Word of the Week Archive




enau delicious

Comment submitted by Dave Sapio: I rode my bike to the office in the rain. Julie looked at me when I came in and said, enu hapim, translated, you have a wet butt.  Of course I don't know how to say "wet" enu, and I do know how to say,"delicious" enau. Not distinguishing between the two words, I look at Albino and try to figure out if I have just been told that I have a delicious butt.  Mirth and joy.  We are rolling on the floor.  I learn new words every day.

Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino: My reason for writing this is to clarify the usage of the word hapimu, which was used by Dave Sapio. After reading Dave Sapio's recent comment, I had to laugh with disbelieve. The word hapimu, butt in English, is culturally inappropriate to be used in public. The appropriate word for butt in our language (Tobian) is tahuhum ma wototor. Tobian as always, politely use the word tahuhum to mean both back and butt. But the words wenengi (upper) and wototor (lower) give directional part of the back. Therefore, tahuhum ma wenengi, is the back part and tahuhum ma wototor is the butt part. These are the only two polite ways of identifying the back part and butt part of a human.
For example, I can't talk to either my sister(s), mother, niece(s), daughter(s) or any female members of my family using the word hapimu. Nor would I talk to any female non-familiy members other than a lover using this word. So the word hapimu as it being used is culturally inappropriate. To teach Tobian cultures and languages is to teach the appropriateness of their application. I do believe, as Dave had said, that he is learning new word everyday. But I do also hope that after reading this e-mail, Dave would also had expanded his appropriate vocab application too. Thank you very much for the time.

PePe Maak   Comment submitted by Xavier Fethal: Is this a phrase in Tobian? What does it mean?
Urumoheihang a Tobian name Comment submitted by Justin Andrew: His mother thinks this is a Tobian name. Does anyone remember?
Hapau mahatawahi Thank you Submitted by Sebastian Marino.
Comment submitted by Marcus Hangaripaii, October 2004: Hapau should be spelled Haparu.
Haparu mahatwahi sewa Thank you very much Submitted by Sebastian Marino
Mwehereher Curly or mixed color Submitted by Sebastian Marino
Marumweher the curly one or the or mixed colored one Submitted by Sebastian Marino
Hangahang red Submitted by Sebastian Marino
Maruhang reddish one Submitted by Sebastian Marino
Faare or Faniwaii canoe house Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino: Faare could be used interchangeably with the worship house where the chief goes for worship. Feniwaa usually means canoe house. Today both words used to mean canoe house.
hofeitah how are you? Comment submitted by Peter Black:  This is now the ordinary greeting.  It means something very much like "wazzup"?  People used to use hobito meia (where are you coming from?) as the main greeting.  I think the change happened because of telephones.  What do you think?
useriap lizard Comment submitted by Dave Sapio: I have been (slowly) helping collect bottles to take to Tobi for people to use to transport coconut syrup back to Koror to sell, give away, whatever. I asked Paun and Rosania and Jackie if they would want bottles without tops. Yes, sure, they just use useriap for a cork. What’s useriap, I ask. Yap lizard, they tell me. You put lizards in the syrup? I ask, tongue in cheek. Sure, no really, useriap is a soft wood you can use as a cork. When the tree first floated to Tobi, they could hear chirping sounds, and the log was covered with lizards. They knew that it was from Yap, so that was the name they gave to the tree. Yap lizard. That’s what you call the soft wood that you use as a cork. So the next day at the office we end up talking about the same thing again, and they confess that they made up the story. User is Tobian for lizard, and ri yap means from Yap, but useriap is just the name for the wood. So to go with this pun they made up this story to tell me, right there on the spot as far as I know, and could have let me spend the rest of my days wondering how long lizards can float on a log from Yap and wondering how well you could market coconut syrup with a lizard as a cork.
hariweits baby Comment submitted by Peter Black: Does anyone have a different spelling?
kajejig rat Word submitted by Soty Patris: Does anyone have a different spelling?
iglesia church Comment submitted by Peter Black & Soty Patris: This word is originally from the Spanish.
hachoum conservation

