Chaumont Devin devil at lava.net
Sat Dec 4 23:02:38 UTC 1999

"potetjp" <potetjp at wanadoo.fr> writes:

>    In the Philippines too, the foreign phoneme /f/ is a shibboleth.
>you can pronounce it and you are regarded as educated, or you can't and
>are regarded  as an ignorant. Hypercorrection ensues.

One night I was on a Butonese sloop heading southwest through the Straight
of Buano when out of the darkness ahead the crew spotted another similar
craft headed in the opposite direction.  Butonese watercraft carry no
lights, and the two boats looked like they would pass very close, which
they did at some considerable combined speed.

"Uhu!" shouted someone from our sloop.

"Uhu!" responded someone from the other.

"Mau ka mana itu?" (Where are you headed?)

"Kami ke Bulan!" (We are headed for the moon!)

Now as it happened, this was just about the time when some American Apollo
mission or other was landing on the moon.

But in fact the other sloop was not headed for the moon at all, but for
Bula, which is a village on the northeast end of Seram.  The problem of
communication arose because in Butonese there are no terminal consonants
(just like in Polynesian languages), so that the worldly-wise Butonese try
very hard to make sure they always DO pronounce all terminal consonants in
Malay.  The village name, Bula, has no terminal consonant, so the smart
Butonese in the other sloop supplied one, and got Noon"!

There is a more famous anecdote often told and retold in Ambon about a
Butonese man who went into a Chinese coffee shop, sat down, and ordered
shaved ice.  The Chinese shop keeper's wife was very pretty, and so the
Buton man's eyes kept wandering.  At last the Chinese shopkeeper asked,
"Do you want anything else?"

"Beta su kanya," he answered, which was his way of saying "Beta su
kanyaang", meaning "I am full".  Unfortunately, the way he said this
sounded very much like, "Beta suka Nya," meaning"I like the Chinese lady"!

The Chinese shopkeeper was VERY angry!


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