English language where you learn to speak, read and write it. It's especially sad for me to not know how to spell it right so that when others read it, they would understand what I'm saying. Do you have any input on that?"

And then a couple of days ago Wayne Cruthirds a former Peace Corps in Eang said the following in his email to me:
"I've looked over the FOTI website and am amazed that so much has been done in studies of the __haparifarue__. (As you can see I'm having problems with the spelling!".

Does anyone know if there is a CORRECT way to spell the Tobian Language? I never know what to do myself. For example there is that very hard "h" in words like the one for "night" or "evening." The Germans used to use an "x" for that sound. I used to use a 'gh' or even a 'k.' But now most people just write it 'Fuhaf.' How about the word for "cold?" How should it be spelled? And what about those vowels that sound like the English word "you?" or the ones that sound like the English words "ow?" and "owe?"

What are your thoughts about how to spell the language of Tobi/Eang etc?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TYP: December 2, 2002 5:00 PM
yeah, I think some tobians and I need some formal education in the tobian language. I can't read or write it.

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Cila: December 10, 2002 5:00 PM
This is very interesting, just a while a ago I was trying to write the prayer "Our Father" in tobian and it is very confusing because some of my spelling sound like I'm going to say something that is not good for a prayer. I think Sebas brought this up at one time... I think we the younger generation should compile a good Short Tobian Dictionary. What do you guys think, that way we can set a standard spelling for our words. Is it going to to be hard? I hope not. Also, we are running out of elder Tobians to tell us the right words to use.

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Tek: January 12, 2003 5:00 PM
Good Idea Cila. I was just thinking to myself, does the tobian language have its own form of writing? You know, like the arabic writing system or something like that?
Does anyone know where the tobian language originated from? Well, I think its from islands like Yap, Kosrae, Chuuk, and other places out there. I might be wrong though.
I was at a friends house one night and we both gave it a thought but we never seemed to finish our conversation on the language topic. My friend is a linguistic major and he's in his senior year at Syracuse University. He was interested in our language so, I kinda taught him a bit about our culture and our language as well. We did a research and also tried to make up our own writing system for the tobian language. For example, you know how the Spanish writing system has the dashes on top of some of its letters? Well, we both tried to do that....it worked out well at first but we found out that there's just too much to do so, we stopped.
I'm sure there's gotta be a writing system other than the alphabets for the tobian language.

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Cila: January 14, 2003 5:00 PM
I wish there was a way we could find out but why try and make up something that we did not do. Why not just try and figure out where the words came from and make a dictionary. You know, I bet if we could come up with a hundred to lets say 3 to 4 hundred words and put into writing then do some research on we can complete a Tobian Dictionary. This would include traveling to yap and visiting the outer most islands and also Chuuk because we had a neighbor from chuuk and he understood what we said and I did not understand a single word that he told me. Also, we are usuing a lot of words from other places it's just that we say it differently. We definately need to look into this. We have to remember we have so few elders and I think we are loosing our tongue.

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TYP: January 14, 2003 5:00 PM
I'm back on the EAst side. sigh. Hi Tekla and Cila. Theres a dictionaryof outer island words somewhere in this website. Check out the Archives, guys. They have words in there that look familiar but I don't think anyone will be able to pronouce them without some audio experience.

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Sharon: January 17, 2003 5:00 PM
funny people. did you know mama obita could understand ribka's chuukese sponsor from Hok (Sok, a Western Island in Chuuk). they both carried on conversation - one speaking Tobian and the other, well, Hok language. Imagine that. Cool, huh? But if we tried putting it in writing, we'd have a hard time. the thing with our language is that it is NOT a written language. It has always been an oral language, and the people probably didn't have time to put down a writing system like the Phoenicans (?), Arabs, and English people. Maybe there wasn't a need for the tobian people. But, hey, now there is a need for us - most especially to preserve the language. so, what do you say people? if there's a Palauan, English, Marshallese, and Philipino dictionary, why not a tobian? We can even ask Tobi government to help fund it....or make a project out of it for everyone.

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Cila: January 28, 2003 5:00 PM
I hate to say this Sharon but asking Tobi State to fund this is like asking them to jump over the cliff or swim to the next continent... hmmmm..