Word submitted by Sebastian Marino: Hachoum as commonly used mainly in term of consumption. In the old days when food and meat supplies were scarce, old people used this term "hachoum" to educate little kids so that they'll understand how to conserve and share food wisely. It mean, eat a small amount as possible with the hope that the amount of food consumed could carry you throughout the day. It also meant the same in term of sharing with others. For example, a small fish (1/4 lb) for a family of 4 or 5 which was common back in the days of depression, should be share by all. If a kid is hungry, that kid should either wait for the others or eat a small part of the fish and make sure there still enough for the others. The small part that been eaten should be mixed with other food like, taro, taro leave, coconut, and other types of food along with plenty of drinks. The drink helps to fill up the tummy actually.  Another example, which I consider it to be extreme that being used was tighten up the belly with pandanus leaves, in other words, shrink up the stomach so that a small amount of food will satisfy the hunger. This was commonly used by men. Because food was the most precious but also scarce commodity back then, people were so creative on how to preserve protect and conserve it. As I have said, they go to a very extreme approach to satisfy every member of their family, but basically to satisfy the needs of their off spring.

Comment submitted by Dave Sapio: Dave Sapio suggests "rationing" might be a good translation for this term.

Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino: I realize that my interpretation of the word conservation might be misleading. The correct Tobian interpretation of the word conservation in an environmental sense would be piheimoru. My previous translation, as Dave mentioned, was more on consumption. But in an environmental sense, the above translation might be the correct one. Yes, Dave was right. The Tobian word (hachoum) that I used, is literary mean rationing in English. Thanks to Dave for correcting me.

sipesip prayer, worship Comment submitted by Peter Black: Click on sipesip to see a school project about the Lord's Prayer done by Soty Patris (NOTE this is a large file and will take time to open).
ubut young coconut frond Comment submitted by Justin Andrew: He says that in the old days they were used for magic; today they are used for baskets and decorations. If you use ubut to make a basket, the basket will last for years because the frond is still young and the process of drying and weaving preserves it.
 haparu mahatwahi sewa
thank you very much Word submitted by Sebastian Marino.
urumoheihang fine screen Comment submitted by Pippa Tkel:   She thinks the word might also be spelled  lirumoheihang.  She's not sure of the definition but thinks it means "fine screen."  She thinks it may be an old word and hopes someone knows it.    
fare canoe house Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino:  In Tobi, we say, (faare) or (feniwaa) for canoe-house. The reason is, faare, could be used interchangeably with the worship house where the chief goes for warship. Whereas, feniwaa usualy mean canoe-house, but both are commonly used today to mean the same (canoe-house). Comparing the Tobian word (Faare) or (faniwaa) to other languages posted, they almost spell the same. I bet they could be sound the same too. I hope this helps.
Comment submitted by Peter Black:
Both Marcus and Dave Sapio sent this word in.   

