Glossary of Names, Places, Words
Note: Place names and people’s names have
been changed or rearranged to protect the privacy of persons living in
Home Valley, Papua New Guinea. Scholars who need to know these more exactly
can contact me and can see Oksapmin Society and World View1.
Meanwhile the culture area Gwe lives in can be found on the map: it is
Oksapmin (see Introduction).
Pronunciation: In general pronounce all
Mengti and Tok Pisin words as you would if they were Spanish or Italian.
Note, however, that the i sound may either sound like "ee" as in
"peel" or the English short i as in "kitten."
To make pronunciation easier I used English
spelling for several Mengti words that I used often, such as Divanna and
Bettiana, and some other words like wesso-lee (thank you).
Agbenni Gwe’s uncle. Famous hunter and
marksman. Older brother of Yug-wek-kek and Bettiana.
Alan (Alan Hull) Anthropology student,
son of Arthur and Marion Hull, friend of Gwe.
Awam The Mengti word meaning sacred.
Awam corresponds to the Hebrew kadosh, to the Melanesian mana, and the Native American wakan. The word taboo or tapu in English
and Polynesian is also closely equivalent to awam.
Bettiana Mother of Gwe, born in Mindanna.
Wife of Itulieng, sister of Yug-wek-kek, Agbenni, and Dara.
Bian Father of a small girl, a generous
child. He is a fearful man whose constant worry over not being able to
grow sufficient food to nourish his child is admirable but also goes too
far and hurts him.
Dara The older Dara is the surviving
sister of Gwe’s mother. She and her battle-scarred husband, an ill-natured
man, moved into Gwe’s family house because of the poverty of their land
in Mindanna. The younger Dara is a teenage cousin of Gwe and Leah-cooh.
Divanna A part of Home Valley where
numerous members of Gwe’s clan and their associated friends and extended
families live. About 200-300 people.
Fovot Young friend of Gwe, son of the
widow Yetwes. He was born outside of Divanna when his mother married a
man of Sanaptianap: his father. Leef is his brother.
Good-duk One of several tiny springs
in high Divanna where people close to Gwe draw drinking water. Good-duk
is central in Gwe’s neighborhood.
Fred Brutelle Patrol Officer (or Kiap),
born in Australia. He was the officer who ran the Patrol Post in Oksapmin
when Alan lived with the Mengti people.
Gwe Young man of the Nkuma Clan. Son
of Itulieng and Bettiana, nephew of Yug-wek-kek. The name Gwe also means
seed or egg in Mengti.
High Divanna is where Gwe’s neighborhood
is located. It is an upper altitude part of Divanna, bordering on Wowla,
beside a tributary to Home River. About 30 people.
Home Valley The large valley where Gwe
lives. It contains Wowla, Divanna, Mindanna, and other closely-related
communities. About 800 people. Home Valley is within the Mengti-speaking
system of valleys
Itulieng (or Itul) Gwe’s
father; expert arrow carver and marksman. Religious thinker. Husband of
Bettiana, father of Leah-cooh (his teenage daughter), Ebot, a young boy,
and Bobot, a younger boy.
Kiap Patrol Officer
Killik Shaman and herbal doctor of Divanna.
A flatterer of Yug-wek-kek but a friend of Itulieng.
Lamat Young man from outside of Divanna.
Husband of Lara, son-in-law of Yug-wek-kek. Known as strongest man in the
community and possibly the fastest. Married into Divanna and allowed only
the least fertile land to farm. Husband of Lara.
Lara Wife of Lamat, daughter of
Yug-wek-kek. Perhaps the most suffering woman in Divanna.
Leah-cooh Younger sister of Gwe,
in love with Leef. She is a practical jokester.
Leef Mischievous friend of Gwe,
wants to marry Leah-cooh. Not given to working. Older brother of Fovot.
Like his brother,he was born outside Divanna but takes it jauntily, not
as an affront.
