Greetings and dialects

The missionary team in the Kovol have spent enough time in the village now that daily greetings (and the dialect differences) have started to sink in.

While they were not giving their full-time attention to language when building houses and settling in, building relationships was a goal and a few phrases here and there went a long way!

Daily greetings are ‘practical expressions’ and they just need to be memorised. Usually, in their language learning style they make sure that they understand what they are saying; learning does not happen by repeating what they hear with no understanding.

Practical expressions though are those everyday sayings that it is just good to memorise and use – even if they do not understand all the grammar (or even words!) they are using (common phrases and greetings may well be irregular anyway). It gives them something they can use in their day-to-day relationships.

So how do you say hello in Kovol? Check this out (take all this with a large pinch of salt, as they say, they have a lot to learn! Here it is sounded it out in the way of an English speaker.

                               Sanapim dialect           Slipim dialect
Good morning        samog bilee                  sibone bele
Good day               kwaningem bilee           kwaningem bele
Good afternoon      uligong limong bileeu    ligong limong bele
Good night              inam  bile                       isan bele

Even with the greetings, they are seeing that there are two main Kovol dialects, and possibly a third – that needs some investigating.
The word bilee (or bele) is the word for good/I agree/peace. Kwaning is the word for sun, and that is about as far as their understanding goes at the moment. They enjoy having something to say when they see someone though!

They are probably going to have to learn to speak the Sanapim dialect, which is the dialect of the village they live in, and just record differences in their dictionary as for the other dialect.

It does not seem like there is a ‘winning’ dialect that has a size or prestige advantage, so each group is telling them that they should learn their dialect. It is incredible that a language with 1000 speakers located in seven villages can have such variety!

Be praying for the team as they put their heads to really studying this language and getting answers to their questions.