dance Comment submitted by Peter Black:   "I maseri mwemwe bahuh."    I want to watch the dance.  That's the first Tobian sentence I learned, taught to me by Rosendo Andrew in 1967.  Anyone want to fix up the spelling?  
pou power, strength Comment submitted by Peter Black: As usual I'm not sure about the spelling of this word.  Click here to see the word in action.
marenauwe ngang hey guys, it's me Comment submitted by Marcus Hangaripaii Marcello:  I'm not sure what it means, but marenau could mean mister.  It is only used for males, whereas, firenau is for females.  The word ngang means me.  The connecting word we --I have no clue.  I would guess it is only for direction to indicate who one is talking about.  My own interpretation of marenau we ngang, which I always end my emails with, means, "hey guys! it's me, hangariapii,"  There you have it.  What do other people have to say about it?  I'm not sure if the word mare is Tobian either.  I think we borrowed it from Sonsorol.  Sebastian, what do you think? 
Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino (August 11):   Having said that, let me test my personal knowledge. Because there is no clear dictionary definitions of Tobian words, my definitions still stand to be questionable. And this is what I am referring to: Marnauwe ngang as Marcus uses in his email. This phrase is originated from Sonsorol. However, Tobian don't have clear definition for it. From what I understand through my long experience with Sonsorolese (people of Sonsorol) marenau is the root word for marenauwe which I will try go over it later. And because Tobian don't have a clear definition of this phrase, I will break it up so that I can give a clear definition of each word. Mar refers to male or guy, enau is sweet in english, "we" is an article which could be the article "the" in english. The second word ngang is really mean "me or I" in english.  Now, to put these words together will completely change the definition of the whole phrase from Marcus' definition. It will be mean "I am the sweet guy."  As I have said, this is only my own definition.Hey, how about Sonsorol definition? Is this exactly what the Sonsorolese mean when they use this phrase? I'm not sure, but let me explore it. In Sonsorol, this phrase is used as a sign of respect to address their sons, brothers, and good friends. And if that is the case, then what marenau really mean in Sonsorol? Sweet guys, as I have defined it earlier? Could that be, considering the cultural taboo of the island? But what I do understand is that old Tobian considered this phrase as culturally inappropriate. And that is why this phrase had never been used until recently when these two groups of people intermixed with each other. So there still stand Sonsorolese's exact definition of the phrase. I hope someone could fill that in for me. I began to be confusing here, so let me not confuse you guys even more.
Comment submitted by Lawrence Ierago, Jr. (Laree):   Well, I have a few comments to add to the Posting on "Marenau we Ngangu". Since I am a Sonsorolese and Sebas & Marcus said that the word Marenau must've came from my island, I'll try to explain more on the words "Marenau we Ngangu". Well, I very much agree more on Sebas' comments. It's true. The meaning of the word, "Marenau we ngang", as it is used, is "I am the Sweet Guy". I couldn't agree more. I believe that's the most precise meaning. Well, for my spelling on the word, "Ngangu". Well, that is just how most Sonsorolese would spell it for it is how we pronounce it and believe it would be spelled this way. I believe there are many more words to be explored in just these few letters of "Marenau we Ngang" as well as the rest of the Tobi and Sonsorolese island's words. To break it down or seperate them, here: Mar e nau we ngang. My interpretation: "Mar" (In Sonsorolese, might be spelled 'Mare'), means "Guy or man". "e" sometimes acts like those 'he, she, it's (I forgot what you call them) and also acts like the word "that". But still, "e" is just the same as the word "we" (will be explained more below @ "we"). Next word, "nau" does not necessarily mean "sweet". The word "nau" means "tastes good". (Adding the "e" to "nau" would form the word "enau" which would say that "something tastes good", whatever you are referring to.) As to the word "we" or "ue" however it is spelled, (since we dont have our own official right spelling grammar to follow), it acts as like an article or whatever u call it (I'm not good at Grammar). To say that the word "we" gives direction to whom or what a word or in this case, the word, "enau", is referred to wouldn't be exactly right. If u keep on saying sentences using "we" to connect your sentences, you will notice that it actually really does not give direction to whom or what a word is pointing to. It is rather very unexplainable. I am trying to think of an English word that would act like the word "we" in a sentence but the closest English word I could think of is "that". The word "we" does not really act like 'he, she' it's' like "e" does, but is rather more like the English word "that". That's the best I could do. And the English word "that" or "the" is at least probably the best words that would give an idea of what the word "we" means and how it acts in a sentence. But if u think of it, the English word "that", still gives direction or points to something or someone, in which, the word, "we" does not. So it is quite very complicated. I believe the English word, "that" and "the" are the closest we could come to, to at least get an idea of how the word "we" is used or how it acts in a sentence. It seems like it is only there in order for a sentence to sound complete. Well, that really is how it is used. Lastly, the word "ngang" simply means "me or I". So most words are put together to form a word. So there could be more than 2 words(or articles or whatever u call them) found in a word. Now let's put all the words together and see: Marenau we ngang. From what I've said, and if we translate this word by word, these words would mean "The-Guy-that-tastes good-that's me." But the actual idea behind these words would mean, like what Sebas said, "I am the Sweet Guy". Notice that I added the English word "The" to my translation of "Marenau we ngang". Well now, that English word "the" acts like or represents the complicated words "we" and "e". I just had to add it in to make the sentence sound complete and that is how "we" and "e" act in sentences. AND THAT'S MY INTERPRETATION ON THE WORD "MARENAU WE NGANG". So that explains it. Also, like what Sebas and Marcus mentioned, "marenau", if translated word by word, would then mean "Guy that tastes good". And "firenau"-"fire" means "Lady or woman". So "firenau" would mean "Lady that tastes good". BUT then, the actual idea and meaning that a person is trying to say or that stands behind these words would be, in English, "Sweet Darling", "Sweety" or "Honey" or that of what couples would call each other. The words "Marenau" and "Firenau", I believe, is only used between couples. Never have I heard these words being exchanged between a Mother and a son/daughter or a Father and a son/daughter or any other relation other than couples. Well, I hope breaking down the words helped a bit more. Hope you at least understood more.