Mindanna Mindanna shares a border with
Divanna. These people are traditional allies whom the Divanna people marry.
Many of Gwe’s female relatives are from this community. A high rocky place,
Mindanna is also where the Rainmakers of Mengti live.
Mengti (1) The name given in this novel
to the Oksapmin language spoken by the people of Home Valley and their
neighboring valleys. Mengti means the speech of people and the song of
birds in the Mengti language.
Mengti (2) The name given in this novel
to Oksapmin, the system of valleys in which Gwe lives. At the time the
novel is set in, there were about 4000 people living in these easternmost
valleys of the Mountain Ok area. The Oksapmin valleys occupy some 200 square
miles circled by geographical barriers (a cliff, steep declines, frigid
mountains, a chasm-like river valley) that once separated them effectively
from the neighboring language areas.
Mountain Ok The Mountain Ok: perhaps
30,000 people living in the mountains at the center of Papua New Guinea
between Mt. Juliana in the west and the Strickland Gorge in the east. Home
Valley is at the extreme east of this area. (Reference:
Barry Craig and David Hyndman, editors, Children of Afek: Tradition
and Change among the Mountain-Ok of Central New Guinea, University
of Sydney: 1990.)
Namgas Wife of Yug-wek-kek. Born in
Mindanna, she moved to Divanna upon marriage. Disappointed in love, her
serious dignity has made her respected among the Divanna women.
Neo Melanesian See Tok Pisin.
Pidgin English See Tok Pisin.
Taro Old staple food crop in this area
(Colocasia) related to arrow-root plant of N. America. Taro has underground
a large, delicious, starchy vegetable; above-ground, wide triangular edible
leaves growing on long stems. On the Chinese menu taro is sometimes called
yam. In Jamaica (the Caribbean) taro is called dasheen.
Myana Valley adjacent to Home Valley,
belonging to Mengti language area. Fovot has maternal relatives in Myana
and the Patrol Post is located there.
Water Child Name of Rainmaker of Mengti.
Lives in Mindanna.
Tok Pisin Formerly called Pidgin English
and now also called Neo Melanesian. At the time this novel takes place
in, it was unknown to nearly all Mengti speakers but learned by Gwe from
police and interpreters at the Oksapmin Patrol Post. Used by persons of
diverse New Guinean languages to communicate amongst one another. Newspapers
and national media are in Tok Pisin. The Bible is in Tok Pisin, Parliament
is conducted in Tok Pisin. Beginning as a trade language it developed largely
from a modified English vocabulary and a Melanesian-based grammar. To pronounce
Tok Pisin words use the Italian or Spanish pronunciation of consonants
and vowels. For example, wara (English: water) has ah sounds and
a rolled r. In Home Valley the letter l is pronounced the same as r.
Willow Adopted daughter of Garavok and
the object of Gwe’s most fervent love interest. Her biological parents
Wogeo Lieutenant Wogeo, born in mountains
which are 5 days’ walk from Gwe. One of the few people in his area to learn
white people’s ways as a child. (See chapter 2.)
Wowla Wowla shares a border with Divanna.
They are traditional enemies whom the Divanna people marry.
Xotil (or Old Xotil) An elderly relative
of Gwe known for his courage in battle as a young man.
Yug-wek-kek (or Yugwek) Youngest brother
of Bettiana, Agbenni and Dara. Richest man in Home Valley. Owner of large
quantity of the best land. Itulieng’s brother-in-law. The only man with
three wives. His third is named Yibunnlis.
Yuwan The Goddess Creatrix of Mengti.
Yuwan is the Mengti form of Afek, the preeminent deity who gave birth to
the different Mountain Ok peoples, each in the locality where they now
reside. Like the highest god in animist Africa, she is not seen as active
in human affairs (see The Children of Afek).
1Arnold Perey’s doctoral dissertation, Oksapmin Society and World View, Columbia University, 1973. See
website of Bell + Howell Information and Learning (formerly University