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Tanya : February 20, 2003 5:00 PM
Sharon and Cila, ARen't you guys in school?? don't you guys get free printing priveleges?? Now's your chance do make your suggestions come true. Print out the language info in the archive section. :) Then you have yourself a dictionary. We or someone can work from there on the spelling, grammar, meaning, accent, etc. What do you think?

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Soty: March 7, 2003 5:00 PM
Hey Tanya,
I like that thought. Maybe all the Tobian people can help and we can come up with Tobi dictionary.
Good thinking!!!!!!!

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Mani Haparifaruh: November 16, 2003 5:00 PM
I think it's too late for us to wait for the dictionary,why not start now and ask some elders since they still alive, and start teaching in our elementary school so that we and our children learn together, at the same time we recall the elders memory on how to spell,pronounce,and their meaning. We learn from the elders and they learn from us and we all learn from our mistake, before we getting too late.
don't you think this is a good idea?

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Tanya : November 18, 2003 5:00 PM
I think that's a good idea. Mani Harifaruh.

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Cila: December 10, 2003 5:00 PM
Very good. Like mani haparufaruh said lets not wait, because we have very few elders.

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Seb M.: February 17, 2004 5:00 PM
So interesting! During our summer program last year, many of the parents that participated in the program were in the same situation. The focus of the program were to expose the Tobi youth to their culture, environment and island lifestyle. However, as we're carrying the program forward, many of the adults became students as well. So, guys, don't feel bad of yourselves for not being able to spell/pronounce Tobian words. This is an issue among our people, young and old. That is why, as Cila mentioned, I started to work on compiling Tobian words. It's not a easy task and I am asking for your support. This forum is going to be a great resource for this task. In addition to this forum, a Japanese university students in Japan sent me a copy of his work on Tobian words, which will be very helpful as well. And I have to admit that I haven't really look into it, but when I get to it, I will try and share it with you all. Until then, work hard in school and please come home when you're done. Although we're not perfect in Tobian language, Hatohobei is in desperate needs of our experties/profession. Good luck in school and hope to see you soon..
Sincerely,
Seb

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Seb M.: February 17, 2004 5:00 PM
Who is Mani Hapariforuh? It would be better to id ourselves so that we can all share ideas and learn from each other as mentioned. Otherwise, Dr. Black is the only Mani Taraparifaruh here...

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Cila: March 22, 2004 5:00 PM
hahahhalol... That is true, we need to identify our selfs.
anyway, Seb so what? how is the summer program going? What do you guys do? Is there like Math and English writing? You know, I have this very strange idea, you know when I was in grade school it was required for us to speak Palauan and I am so happy to say that I learned it and speak it very well, I might not be good at it but I understand. I had to read a book and translate it into Palauan infront of a teacher, it starts from level one all the way to level 12 was the biggest book I have ever seen and it is called the "dictionary" hehehe.. I am not kidding, that was the last book I read in 6th grade and translated 42 words out of there in Palauan. I started tutoring other kids in 5th grade and it was fun. do you think we can do that for the summer program? I know it will not only help with the English part but it will also help with the Tobian part.
Oh, I don't know, I was thinking about this last night and I thought I might run it by everyone.

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Samantha : May 4, 2004 4:00 PM
Great!! You can tutor me next year.

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sammy: May 4, 2004 4:00 PM
i think the palauan language is really cool! :)

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Cila: May 9, 2004 4:00 PM
Do you want to learn it in Palauan or Tobian? hahaha. I'll be glad to help and if I get stuck somewhere, we have Sebas.

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Emily: September 17, 2006 6:33 AM
I'm really curious - did you end up trying to make a dictionary?
I'm a grad student in linguistics in Hawaii and am trying to find out more about the Tobian language and who speaks it and where - this looks like a great site.

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Cila Patris: December 5, 2006 7:43 PM
Yikes!! I have been lost and I'm back. So, I tried writing down some words I mean the easy ones and few of the hard ones and get this I was lost in my own language.

I have a kid from Mexico who lives with us to finish out the school year and sometimes when we're speaking in Palauan he gets this look that tells us that he knows what we are saying. I just found out that some of the Palauan words are almost spanish. hmmmm. Now, I'm trying to see if some of the Tobian words are Spanish.