emoh tipar happy Comment submitted by Soty Patris:  The word tipar really means feeling.
fis star Comment submitted by the Webmaster:  This is one of the Tobian words from Capell.
firong story Comment submitted by Peter Black:  This is both a noun and a verb; it might be spelled fiyong.  Any ideas?
Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino (June 9):  Name of a certain type of fishing.  Fiyong means story.
tafei medicine Comment submitted by Peter Black:  This term  is used for both local medicine and medicine from the hospital.  
moyo cat Comment submitted by Peter Black:  Bus is another word for cat. 
mwemwe to see, to read Comment submitted by Peter Black:  Please, help with the spelling, someone, when you mwemwe it.
yafifaf to thatch Comment submitted by Peter Black:  Please, help with the spelling, someone.
Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino (June 9):  Fatat means to thatch.
tere adze Comment submitted by Peter Black:  The all purpose tool, useful for everything from carving canoes to opening coconuts.
senkio election Comment submitted by Peter Black:  This is, I think, a Japanese word.
Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino (June 9):  "The reason for using Japanese word, in my opnion, may be the fact that election process was introduced by Japanese to Micronesia.  However, the same election concept has been practiced on the island since.  Choosing whom to be a family or clan leader is one example.  Another example was when my father became a chief.  His older brothers selected him because he was young at the time and full of knowledge and ideas.  His selection was also supported by the community.  that is why I think that we (Tobians) have a definition of the word election.  Therefore, the word (wouwou), according to me and still stand to be wrong, could be used to define the word election."    
fiteh work Comment submitted by Peter Black:  This is one of three kinds of human activity.  The other two are play and worship.  Oh yes, there's also stuff like eating and sleeping.
areweich child Comment submitted by Peter Black:  This term refers to either a little boy or a little girl.
Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino (June 9):  Hariweichi or yariweichi means child or kid.
ya'un shadow, photograph Comment submitted by Peter Black:  I'm not sure how this is spelled; any ideas?   Haven't heard from you for a while, Sebas. 
Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino (June 9):  Yaung is the correct spelling.
uun lobster Comment submitted by Peter Black:  Not sure about the spelling here.  Any suggestions?  And of course, this is not the Maine lobster that Marcus is eating in the Fotigraph of the Week, but the Pacific lobster.  We didn't know Marcus was an old man but when he ate the lobster, we all knew!  After all, only old people are allowed to eat lobster--everyone else is too young to handle it.
Comment submitted by Judy (Silla) Nestor, May 3, 2000:   Hello, I just want to make comment on the word of the week part. I finnaly had the chance to look through the words. I am not sure but I think the spelling of lobster in Tobi is wrong.. You spelled it "uun" but I think it should be "uuh". Please check with Seb and Marcus. Thank you.   Silla
Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino (June 9, 2000):  Uuh means lobster; it also means neck and sail (noun).
senup master canoe builder Comment submitted by Peter Black:  In 1967, Patricio Mohotimoh said that he was the only Senup but that Marino, Margarita's husband, would be a new Senup if he came back to the island.  When Patricio was a boy, there were 10 Senups.  He was the chief assistant for Hobowu, or Sam, as he was called by an English captain and that's how he learned how to build canoes.
ut rain  
umen hermit crab Comment submitted by Peter Black:  These things make good bait for reef fishing.  You blow on them to get them to come out of their shells.
mosuwe olden times Comment submitted by Peter Black:  This word appears as "mwoiwe"  in Jackson & Marck's  Carolinian-English Dictionary (University of Hawaii, 1990), translated as at least 2 or 3 generations ago.
sen monkeyman Comment submitted by Peter Black:  Wood carvings of figures; "Tobian  monkeymen" are quite well known.    See FOTIgraph.  
Comment submited by Don Rubinstein, University of Guam:  I have some questions regarding the word sen used for Tobi "monkeymen." What's the difference in connotation between liros and sen? Is liros considered an older word? Does it have a wider application than just the "monkeymen" carvings--could it be applied to other figural carvings?
Comment submitted by Peter Black:  I don't know   the answer to your question, but Jackson & Marck translates liyoos as doll or any statue and doesn't seem to mention sen.  Maybe it is Japanese. 
Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino:   You and Don brought up a very interesting issue. Yes, the word "liyoos" as I can remember derives from the word "Dios".  Back in the old days, the missionaries brought a statue of Jesus to the old people and told them "dios".  From that point on the old people did not distinguish between small dolls and religious statues. Therefore dolls, and statues alike, were refered to as "dios".  As we came to understand that "dios" was a proper name, out of respect we changed the usage of the word dios.  During my time, Tobian people had distinguished the difference between religious
statues and just any doll. That is why we began to use the word, "sen" to refer to dolls and Jesus statues became "haweweri tamoru".
Comment submitted by Barbara Wavell:     I was fascinated by the discussion of the words sen and liyos. Liyos reinterpreted as "dios" made a lot of sense. The Japanese word for doll is ninyo as far as I know. I am wondering whether the word sen actually could derive from the English word "sin". After all since these representations probably predated Christian symbolism any non Christian representation would be considered an "idol". The missionaries may have pointed to these figures and explained that "it was a sin!" This is total speculation but possible...! I would like to hear more discussion on this topic.
mai breadfruit  
ih fish  
wa canoe  
wor green sea turtle  
wot taro Comment submitted by Peter Black:  Sometimes the letter "u" is used instead of the letter " w."  But however you spell it, Tobian taro is some of the best you'll ever eat.
ih fish (noun)  
faruh island

