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Vitamin Q: the book!

~ Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Pidgin English (Tok Pisin) words (used in Papua New Guinea) often use the construction 'bilong' signifying 'belonging to', 'of', or 'from'. Some of these are fascinating and sometimes comical.

sole - ananit bilong lek (underneath belonging to leg)
government headquarters - asples bilong gavman (place you put your ass belonging to government)
glove - soken bilong han (sock belonging to hand)
dictionary - buk bilong painim mining (book belonging to find meaning)
antiseeptic - marasin bilong kilim jem (medicine belonging to kill germ)
wing - han bilong pisin (hand belonging to pigeon)
winter - taim bilong kol (time belonging to cold)
binoculars - glas bilong kapten (glass belonging to the captain)
dentist – dokta bilong tit (doctor belonging to teeth)
condom - gumi bilong cock (inner tube belonging to cock)
eyebrow - gras bilong ai (grass belonging to eye)
grapes - ol pikinini bilong rop wain (those babies belonging to wine rope)
female genitals - sem bilong meri (shame belonging to Mary / a woman)
ham - lek bilong pik (leg belonging to pig)
dripping - gris bilong bulmakow (grease belonging to cow)
washbasin - dis bilong was was (dish belonging to wash wash)
alarm - belo bilong klok (bell belonging to clock)
lipstick - pen bilong maus (pen belonging to mouth)
contraceptive pill - samting blilong pasim bel (some thing belonging to fasten belly)

The derivations in brackets are literal rather than understood – I'm not suggesting Tok Pisin speakers really think of grapes as babies. Words have often achieved a wider sense than in the langauges they come from.

Source: various but mainly here.

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