Pwesai para nongna kol torou: Lang para nongna kol masikene iro kol pwan Joys of our languages: Day of languages of all our places in the world


Caption: From left to right: Karula, SuPokot, Napihiyap, SuKohun, SuNdrakuh, Nameh, Nayahamui, Nakukun. In front: Beatrice and John and Alice Yokai’s son.

Photo: Photo taken using my iphone. There were so many people around, I cannot remember who used my camera to take this photo. I think this photo was taken by Polly. 13th December 2022.

In celebration of World Language Day, I share some words written and spoken in the Nali Language of Manus. My Nali language is imperfect and I am always in the process of learning Nali language by asking about words and whether I have understood the terms correct. These words are part of that process of learning and as such may contain some errors in the way I have spelt words or phrased sentences or understood the meanings. For me, in order for language to live we must speak it and write and keep on clarifying the meanings. I look forward to feedback from Nali speakers around the world. I thank all family who share their knowledge with me. All errors in this short story in Nali language and errors in translation are mine alone. This short story is about creating conversations in our languages for learning and teaching and so that we can keep our languages alive.


Mahapo hu United Nations hu ikii lenge nongna kol masi para kol pwan. Mahapo lenge pwesai, tu ka nimnim, tu ka pasanii, pe tu pwai wuloh para nongna kol torou masi. Nongna kol ara pahas namandran ita nondrian.


Today the United Nations has designated as International Language Day. On this day, we celebrate, acknowledge, know and say thank you for all our languages. There is immense wisdom and knowledge in our languages.


Mahapo tu min ara worou soyon ngara tu wong nongna kol soyon tehe English, Tok Pisin, pe nongnakol torou. Tu yesou iyakilii hu n’dramat pe pihin para kol mwanan, tu skul pe m’brulen pe tu po wong nongna kol soyon.


Today many of us are multilingual, we speak languages like English, Tok Pisin, our languages. Due to intermarriages to people from other places, schooling and work we are speaking many languages.


Mahapo, titiye to hape ara andre kuikii kiya kilii nongna Nali, Manus, Papua New Guinea.

Pwesai pe nimnim to iya kilii nongna Nali mahapo andre ku titiye hape i ya kili m’bulen si u po nounou pe u po mbrusii. M’brulen ara, ara tiltiliya n’drop. N’drop towu Manus ara droin namandran nodriya kol. Pahas namandran ita nondria m’bruliye n’drop pe nondriya n’drop. Hu pihi Manus ara ngara hu ka til ndrop, pe hui kii n’drop iya m’brulen haya haya. Ngara hu ka kowas kalii, hu ka sowani para hu ka wirii pekepat para hu m’brunah. Ngara hu ka hang. Yo, Nali Nameh i nonou yowu haya iya kili tiltiliya ndrop. Ngara ku pwesai namandraniya pairii hu pihin torou, hu tinarou, hu nalirou pe norupihin ngara yowu ka titiye iya kili ndrop.


Today I will narrate this short story in the Nali language of Manus, Papua New Guinea.

My celebrations and joy and acknowledgment of the Nali language today will be through the telling a bit of story about some work and learning and teaching that I have been doing. This work involves making Manus basket. Our Manus Baskets has a lot of meaning. A lot of knowledge and wisdom is can be understood through the process of making basket and in the basket. Manus women make the baskets, they use the basket in various ways. They gift it towards various customary occasions, they sell it to get some money for their children. They gift it. My sister Nameh taught us to make basket. I have found a lot of joy when having discussions with other women, our mothers, sisters, and daughters when we discuss about the basket.


Iye titiye to hapeko para pwesai, nounou, para nongna rou masi pe pwesai pe pahas ita nodriya n’drop para Manus.

Wuloh. Wuloh. Wuloh.


This is a short story about the joys, learning and teachings, about all our langauges and the joys and knowledge that I see in the Manus basket.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Spoken Nali language

A short video of family in Manus speaking in Nali language explaining some of the designs in of the Manus basket in Nali language. From left to right: Karula, Napihiyap, SuPokot, Nameh, SuKohun, SuNdrakuh.

Video filmed by Nayahamui Rooney; 13 December 2022

Nayahamui Rooney is a researcher and lecturer at the ANU School of Culture, History & Language. In 2023, she is teaching Asia and the Pacific: Power, Diversity and Change, as well as Gender and Sexuality in the Pacific.

You can read more about her work here, here, here, and here.