(No. 8)



Last year, Dicks Raeparanga Thomas was awarded an MA in Linguistics at the University of Papua New Guinea. His thesis, Sotpela Grama bilong Tokpisin (‘A Short Grammar of Tokpisin’), was written in Tokpisin (or Tok Pisin, the PNG dialect of Melanesian Pidgin). Two external examiners of the thesis also wrote their comments and recommendations in Tok Pisin. [This is probably a first for a pidgin or creole!]

Here is the abstract of the thesis in Tok Pisin and English:

Tokpisin em i wanpela long tripela dailek i stap ananit long bikpela tokples Melenisien Pijin. Narapela tupela, em Bislama long Vanuatu na Pijin long Solomon. Planti save manmeri bin wokim na raitim wok painaut long dispela tripela dailek. Tasol planti long ol dispela wok, ol i raitim long Tokinglis o long narapela tokples bilong ol waitman. Planti manmeri bilong Papua Niugini, Vanuatu na Solomon i save popaia long ol dispela samting long wanem tokples ol i bin raitim wok painaut, em i tokples ol asples manmeri i no save long ol. Mi gat bikpela tingting se sapos yumi laik manmeri save long grama bilong tokples, yumi ma yusim long tokim grama bilong tokples.

Olsem na dispela wok painaut, mi raitim ol samting long Tokpisin. Mi yusim Tokpisin long wanem, mi laik ol manmeri bilong
Tokpisin bai ritim grama bilong Tokpisin long Tokpisin.

Namba tu as bilong dispela wok painaut, em long rait long Tokpisin bilong kamapim grama wod na tokim grama bilong Tokpisin long Tokpisin. Olsem na long dispela wok painaut mi lukluk long: (a) wod na hapwod bilong Tokpisin, na (b) ol kain sentens long Tokpisin.

Tokpisin is one of the three dialects of Melanesian Pidgin. The other two are Bislama in Vanuatu and Pijin in the Solomons. Many scholars have done research and published their work on these varieties of Melanesian Pidgin. But much of this work was done and written in English and other metropolitan languages. Consequently many people in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomons have not been able to read these published works because they were written in languages the people do not understand. It is my view that if we want the Melanesian people to study the grammar of their language, the language that is going to be used to describe the grammar of the language must be the language per se. In other words, we must develop a metalanguage for use in describing the given language.

Given the above facts, this research and findings on Tokpisin is written in Tokpisin so that the person who speaks Tokpisin can read the grammar of Tokpisin in Tokpisin.

The other reason for this research is the pressing need for us to write in Tokpisin and to create grammatical terms to be used to describe the grammar of Tokpisin. Hence the main focus of the endeavour at this point in time is on: (a) the morphology, and (b) types of Tokpisin sentences.


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