Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 31 14:31:11 UTC 2007

>Yes, it was the John Frum (John from America) cargo cult.
>FWIW, "two hundred" doesn't seem like a very important term. Do all
>languages have a word for "hundred" (or a corresponding number for
>non-decimal counting systems)? BB

Well, languages (like Piraha) which have a "one/two/many" system of
numeration wouldn't have any more use for a word for "hundred" than
female Melanesians have for penis sheaths.  Decorative, perhaps,


>On Dec 30, 2007, at 9:23 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>>Subject:      Re: Melanenglish?
>>Wikipedika [article "Tanna (island)")] is supportive.  An island of
>>Vanuatu, populated almost entirely by Melanesians; in some villages
>>modern inventions are restricted and "the inhabitants wear penis
>>sheaths" [the women too?!]; and it is "the centre of the Jon Frum
>>cargo cult, which worships an American World War II soldier as their
>>god."  [I looked up Tanna because I wondered whether it was part of
>>New Guinea.]
>>But why did things like "two hundred" and "last night" get adopted
>>from English?  Hardly American military slang, and concepts that
>>"traditionals" (Wikipedia's term) would seem to need as much as
>>At 12/30/2007 11:48 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>>>I think I saw it. It's on an island that has a cargo cult. It seems
>>>they have a lot of words from English, which probably arrived with
>>>their religion in WWII.
>>>I recall from Turnbull's _The Forest People_ that being tall can be a
>>>great disadvantage if you have to walk through the jungle. I think
>>>the Mbuti pygmies laughed at him for being so tall.
>>>Benjamin Barrett
>>>a cyberbreath for language life
>>>On Dec 30, 2007, at 8:40 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>>>Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>>>>Subject:      Melanenglish?
>>>>I'm watching the Travel Channel, which is featuring the life of
>>>>Melanesian-looking people - the guys are wearing only penile
>>>>sheaths -
>>>>on an island named "Tanna." As they speak the usual random babble of
>>>>phones, pitches, and tones that you hear when you have no
>>>>training in
>>>>linguistic fieldwork, I suddenly hear what appear to be English
>>>>strings like "two hundred" and "last night." And sho nuff, the
>>>>subtitles read, "two hundred [pigs]" and "[had a good time] last
>>>>The program features both traditional and modern (called
>>>>"clothes-wearers" by the traditionals) tribes. It's startling to see
>>>>that the moderns generally stand head-and-shoulders taller than the
>>>The American Dialect Society -
>>The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

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