Meriam Mir Words, Torres Strait Creole words
Key Meriam language words used in this account of Meriam culture and history, together with a 25-word sample list of words in Torres Strait Creole with their English equivalents.
aritarit: planting, garden preparation, a Malo word from arit, to plant.
Au le: senior man.
beizam: tiger shark.
Beizam boai: the dancers in the Malo ceremonies, shark brethren who had charge of the sacred emblems of Malo.
Bomai: secret and sacred name of the god of the Meriam (see also Malo).
daip: mound made of shell and vegetable matter forming boundary between allotments.
Dauar: one of the three Murray Islands.
deumer: Torres Strait pigeon.
elikup: boundary marker.
ged: home-place, homeland, habitable island with water resources, womb.
gedira gur: the sea that belongs to the land.
ged kem le: joint owners of land (lineage or family group).
Gelam: mythical culture hero who travelled from Mua, highest hill on Mer shaped like a dugong.
gelar: taboo, prohibition, rule, law, commandment.
giz: root of a tree, origin, spring.
giz ged: place of origin, beginnings.
ikok: five sacred chants of Malo.
keiar meta: crayfish houses.
Keo Deudai: Australian mainland.
kerkar: new season denoting renewal, change in continuity.
kerker: seasonal time.
ketai: wild yam.
koki: northwest wind, with which Komet people are associated.
Kole: Meriam name for white people.
kopat: everybody together.
lamar: reborn spirit of a person, ancestor living in the place of lamar, the immortals.
Las: village of Mer to which Bomai was taken.
le: term used by two brothers or two sisters for one another, man, person, human being, wauri tebud, mortal.
lipam: fertiliser (from bird droppings).
lu kem le: landholder on behalf of lineage or family group; nameholder for family-owned land.
maid: malevolent magic, the power of the singular or non-reciprocal, the power of death.
maiso mir: murmur of the Great Barrier Reef heard from Mer.
Malo: public or 'small name' of the Meriam god.
Malo-Bomai: Meriam culture heroes.
Malora Gelar: the law of the Meriam people.
mamgiz: springs of common blood, sacred place of pelak.
mamus: head man.
mar: shadow, 'double' of a person, spirit energy, ghost of a departed person not yet reborn, a grass-like scented plant from New Guinea.
Mer: largest of the three Murray Islands, the three Murray Islands.
meriba ged: our land.
mogor: vigilante group or law enforcers.
naiger: northeast time.
nener: boundary marker.
nerutonar: people with a different custom, 'another kind' of people, the hostile other.
nesur: lavalava, 'calico'.
nosik: clan, 'peoples' of Mer.
Op Deudai: Papua New Guinea, West Irian.
Op Ged: face islands, Eastern Islands.
Opo Le: wearer of the sacred mask of Malo-Bomai.
pelak: sacred house.
sab tonar: custom of placing a taboo on a garden.
sager: southeast, southeast wind.
sai: stone fish traps, stage in life cycle of frigate bird.
sem: yellow hibiscus.
seuriseuri: sacred star-headed clubs of Malo.
Tami Le: assistants to Zogo Le.
taum akadar: pride in self.
ter: fringing reefs.
teter mek: footprints, footsteps.
ur sekerseker: variety of ironwood.
Waier: the smallest of the three Murray Islands.
wali: a type of creeping vine.
wauri: cone shell, armlet made from cone shell Conus litteratis.
wauri tebud: shell friend, partner.
zogo: a natural or artificial object of great magical potency, power to communicate with lamar, intentional power like cosmic energy moving in a spiral, sacred, the spirit power of Malo, 'divine wrath', holy.
Zogo Le: the three Le entitled to wear the Malo-Bomai masks, persons with sacred or divine power; person with power to discern the movement of cosmic energy.
zogo mir: magical words or chants.
TORRES STRAIT CREOLE
augemwali: Mother Hubbard dress, island dress.
bambai: later (on), some day, eventually, afterwards.
beke: to knead.
bipotaim: time before the arrival of the missionaries, [also] in the olden days.
blo: belonging to.
diskain: this, this kind of, about, approximately.
kaikai: to eat.
kapmauri: the earth-oven, lit. the 'Maori copper'. A word used all over the Pacific.
labalaba: male sarong, sulu.
mipla: we, us, excluding the person spoken to. (first person plural exclusive personal pronoun)
nadakain: different, odd, strange, extraordinary.
olsem: in this way, thus, similar to, like, and so, therefore.
pasin: fashion, style, ways, custom.
pastaim: long ago but after the arrival of the missionaries.
piknini: baby, child.
prapa langgus: true language.
sabe: v. to know, understand, n. knowledge.
sidaun: to sit, be sitting.
waitman: white man, person.
yumi: you and me to the exclusion of others. (second person dual inclusive persnonal pronoun)
yupla: you (the second person plural exclusive personal pronoun).
Zulai Wan: the first of July, the day the LMS missionaries arrived at Darnley Island in 1871. Now celebrated as the Torres Strait national day.
Keywords: language, Mer, Meriam culture, Meriam Mer
Shnukal, Anna 1988, 'Broken : an introduction to the creole language of Torres Strait', Pacific Linguistics, C-107.
Author: Sharp, Nonie