Comment submitted by Peter Black:  This word can also be used to refer to cities, countries and other places, I think.     

Comment submitted by Sebastian Marino:  Pete,  I think you got mixed up with the two words here. Actually you spelled   faruh okay.  However, Far Hapirim should be farihapirim.   In translation:  behind the village, that is further in ward, in reference to the island.   Anyway, is this the Hilo farihapirim or the Tobi one?      

Comment submitted by Marcus Hangaripaii:  Yes, the word faruh means island. wa  means carrier or something you ride in.  Therefore, wafaruh  means ship.  I think that early Tobians used wafaruh  to  mean an island that moves because they probably saw a huge steam boat that is bigger than their sailing canoes. Faruh is different than what is used in fari hapirim. Fari-hapirim- means under the back side of the house. this is the name of  the place where you lived on Tobi. whereas,  fari haparim means under the small house. This strikes me as a good name for  your small house in Hawaii. 

Comment submitted by Peter Black:    What I heard is that it  was a sailing ship that first came by and the Tobi people thought it was an island that had magically detatched itself from its "stem" and was now being sailed around like a huge canoe.  The masts looked like trees and the cabin with people going in and out looked like a house.  So, they called it wafrauh.   Of course that was (just a little) before my time.  

Hatohobei Tobi Comment submitted by Peter Black:  Eilers (1936:  33-34) gives these other names used for the island in the past:    Cadacopuei, Katogobui, Togobue, Togobei, Toxobi, Lord North, Nevill Island, Johnstone Island, Evening Island, Peakedhill Island.  If I remember correctly, I've also heard that Meiho is an old name for the island. 

Updated: October 20, 2007